Cancer, Environment and Lifestyle

This month, the International Agency for Research on Cancer responded to claims by two doctors in January that different cancers are often the result of “bad luck.”

On January 2, 2015, Dr. Cristian Tomasetti and Dr. Bert Vogelstein claimed in Science that their study of stem cell divisions shows that many known cancers are the result of “random mutations” instead of other factors, such as environmental conditions, genetics or lifestyle.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer pointed out in a February 13 press release that the two doctors have completely ignored the extensive research and data that shows that environment, genetics and lifestyle do often cause cancer.

IARC Director Christopher Wild noted that even though chance can play a role in cancer developing in any single person, Tomasetti and Vogelstein have done little to address “cancer risk in a population” and how cancer connects to certain disease. Their study also only dealt with rare cancers instead of more common ones and they only looked at cases in the United States.

Wild then mentioned that 50 years of research has shown that certain populations worldwide have been more susceptible to certain cancers without ties to genetics or bad luck. Sultan reported that he also made it clear that environment and lifestyle have both been linked to many common cancers, which means that “nearly half” of those cancers are preventable by making environment and lifestyle changes.

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