How Come Elephant’s Rarely Get Cancer?

Photo by AJ Robbie on Unsplash

With cancer, the chances are pretty devastating – you’re more likely to get it the longer you live and the larger you are. With more cells in their bodies, large animals have more opportunities to develop mutation. However, scientists are stunned to learn that elephants, one of the biggest species on the planet, only have around 5% death by cancer. For comparison, that rate is around 11% to 25% for humans. Why is this?

The answer is genes. The critical tumor suppressor is a gene called p53. Humans have only one copy of it, and if there are problems with it, chances are some form of cancer will develop. Elephants, on the other hand, have 20 p53s.

As one p53 study revealed, there’s another gene that protects elephants from cancer – LIF6.

Millions of years of evolution made elephants great in fighting cancer naturally. Scientists are using these findings to further explore how humans can efficiently fight cancer.