Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Even Elephants Can Expand Our Knowledge of Cancer

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Even Elephants Can Expand Our Knowledge of Cancer

Article excerpt

Dear Doctor K: I heard on the radio about a new research finding that elephants don't get cancer. If we could figure out why, could we protect ourselves against cancer?

Dear Reader: A recent study found that elephants (and many animals) do, in fact, get cancer, but have lower rates of death from it than humans do.

First, some basics. In a phrase coined by cancer biologist Robert Weinberg, every cancer begins with "one renegade cell." One cell starts to multiply.

Some genes, called "oncogenes," cause a cell to divide, again and again. One cell becomes two, two become four, and pretty soon you have a mass of thousands of cells -- a tumor. Other genes, called "tumor suppressor genes," keep a cell from dividing uncontrollably. …

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