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How Cancer Begins

How Cancer Begins

This video was recorded at MIT World Host: Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. If you're worried about getting cancer, do yourself a favor: steer clear of red meat and rich foods, and avoid cigarettes. In this lecture, Robert Weinberg provides the scientific basis for this commonplace advice, as well as a layman's look at the genetic, biochemical and environmental factors that make good cells go bad. Normal cells are civic-minded, lining up together in a precise architecture that gives structure to body tissue. When the cell's genes are damaged, they send out faulty instructions, turning orderly structure into a chaotic mess. This kind of injury to cells likely comes from the outside – as many as 90% of human cancers are due to bad diets and smoking. Weinberg wants to understand the specific pathways by which the cells' enemies invade and do their damage, in hopes of then being able to halt the process and freeze a cancer's growth. But, cautions Weinberg, better to count on prevention than a cure in the fight against cancer.

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