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Logo of bmccancBioMed Centralsearchsubmit a manuscriptregisterthis articleBMC Cancer
 
BMC Cancer. 2012; 12: 387.
Published online 2012 September 3. doi:  10.1186/1471-2407-12-387
PMCID: PMC3488527

Natural resistance to cancers: a Darwinian hypothesis to explain Peto’s paradox

Abstract

Background

Peto's paradox stipulates that there is no association between body mass (a surrogate of number of cells and longevity) and cancer prevalence in wildlife species. Resolving this paradox is a very promising research direction to understand mechanisms of cancer resistance. As of present, research has been focused on the consequences of these evolutionary pressures rather than of their causes.

Discussion

Here, we argue that evolution through natural selection may have shaped mechanisms of cancer resistance in wildlife species and that this can result in a threshold in body mass above which oncogenic and tumor suppressive mechanisms should be increasingly purified and positively selected, respectively.

Summary

We conclude that assessing wildlife species in their natural ecosystems, especially through theoretical modeling, is the most promising way to understand how evolutionary processes can favor one or the other pathway. This will provide important insights into mechanisms of cancer resistance.


Articles from BMC Cancer are provided here courtesy of BioMed Central