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Are researchers right? Can simple bad luck really be behind the cause of cancer?

by , 15 January 2015

When you think about the cause of cancer, you usually think about genetic risk and environmental factors, right?

Well, now researchers know of another cause: Simple bad luck.

That's right!

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine recently discovered two thirds of cancers form accidentally.

Read on to find out more…

You can compare your risk of cancer to the roll of a dice

Just like when you roll a set of die and you don’t know what numbers they’ll land on, cancer can develop due to sheer fluke.
That’s what Dr Bert Vogelstein and Prof Cristian Tomasetti discovered when they began to look into the real cause of cancer.
They took 31 tissues and determined the number of times the cells within them divided in a certain time period. Then, they looked at the risk of cancer forming within those specific tissues.
When they compared the two sets of data, they had statistical evidence that connected the rate of cell division and chance of cancer forming.
But it’s not only the rate at which cells divide that leaves you with a higher cancer risk. It’s purely because the cells divide that your risk of cancer goes up!
And it’s a case of bad luck when something goes wrong as the cells divide.
Here’s why…

As your cells divide, errors occur which causes your risk of cancer to soar

The more your cells need to repair themselves, the more your cells divide to form new cells.
When they’re exchanging DNA and making new cells, sometimes mutations take place and the cell’s function changes. And this is the cause of a cancerous cell forming.
But why do these mutations take place?
Well, it’s because of the pure number of cell divisions required by the specific cell!
The more the cell divides, the higher the chance of something going wrong.
Just think about when you need to file a stack of papers. During the first part of the filing process, you’re able to quickly place each paper into it’s relevant file, but the more of the work you get through, the more likely you are to start putting papers into the wrong files.
And this is what happens when your genes are slotting into their relevant places during cell division.
Luckily, researchers say it’s a combination of bad luck, lifestyle factors and genetics that together form your risk of cancer.
While you can’t change your luck or genetics, you can change your lifestyle factors that leave you at higher risk of cancer.

Lower your risk of cancer by changing these three lifestyle factors

Lifestyle factor #1: Movement
The less you move, the higher your cancer risk. This because exercise helps beat inflammation, which is one of the greatest causes of cancer.
It’s easy to add exercise to your daily routine! Just 30 minutes five days is all it takes to stay active.
Do things you enjoy, like gardening, playing with the kids, dancing or taking part in a class at gym.
Lifestyle factor #2: Eating clean
The foods you eat play a huge role in your cancer risk.
If you continue to eat processed, fatty foods along with lots of salt and sugar, you’re raising your cancer risk.
The trick to keeping your diet from leaving you with cancer is to eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and other healthy foods.
Lifestyle factor #3: Dealing with stress
Stress has one of the biggest effects on your health. Constantly high cortisol levels damage every part of your body and make you more vulnerable to cancers forming.
Recognise the situations that leave you feeling stressed and learn to cope with them before they can manifest and ruin your health.
Practice breathing techniques to keep your mind in control and be sure to take part in regular exercise as it’s a great way to relieve and prevent stress.
While it comes as a shock to hear that the cause of cancer is largely due to bad luck, there is something you can do to lower your risk. So make changes to your life today to protect your health and keep cancer out of your future.
  1. http://www.gizmag.com/cancers-bad-luck/35455/
  2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-couzens/cancer-it-sure-aint-good-_b_6433518.html
  3. http://news.sciencemag.org/biology/2015/01/bad-luck-and-cancer-science-reporter-s-reflections-controversial-story
  4. http://www.forbes.com/sites/geoffreykabat/2015/01/04/most-cancers-may-simply-be-due-to-bad-luck/

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