Is Cancer a Genetic Disease?

Please note this is part 2 of our 5-part series titled Cancer: The Mystery Solved.  If you haven’t read part 1 yet, you can read it by clicking here.

Is cancer a genetic disease?

The official position of the cancer establishment is that “cancer is a genetic disease,”(1) whereby a specific set of genetic mutations cause a single cell to turn irreversibly cancerous and multiply out-of-control, until enough of its mutant clones collectively form a tumor that strives to kill the host.

The cancer treatment industry is fully committed to the idea that a cancer cell is some kind of biological terrorist whose only goal is to destroy and kill.  This is the only way the use of knives (surgery), toxic injections (chemotherapy) and ionizing radiation (radiotherapy) can be justified as treatments.

If this theory is correct, it means that cancer cells are like parasites that must be eradicated at all costs; even if patients are injured or nearly killed in the process.  It also means that nothing in our environment or the way we live our lives have any bearing whatsoever on whether or not we develop cancer – if we get it, it’s simply bad luck.

And in this paradigm, since there’s nothing we can do to prevent cancer from arising or stop it from progressing, if we happen to be one of the ‘unlucky’ ones who are diagnosed with the disease, we must depend on people more sophisticated than us for answers.

However, if cancer truly were a genetic disease then you’d think the 500 billion dollars spent on genetic cancer research over the past 50 years would have rendered us at least some progress.  It makes you wonder – maybe researchers have been looking in the wrong place for answers?

Questioning The Genetic Theory of Cancer

genetic dna double helix

The structure of DNA was first discovered in 1953 by James D. Watson and Francis Crick.

In search of another paradigm that could adequately explain the underlying cause of cancer and why the war on cancer has been such a failure, I stumbled upon a series of fascinating studies whose conclusions completely contradicted the genetic theory of cancer.  If cancer is a disease of genetic origin, then none of the following observations would have occurred:

Cloned Mice from Tumor Cell DNA

Researchers from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, cloned a mouse using DNA derived from a mouse brain tumor cell in 2003.  Published in the journal Cancer Research, the study found that the development of the cloned mouse occurred normally without cancer formation.(2)

Normal genetic mice cloned from tumor cell DNA

Frog Egg Tumor Transplants

In 1969, a group of researchers transplanted frog tumor cells into frog eggs and found that despite the mutant cancer DNA contained within the transplanted tumor cells, from within the eggs emerged healthy, swimming tadpoles – demonstrating once again that mutated cancer DNA can direct normal development.(3)

Normal genetic tadpoles following tumor cell transplant into egg

Cell Cytoplasm-Swapped ‘Cybrids’

Since the 1970’s, scientists have been experimenting with swapping normal cell cytoplasms (containing the energy-producing mitochondria, not DNA) with cancer cell cytoplasms and vice versa.  They call the resultant cells ‘cybrids.’  When scientists transplanted normal cell cytoplasms into cancer cells (containing mutated DNA), the cancer cells transformed back into normal cells,(4)(5)(6)(7)(8)(9)(10) and when cancer cell cytoplasms were transplanted into normal cells (containing normal DNA), the cells turned into cancer cells.(11)

These findings show that mutant cancer DNA doesn’t cause cancer and that normal DNA doesn’t prevent cancer; the cytoplasm seems to dictate carcinogenesis.

cytoplasm swapped cybrids - cancer not genetic

Flaws in the Genetic Theory of Cancer

Taken together, it appears that DNA has little (and perhaps nothing) to do with a cell becoming cancerous.  Harry Rubin, Professor Emeritus of Cell and Developmental Biology from the University of California demonstrated in 2006 that cells can have hundreds of mutations and still behave normally within the organism.(12)

Another apparent flaw in the genetic theory is the claim that cancer cells are irreversible.  There are hoards of studies in which scientists have observed cancer cells transform back into normal cells.(4)(5)(6)(7)(8)(9)(10)(13)(14)(15)(16)(17)(18)(19)(20)(21)(22)(23)(24)(25)(26)(27)

“…our data suggest quite strongly that nonmalignant tumor populations can be converted to a more malignant phenotype without additional mutations taking place and, conversely, malignant populations can be downregulated to a nontumorigenic phenotype,” wrote researchers from Ohio State University in 1995.(19)

But if cancer cells can revert back into normal cells, how can the cancer establishment justify carving out tumors, scorching patients with radiation and poisoning them with chemotherapy?  They can’t… and so their only option if they wish to remain in business is to pretend this evidence doesn’t exist.

