Overestimating the Role of Environment in Cancers.


In a recent article, Wu and colleagues (Nature 2016;529:43-47) review previous studies and present new estimates for the contribution of extrinsic factors to cancer development. The new estimates are generally close to 100%, even for bone and brain cancers that have no known associations with lifestyle and are typically not considered to be preventable. We find that the results of Wu and colleagues are incompatible with previous estimates derived from epidemiological and genetic data. We further argue that their methods are fundamentally flawed because they overlook important effects of tissue type on cancer risk. We therefore conclude that their results give a misleading view of cancer etiology and preventability. Cancer Prev Res; 9(10); 773-6. ©2016 AACR.


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