EPJ Nonlinear Biomed Phys
Volume 3, Number 1, December 2015
|Number of page(s)||6|
|Published online||01 December 2015|
Debunking mathematically the logical fallacy that cancer risk is just “bad luck”
Department of Management, Technology and Economics, ETH Zürich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), Scheuchzerstrasse 7, Zürich, CH-8032, Switzerland
* e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 30 October 2015
Published online: 1 December 2015
Tomasetti and Vogelstein recently proposed that the majority of variation in cancer risk among tissues is due to “bad luck,” that is, random mutations arising during DNA replication in normal noncancerous stem cells. They generalize this finding to cancer overall, claiming that “the stochastic effects of DNA replication appear to be the major contributor to cancer in humans.” We show that this conclusion results from a logical fallacy based on ignoring the influence of population heterogeneity in correlations exhibited at the level of the whole population. Because environmental and genetic factors cannot explain the huge differences in cancer rates between different organs, it is wrong to conclude that these factors play a minor role in cancer rates. In contrast, we show that one can indeed measure huge differences in cancer rates between different organs and, at the same time, observe a strong effect of environmental and genetic factors in cancer rates.
© The Author(s), 2015
Current usage metrics show cumulative count of Article Views (full-text article views including HTML views, PDF and ePub downloads, according to the available data) and Abstracts Views on Vision4Press platform.
Data correspond to usage on the plateform after 2015. The current usage metrics is available 48-96 hours after online publication and is updated daily on week days.
Initial download of the metrics may take a while.