General / Weekend News

“Lifestyle choices, not bad luck, greatest cause of cancer”, new study says

By Benjamin Flowers, Staff Reporter

A new study suggests that lifestyle choices are more responsible for people developing cancer than random genetic mutation.

The study, done by researchers at the Stony Brook Cancer Center in New York, U.S.A., was released this month in the online journal Nature. Researchers employed several techniques to gather data including: computer modelling, population data and genetic approaches, to conclude that between 70-90 percent of the risk was due to external factors.

Dr Yusuf Hannun, the director of Stony Brook explained to the international media that the research results put greater responsibility in the hands of people to mitigate their risk factors by making necessary lifestyle changes.

“They can’t smoke and say its bad luck if they have cancer. It is like a revolver, intrinsic risk is one bullet. And if playing Russian roulette, then maybe one in six will get cancer – that’s the intrinsic bad luck.“Now, what a smoker does is add two or three more bullets to that revolver. And now, they pull the trigger”, Hannun said.

Hannum added that on the merits of the research, people can reduce their cancer risks by following health guidelines which have been in circulation for years, such as: quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, eating a nutritious diet, and reducing exposure to sunlight.

Researchers in completing the research considered the results of other cancer studies which showed how immigrants moving from low cancer incidence countries to countries with high cancer incidence soon develop the same tumour rates, suggesting the risks are environmental rather than biological or genetic.

The stony Brook research was inspired by a study conducted in January, which suggested that 65 percent of cancers were inevitable because they are driven by random mistakes in cell division which lie outside of human control.

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