WOODBURY - Scientists have identified a new gene that may drastically increase a woman's chances of developing breast cancer.

The study was released in this week's New England Journal of Medicine. It highlights the PALB2 gene and says it makes breast cancer nine times more likely to develop.

During the study, researchers looked at about 360 women in families that have the PALB2 gene.

According to researchers, the gene gives a woman a 14 percent chance of breast cancer by age 50 and a 35 percent chance by age 70.

It's been known that the BRCA genes greatly raise the risk for breast cancer. Expert doctors say the PALB2 gene is probably the most dangerous after the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene.

It's not known how common the gene is, but experts say it's probably more than previously thought because doctors haven't been testing for it.

Hillary Rutter, head of the Adelphi Breast Cancer Hotline and Support Program, says she believes this is critical information to empower women and men.

"One of the things we advocate on the hotline all the time is that information is power," she says. "And the more information you have in terms of your own medical history, genetic makeup is really important."