Scientists find hidden causes of most types of cancer

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Cancer is a disease that often seems to strike out of nowhere, leaving many to wonder if anything could have been done to prevent it.

Recently, researchers from Yale University took a closer look at what causes cancer to grow, especially looking at the changes in our DNA. They focused on understanding the major reasons behind the development of tumors in many types of cancer.

Let’s start by thinking about how some cancers are more likely to happen because of choices people make. For example, spending too much time in the sun without protection can lead to skin cancer.

Similarly, smoking cigarettes is a well-known cause of lung cancer. These are examples of how our actions can directly affect our risk of getting cancer.

However, the question of why one person gets cancer and another doesn’t can be complicated. Besides the risks we can control, like sun exposure or smoking, there are other factors at play, such as aging or just bad luck.

In the past, scientists have been able to predict how certain actions or environments can change our DNA in ways that might lead to cancer. But understanding the full picture has been a challenge.

In their recent study, the Yale team looked at 24 different kinds of cancer, searching for specific changes in the DNA that could tell us more about how these cancers start. They were particularly interested in mutations, which are changes in the DNA that can lead to cancer.

By analyzing these mutations, they could figure out how much of cancer’s development was due to things people could avoid, like UV light from the sun, versus things they couldn’t control.

Their findings were eye-opening. They were able to quantify, or measure, how much certain factors contributed to cancer. This means they could tell us, in percentage terms, how much of a particular cancer was caused by preventable actions and how much was due to other factors.

For instance, they found that a big portion of bladder and skin cancers could be prevented by changing our behavior. On the other hand, cancers like prostate cancer and gliomas (a type of brain tumor) were mostly due to factors beyond our control, like the natural aging process.

This research is particularly useful for communities or professions where cancer rates are unusually high. By understanding the causes of these cancers, people can identify harmful exposures to carcinogens, which are substances that can cause cancer.

This knowledge has the potential to uncover the root causes of cancer in these groups, leading to better prevention strategies.

However, the study didn’t cover all the ways that DNA can change to lead to cancer. More research is needed to get a complete picture, especially for complex changes like when genes or whole chromosomes are duplicated.

Despite these limitations, the findings are a step forward in the fight against cancer. They offer a way for public health officials to identify and act on cancer causes more quickly, which could prevent more cases of cancer and save lives.

In a world where cancer remains a leading cause of death, understanding its triggers is crucial. And as we learn more about what we can do to prevent cancer, we can all take steps to protect our health and the health of our loved ones.

This research not only sheds light on the complexities of cancer but also offers hope for more effective prevention in the future.

If you care about cancer risk, please read studies that exercise may stop cancer in its tracks, and vitamin D can cut cancer death risk.

For more information about cancer, please see recent studies that yogurt and high-fiber diet may cut lung cancer risk, and results showing that new cancer treatment may reawaken the immune system.

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