— There is no cure for the condition known as albinism.
The only treatment available to some people is to surgically remove the pigment from the body and to treat it with drugs or surgery.
But a new study published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that for people with albinisms, those with the genetic disorder are at a higher risk of developing lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even other types of cancer.
In the study, researchers from the University of Wyoming analyzed more than 11,000 cases of lung cancer in the United States between 1999 and 2017 and found that the genetic variants for the cancer, as well as for other genetic disorders, were significantly higher in people with the condition than in the general population.
The findings are consistent with studies showing that people with these genetic conditions are more likely to develop cancer.
The researchers identified five variants in the CCR5 gene that are associated with lung cancer risk, and their association with lung cancers is strongest in people who are African-American.
The variants in CCR7 were not associated with cancer risk.
“There are some who may be able to suppress the mutation, and there are others who may not,” said lead author Robert J. Zajac, associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University at Buffalo.
The study found that people who have an albinic variant in the genes CCR2 and CCR4 were more than four times more likely than other people to develop lung cancer.
Albinism is a genetic condition that affects about 1 percent of the population, and it affects about a quarter of those with cancer.
“It’s important to understand that the risk is much higher than we thought,” said study co-author Daniel A. Baeza, a professor of genetics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.
“These variants do play a role in lung cancer and other cancers.”
Zajac and his colleagues found that individuals with the variant were nearly four times as likely to have developed lung cancer as the general U.S. population.
But the researchers also found that those with a variant in CVR4 had a reduced risk of lung cancers, especially those with CCR6, which has been associated with increased risk of cancer in African Americans.
CVR6 has been linked to an increased risk for lung cancer among people of Hispanic and Asian descent, and some other populations.
CCR8 is a variant found in only about one in 100,000 people.
Baeza and his team also looked at the genetic makeup of individuals in the same region, the U.K., and found similar results.
“This suggests that these variants do indeed affect the risk of a disease,” Zajas said.
Zavac said it is important to recognize that the differences in the genomes of people with different albinities and genetic variants could also be related to their health.
“This study highlights that there is variation in the genetic architecture of the human genome, and that there are certain genes that are more vulnerable to certain types of mutations,” he said.
“In fact, we find that the genes with the highest risk for cancer in these individuals are those that have been mutated or mutated in a way that increases their risk.”
A genetic testing company that provides the CVR gene test, called Myriad Genetics, said it was aware of the study and is working with Zajacs and his group.
Zavac is the lead author of the paper.
Myriad Genetics did not respond to a request for comment.
Researchers also found the risk was greatest in people of African descent, with variants in both CCR1 and CMR5 being associated with a higher cancer risk compared to Caucasians.
CMR7 and CVR8 were associated with higher risk in people from North America and South America.