Yes, you read it right. Most cancers are due to ‘bad luck’, according to scientists. Random mutations during DNA replication in normal, noncancerous stem cells results in cancer. Some tissues end up becoming cancerous million times more than other tissues. This is due to random mutations in the DNA in these tissues. The study shows that the risk of cancer is strongly proportional to the total number of divisions undergone by normal self-renewing cells maintaining the tissue’s homeostasis. Only a third of cancers are due to environmental factors or inherited predispositions; the rest are due to so called ‘bad luck’ mutations in the DNA due to unknown factors.
Researchers Bert Vogelstein and Cristian Tomasetti charted the number of stem cell divisions in 31 tissue types and compared them with the lifetime risks of cancer in the same tissues among Americans. “All cancers are caused by a combination of bad luck, the environment and heredity, and we’ve created a model that may help quantify how much of these three factors contribute to cancer development,” says Vogelstein. This will not be good news for patients, as they do not want to hear ‘We do not know’ from doctors, when they ask ‘Why?’
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