Thursday, October 18, 2018

Researchers Explore a Cancer Paradox

Cancer is known to be a disease cause by mutations of healthy cells, and scientists have discovered that it takes about 5 to 10 different mutations to turn healthy cells into cancer cells. Shockingly, this article discusses how a number of healthy cells actually turn out to be carriers for "primary drivers" of cancers. Scientists didn't know that so many mutations could be carried and not expressed, so this discovery has made a giant step in cancer research. They did a study on skin cells to try to find cancer-causing mutations in patients without cancer, and found 74 genes that are known to play a role in cancer. It was concluded that about one in four skin cells carries a mutation on a cancer linked gene, which is a crazy high number. Scientists thought that maybe this number was so high because they were testing skin cells, which are exposed to UV rays for long periods of time, so they looked at cells inside the body, as well. They found that there weren't as many cancer causing mutations in the esophagus as in the skin, but that there were still some. After multiple studies, they concluded that many of these mutations arose because of natural mutations, not smoking or any other outside force. While those are also helpful in aiding cancer cells' growth, they are not the only factors. The end of this article claimed that even a super healthy person has a pretty good chance of getting cancer, because genetic mutations are much more common than originally thought. Scientists hypothesized that cancer might not be as common as these studies would make one expect because as the cancer cells are growing, so are cloned cells that help fight the cancer cells. 
This article was super interesting to me because I always wondered how people get cancer, and what actually causes it. I have heard that almost everything can cause cancer, like sunblock or too much deodorant, and was never sure what was true and what wasn't. Most of those claims may have been hoaxes because cancer can arise from mutations within our own bodies, and people probably didn't realize that, or didn't want to believe it. It is so much easier for us to blame some other outside force rather than accept the fact that sometimes it just happens. Hopefully now that scientists understand the mutations that occur and cause cancer, they will be able to create genes to kill these cells or get rid of them in some way.

1 comment:

  1. The fact that the "healthy" cells that we have are actually carriers for the primary drivers of cancer shocks me. I have always believed that external forces such as smoking and UV rays are primary driving forces of what causes cancer, but the fact that cancer is driven by natural mutations in our body is something that shocks me. With this thought in mind, I believe that scientists can then stretch their research on a way to control these mutations in our cells to prevent DNA damage.