Most types of cancer not due to bad luck

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), WHO’s specialized cancer agency, strongly disagrees with the conclusion of a scientific report on the causes of human cancer by Dr Cristian Tomasetti and Dr Bert Vogelstein, published in the journal “Science” on 2 January 2015 and widely reported in the mass media.

The study suggests that random mutations (or “bad luck”) are the major contributors to cancer overall, often more important than either hereditary or external environmental factors.

“We already knew that, for an individual to develop a certain cancer, there is an element of chance, yet this has little to say about the level of cancer risk in a population,” explains IARC Director Dr Christopher Wild. “Concluding that ‘bad luck’ is the major cause of cancer would be misleading and may detract from efforts to identify the causes of the disease and effectively prevent it.”

According to current knowledge, nearly half of all cancer cases worldwide can be prevented.