‘90% of cancers caused by lifestyles, environment’
THE verdict is out: rising cases of cancer in Nigeria and across the world is not down to bad luck and genes but to unhealthy lifestyles and environmental factors.
In a study published in Nature, doctors said that factors, from diet to sunlight, cigarettes and disease, play a far bigger role in fuelling cancer than dodgy Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA).
They said up 90 per cent of cancer cases would be wiped off if all these triggers could be avoided.
Dr. Emma Smith, of Cancer Research United Kingdom (UK), said: “Healthy habits like not smoking, keeping a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet and cutting back on alcohol are not a guarantee against cancer but they do dramatically reduce the risk of developing the disease.”
Writing in the journal Nature, he said that the genes inherited from parents only account for a very small number of cancer cases.
While the advice may not seem surprising, scientists are divided about how much cancer is caused by what people do and how much is unavoidable.
The controversy was stoked a year ago by research which claimed that most cases are caused by errors in DNA that are generated at random as the body ages and its cells divide.
The researchers said this meant that most cases of cancer were down to ‘bad luck’, rather than an unhealthy lifestyle.
It said that for one or two out of three cancer victims, the cumulative effect of random mistakes in genes is to blame for the disease rather than poor choices about how they lived their lives or ‘chose’ their parents.
The latest study involved four analyses of the causes of cancer and used some of the same data as the first piece of research.
However, it came to the opposite conclusion, suggesting that cancer incidence is far too high to be explained by simple mutations in cell division alone.
They said, if random mutations were to blame, there would be far fewer cases of cancer than there are.