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Health Highlights: Jan. 21, 2021


Studies Pinpoint Genes That Raise Risk for Breast Cancer

New research into exactly which genetic mutations increase breast cancer risk in women without a family history of the disease may help guide decisions about screening and preventive surgery, doctors say.

The two large studies also examined how common these genetic flaws are in the general population, the Associated Press reported.

They were published Jan. 20 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The research shows that the breast cancer risk conferred by some genes "is very high," Mary-Claire King, a University of Washington scientist, told the AP.

"The lives of many women could be saved if all women were offered the opportunity to learn if they carry mutations in these genes before they are diagnosed with cancer," said King, who discovered the first breast cancer predisposition gene, BRCA1.

She was not involved in the new studies.

About 276,000 new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in the United States last year, according to the American Cancer Society. The new research suggests that at least 13,800 of them occur in women with inherited gene mutations that increase breast cancer risk, the AP reported.

Genetic testing isn't recommended for the general population, but it's becoming more common and many Americans get direct-to-consumer tests, the wire service noted.


NYC May Run Out of COVID-19 Vaccines

New York City's COVID-19 vaccination rate has outpaced its supply of vaccine, and the city could run out of doses in the next few days, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.

"If we don't get more vaccine quickly, a new supply of vaccine, we will have to cancel appointments and no longer give shots," he said during a media briefing, CBS News reported.

"At the rate we are going we will begin to run out on Thursday… we will have literally nothing left to give as of Friday," de Blasio warned.

The mayor asked the federal government to send more vaccine as soon as possible, CBS News reported.

More than 220,000 people in the city were vaccinated last week -- one every 3 seconds -- and the city could vaccinate 300,000 more this week if it had enough vaccine, according to de Blasio.

He said that 53,000 doses arrived Tuesday, giving the city only 116,000 doses for the week ahead, CBS News reported.

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