Genes and cancer

When the cell "mistypes"

More than 70% of cells are multiplied each day in our body. In each division whole hereditary must be completely overwritten. Because genome is "written" only with 4 "chemical" letters A, G, C and T sometimes errors can happen and a certain letter is replaced with another one. This spelling mistake is called mutation.

Unfortunately, a cell does not have its own keyboard where a key delete could be pressed and therefore the mistake would be repaired. But our body has a remedy -a system like spell checker that is constantly looking for this kind of mistakes in typing and it is simultaneously eliminating the mutated cells. Police units in our body take care of fight against external intruders like viruses or bacteria, and at the same time they are also eliminating "home" mutated cells. These units are better known as immune system.

Our immune system is usually very effective but sometimes it makes mistakes in detection. Occasionally the mutations in cell hide "the police" and continue to multiply. These cells are known as cancer cells. In their case a bad combination of genes is activated that makes the cell grow, multiply and share intensively through our body. At the same time the mechanism for cell growth control is deactivated.

Risk for formation of cancer cells is increased when healthy cells come under intense pressure to multiply and to regenerate. This pressure can come in form of mechanical or chemical injuries or in form of chronic infection that force body to produce new cells rapidly. The higher the pressure the greater is the risk for typing mistake.

As we know, risk for formation of cancer cells is increased when healthy cells come under intense pressure to multiply and to regenerate. This pressure can come in form of mechanical or chemical injuries or in form of chronic infection that force body to produce new cells rapidly. The higher the pressure the greater is the risk for typing mistake.

But typing mistakes in cell division are not the only source of changes in heredity. These changes can be caused by external factor like radiation (UV rays or radioactivity), or free radicals (chemically active atoms or groups of atoms). Against these kind of risks from environment that are increasing the likelihood of changes in our genetic material we can defend ourselves with healthy way of living and with the maintenance of good condition of our immune system. 

The page was last updated on:
10/24/2012