Bad Luck and Stem Cells | Susan M. Love

January 15, 2015 6:02 PM

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There has been a bit of furor in the media around a recent study about most cancer being "bad luck." Posts by others in the medical field call into question the research findings, how the media covered the story, and how the original press release became a catalyst for what the media reported -- sometimes incorrectly. For example, some articles misinterpreted the statement "two-thirds of the difference between the number of cancers that develop in different tissues," inaccurately portraying the conclusions as related to "two-thirds of all cancers."

Although mathematicians and statisticians have torn into how the research was done, few have questioned the basic premise behind the study and its findings. The paper, by Tomasetti and Vogelstein, looks at the relationship between stem cell divisions in various organs and cancer risk. It suggests th...

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