It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.


Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.


New study claims that 'bad luck' plays a predominant role in the creation of cancerous cells.

page: 1
<<   2 >>

log in


posted on Jan, 2 2015 @ 04:18 AM
A new study performed by scientists from the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center show that random mutations, and thus bad luck, play a predominant role in the creation of cancerous cells. By their measure, two-thirds of adult cancer incidence across tissues can be explained primarily by 'bad luck', when these random mutations occur in genes that can drive cancer growth, while the remaining third are due to environmental factors and inherited genes.

The scientific news aggregator, ScienceDaily, reports:

"All cancers are caused by a combination of bad luck, the environment and heredity, and we've created a model that may help quantify how much of these three factors contribute to cancer development," says Bert Vogelstein, M.D., the Clayton Professor of Oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, co-director of the Ludwig Center at Johns Hopkins and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

"Cancer-free longevity in people exposed to cancer-causing agents, such as tobacco, is often attributed to their 'good genes,' but the truth is that most of them simply had good luck," adds Vogelstein, who cautions that poor lifestyles can add to the bad luck factor in the development of cancer.

The implications of their model range from altering public perception about cancer risk factors to the funding of cancer research, they say. "If two-thirds of cancer incidence across tissues is explained by random DNA mutations that occur when stem cells divide, then changing our lifestyle and habits will be a huge help in preventing certain cancers, but this may not be as effective for a variety of others," says biomathematician Cristian Tomasetti, Ph.D., an assistant professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health. "We should focus more resources on finding ways to detect such cancers at early, curable stages," he adds.

In a report on the statistical findings, published Jan. 2 in Science, Tomasetti and Vogelstein say they came to their conclusions by searching the scientific literature for information on the cumulative total number of divisions of stem cells among 31 tissue types during an average individual's lifetime. Stem cells "self-renew," thus repopulating cells that die off in a specific organ.

It was well-known, Vogelstein notes, that cancer arises when tissue-specific stem cells make random mistakes, or mutations, when one chemical letter in DNA is incorrectly swapped for another during the replication process in cell division. The more these mutations accumulate, the higher the risk that cells will grow unchecked, a hallmark of cancer. The actual contribution of these random mistakes to cancer incidence, in comparison to the contribution of hereditary or environmental factors, was not previously known, says Vogelstein.

To sort out the role of such random mutations in cancer risk, the Johns Hopkins scientists charted the number of stem cell divisions in 31 tissues and compared these rates with the lifetime risks of cancer in the same tissues among Americans. From this so-called data scatterplot, Tomasetti and Vogelstein determined the correlation between the total number of stem cell divisions and cancer risk to be 0.804. Mathematically, the closer this value is to one, the more stem cell divisions and cancer risk are correlated.

"Our study shows, in general, that a change in the number of stem cell divisions in a tissue type is highly correlated with a change in the incidence of cancer in that same tissue," says Vogelstein. One example, he says, is in colon tissue, which undergoes four times more stem cell divisions than small intestine tissue in humans. Likewise, colon cancer is much more prevalent than small intestinal cancer.

"You could argue that the colon is exposed to more environmental factors than the small intestine, which increases the potential rate of acquired mutations," says Tomasetti. However, the scientists saw the opposite finding in mouse colons, which had a lower number of stem cell divisions than in their small intestines, and, in mice, cancer incidence is lower in the colon than in the small intestine. They say this supports the key role of the total number of stem cell divisions in the development of cancer. Using statistical theory, the pair calculated how much of the variation in cancer risk can be explained by the number of stem cell divisions, which is 0.804 squared, or, in percentage form, approximately 65 percent.

Finally, the research duo classified the types of cancers they studied into two groups. They statistically calculated which cancer types had an incidence predicted by the number of stem cell divisions and which had higher incidence. They found that 22 cancer types could be largely explained by the "bad luck" factor of random DNA mutations during cell division. The other nine cancer types had incidents higher than predicted by "bad luck" and were presumably due to a combination of bad luck plus environmental or inherited factors.

"We found that the types of cancer that had higher risk than predicted by the number of stem cell divisions were precisely the ones you'd expect, including lung cancer, which is linked to smoking, skin cancer, linked to sun exposure, and forms of cancers associated with hereditary syndromes," says Vogelstein. "This study shows that you can add to your risk of getting cancers by smoking or other poor lifestyle factors. However, many forms of cancer are due largely to the bad luck of acquiring a mutation in a cancer driver gene regardless of lifestyle and heredity factors. The best way to eradicate these cancers will be through early detection, when they are still curable by surgery," adds Vogelstein.

