Most Cancer Mutations Are Caused by Random DNA Copying Errors
The Washington Post reports that a new study reveals that “more than two-thirds of cancer causing mutations are the result of random mistakes in DNA replication that occur when normal cells divide.” Humans have more than a trillion cells, which are constantly regenerating to create new cells. The scientists said that each time a cell regenerates, an average of three mistakes occur. Most mistakes will be fine, but some of these mistakes affect genes that will promote cancer.
Due to earlier studies the Hopkins researchers published stating that 40% of cancers can be prevented, they wanted to stress the “bad luck” factor with this study. While maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help to prevent cancer, it is important to remember that a large percentage of cancer mutations will occur regardless of a healthy lifestyle.
Another report from the Los Angeles Times says that investigators found that only 5% of cancer-causing mutations are inherited genetically. The same researchers reported that 29% are linked to environmental factors, such as applying sunscreen and getting vaccinations and the remaining 66% are caused by random errors in DNA transcription.