[LISTEN] 'One in two people will in their lifetime develop cancer'

University of Cambridge chair of science and the Naked Scientist, Chris Smith, says the risk for all of us coming in co contact with cancer is 100% and that one in two people will in their lifetime develop the disease.

Smith further explains that it is a genetic disease and why it occurs.

This occurs because as we get older, there are 37-trillion cells in the average human. Each of those cells has a complete copy of your DNA recipe book....as you age, you encounter bits of chemicals and other stimuli that can damage your DNA.

Chris Smith, Naked Scientist

Eventually, you get to a point where you can no longer repair your DNA efficiently...and if you damage the genes that control how cells grow, when they grow and where they grow. You can then begin to get cells that grow out of control and that is what cancer is.

Chris Smith, Naked Scientist

The reality with cancer is that it actually takes a really long time to develop. Most people that get cancer have actually had cancer for close to 20 years in some cases.

Chris Smith, Naked Scientist

By the time that we know that a person has got cancer often it has already been there for so long that it's spread around the body and involves so many different systems that the body is weakened and compromised and this adds a further disadvantage to our efforts to try to help people.

Chris Smith, Naked Scientist

Smith says however treatment is getting better as there are many cancers that are curable.

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