The scientists note that some cancers, such as breast and prostate cancer, were not included in the report because of their inability to find reliable stem cell division rates in the scientific literature. They hope that other scientists will help refine their statistical model by finding more precise stem cell division rates.

Read the original paper at ScienceMag. The article is behind a paywall of 20USD or above.
edit on 201512 by loremipsum because: Added more information regarding source of paper.

edit on 201512 by loremipsum because: Changed 'shows' to claims.

posted on Jan, 2 2015 @ 04:34 AM
Everyone gets cancerous cells, that's inevitable. But the proliferation of those cells into dangerous tumors is not. It's all about how you treat your body.

Diet is by far the biggest factor in determining that. (skip to 10 minutes in for the cancer research, but the whole video is jam-packed with nutritional data)

Or go to and simply put "cancer" into the search bar. This crap isn't so deadly when you're equipped with proper knowledge.
edit on 1 2 2015 by Son of Will because: Links/typos/handheld blabla

edit on 1 2 2015 by Son of Will because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 2 2015 @ 05:15 AM
I think we need to careful with headlines like this. Sure, it seems unlucky in some cancer cases, but with cancer rates almost at 30 times the levels of the 1950's then I think there is more to it than luck.

There certainly seems to be a link between the chemicals used in farming and therefore finding their way into the food chain, so diet certainly appears to make a big difference.

This sort of language only confuses the issues and could possibly allow a lot of corporations off the hook, as they could now point to studies to suggest it is not their products or production methods that have caused cancer. This could in turn lead to them getting away with all sorts in the future, without even having to concern themselves with their practices.

posted on Jan, 2 2015 @ 05:34 AM
a reply to: Cobaltic1978

I agree, and especially with the fourth paragraph. Thus I changed the headline to 'claims' instead of 'shows'. After all, it's just one study that was conducted, not many.

posted on Jan, 2 2015 @ 05:41 AM
a reply to: loremipsum

To assume all things equal as far as suggesting that "bad luck" is responsible for many cancers seems to be to overlook environmental causes not directly related to the body. These triggers would be outside biological elements, chemological elements and electrical elements that send normal cells into a disruptive condition either individually or in combinations.
I would label this study as bad science, and one could call it a Whitewash" designed to disallow many manmade causes of cancer. Having been there, I must admit my biased position however.

posted on Jan, 2 2015 @ 06:03 AM
Hilarious I could be that scientist saying that cancer is just bad luck! What a bunch of BS sorry for my rant here..

I would be suprised when the doctor would say: you've been diagnosed with Bad luck...sigh

posted on Jan, 2 2015 @ 06:07 AM
a reply to: loremipsum

I was going to say 'no its not, its caused by the environment in which we live and work' in answer to the Headline of 'bad luck' causing it, but then i read they also say one third is down to the Environment... I say this doesn't make sense because if we didn't live and work in the Environment, we wouldn't get the 'Cancer' which is cause by it, therefor 'bad luck' wouldn't come into it.

posted on Jan, 2 2015 @ 06:23 AM
And I always thought lifestyle, work environment and health choices where the predominant factors.

Now it's "bad luck".

posted on Jan, 2 2015 @ 07:10 AM
In theory it's bad luck, even the most healthiest person can get cancer.
But factors like environment, diet, etc can make cells weak, which then makes your chances of getting 'bad luck' that much more. Cancer starts at the enzyme and DNA level, when a cell replicates itself something goes wrong in the DNA, the body doesn't detect this because it's such a small mutation, over time these useless cells mass with the broken DNA, which is why you get tumors.
I've always thought researches have known this for years.
I guess where ever I read it was ahead of their time?

Makes you think about where cancer research funds go, and how it's handled.
edit on 2-1-2015 by strongfp because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 2 2015 @ 07:45 AM
The problem is that statistical analysis determines probabilities, and probabilities can look completely random. When you sift through the methodology and data, all they are saying is that any two people of similar lifetsyle and diet in a similar environment have an equal chance of getting cancer because each cellular reproduction has an equal chance of having a mutation that results in cancer. That is where random chance, or "luck" comes in. Obviously, individuals with different lifestyles or living in different environments have different probabilities of getting cancer. This has been proven in countless studies.

posted on Jan, 2 2015 @ 08:05 AM
The clue here is environmental factors, of which diet is the main culprit. Changing our diet too fast is the main culprit. It changes the way our genes are expressed and can lead to mutations. With the introduction of so much new food chemistry in a short period of time, it is no surprise that cancer rates are increasing so fast. Some say that cancer deaths are not increasing. That is sidestepping the truth. The cancer treatments are killing people, the cancer is causing secondary issues that kill us even after the cancer is killed. I know a lot of people who have had cancer, most within the last thirty years. Every year more and more people seem to be getting cancer.

