Peto's Paradox: Evolution's prescription for cancer prevention

Aleah F. Caulin, Carlo C. Maley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

162 Scopus citations

Abstract

The evolution of multicellularity required the suppression of cancer. If every cell has some chance of becoming cancerous, large, long-lived organisms should have an increased risk of developing cancer compared with small, short-lived organisms. The lack of correlation between body size and cancer risk is known as Peto's paradox. Animals with 1000 times more cells than humans do not exhibit an increased cancer risk, suggesting that natural mechanisms can suppress cancer 1000 times more effectively than is done in human cells. Because cancer has proven difficult to cure, attention has turned to cancer prevention. In this review, similar to pharmaceutical companies mining natural products, we seek to understand how evolution has suppressed cancer to develop ultimately improved cancer prevention in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-182
Number of pages8
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Volume26
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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