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Cancer Largely Due to Biological ‘Bad Luck’ Rather Than Behavior

Cancer in most cases may be the result of biological bad luck rather than caused by genes or behavior, with the random division of stem cells making people more vulnerable to mutations, a new study shows.

A formula that plotted the number of stem-cell divisions over a lifetime against the risk of cancer showed a correlation and explained two-thirds of cases, according to a research paper published this week in the journal Science. The study, conducted by mathematician Cristian Tomasetti and geneticist Bert Vogelstein of Johns Hopkins University, is based on previously published cancer statistics.