Bad Luck to Blame in 65 Percent of Cancer Cases

Genetic disposition and smoking may have little to do with your chances of getting cancer, in some instances. Recent research indicates that two-thirds of the time, the cause of cancer can be blamed on just bad luck.

Genetic disposition and risky behavior, such as smoking, may have little to do with your chances of getting cancer, in certain instances. Recent research has indicated that two-thirds of the time, the cause of cancer can be blamed on a bad luck of the draw. Not the most encouraging thought for those who take pride in their health.


Will Dunham from Reuters reported on the study where researchers looked at 31 types of cancer. Out of those, 22 of them could be explained by random mutation—a reason patients don't necessary want to hear. Something Dr. Bert Vogelstein, an Oncologist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, is all too familiar with.

"They like to believe there's a reason. And the real reason in many cases is not because you didn't behave well or were exposed to some bad environmental influence, it's just because that person was unlucky. It's losing the lottery."

In their studies, researchers were able to attribute 65 percent of cancer incidences to randomness. Since cancer is caused by an error in the division of stem cells, they concentrated on looking at lifetime cell division rates of tissue. There were some types, like breast and prostate, they could not account for in their research, as they couldn't ascertain a reliable rate of cell division.

They found that plain old bad luck could explain instances, like brain, leukemia, pancreatic, bone, testicular, and ovarian cancers. More division rates would mean more opportunities for error, which would result in a random mutation.

"Thus, we should focus more research and resources on finding ways to detect such cancers at early, curable stages."

Read more at Reuters

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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