Is "bad luck" responsible for our risk of cancer?

Is "bad luck" responsible for our risk of cancer?

Lung cancer cell division – SB3769

New research suggests that only a third of cancer cases could be attributed to environmental factors, such as drinking and smoking, and that most types of cancer were found to be caused by random mutations.  The study, published in the journal Science, sought to explain why some tissue types were more vulnerable to developing cancer compared to others.  Cells in the body constantly divide in order to replace old or damaged tissue.  Over time, a cell’s DNA experiences random mutations which passes on to the newly replicated cell.  The result can eventually lead to a mutation which makes the cell cancerous, simply by chance.  Tissue cells which constantly regenerate and have a high turnover rate, such as cells in the intestine, were much more susceptible to these random mutations.

However, lifestyle and environmental factors still heavily influence the odds of developing a mutation that leads to cancer.  Smoking, alcohol consumption, and too much sun exposure are still responsible for the most common (and deadly) cancers around the world.  Scientists agree that while cancer may end up being a roll of the dice, keeping a healthy lifestyle reduces a person’s risk in the first place and will only “stack the odds in our favor.”


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