Frank Heasley, Ph.D. of Bacteriology, UC Berkeley, recently e-mailed me about the causes of cancer. Frank agreed to allow me to share his thoughts with our readers:
Cancer is, in general, an environmental disease – caused by
factors that we are exposed to through our daily lives.
Some of us receive much more exposure than others, and as a result
are more likely to develop cancer and even multiple types of cancer.

I then e-mailed Frank this question:
I thought most cancer was actually genetic. Could you clarify? I’m sure my readers would appreciate your help!

His response:
Cancer is, indeed, a genetic disease in that it is the result of changes in DNA. These changes can be the result of several environmental factors, including radiation, various substances and viruses.

I don’t spend much time worrying about what causes cancer–probably because for me, it seems like the “horse has left the barn.” Too late–Pattie and I already have cancer. But I understand a cancer patient’s need to find an answer to the “Why me?” question. Not to mention the more important point: Understanding the causes may help us prevent cancer from occurring. It may also help us improve treatments and/or find cures for the many different disorders we group together and call cancer.

Thanks for the short, definitive answers, Frank. Hope you and all of my readers can feel good and keep smiling on this first Sunday in May! Pat

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