Two-thirds of cancers a matter of bad luck? Not so fast
“Two thirds of cancers are due to bad luck,” or some variation of this, is the cancer-related headline of the moment.
It comes from a newly published paper in the journal Science. The study, by Bert Vogelstein and Cristian Tomasetti of Johns Hopkins University, used mathematical models to look at the mutations occurring during stem cell divisions within 31 types of body tissues. What the researchers found is that, in two-thirds of the tissues observed, what determined a mutation was chance over other causes, such as environmental factors or inherited predispositions.
But this does not equal to saying that two-thirds of cancers are due to “bad luck.”
Cell mutation alone doesn’t explain the development of cancer. As explained in Science:
The line between mutations and cancer isn’t necessarily direct. “It may not just be whether a mutation occurs,” says Bruce Ponder, a longtime cancer researcher at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. “There may be…
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