66% Of Cancers Occur By Random Chance, News Study Says

March 29, 2017


Thus far we’ve been usually attributing cancer occurrence to inherited genes mutations like BRACA1 or BRACA2, bad nutrition, unhealthy lifestyle choices, exposure to pollution/radiation, etc… But now a new study published in the journal “Science” has shed some new light on the (cancerous) matter.

It appears that the majority of cancers are in fact driven by random chance.

The study suggests that 66% of cancers are nothing more than a mistake, an error in DNA replication that is in most cases unavoidable.

“To reproduce, cells divide,” say folks over at Big Think. “Every time one does, little mistakes in the copies of its DNA form. Usually, they don’t cause any trouble. But if it happens more than once in a gene that causes cancer, the disease can take root and the cell turns cancerous.”

Geneticist Bert Vogelstein and mathematician Cristian Tomasetti, at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, conducted the study via which they wanted to see just how often these replication errors were the main cause of cancer.

The duo came to the conclusion that that it is actually “the number of stem cell divisions in a given organ that’s associated with risk. Those sites with more stem cell divisions are at higher risk for cancer, such as the colon. Whereas those which have few stem cell divisions, such the brain, are less likely to develop it.”

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In order to get the real numbers, the scientists gathered data from several databases and developed a mathematical model so they can evaluate just how many cases of the cancers were caused by:

  • Genetics
  • DNA replication errors
  • Or the environment.

They found that replication errors caused a staggering two-thirds of all cases.

However, it does get a bit more complex that mere numbers, as the statistics tend to change depending on what type of cancer they are looking at:

  • LUNG CANCER: 65% are caused by environment-driven mutations, while 35% by replications errors.
  • PROSTATE CANCER: 95% are caused by errors in DNA replication.
  • CHILDHOOD CANCERS: 66% of all cancers were driven by chance, 29% were due to environmental causes, and 5% inheriting a mutation.

So, the main question is: Should we bother pursuing a healthy lifestyle if we might get cancer anyway?

And the answer is still – YES, as the 42% of cases are actually preventable if we look at the big picture.

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