Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Elephants, Zombies, and Bears—Oh My!

          “Elephants don’t get cancer.” This was my oncologist speaking, last year.
          “WHAT!” I gasped. “Why aren’t we injecting elephant something- or- other into people?” I am nothing if not a stickler for the intricacies of science.
          “We’re studying it,” he said.
          “Well, study faster,” I said. “I’ve got Stage 3 and this sounds like the cure.”
          Here’s the skinny, not to disparage any elephants who might be reading this blog: When our cells divide, as they constantly do, some get damaged and these damaged ones are more likely to cause cancer.
Most mammals try to repair the damaged ones. Not so with elephants: They have a “zombie” gene that just kills off the wonky ones.
 So while humans have just one copy of this tumor-suppressing gene called P53, elephants have 20 to 40.  And, while they can get cancer, only 1 in 20 of these majestic beasts will ever get the disease, whereas 1 in 5 people will. Hit first and hit hard seems to be their strategy, and it works.
          So where do bears come in? Well, really just to complete the Wizard of Oz reference. BUT… I did find one link to a claim that, while bears in captivity have been found to contract cancer,  it has never been found in a bear in the wild. Let me guess why: Because to test it you have to get very, very close.
          Hey—I just finished my final round of radiation! You can celebrate by enjoying one of my books, right here.

No comments:

Post a Comment