Cancer rates vary between people, between cultures, and between tissue types, driven by clinically relevant distinctions in the risk factors that lead to different cancer types. Despite the importance of cancer location in human health, little is known about tissue-specific cancers in non-human animals. We can gain significant insight into how evolutionary history has shaped mechanisms of cancer suppression by examining how life history traits impact cancer susceptibility across species. Here, we perform multi-level analysis to test how species-level life history strategies are associated with differences in neoplasia prevalence, and apply this to mammary neoplasia within mammals. We propose that the same patterns of cancer prevalence that have been reported across species will be maintained at the tissue-specific level. We used a combination of factor analysis and phylogenetic regression on 13 life history traits across 90 mammalian species to determine the correlation between a life history trait and how it relates to mammary neoplasia prevalence. The factor analysis presented ways to calculate quantifiable underlying factors that contribute to covariance of entangled life history variables. A greater risk of mammary neoplasia was found to be correlated most significantly with shorter gestation length. With this analysis, a framework is provided for how different life history modalities can influence cancer vulnerability. Additionally, statistical methods developed for this project present a framework for future comparative oncology studies and have the potential for many diverse applications.
- A Multivariate Analysis of Life History Traits Across Species and Their Statistical Power to Predict Cancer Prevalence