Scientists have identified one guaranteed precursor to cancer - not having cancer.
"We examined 10,000 adults with cancer and found one overwhelming similarity within almost all of them - they used to be cancer free," explained Dr Thomas Statistify from Cambridge University.
Over the past decade many things have been associated with causing cancer including pesticides, exposure to the sun and mySpace, whilst others, such as fruit and vegetables are thought to prevent the disease.
However this is the first time that researchers have suggested that being cancer-free is bad for you.
"Our perception of what is healthy is always changing," Statistify explained, "it's not so long since our ancestors believed that smoking was good for you!"
The implications for cancer prevention are huge but will people be able to accept the facts?
"I thought I was one of the lucky ones," said Gladys Peterson, 56, "I rejoiced every time a mammogram came back clear, but now I realise I am just storing up problems for the future."
Those who haven't previously been told they have cancer are over nine times more likely to be diagnosed, than those in later stages of cancer development, suggesting that cancer is a preventative of cancer.
Statistify and his team are the first to admit that they can't predict the exact behaviour of cancer but assistant on the project, Dr Peter MacNumbercrunch noted "People who've lived for longer without cancer are more likely to die than those who've gone for a short time without it. Those who have lived to 80 without cancer are very vulnerable to death."
These findings certainly provide food for thought and will give modern medicine a good prod.