Two-Thirds of Cancer Mutations Are Random and Unavoidable, Scientists Claim
PETER DOCKRILL 24 MAR 2017
Almost two-thirds of cancer mutations are caused by random DNA-copying errors during cell division and are impossible for us to avoid, regardless of lifestyle and the genes we inherit from our parents, according to new research.
The findings – which estimate that 66 percent of cancer mutations are effectively bad luck that we can’t do anything about – support the conclusions of a controversial paper released in 2015 by the same researchers, which came under fire for appearing to suggest that there was nothing we could do to prevent various cancers.
“It is well-known that we must avoid environmental factors such as smoking to decrease our risk of getting cancer. But it is not as well-known that each time a normal cell divides and copies its DNA to produce two new cells, it makes multiple mistakes,” says biostatistician Cristian Tomasetti.
“These copying mistakes are a potent source of cancer mutations that historically have been scientifically undervalued, and this new work provides the first estimate of the fraction of mutations caused by these mistakes.”
For some reason, the more nuanced message that some cancers are preventable, while many/most are not is unpalatable in some sectors. Could it be folks like the nutritional “supplements” industry, organic food faddists, and Enviro-scare-mongers? Might Warmistas be worried that critical reexamination of “settled science” in one realm might lead to critical reexamination of their “settled science”?
Less seriously, this is a good reminder that we are all, to some degree, mutants.