Despite the many experiments profoundly challenging the genetic theory of cancer, medical doctors are not presented these controversies in medical school and are instead taught the genetic theory as if it were fact, which is unfortunate because as the American Nobel Prize-winning virologist Peyton Rous said in 1959, “the somatic mutation theory acts like a tranquilizer on those who believe in it.”(33)

What better way to resolve the controversies surrounding cancer’s elusive origins than with the biggest and most comprehensive scientific investigation ever conducted on the genetics of cancer?

The Cancer Genome Atlas Project

woman peering through a microscope at genetic materialIn 2005, the National Cancer Institute launched a giant multi-national initiative called The Cancer Genome Atlas Project (TCGAP).  The goal of the project was to expand human understanding of cancer genetics and to pinpoint a common sequence of genetic mutations that drive carcinogenesis so that new drugs targeting each mutation could be developed.(34)

If there ever were a project that could finally either prove or disprove cancer as a genetic disease, this billion-dollar medical behemoth – spanning more than a decade – is it.(35)

As you can imagine, the debut of the project spurred enormous excitement and hope among its many participants and supporters.

One of the greatest successes of the project, still underway, has been the accelerated speed at which scientists can fully sequence the genetic code of a cell.  Each cell in our bodies is said to contain around 25,000 genes,(36) and using state-of-the-art technology scientists are now able to churn out the entire genomic sequence of cells with lightning speed.  To date, TCGAP has compiled data from more than 10,000 tissue samples from over 30 types of cancer,(37) but to the surprise of many, the results have been vastly disappointing.

Looking at cancer cells from different people with the same type of tumor, scientists discovered the mutational signatures of cells were so immensely different that they appeared to occur completely at random.(38)(39)(40)

Scientists also looked at the genomes of cells from within the very same tumor, but instead of finding a distinct series of mutations that could explain cancer initiation, every cell was found to have its own unique set of mutations.(41)(42)(43)(44)(45) 

Metastatic cancer cells were also analyzed, and researchers found their genetic defects were completely different than the genetic defects in cells of the original tumor.(46)(47)(48)

Time and time again, the story was the same: not a single gene mutation – or any combination of mutations – was found to be absolutely responsible for initiating the disease.(49)(50)(51)(52)(53)(54)

In 2010, researchers from the University of Washington called the results of the TCGA project ‘sobering’ and conceded, “it is becoming increasingly difficult to envision how it will be possible to develop a realistic number of targeted chemotherapies to be directed against a discrete panel of commonly mutated cancer genes.”(55)

Dr. David Agus, the University of California oncologist who treated Steve Jobs, suggested in a recent speech that cancer is simply too difficult to understand and that we should stop trying.(56)

The Cancer Genome Atlas Project – a fascinating milestone in the history of cancer research – has confirmed to us unequivocally that, above all – cancer is not a genetic disease.  The 81-year-old “father of DNA” James Watson himself responded publically to these findings in 2013, recommending a shift in the focus of cancer research from genetics to metabolism.(57)


Evidence from research dating as far back as 50 years has been showing that genetic defects are not the drivers of carcinogenesis in cells.

  • Clone a mouse using the dna of a tumor cell and that mouse will likely grow up completely normal and without cancer.
  • Transplant tumor cells into unhatched frog eggs and you’ll find the tadpoles that emerge will develop normally.
  • Transplanted normal cell cytoplasms into cancer cells (containing mutated DNA) and the cancer cells will transform back into normal cells
  • Conversely, transplant cancer cell cytoplasms into normal cells and the cells will turn cancerous

Although genetic defects are undeniably ubiquitous features of cancer cells of all types, they have little to nothing to do with carcinogenesis and they ultimately arise as downstream consequences of something else occurring first within cells.


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About Mark Sloan

I am an author and a health researcher with specific emphasis on cancer. When I was 12 years old my mother died of cancer and since then I have made it my purpose in life to ensure that no child has to go through what I did, ever again.



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