What Causes Cancer?

Cancer is caused by unregulated growth, division and spread of cells in the particular part of the body and it’s done because of the mutation of the DNA within the cells.

The body has trillions of cells and they naturally grow, divide and die in a specific and controlled mechanism within the cell.   Now when these cells grow out of control and don’t die, they may be cancerous.  Since these cancerous cells don’t die, and continue to grow and divide, they create the same abnormal cells.  So as you can see, they multiply exponentially and spread to other part of body. This is something that ordinary cells don’t do.

Cancer CellOrigin of all cancer cells is the DNA which is in every cell and basically acts as the brain for the cell.  It is the DNA that controls and manages the growth, division and death of each cell and in cancer cells, the DNAs are damaged and can’t be repaired.  It is probable for DNA to get damaged in a normal cell but the cell either fixes it or it dies.

Problems with DNA might be genetic or a natural problem that develops throughout the lifetime of an individual. DNA damage can also be induced by exposure to particular toxins like cigarette or pollutions. There are several factors that may possibly trigger cancer and it is hard to identify a precise cause.

How gene mutation causes cancer?

A gene mutation can direct a normal cell to:

  • Allow rapid growth –  Cell to grow and divide more rapidly. This makes many new cells that all have that same mutation
  • Don’t stop uncontrolled cell growth – Normal cells have genes called tumor suppressor genes that identify out-of-control growth and stop it. However, if a mutation happens in a tumor suppressor gene, that gene can be less effective or might be shut off completely. This enables a mutated cell to keep developing and dividing.
  • Make mistakes when fixing DNA errors – DNA repair genes discover and fix DNA mutations. A mutation in a DNA repair gene implies that the gene may skip some DNA errors. This enables more DNA mutations to take place and could result in cancer.

These mutations are the most typical ones seen in cancer cells. However, many other mutations can play a role in developing cancer.

The gene mutations that are heridatory and the ones you get in your life time, work together to develop cancer. For example, if you have a DNA mutation passed down from your parents that may cause cancer, it doesn’t necesarily mean that you’ll get it.   Instead, you might need few additional gene mutations to get cancer. Your inherited gene mutation may make you more susceptible to generate cancer when come across a specific cancer-causing substance. The genetic mutation starts the  process, and the carcinogens (cancer-causing substance) could lead to more cancer development.

Cancer-causing agents

Factors that could lead to cancer include:

  • Chemical carcinogens -Several chemicals and toxins have the effect of alterations in ordinary DNA. For example, smoking or  can lead to different types of cancers.
  • Ionizing radiations – prolonged exposures to sun or other types of radiations may lead to some types of cancers such as skin.
  • Viral and bacterial infections – Some cancers could be due to infections. For example Hepatitis B and C infections may cause liver cancer
  • Genetic
  • Hormonal changes
  • Immune system dysfunction

Check out this video to understand cancer:

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News Medical

Mayo Clinic

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