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Friday, February 6, 2015

No, Cancer is Not Mostly Bad Luck - The Role of Environmental Factors

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No, cancer is NOT mostly bad luck. We've set the record straight in Science magazine (Ashford et al, 6 February 2015) after it published an article and accompanying editorial so full of misstatements that scientists around the world, including myself, felt compelled to correct the record with the facts. (See Science 2 January 2015 study by Drs. Tomasetti and Vogelstein and accompanying "bad luck of cancer" editorial by Jennifer Couzin-Frankel, with subsequent "backlash" editorial here).

Our letter to the editor of Science not only challenges the misstatements of the reports that most cancers are due to 'bad luck', but points out that such misstatements dangerously undermine successful efforts to prevent cancers. Many cancers are linked to diet, lifestyle factors, alcohol, tobacco, sexual activity, and environmental factors. There is overwhelming evidence that cancer and other life-threatening diseases can be prevented by improving diet and lifestyle habits, and limiting harmful exposures to environmental factors including some chemicals like formaldehyde and diesel exhaust, asbestos, some viruses, alcohol, radiation, and second hand smoke. People are exposed to carcinogens at work, home, school, and recreation areas. For example, there are cancer-causing chemicals in household products, building materials, personal care products, food and food additives, tobacco products, industrial emissions, and...

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