Smokers, Drinkers Show Gene Changes In Mouth Cells

Many healthy people who smoke or drink may have a genetic alteration in the cells of the mouth and throat that could signal an increased risk of developing cancer, according to researchers at the University of Hong Kong. The genetic alteration affects the p15 gene, which is involved in the process that normally kills off cells when they go haywire. In many cancers, the p15 gene is methylated, meaning that it is turned off and is unable to perform its "tumor suppressor" function.

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