The Atlantic Feature: What Mormon Family Trees Tell Us About Cancer

The Atlantic features Utah Genome Project and Huntsman Cancer Institute's pioneering work using Utah's large and well-documented family trees to find a genetic cause of colon cancer, and ways to prevent it.

 

Nobody knew it then, but the genetic mutation came to Utah by wagon with the Hinman family. Lyman Hinman found the Mormon faith in 1840. Amid a surge of religious fervor, he persuaded his wife, Aurelia, and five children to abandon their 21-room Massachusetts house in search of Zion. They went first to Nauvoo, Illinois, where the faith’s prophet and founder, Joseph Smith, was holding forth—until Smith was murdered by a mob and his followers were run out of town. They kept going west and west until there were no towns to be run out of. Food was scarce. They boiled elk horns.The children’s mouths erupted in sores from scurvy.  Aurelia lost all her teeth. But they survived. And so did the mutation.

Read more: What Mormon Family Trees Tell Us About Cancer by Sarah Zhang

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