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Study finds most cancers caused by environmental factors, not bad luck

18/12/2015

Study finds most cancers caused by environmental factors, not bad luckIs whether you’ll get cancer predominantly determined by bad luck, or do environmental factors play a significant part also?

That’s the question that a new study by a team of researchers from the Stony Brook Cancer Centre in New York, the results of which were published in the journal Nature, set out to answer.

The team used four approaches to conclude that only 10-30% of cancers are simply down to “luck” and that environmental factors have an overwhelming affect.

Cancer is caused by one of the body’s own stem cells going rogue and dividing out of control. This can be caused by natural factors, but the team discovered that extrinsic factors, such as smoking and being exposed to UV radiation, play a bigger part than many people think.

Experts have said that the team’s analysis is “pretty convincing” and highlights the relative importance of extrinsic factors.

Talking about the findings of the study, Dr Emma Smith, from Cancer Research UK, said: "While healthy habits like not smoking, keeping a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet and cutting back on alcohol are not a guarantee against cancer, they do dramatically reduce the risk of developing the disease."

While a person who smokes is not necessarily guaranteed to get cancer, by doing so they are stacking the odds against them. An element of chance will always be involved, but people can reduce their own risk by eliminating some of these extrinsic factors from their lives.

 



 

 
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