Cancer gene research exciting, but don’t bet your life on a miracle cure

Monday 27 April 1998

ASH/ Press releases/


102 Clifton Street, London EC2A 4HW Tel: (020) 7739 5902 Fax: (020) 7613 0531

Press releaseEmbargo 22:00 27 April 1998 ASH
Action on Smoking
and Health


Cancer gene research exciting, but don’t bet your life on a miracle cure forsmoking cancers

As scientists draw closer to understanding in detail the mechanisms causing orpreventing cancer, ASH warned against relying on genetic engineering as an approach to theproblems of smoking. The research shows that mice with a particular gene have greaterprotection against cancer. The researchers suggested that “in the future scientistscould potentially use genetic engineering to prevent certain cancers”. (ICRF pressrelease)

ASH welcomed the research as shining new light on the mechanisms behind cancer, butcautioned against seeing this as the beginning of a way of making smoking safe.

“It would be terrible if kids started to say that it’s okay to smoke nowbecause by the time they are sixty, there’ll be a cure for lung cancer. The idea ofgenetically engineering people to make them more resistant to tobacco smoke is notsomething to bet your life on.” said Clive Bates, Director of ASH.

“80-90 per cent of lung cancers are caused by smoking. The disease was relativelyunkown before smoking took off in the twentieth century and the growth of lung cancer hasmatched the growth of smoking. The real cure for lung cancer is simply whatever it takesto help people quit smoking ” said Bates.

Note 120,000 die in the UK from smoking each year from allcauses. Of these:

45,000 die from cancer of all types
of these 31,000 die from lung cancer
25,000 die from bronchitis and emphysema
26,000 die from ischaemic heart disease
24,000 die from other causes including stroke, pneumonia, aneurysm




Contact Clive Bates, Director (020) 7739 5902
Amanda Sandford, Communications Director (020) 7739 5902

RegisteredCharity No 262067
Action on Smoking and Health is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England No998971. Registered address as above