Nine in 10 Cancers Caused by Lifestyle

Nine in 10 Cancers Caused by Lifestyle Nine in 10 Cancers Caused by Lifestyle

Environmental and external factors such as smoking, drinking, sun exposure and air pollution may account for up to nine out of 10 cancers, a new study claims.

It was previously believed that random cell mutations played a significant role in the development of tumors, researchers said.

However, scientists at the Stony Brook University in New York now believe that outside influences have a far greater impact, meaning many cancers may be more preventable than previously thought.

Researchers said that cancer incidence is far too high to be explained away by simple mutations in cell division, news outlets reported on Thursday.

“Here we provide evidence that intrinsic risk factors contribute only modestly to cancer development. The rates of mutation accumulation by intrinsic processes are not sufficient to account for the observed cancer risks,” said Yusuf Hannun of Stony Brook University.

Researchers looked at previous studies which have shown how immigrants moving from low cancer incidence to countries with high cancer incidence soon develop the same tumor rates, suggesting the risks are environmental rather than biological or genetic.

For many common types of cancer, the study concludes that at least 70% to 90% of the cancers are due to external risk factors.

Researchers said that nearly 75% of the risk of colorectal cancer is now believed to be due to diet. Nearly 86% of the risk of skin cancer is due to sun exposure while 75% of chances of developing head and neck cancers is because of tobacco and alcohol.

Although some rare cancers can be driven by genetic mutations, the most prevalent diseases are down to environmental factors, researchers said, adding that it is important that these ‘extrinsic’ factors are taken into account in cancer prevention and research.

he finding is likely to prove controversial as it suggests that people could slash their risk of ever getting cancer if they just made lifestyle changes such as keeping out of the sun, exercising or cutting down on cigarettes, researchers said.

The findings were published in the journal Nature.