How DNA dynamics can cause most major cancers

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A recent study from Yale University has brought new insights into the factors that most significantly influence cancer growth across various major tumor types.

The research has focused on identifying specific changes in DNA that fuel tumor development, distinguishing between mutations caused by preventable human behaviors and those due to aging or random chance.

In the United States, many common cancers are largely preventable based on lifestyle choices.

For example, skin cancers like melanoma are primarily caused by extended exposure to ultraviolet light, while the majority of lung cancers are linked to tobacco use.

However, quantifying how much of a person’s tumor development is due to such preventable actions versus unavoidable factors has long posed a challenge.

The Yale researchers have developed a method to examine the occurrence of specific genetic mutations and calculate their contribution to cancer progression in 24 different cancers.

This approach has enabled them to assign a specific percentage of blame to both known and unidentified factors that drive the emergence of tumors.

Their findings suggest that the role of preventable factors varies significantly among cancers. For instance, a large proportion of bladder and skin tumors can be attributed to avoidable behaviors.

In contrast, prostate cancers and gliomas—a type of brain tumor—are mostly linked to internal, age-related processes.

This knowledge is particularly valuable for local communities or professions with unusually high cancer rates, as it can help identify potential exposures to cancer-causing substances.

Understanding the proportion of cancer factors can unveil the primary causes of tumor growth, providing crucial insights for prevention and intervention.

However, the study also highlights the complexity of genetic mutations that lead to cancer.

Not all types of genetic alterations, such as duplicated genes or chromosomes, are currently included in their analytical model. Therefore, further research is necessary to fully comprehend these complex genetic changes.

Despite these limitations, the researchers believe their findings could significantly benefit public health efforts. By identifying the sources of cancer early, health officials may be able to prevent further tumor development and potentially save lives.

The study also touches on broader nutritional and lifestyle factors linked to cancer risk. Recent research indicates a connection between artificial sweeteners and an increased risk of cancer, as well as a higher likelihood of skin cancer associated with frequent fish consumption.

Moreover, other studies have raised concerns about the potential cancer risks of low-carb diets and highlighted the benefits of vitamin D supplements in reducing cancer mortality.

These insights into how different factors contribute to cancer development underscore the importance of a holistic approach to health and disease prevention.

The findings, published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution by Jeffrey Townsend and his team, pave the way for more targeted and effective public health strategies and enhance our understanding of the intricate relationship between our choices, our environment, and cancer.

For more information about cancer, please see recent studies that plant-based diets may reduce risk of colorectal cancer in men, and Low-fat diet may help stop cancer growth.

For more information about cancer, please see recent studies about How to harness the power of anti-cancer foods and supplements and results showing that Empower your plate: cancer-fighting foods and recipes.

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