Thousands of people are shocked when they come to know 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 data from 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 show that random copying errors are the cause of bulk cancers.
The findings have been published in the journal ‘Science’ on March 24.
Christian Tomasetti, the co-author, said, avoiding environmental causes like smoking reduce 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 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 is a random mutation. Environmental factors have 18% impact and 5% from inherited genes.
All cancers do not have the same causation profile, environment and lifestyle also have a big impact on cancer risk.
For instance, in lung cancer, about 65% mutations which impact the disease is environmental while just 35% is because of DNA copying mistakes.
In the 32 types of cancer that were studied two-thirds of them were found to have been caused by random DNA copying errors. 5% was from inherited genes and 29% by environment/lifestyle.
The researchers say most childhood cancers are caused by DNA copying errors. However, this does not mean that the leading a healthy lifestyle should be ignored.
Tomasetti said that this research will at least ease the patients who have always lead a healthy life.
People should continue to lead a healthy lifestyle and avoid environmental agents which could increase their risk of developing cancer.