Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How can evolutionary biology explain why we get cancer?

Date:
January 22, 2013
Source:
Wiley
Summary:
Over 500 billion cells in our bodies will be replaced daily, yet natural selection has enabled us to develop defenses against the cellular mutations which could cause cancer. It is this relationship between evolution and the body’s fight against cancer which is explored in a new special issue of the Open Access journal Evolutionary Applications.

Over 500 billion cells in our bodies will be replaced daily, yet natural selection has enabled us to develop defenses against the cellular mutations which could cause cancer. It is this relationship between evolution and the body's fight against cancer which is explored in a new special issue of the Open Access journal Evolutionary Applications.

"Cancer is far from a single well-defined disease which we can identify and eradicate," said Dr Athena Aktipis, Director, Human and Social Evolution, Center for Evolution and Cancer at the University of California, San Francisco. "It is highly diverse and evolutionary theory allows us to consider cancer as a highly complex and evolving ecosystem. This approach can improve the understanding, treatment and prevention of a number of different cancer types."

By applying the principles of evolutionary biology papers in the special issue ask: Why do we get cancer, despite the body's powerful cancer suppression mechanisms? How do evolutionary principles like natural selection, mutation, and genetic drift, work in a cancer ecosystem? How can we use evolutionary theory to minimize the rate of cancers worldwide?

"Nowhere is the diversity of cancer better revealed than the many reasons why we remain vulnerable to it," said Dr Aktipis. "Evolutionary medicine allows us to see explanations for traits that leave organisms vulnerable to disease."

These evolutionary explanations include the role of environmental factors, such as the relationship between tobacco availability and lung cancer; co-evolution with fast evolving pathogens; constraints on what selection can do; trade-offs, such as the capacity for tissue repair vs. risk of cancer; reproductive success at the expense of health; defenses with costs as well as benefits, such as inflammation.

"An evolutionary approach can unite and explain the many avenues of cancer research by allowing us to see cancer as an ecosystem," concluded Dr Aktipis. "Just as a forest depends on the individual characteristics of trees as well as the interactions of each tree with its environment; similarly tumors can be [composed of] genetically distinct cells, which depend on both cell-to-cell interactions within the tumor, as well as on the interactions of tumor itself with the body."

This special issue is collaboration between scientists from the Darwinian Evolution of Cancer Consortium in France and the Center for Evolution and Cancer at the University of California, San Francisco. The issue is guest edited by Frederic Thomas, Michael Hochberg, Athena Aktipis, Carlo Maley and Ursula Hibner.

Papers from the Evolution and Cancer Special Issue are all freely available on the Evolutionary Applications website: http://www.evolutionaryapplications.org


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Simon P. Daoust, Lenore Fahrig, Amanda E. Martin, Frιdιric Thomas. From forest and agro-ecosystems to the microecosystems of the human body: what can landscape ecology tell us about tumor growth, metastasis, and treatment options? Evolutionary Applications, 2013; 6 (1): 82 DOI: 10.1111/eva.12031
  2. Mel Greaves. Cancer stem cells as ‘units of selection’. Evolutionary Applications, 2013; 6 (1): 102 DOI: 10.1111/eva.12017
  3. Leonard Nunney. The real war on cancer: the evolutionary dynamics of cancer suppression. Evolutionary Applications, 2013; 6 (1): 11 DOI: 10.1111/eva.12018
  4. Jasmine Foo, Kevin Leder, Shannon M. Mumenthaler. Cancer as a moving target: understanding the composition and rebound growth kinetics of recurrent tumors. Evolutionary Applications, 2013; 6 (1): 54 DOI: 10.1111/eva.12019

Cite This Page:

Wiley. "How can evolutionary biology explain why we get cancer?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130122101454.htm>.
Wiley. (2013, January 22). How can evolutionary biology explain why we get cancer?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130122101454.htm
Wiley. "How can evolutionary biology explain why we get cancer?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130122101454.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) — Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) — The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) — A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) — The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins