Why Elephants Rarely get Cancer

Despite their big size, elephants rarely get cancer, and scientists said they have discovered the secret to the creatures’ special protection. It’s in the genes. Elephants have 38 additional modified copies of a gene that encodes p53, a compound that suppresses tumour formation. Humans, on the other hand, have only two, according to the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. This means that as elephants evolved, their bodies made many extra copies of a gene that prevents tumours from forming. Elephants have been considered an enigma for years because they have far more cells than people, which would presumably place them at higher risk of cancer over their lifespans which can last 50-70 years.


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