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About "Ask A Scientist!"

On September 17th, 1998 the Ithaca Journal ran its first "Ask A Scientist!" article in which Professor Neil Ashcroft , who was then the director of CCMR, answered the question "What is Jupiter made of?" Since then, we have received over 1,000 questions from students and adults from all over the world. Select questions are answered weekly and published in the Ithaca Journal and on our web site. "Ask A Scientist!" reaches more than 21,000 Central New York residents through the Ithaca Journal and countless others around the world throught the "Ask a Scientist!" web site.

Across disciplines and across the state, from Nobel Prize winning scientist David Lee to notable science education advocate Bill Nye, researchers and scientists have been called on to respond to these questions. For more than seven years, kids - and a few adults - have been submitting their queries to find out the answer to life's everyday questions.

Previous Week's Question Published: 17 July, 2003 Next Week's Question
Not every body has cancer cells
Question
Does every one in the world have cancer cells in their body?

Question
No, your body only contains what scientists call "non-transformed" cells; that is, normal cells that do the things that need to be done to sustain your body. If something happens to the cells of your body that damages it in very specific ways, in particular altering specific genes - which are the chemicals, called DNA, in cells that determine what kind of a cell it is - then in certain conditions the damaged cell can become what scientists called "transformed" and grow by cell division into a tumor. Typically a cell has to take at least two such damaging "hits" to become transformed. Normal cells can undergo cell division also; it is part of normal function for many cells.

For example, your hair grows. But when a cell that isn't supposed to grow becomes un-controlled and grows without the body's usual instructions to grow, then you can get a tumor. This then results in cancer.