Now, if you die of pneumonia six months after your cancer surgery which was caused by messing with your immune system during cancer treatment, the cause of death will not state that cancer killed you. It did because the treatment weakened you.

Get the unnatural food chemistry out of our foods. If your ancestors did not eat Avocados, you need to build up tolerance over a few generations to be able to deal with this food. I choose this food because it is a Fad right now, not because it is a definite cause of cancer. Changing food chemistry too fast contributes to a lot of diseases and conditions, adding one food can make you intolerant to a food you have consumed all your life too. Sometimes a change can help, but it requires monitoring. We have to worry about how it effects our thinking too, not just health. All foods, even water has an effect on our thinking. We just can't comprehend it. Foods alter the brain chemical creation. If you want to feel good, you choose foods to accomplish this, if you want to be serious you alter your eating. This is tied to your physiology, what works for one person does not work the same for another. Changing brain chemistry changes the way that we fight disease. Sometimes it is good and sometimes it is bad. I haven't been studying this long enough to figure out what is good or bad yet. Moderation and diversity is critical within the bounds of your ancestral food limits.

Are your genes bad because you were led to believe you can eat food that you can't tolerate? Are your genes to blame because you cannot tolerate the medicines they are creating? They keep insinuating that this intolerance is somehow our fault, we are unlucky.
edit on 2-1-2015 by rickymouse because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 2 2015 @ 08:13 AM
i went to the doctor the other day, this is all i got to say.

edit on 2-1-2015 by hounddoghowlie because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 2 2015 @ 08:28 AM
May I reply a resounding BULL**IT.

If "bad luck" is the cause of cancer, then bad luck runs in my family. I'm 50 and I fully expect to be dead by 65. My Dad and all of his brothers were. And guess what killed every single one.

posted on Jan, 2 2015 @ 09:03 AM
There's some Pseudo-Science if ever I've heard any...

What a ridiculously superstitious thing to say.

He might as well have said it's the Devil's fault.

posted on Jan, 2 2015 @ 09:09 AM
Bad luck indeed.

Bad luck that the MIC has fueled the non-stop melt-downs at Fukushima these past three years.

Cancer has increased from trivial rates at the turn of the 19th century to the current likelihood that 50% of the worlds population will be diagnosed with it.

And that fifty percentile is increasing exponentially.

"Bad luck"?

Yeah, right.

posted on Jan, 2 2015 @ 09:23 AM
a reply to: Psynic

Cancer has increased from trivial rates at the turn of the 19th century to the current likelihood that 50% of the worlds population will be diagnosed with it.

This is because hardly anyone outside of developing countries dies of malaria, diptheria, influenza, polio, malnutrition or other diseases which modern sanitation and medicine can prevent or cure.

posted on Jan, 2 2015 @ 11:07 AM

originally posted by: DJW001
a reply to: Psynic

Cancer has increased from trivial rates at the turn of the 19th century to the current likelihood that 50% of the worlds population will be diagnosed with it.

This is because hardly anyone outside of developing countries dies of malaria, diptheria, influenza, polio, malnutrition or other diseases which modern sanitation and medicine can prevent or cure.

another thing to take into account is that diagnostic medicine has taken huge bounds and leaps forward. Nowadays cancers can be detected much earlier, and much better. When I was a kid, lots of people died from other mysterious diseases, and very seldom people died from diagnosed cancer. Most of those mysterious diseases is now diagnosed as some sort of cancer. Yes, it is a roll of dice, just as much as any part of our makeup is determined. Some people are more disposed to develop cancer as a result of smoking, exposed to environmental factors, etc, but it is still a role of dice. There is always a chance of something going wrong when a cell replicates. Some people are more genetically predisposed to have something going wrong than others.

posted on Jan, 2 2015 @ 12:14 PM
I always thought cancer ran in my family, but apparently it's only bad luck that runs in my Genetics.. phew..

posted on Jan, 2 2015 @ 12:21 PM
a reply to: Psynic

Live for long enough, cancer will get you. We're getting better at diagnosing it and treating it, that is all.

posted on Jan, 2 2015 @ 12:22 PM
a reply to: CharlieSpeirs

Did you even read the article?

top topics

<<   2 >>

log in