[ RadSafe ] How Can Evolutionary Biology Explain Why We Get Cancer?

Cary Renquist cary.renquist at ezag.com
Tue Jan 22 17:53:13 CST 2013

Interesting journal issue that gives a slightly different perspective on
cancer development and might just provide some ideas for preventing
therapeutic failures...

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

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:
Evolutionary Applications - Volume 6, Issue 1 - Cancer - Wiley Online

Cary Renquist
crenquist at isotopeproducts.com or cary.renquist at ezag.com

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