A recent study from Yale University found the factors causing changes in the DNA that contribute most to cancer growth in tumors of most major tumor types.
The finding brings clarity to a longstanding debate over how much control humans have over developing cancer over time.
In the study, the team looked at the instances of specific genetic mutations that can reveal the extent to which preventable exposures like ultraviolet light caused tumor growth in 24 cancers.
Some of the most prevalent cancers in the United States are known to be highly preventable by human decisions.
Skin cancers like melanoma emerge in large part because of prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light, and lung cancers can often be traced back to tobacco use.
Previously, scientists have shown that they can reliably predict how certain factors that cause specific mutations that alter the genome in tissues.
In the current study, the team showed the specific percentage of the blame to be assigned to known and unknown but identified factors in the emergence of cancer.
They suggest that some cancers are more controllable than others.
For example, preventable factors account for a large part of the formation of tumors of the bladder and skin.
However, the team found that prostate cancers and gliomas are largely attributable due to internal age-associated processes.
The team says populations or professions who suffer from inordinately high levels of cancer may also be able to use the findings to discover instances of exposure to carcinogenic substances.
The idea seems promising because capturing the proportion of factors could potentially expose the underlying causes which led to tumor growth.
Not all genetic changes that lead to tumors are incorporated into the current approach, so that more research is needed to fully understand complex genetic changes like duplicated genes or chromosomes.
If you care about cancer, please read studies that low-carb diet could increase overall cancer risk, and vitamin D supplements strongly reduces cancer death.
For more information about cancer, please see recent studies about new way to increase the longevity of cancer survivors, and results showing vitamin D could benefit men with advanced cancer.
The study was conducted by Jeffrey Townsend et al and published in Molecular Biology and Evolution.
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