Scientists have been pondering if the fact that elephants have a low incidence of cancer may have any lessons for humanity’s fight against it for decades. It has been discovered that the temperature of an elephant’s testicles may contain the key to the solution.

According to traditional wisdom, bigger animals like elephants and whales would be more prone to developing cancer than people because of their higher cell density and greater potential for malfunction.

However, it was discovered in 1977 that these enormous animals have a decreased incidence of cancer according to the idea of Peto’s paradox. Elephants die from cancer at a rate of 5% as opposed to humans, where it occurs at a rate of 25%.

Elephants make more cancer-fighting protein

Humans have one copy of the TP53 gene, sometimes known as the “guardian of the genome,” which generates a protein that is essential for preventing cancer by repairing damaged DNA and removing irreparable cells, according to a story in The Times. Elephants, on the other hand, have an astounding 20 copies of this gene, which greatly increases their resistance to cancer.

Elephants, unlike humans, have internal testicles, which subject them to temperatures greater than those needed to produce sperm (about 3 degrees Celsius colder than body temperature). The sperm may sustain DNA damage as a result of the elevated heat.

In an article for the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution, evolutionary scientist Fritz Vollrath proposes that elephants evolved to create several copies of the p53 gene to repair the DNA damage happening in their sperm.

Thus, the system that fights cancer merely seems to be an evolutionary byproduct.

In particular, at a time when sperm counts are falling, this finding may have important consequences for the study of male infertility in humans and cancer. According to Vollrath, elephants provide a special framework for examining how strong defence systems against DNA damage evolved through time, offering important insights into our own fight against cancer.

Thus, the ability of elephants to survive cancer may provide important information for treating cancer and comprehending male infertility in people.

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