By Robin Hesketh

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2 Date:31/7/12 Time:02:26:02 Page Number: 21 21 Title Name: HESKETH Radiation Let us, though, commence with a rather neglected cancer cause – infection – and we’ll come back to one of its consequences in more detail in Chapter 5. Infection In the previous chapter we noted that the majority of cervical and liver cancers are initiated by viruses. In fact nearly 20% of all cancers worldwide are caused by infection, either by viruses, bacteria or other microorganisms. In developing countries this figure rises to about one in four.

For example, if 80 lung cancers develop in a group of 1,000 smokers and 5 occur in 1,000 non-smokers: RR ¼ (80/1,000)/(5/1,000) ¼ 16. 3. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) are a form of prospective cohort study in which the participants are randomly divided into groups that receive, for example, a specific therapeutic regimen or diet. The main advantage is that random distribution into the groups reduces selection bias and the first part of the analysis determines whether the two groups are comparable in demographic and other variables, as they should be after random allocation.

As a contribution to this equilibrium we make melanin pigments in our skin that absorb UV. The cells that do this are melanocytes (they’re also present in the eye and the bowel). They make both black eumelanin and a second type of pigment, phaeomelanin, that is red. The relative amounts of these two pigments determine our hair and skin colour. When we get sun tanned it’s because our skin makes eumelanin as a protection against UV light. Dark-skinned people make more eumelanin and are thus better protected against skin cancer than their brethren in northern climes whose lighter skin may have evolved as a response to lower levels of sunshine, thereby boosting their vitamin D production.

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