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Schizophr Res. 2000 Feb 14;41(3):405-15.

Apoptosis and schizophrenia: is the tumour suppressor gene, p53, a candidate susceptibility gene?

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Schizophrenia Research Unit, South Western Sydney Area Health Service, Liverpool Hospital, Liverpool, NSW, Australia.


This paper reviews the six published incidence studies of the relative risk of cancer in patients with schizophrenia compared with the general population. These studies used: incidence data, register case ascertainment, and controlled for age and sex. It is concluded that schizophrenia is associated with a lower risk of developing cancer. The role of apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer and brain development is briefly described. The possibility is explored that increased apoptosis may account for neurodevelopmental abnormalities as well as tumour resistance associated with schizophrenia. The authors propose that p53, a tumour suppressor gene central to regulation of apoptosis, should be investigated as a candidate susceptibility gene in schizophrenia.

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