Popular Science

Two thirds of cancer mutations result from completely random DNA mistakes

An increased focus on early detection will be needed to effectively treat the disease
A breast cancer cell, photographed by a scanning electron microscope, which produces a 3-dimensional images.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
a yellow breast cancer cell on a red background

Wikimedia Commons

A breast cancer cell, photographed by a scanning electron microscope, which produces a 3-dimensional images.

Humans have forever questioned what causes human cancer. And we’ve come a long way: Early theories proposed by Hippocrates in the middle ages suggested the disease arose from supposed “black bile” accumulating in the body. This and other subsequent theories—like cancer cells themselves as infectious, contagious agents—have been debunked by modern research. Scientists now understand cancer arises from mutations created in our DNA when cells replicate and three factors cause those mutations: Environmental, hereditary, and random ones. However, the influence of one

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