Tomasetti and Vogelstein show that the lifetime risk of cancers of many different types is strongly correlated with the total number of divisions of the normal self-renewing cells maintaining that tissue’s homeostasis. These results suggest that only a third of the variation in cancer risk among tissues is attributable to environmental factors or inherited predispositions. The majority is due to bad luck, that is, random mutations arising during DNA replication in normal, noncancerous stem cells.
Tomasetti C, Vogelstein B (2015): Variation in cancer risk among tissues can be explained by the number of stem cell divisions. Science 2 January 2015: Vol. 347 no. 6217 pp. 78-81 DOI: 10.1126/science.1260825