Cancer is mostly a result of external, environmental risk factors rather than down to "bad luck," according to a new study published in Nature magazine, which challenges prominent research into the causes of cancer.
Research into the causes of the disease have prompted clashes between scientists in recent months, with one study published in the journal Science earlier this year suggesting that two thirds of cancers were caused by chance – just plain old "bad luck," the study said -- rather than environmental factors or inherited predispositions.
The study was controversial as it implied that cancer, put down to the malignant transformation of cells that multiply within the body, was largely unavoidable and that it came down to the number of times a cell divides (giving rise to the "bad luck" conclusion).
The latest study on cancer development in Nature challenged the "bad luck" hypothesis, however, concluding that cancer risk is "heavily influenced by extrinsic factors" with only 10-30 percent of cancers down to intrinsic risk factors such as mutations.
The study was conducted by a team of doctors, including Song Wu, Scott Powers, Wei Zhu and led by Yusuf Hannun, at Stony Brook University in New York.
They found that there was a "substantial contribution of external risk factors to cancer development" including environmental factors like ultraviolet (UV) radiation and carcinogens, such as smoking.