Published: Thu, March 30, 2017
Health Care | By Gwendolyn Kim

'Bad Luck' Mutations Linked to Higher Cancer Risk in New Study

'Bad Luck' Mutations Linked to Higher Cancer Risk in New Study

Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Centre examined DNA sequencing and epidemiologic data from around the world to come to their findings. That's one reason the risk of cancer increases with age.

Vogelstein explained during a press conference that DNA mutations occur every time a cell divides.

New research revises the most common understanding of cancer and its causes, while also serving as a telling reminder to evolutionists.

Darwinian theory attributes the most wonderful creativity to the power of random mutations (sifted by natural selection).

The researchers found that these percentages vary from cancer to cancer. And which is the most common factor differs by cancer, the Hopkins team said.

Tomasetti and Vogelstein believe the answer to this question rests in random DNA copying errors. "This new paper is the first time that anyone has looked at proportions of mutations in any cancer type and assigned the three causal factors", Tomasetti told Dvorsky. They suggest that the genetic mutations that develop into cancer are a result of random errors that take place when cells naturally replace themselves. But medical professionals swiftly skewered their findings, attacking the researchers' methodology, and accusing Tomasetti and Vogelstein of undermining the importance of cancer prevention.

Mathematician Christian Tomasetti and geneticist Bert Vogelstein at the John Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center conducted a follow-up on a study they did two years ago.

According to Lawrence Young, director of the Cancer Research Center at the University of Warwick in England, the study "contributes to the controversial debate".

The new study, however, used a different mathematical model to examine genome sequencing and epidemiologic data from 32 different cancers.

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If it takes a minimum of two gene mutations to form cancer, smoking, obesity or lack of exercise can kick the third cell mutation over the edge and into a diseased state. In their paper, Vogelstein and Tomasetti report that 66 percent of mutations are random, 29 percent are caused by environmental factors, and 5 percent are due to hereditary factors.

In other cancers including prostate, brain or bone, more than 95 percent of the mutations are due to random copying errors.

Lung cancer, they note, presents a different picture: 65 percent of all the mutations are due to environmental factors, mostly smoking, and 35 percent are due to DNA copying errors. The other two mitigating factors, lifestyle/environment and genetics, account for 29 per cent and five per cent, respectively.

"Nothing", he said, according to Harris. "There's a lot to be said for making a change now that will help you in the long run".

It's also important to note that Tomasetti and Vogelstein's conclusions do not imply that cancer prevention is pointless. They reasoned that the more cells divide, the higher the potential for so-called copying mistakes in the DNA of cells in an organ.

It sparked a whole controversy, mainly because scientists were anxious people would understand that prevention is useless - which is not true. The substance can cause cancer of the mouth, liver, breast, or colon. First of all it expanded the analysis beyond the U.S. by drawing on records of cancer incidence from 69 different countries and looked at two common cancer types - prostate and breast - which weren't included in the first study.

That should underscore the need for humans to keep practicing behaviors that reduce their cancer risk, they said.

The JHU team asserts that these mutations aren't the be-all-end-all of cancer - they're just one factor in the process of its development. "It's not your fault", says Vogelstein.

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