Peto’s Paradox May Hold The Key To Cancer Research

Healthy Lifestyle

The Potential Of Peto’s Paradox

Cancer is nothing short of a plague to the human race, and at the current rate still has no definitive cure in sight. It’s difficult to discuss cancer survival rates as many people don’t succumb in the short term but often fall to this victim in a longer standing.

When a cancer of any nature is involved, a prevention would be far preferable to a cure. To many scientific bodies, Peto’s paradox stands as an interesting avenue of research which could potentially shine some light on methods to prevent cancer in the first place.

What Is Cancer?

In the simplest form possible, cancer is a series of errors and mutations in cell reproduction. Mutations which at a point can bypass the cell’s standard built self-destruct kill switch known as apoptosis and force cells to duplicate and grow wildly. While the body does for the most part pick up on these genetic errors, cancer is a numbers game.

With an average of 300 billion cells being replaced every single day in your body, the miniscule chance of all the correct mutations coming to light in a single cell to cause cancer, suddenly become a lot more realistic. Now that we have a basic understanding of what cancer is, we can explore what Peto’s paradox is and how it may hold some secrets into the prevention of cancer.

Peto’s Paradox

When looking at the number of cells in an animal of any kind, it would make sense that the more cells and the longer the lifespan would mean more cell duplication and more potential for errors. This all meaning, the bigger the animal, the more prone it should be to developing some kind of cancer. Strangely, this is not the case.

As it stands, humans seem to be in the unfortunate sweet spot for cancer. The majority of animals smaller than us tend to get cancer at a rate similar to us, while larger animals are less prone to any type of cancer. Horses do get cancer at a rate close to half that of humans, going even bigger, cancer in elephants is less than a quarter of that for humans. While there has not been enough research to factually state, from what research there is, it seems as though cancer in a bowhead whale is almost unheard of.

What Does This Mean For Us

That’s just the thing, we don’t know yet. Research is still being done as to why large animals don’t get cancer like humans do, once we know why, we can try to figure out how we can use this to hopefully suppress cancer in humans. At the moment, there are a few leading theories:

  • Cell structure – Not a single point on its own, the particular cell structure ties well into metabolism rates. The main idea being that a particular cell structure could help suppress cancer
  • Hyper tumours – This relies on the idea that a malfunctioning call may have its own errors on reproduction, creating a secondary cancer which stands to kill the original cancer. This may seem far-fetched but has a good grounding and is currently being further researched.
  • Genes – One of the more difficult to prove, although genes affect everything from how we look to our skin type. There is a very real possibility that there is just a certain nature of gene which suppresses cancer growth better than what we have.

Peto’s paradox is not the final answer, as there are outliers like the naked mole rate. A win is a win though just like at In fighting cancer, any research opportunity is a good one, as any progress made stands to change millions of lives for the better.