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Causes Of Cancer

Is Cancer Caused by Genetics or the Environment?

Methodology and Experimental Design

This experiment survey shall be conducted on a selected sample size of cancer infected individuals as well as their community controls. The victims and their controls shall be matched on age and gender. Based on these individuals the outcome will be analyzed statistically, and deductions drawn from the result.

Project Expected Results (Dummy Data)

From the data provided, of the 21 individuals assessed for genetic factors as causes of cancer, 17 did not show an association between genetic inheritance and the development of cancer. Four of the individuals assessed were likely to have inherited their cancer from their parents. There is no significant association between cancer and genetic inheritance. This represents an odds ratio of 4.25 at 95% confidence level. The case is also true for those individuals whose cancer is attributed to the environment but unlike genetic inheritance, the association is in favor to environmental factors. There is a significant relation between environmental factors and the development of cancer with 4 out of the 21 individuals having their cancer attributed to their environment.

Detailed Discussion

Some cancers are being suspected of running in the family genes through inheritance of cancerous cells. Most cancers have no clear link to genes acquired through parental lineage. It is evident that gene modifications from a single cell through the growth process in a person lead to the development of cancer. With scientific advancement in the study of genes activities, the working of a cell can be studied. The environmental modification of these genes is of critical importance given the ever-changing surrounding. The cell cycle is highly dependent on environmental factors including diet and gas inhaled. Determination of the contributions of both genes and the environment towards the development of oncogenes hence cancer is of significant importance. The outcome can be relied upon to add knowledge into the cancer research and subsequent control of elimination. One might, therefore, wonder if there is any correlation between genetic factors or environmental factors and the development of cancer.

From the output, it is evident that the environment has a role to play in the conversion of normal cells into cancerous ones as a person matures. This can be attributed to the various types of cancer as they are in a relation to a variety of environmental factors based on occupation, habitat, and even nutrition. Genetic inheritance of cancerous cells is not significantly associated with the development of cancer but it cannot be ignored. The challenge of confirming the role of genetic inherited cancer cells is the inability to accurately obtain evidence of heritable cells from generations far behind the individual of interest.

The conflict of variables whereby one is exposed to both genetic and environmental factor may arise thereby compromising to some degree the accuracy of the conclusions. The outcome of this data goes to reject the null hypothesis on the relationship between environmental factors and cancer but reject the alternative hypothesis that genetic inheritance of cancerous cells has a role to play towards the disease’s development. 

Cancer is a disease that is characterized by uncontrolled cell growth. In recent years, there has been explosion of fatalities resulting from the disease. The key interest in cancer research is to demonstrate the actual cause of the disease. It has not been clear whether cancer is caused by genetic inheritance or by environmental factors. This study was carried out through the survey on a case control of cancer infected individuals against their environment. The survey shall also be carried out on the association between genetics in family trees and probabilities of developing cancer. The outcome will be used to draw scientific deductions on the role of the environment or genetics in the development of cancer (Rushton, 2010).

In a study conducted by Rapp et al. (2005), several environmental factors have been shown to lead to the development of cancer. The findings linked people’s occupations, hence the things they are exposed to on a daily basis in their line of duty and the development of cancer. Some of the things that are thought to be causing cancer in the environment include radiofrequency radiations, exposure to pesticides, butadiene exposure, air pollution that causes lung cancer, mineral oils and fluids used in metal works. These environmental exposures give a significant pointer towards the significance of environmental causes of cancer.

There is limited evidence to suggest an association between cancer and genetics in patients that have hypothetical outcomes. Solid evidence linking the two is not available and clinical studies and follow ups show limited association if any. Nonpolyposis colorectal type of cancer has been linked with genetic inheritance. Given the numerous types of cancer that affect humans, an association between only one form of cancer and genetics is insufficient to draw deductions on.

A normally inherited cell can turn cancerous. This cell is commonly known as an oncogene despite being inherited normal. In an ordinary cell cycle there are measures that help prevent the maturation and multiplication of abnormal cell. In this cycle there are genes that help in the repair of portions of the cell that are either mutated or damaged to prevent them from going to the next cell cycle. This helps in stabilizing the genome and prevention of growth of cancerous cells through accumulation of mutations. Tumor suppressor genes stop the cell cycle of cancerous cells thereby avoiding their passage into the next cycle (Witschi et al., 2000).

There are chemicals that can affect the human. The research on how these traces of external elements lead to cancer infection has been a key concern. There has not been a clear link between these two variables hence need for more insight and research on these relationship. Previous studies have shown that about 60% of deaths as a result of cancer in America are a result of lifestyle which includes smoking and poor diet.

The research though fails to address the rest of the population that die from cancer consisting of 40% of the total. Despite the gap in knowledge, some experts are already casting doubts on the contribution of these environmental factors in the development of cancer terming it baseless since it has low figures that make it irrelevant in cancer studies. The intertwining nature of aspects surrounding lifestyle, genetics, and environmental factors make it even harder for the research to draw a distinctive boundary on each attribute’s contribution to the disease.

From birth to old age, there is constant exposure to dangerous chemicals and carcinogens in the environment. This could be predictor if age was a constant factor, but on the contrary, even younger people are being diagnosed with cancer. The National Institute of Health in America has identified and categorized compounds called human carcinogens that are suspected to lead to the various types of cancers. These could be in the items we apply on our bodies, in the air we breathe, and on the foods we consume. Human leukemia has been strongly associated with benzene which is released as an exhaust fumes from cars. Other radioactive gasses like radon have been strongly associated with lung cancer while skin and liver cancers have been attributed to arsenic gas. Other carcinogenic compounds to humans include aflatoxins in cereals, asbestos in construction materials, and chromium.

Majority of studies in epidemiology are of the opinion that precautionary principles should be instilled instead of assigning each environmental factor to specific cancer type. However, the control over the disease as a whole should be done through avoidance of all these predisposing environmental factors.

A report by Richard Doll in 1981 estimated that two percent of deaths resulting from cancer were those resulting from exposures to environmental pollution. Given the current industrial revolution, pollution to the environment is considered a factor that cause cancer especially given the number cases in recent times (Hajdu, 2011).

In conclusion, there is a need to conduct more accurate surveys and even genetic mapping experiments to determine the exact genes involved. Environmental factors need to be explored further to determine the chemical composition of these factors as well as draw correlation on the interactions between these environmental chemical compositions and the cells in relation to cancer development (Wynia and Dunn, 2010). The study investigated the roles of both genetic and environmental factors in the development of cancerous cells. It has thus shown a significant correlation between environmental factors and development of cancer cells, which means that even though genetics plays a role in cancer formation, environmental factors are more significant.




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