Thousands of people are shocked when they come to know that they are diagnosed with cancer. The answer to this has been revealed through a new research. The research conducted at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore found that tumors are caused by random genetic “mistakes”.
A complex mathematical modeling was used by the scientists to detect mutation driving abnormal cell growth for 32 variants of cancer. The model was grounded on the database of epidemiologic data from the Cancer Research UK and Cancer Genome Atlas.
For cancer to arise, there are at least two gene mutations needed; the scientists for long have known this. The cause of the mutation could be parental inherited genes, ecological causes or random DNA copying mistakes.
The calculations done by the researchers reveal that the random copying errors are the causes of widespread cancer.
The findings have been published on March 24th in the journal ‘Science’.
Christian Tomasetti, the co-author said that avoiding environmental causes like smoking reduces the risk of getting cancer. However, the lesser known fact is that every time a normal cell gets divided and its DNA is copied to produce two new cells, there are several mistakes that it makes.
These copying errors are likely of the cause of cancer mutations which generally have been scientifically unrecognized. Tomasetti is an assistant professor of biostatistics at Bloomberg School of Public Health and Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.
The researchers used the calculations and evaluated that the cause of 77% pancreatic cancers was a random mutation. Environmental factors have 18% impact and 5% effect comes from inherited genes.
All cancers do not have the same causation profile, environment and lifestyle. All these also have a big impact on cancer risk.
For instance in lung cancer, about 65% mutations, are environmental; just 35% is because of DNA copying mistakes.
In the 32 types of cancer that were studied two-thirds were found be caused by random DNA copying errors. 5% was from inherited genes and 29% originated from environment/lifestyle.
The researchers say that most childhood cancers are caused by DNA copying errors. However, this does not mean that leading a healthy lifestyle should be ignored.
Tomasetti said that this research would at least ease the patients who had always lived a healthy life.
People should continue to maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid environmental agents which could increase their risk of developing cancer.