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Review: Cancer and Random Genes: Fortune Favors the Prepared

Review: Cancer and Random Genes: Fortune Favors the Prepared

January 8, 2015 | Author: Dr. David Katz
dr. david katz

A recent study in Science purportedly demonstrated that cancer is more random than previously thought. This, predictably, has led to high-profile publications in mainstream media suggesting that cancer results more from “bad luck” than factors over which we exercise some control.

If that epiphany bothered you, I am glad to provide a prompt remedy: It is not true.

The researchers studied the rate of potentially cancer-causing genetic mutations in different tissues, with extrapolations based on a computer model derived from the number and frequency of cell divisions. The research showed that many ominous mutations happen spontaneously, meaning they are not passed down from one generation to the next; and such mutations happen more often in tissues that divide often. [Read the rest of the article here]

Thank you, Dr. Katz, for your comments on the Jan. 2 Science article and the Jan. 6 New York Times take on it. I completely agree with you that cancer is not random bad luck but a disease we can largely control. Without a doubt, lifestyle factors influence the development of cancer more than genes — Scandinavian research on adoptees and twins has proven that! It is our lifestyle choices that determine whether mutated genes express themselves. I am glad you are a champion for those of us who wish to take some responsibility for our health rather than those who are relieved to have an excuse not to!
Susan Silberstein, PhD
Founder and Educational Director,

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