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Portfolio Health Cancer


Life choices


Katie Mackintosh Health Correspondent


How our nutritional choices impact on cancer risk


We have learned a lot about the causes


of cancer through research, but we don’t always communicate it effectively, explains Professor Tim Byers, Professor of Epidemiology and Associate Dean at the Colorado School of Public Health in Denver, Colorado. “We get the illusion that we don’t know


very much because the news headlines are always waffling back and forth, especially about nutrition. But we know a lot about cancer.” Byers gave the analogy of motor vehicle


accidents to explain the idea of multiple causations of cancer, when he addressed an event hosted by the Royal Society of Edinburgh last week. Vehicle factors, such as a fault in the manufacture of the car leading to an accident, are analogous to inherited DNA, he explained. “While maintenance factors are analogous to the way our DNA is repaired or these epigenetic changes that


In Scotland, more than a quarter, 28 per cent, of all cancers in women are breast cancers


happen across the genome,” he added. Similarly, “bad luck” causes accidents, as it does cancer, Byers explained. “Tere are a number of mutational events


that happen in our cells all the time, we are always repairing them. But, eventually, by bad luck some of us will get cancer.” However, in a lecture entitled, “Preventing


48 Holyrood 13 June 2011


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