The following was taken from the AMA news directly.
Majority Of Cancers Caused By Random Genetic Mistakes, Researchers Say
In “To Your Health,” the Washington Post (3/23, McGinley) reports research published in Science suggests “more than two-thirds of cancer-causing mutations are the result of random mistakes in DNA replication that occur when normal cells divide.”
Reuters (3/23, Steenhuysen) reports that the investigators “developed a mathematical model using DNA sequencing data from The Cancer Genome Atlas and disease data from the Cancer Research UK database, looking specifically at mutations that drive aberrant cell growth in 32 different cancer types.”
The Los Angeles Times (3/23, Healy) reports that investigators “found that 5% of cancer-causing mutations can be linked to inherited genetic risk.” Meanwhile, “an additional 29% of malignancy-promoting mutations can be attributed to ‘modifiable’ factors…such as wearing sunscreen and vaccinating ourselves against cancer-causing viruses.” The other “66% of genetic mutations known to give cancer a foothold are random transcription errors in DNA.”
STAT (3/23, Begley) reports that the researchers “go to great pains to explain that this doesn’t mean that two-thirds of cancers are beyond the reach of prevention.” However, “understanding the role of these unforced errors ‘could provide comfort to the millions of patients who developed cancer but led near-perfect [healthy] lifestyles,’ said cancer biologist Dr. Bert Vogelstein,” the study’s senior author.
What this tells us is that many of the things we do (smoking, sun exposure as well as the use of sun screens, ,diet, even vaccinations could trigger mutations that lead to cancer. By reducing as many of the causing factors, we can improve our chances of not getting cancer. Lung cancer and smoking is the best example of an effect induced by a know carcinogen, the tars in cigarette smoke. The causes of cancer wee well summarize in the magazine The Scientist as follows: “The researchers again found that random DNA replication errors play a major role in cancer: 29 percent of cancer-associated mutations were likely due to environmental factors, 5 percent due to heritable factors, and 66 percent due to DNA replication error mutations, the team reported.“