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December 11, 1943


JAMA. 1943;123(15):970-971. doi:10.1001/jama.1943.02840500034011

Geographic differences in the total incidence and in the types of cancer are gradually becoming more and more apparent. The factors which cause cancer can be divided into those that are hereditary and those that are environmental. Research would be simplified if one group could be ignored and all efforts concentrated on the other, or if they could be separated. In a previous editorial1 the point was made that while a hereditary factor is accepted as etiologically important in a few uncommon types of tumors its role, if any, is not known in the major, common types of cancer in man.

Studies on the geographic distribution of the total incidence and of the types of cancer can under certain conditions separate the hereditary from environmental factors and help decide their relative importance. The role of hereditary factors can be determined by the study of races, especially pure races, by