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The Lottery of Cancer

16 March 2009 6,668 views No Comment

Each and every day for every one of us, new cells are being created. Each time a new cell is created there is the possibility that it might not be a perfect copy. After all for a cell to be a perfect copy, the 3 billion base pairs that make up the 20 thousand plus genes located on the 23 chromosome pairs that make up the human genome, needs to be replicated to perfection.[1][2]

600px-dna_replication_svg2

Given that we replicate 6 billion cells per hour, serious perfection is needed to avoid errors [TBC].[3]

Of course with perfection in the biological world, evolution wouldn’t have occurred and we wouldn’t be here in the first place but then only mutations in germ cells can lead to evolution. Mutations occurring in regular cells are always disadvantageous.

Given the complexity of cell reproduction and the likelihood that mutations will occur, it is good to know that we have genes that can detect mutations and either repair them or can program a cell to commit suicide. The problem is that these detection mechanisms are also contained in the genes in the DNA so if these particular genes are mutated, cells can be formed without this protective mechanism.

References

[1]Human Genome Project
[2] Wiki on DNA Replication – and source of image
[3] Mens Health – Cancer Fighting Foods

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