Cancer not down to ‘bad luck’, suggests new study

A new study suggests that cancer is not largely down to bad luck but overwhelmingly a result of environmental factors…

The study in the journal Nature used revealed that only 10-30 per cent of cancers were down to the way the body naturally functions or luck.

A team of doctors from the Stony Brook Cancer Centre in New York approached the problem from different angles and use four approaches to reach their conclusion, including: computer modelling; population date and genetic approaches.

The doctors said that the results consistently suggested that 70-90 per cent of the risk was due to extrinsic factors.

Dr Yusuf Hannun, the director of Stony Brook told BBC News: “External factors play a big role, and people cannot hide behind bad luck.

“They can’t smoke and say its bad luck if they have cancer. It’s like a revolver, intrinsic risk is one bullet.”

Earlier in the year researchers sparked a debate after suggesting that two-thirds of cancer types were just ‘down to luck’ rather than factors such as smoking.

Dr Emma Smith from Cancer Research UK commented: “While healthy habits like not smoking, keeping a heathy weight, eating a healthy diet and cutting back on alcohol are not a guarantee against cancer, they do dramatically reduce the risk to developing the disease.


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