‘Bad Luck’ Mutations Linked to Higher Cancer Risk in New Study

‘Bad Luck’ Mutations Linked to Higher Cancer Risk in New Study

Nearly 66 percent of the genetic mutations that turn into cancer are caused by ‘random replication errors’ during ongoing cell replacement process and environmental factors account for 29 percent of mutations that lead to cancer, as per a new study. The study published in the journal Science has estimated that 5 percent of mutations are inherited and environment plays a smaller role compared to what was estimated by medical researchers earlier.

The study team informed that mutations are mistakes during normal cell division process. However, most of these mutations are harmless. Most of these mutations occur in junk DNA. However, researchers consider it ‘bad luck’ in certain cases when these random cell division mistakes occur in a cancer driving gene.

The study was led by Johns Hopkins researchers Cristian Tomasetti and Dr. Bert Vogelstein.

The research team informed that lifestyle still plays an important role in cancer risk among individuals. Earlier research has claimed that obesity could be reason behind many cancer cases and leading a healthy lifestyle is important for people to reduce their risk of cancer. For 31 cancers, the researchers first estimated the number of stem cells in tissues where disease arose and then they estimated the rate at which these cells divide.

As per CNN report, “For their new study, Tomasetti and Vogelstein worked with Lu Li, a doctoral student at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, to analyze genome sequencing and epidemiologic data from 32 cancer types, including breast and prostate cancers. This time, the research team concluded that nearly two-thirds of mutations in these cancers are attributable to random errors that occur naturally in healthy, dividing cells during DNA replication.”

Dr. Vogelstein informed, "We hope this research offers comfort to the literally millions of patients who have developed cancer but have led near perfect lifestyles. Non-smokers who have avoided the sun, these cancer patients eat healthy diets, exercised and done everything to prevent cancer. But they still get it."

Many research projects have blamed environmental and behavioral factors as a reason for higher cancer risk in the recent years. Also, many cancer cases have been linked to inherited genetic mutations. Dr. Tomasetti said, “This is the current paradigm and we feel that our new research breaks this paradigm. We discovered there's a third factor that actually causes most of the mutations -- random errors made during normal cell division.”

The research team added that we need a new and effective strategy to deal with cancer. While medical research has found effective treatment for many other high-risk and chronic ailments, cancer treatment has made relatively smaller progress in the past few years.