Quote of the Day | 0105

To elaborate on Doll’s idea that getting cancer is “largely a matter of luck”: risk factors such as smoking can increase an individual’s risk, but whether one actually gets a cancer is still a matter of unpredictable chance. On PM I used my usual analogy of a lottery: there are tickets in a bucket marked cancers of different types, and a lot of blank tickets (and some marked ‘run over by bus’ etc). Smoking means you might get 20 times as many ‘lung-cancer’ tickets, but you still may be lucky and not draw one: many smokers don’t get lung cancer. So chance plays a very strong role, even in so-called preventable cancers. This leads to the apparently paradoxical observation that most lung cancers are ‘caused’ by smoking, while all lung cancers are also a matter of bad luck. As pointed out by George Davey-Smith, it is not an either/or argument.

David Spiegelhalter, ‘Luck and Cancer’

[x]#11610 fan maandag 5 januari 2015 @ 06:00:00

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