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Infectious Cancer Spreading in Soft-Shell Clams, Other Mollusks

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posted on Jun, 30 2016 @ 10:02 PM

It sounds like the plot of a summer horror flick: Malignant cells floating in the sea, ferrying infectious cancer everywhere they go.

The story is all too true, say scientists who’ve made a discovery they call “beyond surprising.”

Outbreaks of leukemia that have devastated populations of soft-shell clams (Mya arenaria) along the east coast of the U.S. and Canada are the result of cancerous tumor cells making their way from one clam to another.

“The evidence indicates that the tumor cells themselves are contagious – that they can spread from one clam to another in the ocean,” says biochemist and immunologist Stephen Goff of Columbia University, co-author, along with Michael Metzger of Columbia, of a paper reporting the results in the journal Cell.


If infectious leukemia spreads to humans, what would that mean? Leukemia is a devastating disease.

71% of men survive leukaemia (all subtypes combined) for at least one year, and this is predicted to fall to 54% surviving for five years or more, as shown by age-standardised Open a glossary item net survival for patients diagnosed with leukaemia during 2010-2011 in England and Wales.[1] Survival for women is slightly lower, with 66% surviving for one year or more, and 49% predicted to survive for at least five years.


Infectious leukemia would be disastrous especially when one considers the effects of the Fukushima disaster.

Japan confirms first leukemia case in connection to Fukushima

Cancer Rates Continue To Soar In Post-Fukushima Japan
edit on 30-6-2016 by Profusion because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 30 2016 @ 10:29 PM
Infectious from clam to clam . And you did know of feline leukemia that can spread from one cat to another , yes ? So , nothing new really . Except clams can have leukemia (which I did not know).

posted on Jun, 30 2016 @ 10:40 PM

That sucks. Just softshells?

No fried clams for a long time. Hope it doesn't pass to the hard shells.

I'm pretty sad about it.

posted on Jun, 30 2016 @ 10:52 PM
This is clam to clam, humans probably can't catch it. It is probably an oncovirus that is causing the problem between the clams. There are viruses that can be transmitted between humans that can cause cancer, and even a few we can get from other animals but it doesn't appear this one is one that can do us in.

Viruses can mutate to do this, one virus found in some chickens can promote cancer in people but there is no evidence it is actually happened yet even though the virus is capable. The HPV virus is capable of contributing to cancer. But Cancer is a multistep process and continued exposure is usually necessary for cancer to take hold. Even with carcinogenic foods, occasional consumption is not usually a problem but continually consuming some similar chemistry can cause problems.

posted on Jul, 1 2016 @ 02:34 AM
Even though this isn't transmissible to us as human beings, I find this a very interesting topic. I mean... C'mon, out of all things.. Soft-shelled clams? I find that a bit funny.

On another note

I'm very interested to see what more will be found out on the route of their research. It will undoubtedly have an effect on the environments around these clams, especially with the possibility of them dying off in mass amounts at a time. You can probably assume some of the general environmental alterations that will take place due to this event.
Soft Shelled clams are the dominant species of clams in some areas where they can be found (Particularly in the Wadden Sea). Which means eliminating possible food sources for animals: Birds (Seagulls, Pelicans--pretty much anything with a beak), Sea Otters, Snails, Starfish, several species of Crabs (blue, green, horseshoe, etc), + the fact that they are heavily preyed upon by these organisms.
Not to mention that we prey upon these guys as well. I know I head down to the Oregon Coast at least a few times a year, and my clamming equipment is normally dragged behind me down to the shores as well.

Interesting topic, imo. Thanks for the thread.

posted on Jul, 1 2016 @ 03:12 AM
Would this be...Silence of the Clams?

As long as they don't get the oysters. Hang in there, oysters.

posted on Jul, 1 2016 @ 03:16 AM
The title is not accurate.
There is no mention of the disease actually spreading to other mollusks.

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