Cancers due to bad luck

Willows 001-A

The Willows, Hawaii.

Two-thirds of cancers are due to bad luck, and one-third is due to heredity and environmental factors.  So say two scientists at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.  By “bad luck,” they mean that healthy cells often mutate randomly, causing cancer.

This should bring a measure of relief to parents of children, stricken with leukemia.  Those parents blame themselves for not feeding their children healthy food or for possibly passing on a bad gene.  They feel guilty and wonder how they could have prevented their children’s cancer.

It’s true that eating right, exercising, and not smoking are helpful in maintaining good health, but it’s also true that random mutations can lead to cancer despite one’s precautions.

Sometimes, bad things happen to good people, and we don’t know why.  Aunty J died of lung cancer at the age of 59, despite being a non-smoker.

Here’s wishing all of us good luck and a life free of cancer!  Be gone random mutations!

15 Responses to “Cancers due to bad luck”

  1. Honest Abe Says:

    My lung doctor told me that only about 2% of smokers get lung cancer because the smoked. He also told me that about 98% of smokers get or have heart disease and other lung problems. I fit that part to a “T” and am thankful my lung has not collapsed in several years. I am on oxygen because smoking screwed both my lungs up.

  2. SchmidleysScribbling Says:

    Random mutations are the cause of evolution as well as bad stuff. Many genetic mutations are a double edged sword. Take the gene for sickle cell anemia. If both parents have the gene the child will die, but inherited from one parent and you have some immunity to a deadly disease carried by Mosquitos. The mutation arose as a result of the environment and those who had the single gene survived….in Africa.

    Unfortunately this single study won’t be the final answer. I read it in depth, and lung cancer among other illnesses is definitelyby linked to genes as well as behavior…I.e. So don’t smoke.

    One environmental stressor will not probably lead to an illness unless you are already genetically predisposed toward that illness. David has never smoked, but both his sister and his mother died from lung cancer, so he has some concern about that disease. The Johns Hopkins study says lung cancer is linked to an inherited gene that predisposes one to contract the disease.

    • gigihawaii Says:

      Well, among 10 siblings, Aunty J was the only one to contract lung cancer. Was hers a mutation, then?

      • SchmidleysScribbling Says:

        Siblings do not receive the same genetic makeup. Each person is an individual, (except in the case of multiple births). I am no expert on lung disease, but I know you can inherit a gene from a distant ancestor.

        I have been afraid of ALS because my paternal grandmother died with it. My Doc says its not an inherited disease, but no one know what causes it, so how could he know that?

        While working on my degree in demography at Georgetown, I took classes with mates who went on to become medical doctors, epidemiologists and public health practitioners some of whom work at Johns Hopkins.

        Medical research is quite complicated, and the study you reference is probably a summary study, where someone working on a PhD collected and summarized the work of many others. He or she could have misinterpreted the information in some way, and/or the news media might have done so after speaking with the PR person at Johns Hopkins.

        Not saying the study is wrong. I am skeptical that’s all. I wrote many things during my career and one thing I learned dealing with the press is they get things wrong. Another thing I learned is a study can be overturned by another study which says the opposite.

        As for cancer, my sister has had it and I have had it, but we had different kinds.

  3. Jan Says:

    I hear you, Gigi. Let’s hope that we will all avoid that awful disease. As one ages, however, it makes us more susceptible. Breast cancer runs in my family, and I feel very anxious about it.

  4. Suzanne Says:

    I agree. I know someone fighting state 4 colon cancer whose diet has been and still is stellar. Tons of organic fruits, vegetables, etc.

  5. Christine Says:

    I’ve often thought ‘we can be good and eat all the right things etc and still get cancer…this explains it…sigh’.

  6. Linda Reeder Says:

    Being healthy helps, especially to prevent heart disease, but ultimately it’s the luck of the draw.

  7. Joanne Noragon Says:

    I hear that report, and immediately thought of my mother, of a line of long lived women, who died at 79 of the only case of breast cancer ever in the family.

  8. Granny Annie Says:

    Then we all know an active centenarian who still smokes and drinks with seemingly no health problems at all.

  9. DeniseinVA Says:

    Very interesting Gigi and may we all live long and happy lives. Love your photo today. I forget to mention how much I enjoy them at the beginning of your posts.

  10. Olga Says:

    I often wonder when I here this diet or that supplement or some exercise regimen lowers the death rate. I am quite convinced that the death rate remains at 100% no matter what.
    On the other hand there ways to die that are considerably more painful and worrisome than others. Like cancer.

  11. Tahoe girl Says:

    I think my cancer was a mutation of cells. With multilpe myeloma, there’s no genetic thing. I think there was a rogue cell in my body and that led to the breakdown of other cells. The mutation continued, and wham.. I have multiple myeloma.

  12. Beatrice P. Boyd Says:

    It does seem so unfair and random when people who lead exemplary lives in terms of diet, etc. are diagnosed with this dreaded disease. I also think that perhaps environment could be a cause as there have been so many cancer-related passing in the small VA town/surrounding area where we have been living. There are many poultry farmers and fields dusted with chemicals which may have been accelerants. I am not certain, but just wondering.

  13. joared Says:

    I tend to believe the multitude of chemicals to which we are exposed in so many ways, including our food, are significant contributors to all these cell mutations for many diseases.

    As for all research studies, there’s a lot that needs to be known about them to be sure we should give them credence — the subjects, the variables, did they actually test what they thought they did & I’ve seen some where the results weren’t even summarized correctly. Media often sound bite them down in ways that fail to present all the pertinent info to fully understand. Quality of science writer is impt I think.

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