CITY scientists have discovered why a gene fault could put one in six people at a higher risk of cancer.

The Oxford University team found the gene is ‘switched off’ in about 17 per cent of people.

This could put people at a higher risk of a contracting a number of cancers, including breast, cervical and lung cancer, they said.

They found when the gene, which manages the repair of DNA, is ‘switched off’, broken DNA cannot be fixed and cancer develops.

Prof Eric O’Neill, scientist at the Cancer Research UK and MRC Oxford Institute for Radiation Oncology, said: “This important discovery reveals how a single gene fault could trigger the development of a wide range of cancers, especially lung cancer.

“And crucially it behaves in a similar way to the breast cancer risk gene BRCA which we already know a lot about.

“This may mean that our progress in understanding how to target genetic faults in breast cancer may also have wider relevance for lung and other cancers.”

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