2

votes

Don't lions get cancer?

Answered on December 11, 2014
Created April 19, 2011 at 11:44 PM

Even lions are exposed to external and internal carcinogens, I would like to understand whether following hand waving arguments have merits.

  1. cancer cells may not proliferate to form colonies for cancer growth and metastasis due to absence of glucose(Warburg).

  2. lions(carnivore) do not eat gluten and lectins. Thus lions do not have leaking gut problem of inflammations.

My questions are: "are there enough accumulation of statistics for lions cancer?"

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on June 15, 2012
at 10:22 AM

So... could you please share the data? Waiting patiently!

Cf626d3fba66c18297b3f1116a920e58

(3417)

on April 20, 2011
at 07:14 PM

That's a good point, Wyld. You could probably draw inferences by observing elderly hunter gatherer causes of death compared to those of a similar age group consuming SAD or some other deviant diet. I would imagine studies exist that track just that, though I don't know of any. My guess is that cancer rate rises with age in both groups, but it is many times higher in the SAD group.

Da8e709acde269e8b8bfbc09d1737841

(1906)

on April 20, 2011
at 06:15 PM

@Kamal - Longer living zoo animals also don't eat paleo. So do they get cancer because they're living longer, or because of their diet? Maybe both? Maybe neither?

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on April 20, 2011
at 02:07 PM

Very interesting. However, a hypothesis based on a computerized simulation is probably a lower standard of evidence than epidemiology. (Isn't that how the whole global warming thing started?)

Cf626d3fba66c18297b3f1116a920e58

(3417)

on April 20, 2011
at 01:20 PM

Patrik, that doesn't mean that they CAN'T get cancer in the wild. Cancer rates are extremely strongly correlated with age because mutations accumulate over time, and cancer is a disease of accumulated mutations. All it takes is the right mutation or combination of mutations to induce cancer; this can happen in any organism at any age. It's simply more likely to occur as more DNA replication or damage occurs, and those processes take time.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 20, 2011
at 07:04 AM

if u eat for longlifespan. eat veggies and have a joyful active life.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 20, 2011
at 07:02 AM

they eat mass of phytoplancton and algae

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 20, 2011
at 02:20 AM

Lion lifespans average about 12 years in the wild. And they eat 100% paleo. Longer living zoo animals get more cancer. Cancer incidence increases exponentially with age. All in all, living in the wild is probably a major factor in lion cancer incidence.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 20, 2011
at 02:19 AM

Lion lifespans average about 12 years in the wild. And they eat 1005 paleo. Longer living zoo animals get more cancer. Cancer incidence increases exponentially with age. All in all, living in the wild is probably a major factor in lion cancer incidence.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on April 20, 2011
at 12:58 AM

I don't believe this statement: "They probably don't live long enough in the wild to get cancer." --

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on April 20, 2011
at 12:14 AM

I have a post coming up on cancer in primates. Lions are a tough one to study since when was the last time you saw one voluntarily sign up for a mammogram?

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 19, 2011
at 11:52 PM

Are there enough statistics on lion cancer? Depends on who you ask, humans or lions.

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5 Answers

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4
Cf626d3fba66c18297b3f1116a920e58

(3417)

on April 20, 2011
at 12:05 AM

They probably don't live long enough in the wild to get cancer. Any organism will necessarily acquire a cancerous mutation given a long enough period of time because DNA polymerase enzymes are not error-proof. No amount of prevention or "proviving" will change this. In general, evolution took care of the cancer inevitability by pushing its most likely onset beyond the typical lifespan of a given organism.

I've never heard that cancer cells DON'T proliferate in the absence of glucose, though I do know that they proliferate more quickly when provided with it. Cancerous cells, unless truly screwed up by an out-of-control cancerous mutation rate, still have the metabolic machinery and signal receptors required to metabolize molecules other than glucose for energy. As such, they could convert fats and amino acids into TCA cycle intermediates and derive their energy in the absence of glucose from there.

