Cancer is one of the deadliest diseases of our modern time. 7.6 million people die from cancer every year. Humans are not the only victims of this horrific sickness, animals also die because of cancer. Who can beat cancer?- It seems like elephants can.
Why elephants do not get cancer? – To explain that, a scientific study has been conducted.
Elephants are one of the few animals on earth that can resist cancer according to scientists. Elephant cancer mortality is approximately 4.81%, while human cancer mortality is estimated to be between 11% and 25%. But, how these giant animals resist cancer contrary to human beings?
Scientific studies were conducted to answer this question.
One of those studies was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) with the title “Potential Mechanisms for Cancer Resistance in Elephants and Comparative Cellular Response to DNA Damage in Humans”.
Main findings of the study suggest that elephants have increased apoptotic response to DNA damage. Apoptotic response is crucial for living body because apoptosis serves to maintain equilibrium between cell deaths and cell development. There are some cells that are not useful at all. And, if they remain in the body for a long period, they pose a threat to organisms and leads to the development of tumors. Apoptosis is the mechanism that finds those cells and kills them to keep the body from radical cells. (This process prevents cancer according to scientists).
Since elephants have increased apoptotic response to DNA damage, scientists believe, these giant animals can be crucial for humanity to understand the mechanisms of cancer.
Why Elephants have an increased apoptotic response compared to humans.
Researchers found that elephants have more than 20 copies of TP53 (Tumor protein). Humans have only 1 copy of TP53. Because of a higher number of TP53 copies, damaged DNA in elephants is getting repaired at a higher rate.
This explains why elephants do not get cancer. To understand this unusual cancer resistance in broader terms, scientists are planning on conducting more researches involving elephants in the nearest future.