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Dogs are highly susceptible to cancer, with certain varieties of the disorder plaguing certain canine breeds. For example, the shaggy Bernese mountain dog is routinely felled by histiocytic sarcoma, while the puffy chow chow is one of several breeds prone to oral melanoma. Canines’ plight highlights the deep genetic roots of cancer: breeding dogs for certain traits, like a golden mane or elongated snout, inadvertently passes other, undesirable, genetic traits from generation to generation, with cancer effectively piggybacking on the good looks we associate with pure breeds. Similar forces work on humans too: For example, women of Ashkenazi background are at increased risk for breast cancer stemming from the BRCA genetic mutation.
the evolutionary biologist and cardiologist Dr. Barbara J. Natterson-Horowitz and science journalist Kathryn Bowers note that beagles and dachshunds are relatively cancer-free. Natterson-Horowitz and Bowers write that “these extra-healthy dog breeds may point to behaviors or physiology that offer cancer protection.” What those behaviors or mechanisms may be, we do not know.
Dogs probably also get cancer because they are, more than any other animal, exposed to the cornucopia of toxins that are the products and by-products of modern civilization. “They breathe the same air [we do]; they drink the same water,” explains Matthew Breen, who heads a canine cancer research lab at the North Carolina State University. Formaldehyde in furniture, bisphenol-A in plastic dishware, polyaromatic hydrocarbons in burned meat: Your poodle is about as exposed to these likely carcinogens as you are.
Peterson has his reasons for the collaboration. About 96 elephants are killed by poachers in Africa each day for the ivory in their tusks. Peterson thinks that if people realized that elephants possessed the cure for cancer, they’d take greater care to save them. “Who’d want to throw away the cure for childhood cancer? This is our chance to save people and elephants.”
Peto’s Paradox is named after Sir Richard Peto, the Oxford University medical statistician and epidemiologist whose work in the 1970s pointed to the link between smoking and cancer. Like all paradoxes, Peto’s is incredibly complex precisely because it is so incredibly simple: Why don’t big animals get more cancer than small animals? Cancer is the unregulated division of cells. The more cells an animal has, the more likely any one of those cells is to go rogue, turning into a tumor. Huge mammals like whales and elephants have many more cells than humans do, which should make them much more prone to cancer. A whale has 1,000 times more cells than humans, which should mark it for cancer right from birth. But for some reason, the whale evades that fate better than we do. Not only that, but the whale evades cancer for a very long time, with some bowhead whales living for 200 years. Some elephants live for 60 years, carrying 100 times more cells than we do.
In October 2015, two independent studies showed that elephants have 20 copies of tumor suppressor gene TP53 in their genome, where humans and other mammals have only one
Additional research showed 14 copies of the gene present in the DNA of preserved mammoths
Another project looks at cancer resistance in elephants. Despite their huge size, which for most mammals results in an increased risk of cancer, elephants do not get cancer (a phenomenon known as Peto’s Paradox). The Schiffman Lab has a close collaboration with the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, Utah, where we are trying to identify the functional mechanism that prevents cancer in elephants. Once discovered, we will search for therapeutic cancer drugs that can mimic these effects and start clinical trials in high-risk patient populations, such as those families with Li-Fraumeni Syndrome.
Species survive via reproduction, and large mammals have much longer gestation periods: An elephant spends about 22 months in the womb, while whale gestation can last about 18 months. Moreover, elephants can keep reproducing until what is, for them, senescence: after 50. Elephants that are able to suppress cancer long enough to reproduce end up passing those cancer-suppressing genes to their progeny.
There may a cure for some of it, but do you really think it will be affordable, the Pharma industry has not exactly been the bedrock of humanity, they are just like the oil industry when it comes to free energy.