Monday, January 26, 2015

Random Chance and Cancer

In a previous Weekend Links post, I linked to an article from the NYTimes looking at recent research that suggests random chance is a major determinant of cancer in humans.  Last week the NYT published a follow-up article looking at this development from a different perspective.  The article is well worth the effort; here's the opening two paragraphs:
Unlike Ebola, polio or flu, cancer is a disease that arises from within -- a consequence of the mutations that inevitably occur when one of our 50 trillion cells divides and copies its DNA.
Some of these genetic misprints are caused by outside agents, chemical or biological, especially in parts of the body -- skin, lungs, and digestive tract -- most exposed to the ravages of the world. But millions every second occur purely by chance -- random, spontaneous glitches that may be the most pervasive carcinogen of all