Elephants, cancer and the TP53 gene

tumour_2185967bIn theory, elephants should have many more incidences of cancer than they do. Evidently any cell can become cancerous – that is one proposal from oncologists – so an animal such as an elephant with so many cells in its body should, in theory anyway, develop more cancerous tumours. But that doesn’t happen. Apparently less than 5% of elephants die from cancer. But humans? The figure is five times higher – 25%. Partly that is because of the dreadful life style and the terrible things we expose our body to, many of which are carcinogenic, but it is also probably due to a lack of tumour-fighting genes, TP53. Humans have just one copy of this gene while elephants have 20. There are possibly other interesting factors at work. For example, elephants continue breeding until late in life, so in an evolutionary sense, it is important that older elephant survive and can resist life-threatening illnesses such as cancer. Human females on the other hand, reproduce relatively early in their lives and reach menopause early. Read on! It is a very interesting study.

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-34466220

Eyyy! left to right

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