Most cancers due to extrinsic factors, research suggests

It has long been thought that environmental influences and lifestyle choices were risk factors for cancer incidence.  The Los Angeles Times (12/17, Healy) reports on a research study released this past month that confirms such a premise.  The study, published in Nature, indicates that a large majority of cancers are caused by extrinsic factors.  These are external factors such as cigarette smoking, obesity, ultraviolet radiation, and viruses.

This recent study seems to be at odds with controversial research released by a team at John’s Hopkins in January 2015.  That study seemed to indicate that most incidents of cancer were nothing more than bad luck.  As reported by STAT (12/17, Begley), researchers at Hopkins concentrated on intrinsic factors, concluding that two-thirds of cancers are due to cell division errors.

While the two studies seem to come to opposite conclusions, many believe that they both have merit.  In fact, it is possible that external elements can contribute to intrinsic risk factors, such as cell division.   According to a San Diego Union-Tribune (12/17, Fikes) report, the authors of the studies continue to debate their findings on the origins of certain cancers.   It is the opinion of most experts that both intrinsic and external factors play a role in cancer incidence.  Therefore, those patients who control their environmental factors will have a much more positive outcome overall.

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Steven J. Lipsky MD, FACEP has been a Board Certified Emergency Physician in Arizona for the last 37 years, and a resident of the Town of Paradise Valley for the last 37 years. Steve Lipsky on Google Plus[/author_info] [/author]

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