[ RadSafe ] Is this the beginning of the end?

Bradt, Clayton (HEALTH) clayton.bradt at health.ny.gov
Fri Jun 27 13:19:17 CDT 2014

This is not exactly on topic but ...

I am not a biologist, nor do I play one on TV, but I would appreciate anyone's thoughts on this problem I've been grappling with on the subject of radiation induced cancer, and indeed all cancer induction:

Are cancer cells just simpler, stripped down versions of the somatic cell from which they are derived?  If not, it is difficult to understand how random damage to a somatic cell could result in a cancer cell, as opposed to say another kind of somatic cell. No matter how long and involved the actual transformation process is, the fact is that we start with random DNA damage and end up with a new kind of cell. Now, random damage to a Ford doesn't turn it into a Ferrari (or even a Chevy). Nor will random damage to a liver cell turn it into a cardiac cell --- will it?  Whence, then cancer cells?

Certain cancers have been traced to viral agents: cervical cancer from HPV, and liver cancer from hepatitis C virus. In such cases viral gene sequences are spliced into the somatic cells' DNA resulting them transforming into tumor cells. In other words the damage is not random, but rather specific to producing a viable cancer cell.  Presumably the specific genes that the virus splices into the host cell have evolved over evolutionary time scales far exceeding the lifetimes of the host organism or the virus.

It is reasonable to apply a similar paradigm to other cancers. Somehow, the specific gene sequences enabling an ordinary somatic cell to "go wild", as it were, must become spliced into the cell's DNA. Any old random rearrangement isn't enough.

If radiation damaged somatic cells must somehow perform this sort of genetic rearrangement, it is difficult to see how there could be enough time to do so within the short span of the organism's life.

Is it possible that as yet unidentified viral agents are in fact responsible for all cancers?

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