Why are larger animals less likely to develop cancers?



Why are larger animals less likely to develop cancers?

In: Biology

I saw this video before, and I think it does a good job of explaining what they know about it


Just a guess; more cells equals larger possibility of a cell growing cancerous?

I think most are equally as likely to develop cancer, but their size means that the cancer takes much longer to cause serious damage as all cancers grow at a similar rate regardless of the size of their host.

Some very large animals such as whales have another mechanism which defends them, known as supercancers. This is essentially when the cancer develops its own cancer (or a different cancer) which competes with the initial tumor for space and resources. This will either result in the death of the initial cancer, or will slow the growth of both cancers, effectively delaying the death of the animal.

Check out this recent post from askscience, it is pretty detailed on a simple way


So one thing I found was that in some larger animals, elephants of which have been most studied they actually contain more tumor suppressor Gene’s. So in cancers 2 things have to happen, activation of an oncogene. These essentially tell cells to divide. This alone is ok because cellular development occurs with cycles. Each cycle has a checkpoint where the cell is checked to make sure everything is ok (this done through a complicated series of protein and enzymatic reactions) however if damage or other anomalies are present there are proteins that recognize this and induce apoptosis or cell death. These are tumor suppressor genes. You have 2 copies and elephants have more. Because of this more mutations or exposures are required. All tumor suppresses need to be knocked out for full on cancer development.

Because they get more cancer, and cancers kill eachother, and the Cancers that survive arent as bad as if it were a human, like how smaller people get drunk easier