01 Jan 1970 |

Cancer and lifestyle

17th December 2015

Nine in 10 cancers caused by lifestyle

Environmental and external factors such as smoking, drinking, sun exposure and air pollution account for nine in 10 cancers, new study shows

Up to nine in 10 cancers are caused by environmental and external factors such as smoking, drinking, sun exposure and air pollution, a new scientific study has found.

Previous research suggested that random cell mutations played a significant role in the development of tumours, a finding dubbed the ‘bad luck hypothesis.’

But scientists now believe that outside influences have a far greater impact, meaning many cancers may be more preventable than previously thought.

The finding is likely to prove controversial as it suggests that people could slash their risk of ever getting cancer if they just made lifestyle changes such as keeping out of the sun, exercising or cutting down on cigarettes.

One British statistician said that the results showed that between 70 and 90 per cent of cancers would not occur if we could ‘magic away’ all the external risk factors.

It follows on from a study published earlier this year which suggested that 65 per cent were inevitable and driven by random mistakes in cell division which are completely outside of our control.

Just one steak a week ‘can increase risk of bowel cancer’
Mothers ‘reduce risk of ovarian cancer with every child’
The 116 things that can give you cancer
The oil guide: which to use for frying.

The more times cells divide, the greater the chances that a mutation can occur, leading to cancer, Johns Hopkins University said in January, and claimed it explained why areas of the body where cell division occurred more quickly, such as the colon, were more likely to develop tumours.