A recently published study ties cancer to unhealthy lifestyle rather than heredity. A group of British researchers found that smoking, bad diet, substance abuse, air pollution have a much greater influence on our risk of cancer than the elusive ‘bad genes.’
Researchers at the Cancer Research UK found that 90 percent of cancers are tied to unhealthy lifestyle choices or a bad environment. The team also noted that staying away from cigarettes, controlling one’s weight, removing unhealthy foods from diet, and consuming alcohol with moderation considerably reduce risk of cancer. On the other hand, a healthy lifestyle does not guarantee that we would stay cancer-free.
The latest study could help shed some light on what exactly triggers cancer. For years, researchers have debated over whether the disease is associated with a family history, bad genes, pollution or unhealthy lifestyle.
A few years ago, a study found that cancer may be caused by faulty genes created while cells divide or the body is undergoing aging processes. That study had concluded that cancer was a matter of ‘bad luck,’ so any prevention measures had been deemed useless.
That old study found that two of three cancer patients were affected by mistakes in their genes rather than their bad lifestyle behaviors. But the latest research has a different version of the story.
After performing four separate analyses of what triggers cancer, U.K. researchers reached the opposite conclusion despite them using the same data set as the former study. The U.K. team argued that cancer occurrence is by far too high to be explained by random, and relatively rare genetic mutations.
The latest study concluded that if genetics played a decisive role in cancer, cancer cases would be less frequent than we see today. Dr Yusuf Hannun, lead author of the British study, didn’t dismiss genetic causes, but he said that other factors may play a much important role.
Dr. Hannun mentioned diet, substance abuse, smoking, inflammation, air pollution, sunburn among the more probable triggers of cancer. He explained that previous research had shown that many people settling in a country with high rates of cancer eventually developed cancer although they came from regions with a low cancer incidence. This is why, British researchers believe that cancer may be triggered by environment rather than genetics.
The team also analyzed cell division in various samples to see whether mutations could lead to cancer. Researchers reported that rarely cells divided to the point of triggering the disease even in tissue, that naturally has a high cell division.
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