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When a high-profile study this year concluded that many cases of cancer are the result of “bad luck,” the backlash was as furious as if the scientists had advised the public to enjoy a nice cigarette while lying on a tanning bed. “Problematic” and “dangerously misleading” were among the more polite reactions, especially when news stories reported that two-thirds of cancer cases are due to unlucky, intrinsic biology rather than, say, smoking, sunlight, and unhealthy diets.
Now the battle over whether cancer is largely the result of bad luck (meaning random errors that cells make when they divide) has escalated. In a study published in Nature, a team of statisticians and cancer biologists describes four lines of evidence — mathematical, epidemiological, and molecular — that undermine the idea that most cancers are the result of random biological mistakes.
Ironically, given the brickbats that flew when the “bad luck” study was published in January, that paper’s authors don’t really disagree.
“We definitely didn’t say that two-thirds of cancers are due to intrinsic factors,” said statistician Christian Tomasetti of Johns Hopkins University, a co-author of that controversial study. “It’s very clear that environmental factors affect cancer incidence.”
Read full, original post: Most cancers due to ‘bad luck’? Not so fast, says study