Latest Research Supports View That Most Cancers Are Triggered by Environmental Factors

Latest Research Supports View That Most Cancers Are Triggered by Environmental Factors

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Latest Research Supports View That Most Cancers Are Triggered by Environmental Factors

A study published in the Journal, Nature, today rebuts theories that cancers are just down to ‘bad luck’ and supports the view that the majority of cancers are triggered by external factors such as environmental contaminants, and lifestyle choices.

A team of researchers at Stony Brook University in New York used different mathematical models, epidemiological data and patterns in the mutation associated with certain cancers to calculate the contribution of environmental factors to cancer. They established that intrinsic factors, i.e. stem cell division, contribute “only modestly” (between 10 and 30%) to cancer development and rarely build up to a point of producing cancer and concluded that cancer risk is “heavily influenced” by extrinsic or external factors such as our environments and lifestyles.

The research supports the argument that far more could be done to prevent cancer and that cancer strategies must focus not just on early diagnosis and treatment but on removing as many external triggers as possible.

Lynn Ladbrook, Chief Executive of Breast Cancer UK said, “This study quashes the theory that getting cancer is just down to bad luck and upholds the view that a large number of cancers are preventable. To date, cancer strategies have marginalised prevention to lifestyle choices such as smoking, alcohol consumption and physical exercise. This study confirms what Breast Cancer UK has recognised all along - that environmental factors such as exposure to toxic chemicals are also a key risk factor for certain cancers and therefore should form part of any cancer prevention strategy.

In our response to the Independent Cancer task force, we called for a cancer strategy that prioritises the primary prevention of cancer that is based upon a comprehensive understanding of all of the causes of cancer, goes beyond lifestyle and genetics and acknowledges the role of harmful chemicals. This study corroborates the needs for such an approach and it is vital if we are to prevent the shocking statistic that half of us will get cancer at some point in lives from becoming a reality.”

Breast Cancer UK work to raise awareness of the environmental and chemical causes of breast cancer and provide advice on how women can reduce their exposure to harmful chemicals which might increase their risk of developing the disease.

For further information press contacts:

Lynn Ladbrook, Chief Executive - 07786 393181

Louise Bowers, Communications Manager - 07930 854 527

Notes to Editors

  1. View full report in the journal, Nature, here:

Further reading:

  1. Breast Cancer UK works to save lives and reduce breast cancer rates by tackling the environmental and chemical causes of the disease.

For more information on how to reduce your risk of chemical exposure, or how harmful chemicals are linked to breast cancer please visit our website:

Facebook: breastcanceruk

Twitter: @BreastCancer_UK

  1. Breast Cancer UK’s submission to the Cancer strategy
  1. Breast Cancer UK response to the cancer is bad luck story