Environmental risks and inherited genes may cause some cancers, but bad luck is responsible for more than half cancer types.

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center found that random luck of an individual is also responsible for the development of cancer. Bert Vogelstein, the Clayton Professor of Oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, reveals that the study explains how some people drink and smoke and do not get cancer, while other who follow a healthy lifestyle are diagnosed with the disease.

Vogelstein explains that all cancers types are a result of a combination of heredity, environment factors and bad luck. The research team has developed a model, which assists to measure how these factors are responsible for the development of cancer.

The study compared stem cell divisions in about 31 cancer types and tried to establish which were associated to bad luck of random DNA mutations and which ones had greater incidence because of the combination of all bad luck and heredity or environmental factors.

"This study shows that you can add to your risk of getting cancers by smoking or other poor lifestyle factors," says Vogelstein. "However, many forms of cancer are due largely to the bad luck of acquiring a mutation in a cancer driver gene regardless of lifestyle and heredity factors."

Cristian Tomasetti, the co-researcher of the study, reveals that if the latest research suggests that about two-thirds of cancer incidents are due to bad luck, then more focus should be given to identify such cancers as early as possible to prevent further complications.

The researchers also revealed that the latest analysis does not include prostate or breast cancers, which are some of the most common types of cancers across the world. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that that breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women. In 2011, more than 220,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer and over 40,000 women died of breast cancer.

Similarly, prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in American men, which affected over 200,000 men in the country in 2011. About 28,000 men died due to prostate cancer in 2011.

The researchers suggest that even though bad luck is one of the factors that can lead to cancer, people should still try and follow a healthy lifestyle to avoid cancer in later part of life.

The study has been published in the journal Science.

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