Popular Science

'Zombie genes' could be why so few elephants die of cancer

Elephants are bringing a genetic gun to a cancer knife-fight.
baby elephant and elephant

Elephants live for a long time, and are huge—why do they rarely die of cancer?

The longer you live, the higher your chances of developing cancer creep toward 100 percent. Moreover, the larger you are, the greater your chances are of developing cancer as well—more cells in your body mean there are more opportunities for mutations to strike and encourage a tumor to grow. This holds true when comparing individuals within a species (including humans), but the trend falls apart when researchers compare cancer rates between different species—a mystery we call Peto’s Paradox. Elephants are some of the biggest mammals who roam the Earth, so mathematically they should be hounded by cancer at 100

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Popular Science

Popular Science2 min read
How Do Animals Find Their Way Home?
FOR SOME SPECIES, NEIGHBORHOOD PRIDE IS MORE about survival than sentiment. Many creatures travel hundreds of miles to find resources before returning home to mate. How do they know where to go? Signature smells and magnetism help migrators, but some
Popular Science1 min read
Fire It Up
The Weber Original Premium 22-inch charcoal grill hasn’t changed much since 1952, save for a few modern improvements. The biggest: An aluminum basin below the kettle captures ash, allowing you to dispose of it and keep the upper section tidy. Even se
Popular Science1 min read
Beer Has Always Been On The Table
I’ve had a fascination with beer for a long time. I had my first one in Bavaria in 1961 when I was 16. It was legal there, but when I got back to New York, the drinking age was 18. One time, I wanted a pint so badly, I dressed in lederhosen, went to