Lions, like all wild animals in a truly unspoiled habitat, should eat a diet that will keep their physiology in good shape, assuming they can find high-quality food semi-consistently. Because lions aren't exactly our evolutionary equals and not nearly as many pathophysiological studies have been performed on them as have been on humans, it's hard to say what molecules and, by extension, foods cause gut problems in them. Ostensibly, gluten and lectins would lead to a leaky gut, but they are carnivores, not omnivores like us; the implications of this are significant, but the specifics of their truly salubrious food spectrum aren't obvious. If forced to eat non-ideal food in the wild to survive, perhaps they could acquire leaky guts?

To address the statistics, a quick google search returned evidence for captive lions dying of cancer, but there were no immediate hits for anything about wild lions (who would fund that!?!?)

Basic biology is universal to all life, so it can be inferred from the facts in my first paragraph that lions probably do not get cancer in the wild unless some Armageddon mutation makes it an inevitability. Otherwise, they probably don't live long enough or experience enough biologically novel stimuli like gluten to induce cancerous growth among their cells.

Cf626d3fba66c18297b3f1116a920e58

(3417)

on April 20, 2011
at 01:20 PM

Patrik, that doesn't mean that they CAN'T get cancer in the wild. Cancer rates are extremely strongly correlated with age because mutations accumulate over time, and cancer is a disease of accumulated mutations. All it takes is the right mutation or combination of mutations to induce cancer; this can happen in any organism at any age. It's simply more likely to occur as more DNA replication or damage occurs, and those processes take time.

Cf626d3fba66c18297b3f1116a920e58

(3417)

on April 20, 2011
at 07:14 PM

That's a good point, Wyld. You could probably draw inferences by observing elderly hunter gatherer causes of death compared to those of a similar age group consuming SAD or some other deviant diet. I would imagine studies exist that track just that, though I don't know of any. My guess is that cancer rate rises with age in both groups, but it is many times higher in the SAD group.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 20, 2011
at 02:20 AM

Lion lifespans average about 12 years in the wild. And they eat 100% paleo. Longer living zoo animals get more cancer. Cancer incidence increases exponentially with age. All in all, living in the wild is probably a major factor in lion cancer incidence.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on April 20, 2011
at 12:58 AM

I don't believe this statement: "They probably don't live long enough in the wild to get cancer." --

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on April 20, 2011
at 02:19 AM

Lion lifespans average about 12 years in the wild. And they eat 1005 paleo. Longer living zoo animals get more cancer. Cancer incidence increases exponentially with age. All in all, living in the wild is probably a major factor in lion cancer incidence.

Da8e709acde269e8b8bfbc09d1737841

(1906)

on April 20, 2011
at 06:15 PM

@Kamal - Longer living zoo animals also don't eat paleo. So do they get cancer because they're living longer, or because of their diet? Maybe both? Maybe neither?

best answer

2
6869a1f2294b3a717a53645589a91d18

(1689)

on April 20, 2011
at 01:07 AM

"Why don't all whales have cancer? A novel hypothesis resolving Peto's paradox"

http://icb.oxfordjournals.org/content/47/2/317.full

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on April 20, 2011
at 02:07 PM

Very interesting. However, a hypothesis based on a computerized simulation is probably a lower standard of evidence than epidemiology. (Isn't that how the whole global warming thing started?)

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 20, 2011
at 07:02 AM

they eat mass of phytoplancton and algae

1
9f9fa49265e03ddd2bf2bba5477a556b

(3184)

on April 20, 2011
at 07:28 AM

I'll just ask some folks in Packer's lab what they know about cancer in lions. Their studies deal with about 5000 different lions, they have the data. I just don't know if it is published yet.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on June 15, 2012
at 10:22 AM

So... could you please share the data? Waiting patiently!

0
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at 10:38 PM

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-1
Ac26b8ee7e703389029e596d8bfcf575

on May 28, 2013
at 03:02 AM

Perhaps it's because most big cats in US zoos are fed a diet of horse meat, which consists of horses which have been medicated with substances known to be carcinogens. Bute, Clenbeuterol, Ferusomide etc. Race horses are given 170 banned substances.

In the wild they would not be eating adulterated meat.

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