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A-TAtaxia Telangiectasia (form of muscular weakness)
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When both members of a couple carry the A-T mutated (ATM) gene, their children have a one in four chance of having the disease.
Efforts to develop a treatment for A-T and to learn more about how cancer develops will also benefit from the gene discovery, scientists say.
Women who underwent diagnostic medical procedures that involved low doses of X-rays -- such as mammograms, chest X-rays and gastrointestinal imaging -- more than five years earlier than the study's beginning faced six times the risk of breast cancer seen in other potential female carriers of the A-T gene.
Swift says his team's results show that medical X-rays boost the susceptibility to cancer of all carriers of the A-T gene.