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Do genetics matter? Cancer not as heritable as once thought, study finds

While cancer was long believed to be a genetic disease, scientists found in a new study that the disease may not be as heritable as once thought.

The genetic component of the disease is just one piece of the puzzle, and researchers need to consider other factors as well, including environmental and metabolic factors, the study’s authors from the University of Alberta in Canada said in a statement.

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Almost all theories about the causes of cancer that have emerged over the past several centuries can be sorted into three larger groups, David Wishart, professor in the university’s departments of biological sciences and computing science, said.

The first group would consider cancer as a genetic disease, focusing on the genome, or the set of genetic instruction that one is born with. The second views cancer as an environmental disease, focusing on the exposome which includes everything one’s body is exposed to throughout its lifetime. The third considers cancer as a metabolic disease, focusing on the metabolome, all the chemical byproducts of the process of a body’s metabolic mechanism.

Until very recently, the metabolic perspective has not had much research. However, it is gaining the interest of more scientists who are beginning to investigate its impact and understand the metabolome’s role in cancer.

Heritable cancers only account for five to 10 percent of all cancers., said Wishart. The remaining 90 to 95 percent are initiated by factors in the exposome, which in turn, trigger genetic mutations.

“That’s an important thing to consider, because it says that cancer isn’t inevitable,” he said. “Cancer is genetic, but often the mutation itself isn’t enough.”

When cancer develops and spreads in one’s body, it creates its own environment and introduces certain metabolites.

“It becomes a self-fueled disease. And that’s where cancer as a metabolic disorder becomes really important.”

Approaching cancer as a multi-faceted disease is showing serious promise, as it may lead to more effective cancer treatments in the future.

Wishart explained that if researchers were to only focus on the genetic perspective to address specific mutations, the problem is that there are around 1,000 genes that can become cancerous when mutated. It typically takes at least two different mutations within these cells for cancer to grow, meaning that there are a million potential mutation pairs and it “becomes hopeless” to narrow down the possibilities when seeking new treatments.

But when considering cancer from the metabolic perspective, there are just four major metabolic types, he said. Instead of trying to find a treatment plan for one specific mutation combination amongst a million, determining the patient’s cancer metabolic type can help guide doctors in their decision on what treatment works best for their specific cancer.

“It really doesn't make a difference where the cancer is — it’s something you’ve got to get rid of. It’s how it thrives or grows that matters,” said Wishart. “It becomes a question of, ‘What’s the fuel that powers this engine?’”

“If we understand the causes of cancer, then we can start highlighting the known causes, the lifestyle issues that introduce or increase our risk. From the prevention side, changing our metabolism through lifestyle adjustments will make a huge difference in the incidence of cancer.”

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Lindsay Lohan celebrates birthday as married woman to Dubai resident Bader Shammas

Actress Lindsay Lohan is celebrating her 36th birthday on Saturday as a married woman.

The “Freaky Friday” star said she was the “luckiest woman in the world” in an Instagram post Friday that pictured her with financier Bader Shammas, who had been her fiance.

“I am stunned that you are my husband,” Lohan said in the post, adding that “every woman should feel like this everyday.”

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The couple had announced their engagement last November. People magazine and Entertainment Tonight confirmed there had been a wedding, but no details were offered.

While still single a few years ago, Lohan told Entertainment Tonight that she was looking for “a smart businessman” and someone who doesn’t like the spotlight. Shammas’ Instagram account is private.

The “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen” actress and sometimes singer has worked through some sobriety issues in recent years, and has recently filmed a romantic comedy that is due to be released on Netflix later this year.

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Dutch university gets cyber ransom money back with interest

A Dutch university that fell victim to a massive ransomware attack has partly received back its stolen money, which in the meantime more than doubled in value, a news report said on Saturday.

The southern Maastricht University in 2019 was hit by a large cyberattack in which criminals used ransomware, a type of malicious software that locks valuable data and can only be accessed once the victim pays a ransom amount.

“The criminals had encrypted hundreds of Windows servers and backup systems, preventing 25,000 students and employees from accessing scientific data, library and mail,” the daily De Volkskrant said.

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The hackers demanded 200,000 euros ($208,000) in bitcoins.

“After a week the university decide to accede to the criminal gang’s demand,” the paper said.

“This was partly because personal data was in danger of being lost and students were unable to take an exam or work on their theses,” it said.

Dutch police traced part of the ransom paid to an account belonging to a money launderer in Ukraine.

Prosecutors in 2020 seized this man’s account, which contained a number of different crypto currencies including part of the ransom money paid by Maastricht.

“When, now after more than two years, it was finally possible to get that money to the Netherlands, the value had increased from 40,000 euros to half-a-million euros,” the paper said.

Maastricht University will now get the 500,000 euros ($521,000) back.

“This money will not go to a general fund, but into a fund to help financially strapped students,” Maastricht University ICT director Michiel Borgers said.

The investigation into the hackers responsible for the attack on the university is still ongoing, De Volkskrant added.

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Singer R. Kelly sues Brooklyn jail for putting him on suicide watch

R. Kelly on Friday sued the Brooklyn jail that has housed him since his racketeering and sex crimes conviction, saying it wrongly put him on suicide watch after he received a 30-year prison sentence despite knowing he was not suicidal.

In a complaint filed in Brooklyn federal court, the 55-year-old multiplatinum R&B singer said officials at the Metropolitan Detention Center ordered the watch after his June 29 sentencing “solely for punitive purposes” and because he was a “high-profile” inmate.

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Kelly’s lawyer Jennifer Bonjean quoted a prosecutor as saying the jail’s legal counsel had told her that “per the psychology department, is on a psych alert for various reasons, such as age, crime, publicity and sentencing.” No timetable was provided.

Bonjean wasn’t satisfied with the explanation. “Simply put, MDC Brooklyn is run like a gulag,” she wrote.

Kelly said the “harsh conditions” he faced led to “severe mental distress,” and amounted to cruel and unusual punishment that violated the US Constitution’s Eighth Amendment.

He is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, though the docket suggests Kelly is seeking $100 million.

The jail did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Known for the 1996 Grammy-winning hit “I Believe I Can Fly,” Kelly was convicted last September on one count of racketeering and eight counts of violating the Mann Act, which bars transporting people across state lines for prostitution.

Prosecutors said Kelly exploited his stardom and wealth over two decades to lure women and underage girls into his orbit for sex, with the help of his entourage.

Kelly said he was also put on suicide watch after his conviction.

Ghislaine Maxwell, another inmate at the Brooklyn jail, was placed on suicide watch on June 24, four days before being sentenced to 20 years in prison for aiding financier Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of underage girls.

Maxwell’s lawyer said the British socialite had been given a “suicide smock” and deprived of clothing, toothpaste and soap though she too was not suicidal.

Friday’s filings did not say what specific conditions Kelly faced.

Kelly still faces an August trial in Chicago federal court on child pornography and obstruction charges, and various state charges in Illinois and Minnesota.

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