Warning: this post may contain a hazardous amount of science. Peter Duesberg, a molecular and cell biology professor here at UC Berkeley, and his colleagues have come out with a theory that cancer is the evolution of a new species. Duesberg said that cancer is a parasite: it relies on its host for nourishment, but is otherwise an independent organism that is most likely doing damage to the host.
Duesberg’s argument isn’t exactly groundbreaking, as early forms of the idea can be traced back to the late 20th century. According to him, the prevailing theory of cancer as genes that mutate and trigger unstoppable growth in a cell, is false. He proposes that cancer is actually when chromosomes are disrupted, ultimately leading to damage that affects the balance of genes.
The good thing about this theory is that it could lead to new ways of thinking about cures and the like. The theory is of course a lot more detailed and intelligent-sounding than this, but hopefully this simplified version wasn’t too much for those of us who aren’t exactly amazing at science.