When cells divide our genes pick up mistakes that occur. These mistakes are called mutations and happen throughout our lives. These mistakes are caused by the natural processes in our cells, and by various other factors. These include
Substances in food
Sometimes people inherit certain mutated genes from their parents that mean they have an increased risk of cancer.
Usually, cells can repair mistakes in their genes. If there are to many mistakes, they may self destruct instead. Or the immune system may recognize them as abnormal and kill them. This helps to protect us from cancer.
Interestingly, before 1970, most cancer researchers thought of cancer as a metabolic disorder. Because cancer cells exhibited a distinct metabolic phenotype, consuming up to 200 × more glucose than normal cells (the “Warburg effect”). However the discovery of oncogenes in 1971, most cancer scientist shifted their thinking to view cancer as a genetic disease rather than a metabolic disease. The re-discovery of cancer as a metabolic disorder occurred in the last six years. This shift in thinking has mostly been due to the increased accessibility of metabolomics.
Is cancer a genetic or a metabolic disorder?
As with all new discoveries, that cancer is metabolic disorder needs to be tempered with some caution. However, it seems that cancer as a genetic disease looks to be impossibly complex, cancer as a metabolic disease appears to be to simple.