The Mormons' religious beliefs have proven to be quite a boon for cancer epidemiologists. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, following religious tenets, have meticulously recorded their family trees for centuries. Recognizing the research value of such data, Mark Skolnick, chief scientific officer at Myriad Genetics Inc. in Salt Lake City, computerized those records at the church's family history library 25 years ago. Recently, researchers had high hopes that the data would help them track down genes linked to prostate cancer.

Those hopes have been whittled down. So far, comprehensive family histories haven't elucidated the cancer's hereditary underpinnings--the genetic component of prostate cancer continues to confound loci researchers. And, these researchers are not the only ones scratching their heads. Those studying genes involved in prostate cancer tumorigenesis have been able to find only a few tumor suppressor genes specific to prostate cancer, which was diagnosed...

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