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A survey of cancer prevalence within birds (the clave Aves).

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Cancer is a disease that occurs in many and perhaps all multicellular organisms. Current research is looking at how different life history characteristics among species could influence cancer rates. Because somatic maintenance is an important component of a species' life

Cancer is a disease that occurs in many and perhaps all multicellular organisms. Current research is looking at how different life history characteristics among species could influence cancer rates. Because somatic maintenance is an important component of a species' life history, we hypothesize the same ecological forces shaping the life history of a species should also determine its cancer susceptibility. By looking at varying life histories, potential evolutionary trends could be used to explain differing cancer rates. Life history theory could be an important framework for understanding cancer vulnerabilities with different trade-offs between life history traits and cancer defenses. Birds have diverse life history strategies that could explain differences in cancer suppression. Peto's paradox is the observation that cancer rates do not typically increase with body size and longevity despite an increased number of cell divisions over the animal's lifetime that ought to be carcinogenic. Here we show how Peto’s paradox is negatively correlated for cancer within the clade, Aves. That is, larger, long-lived birds get more cancer than smaller, short-lived birds (p=0.0001; r2= 0.024). Sexual dimorphism in both plumage color and size differ among Aves species. We hypothesized that this could lead to a difference in cancer rates due to the amount of time and energy sexual dimorphism takes away from somatic maintenance. We tested for an association between a variety of life history traits and cancer, including reproductive potential, growth rate, incubation, mating systems, and sexual dimorphism in both color and size. We found male birds get less cancer than female birds (9.8% vs. 11.1%, p=0.0058).

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Date Created
2019-05

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Life History, Cancer Incidence, and Cancer Mortality in Non-Human Primates

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Cancer rates in our nearest relatives are largely unknown. Comparison of human cancer rates with other primates should help us to understand the nature of our susceptibilities to cancer. Data from deceased primates was gathered from 3 institutions, the Duke

Cancer rates in our nearest relatives are largely unknown. Comparison of human cancer rates with other primates should help us to understand the nature of our susceptibilities to cancer. Data from deceased primates was gathered from 3 institutions, the Duke Lemur Center, San Diego Zoo, and Jungle Friends primate sanctuary. This data contained over 400 unique individuals across 45 species with information on cancer incidence and mortality. Cancer incidence ranged from 0-71% and cancer mortality ranged from 0-67%. We used weighted phylogenetic regressions to test for an association between life history variables (specifically body mass and lifespan) and cancer incidence as well as mortality. Cancer incidence did not correlate with both body mass and lifespan (p>.05) however, cancer mortality did (p<.05). However, it is uncertain if the variables can be used as reliable predictors of cancer, because the data come from different organizations. This analysis presents cancer incidence rates and cancer mortality rates in species where it was previously unknown, and in some primate species, is surprisingly high. Microcebus murinus(grey mouse lemur) appear to be particularly vulnerable to cancer, mostly lymphomas. Further studies will be required to determine the causes of these vulnerabilities.

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2017-05

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A Multivariate Analysis of Life History Traits Across Species and Their Statistical Power to Predict Cancer Prevalence

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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

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.

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2021-05

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The Integration of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) into Western Biomedical Oncology Treatment

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Through a standpoint feminist perspective (Harding 2009) I conducted a situational analysis (Clarke, 2015) that examined academic literature and cancer support discussion boards (DBs) to identify how Western biomedicine, specifically oncology, can integrate complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to improve

Through a standpoint feminist perspective (Harding 2009) I conducted a situational analysis (Clarke, 2015) that examined academic literature and cancer support discussion boards (DBs) to identify how Western biomedicine, specifically oncology, can integrate complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to improve cancer treatment in children. The aims of this project were: 1) to identify the CAM treatments that are being used to alleviate the side effects from oncological treatments and/or treat pediatric cancers; 2) to compare the subjective experience of CAM to Western biomedicine of cancer patients who leave comments on Group Loop, Cancer Compass and Cancer Forums, which are online support groups (N=20). I used grounded theory and situational mapping to analyze discussion threads. The participants identified using the following CAM treatments: herbs, imagery, prayer, stinging nettle, meditation, mind-body therapies and supplements. The participants turned to CAM treatments when their cancer was late-stage or terminal, often as an integrative and not exclusively to treat their cancer. CAM was more "effective" than biomedical oncology treatment at improving their overall quality of life and functionality. We found that youth on discussion boards did not discuss CAM treatments like the adult participants, but all participants visited these sites for support and verification of their cancer treatments. My main integration recommendation is to combine mind-body CAM therapies with biomedical treatment. This project fills the gap in literature that ignores the ideas of vulnerable populations by providing the experiences of adult and pediatric cancer patients, and that of their families. It is applicable to areas of the social studies of medicine, patient care, and families suffering from cancer. KEYWORDS: Cancer; Complementary and Alternative Medicine; Situational Analysis; Standpoint Feminism

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Date Created
2016-12

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Age as a Cancer Risk Factor Across Species

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Age is the most significant risk factor for cancer development in humans. The somatic mutation theory postulates that the accumulation of genomic mutations over time results in cellular function degradation which plays an important role in understanding aging and cancer

Age is the most significant risk factor for cancer development in humans. The somatic mutation theory postulates that the accumulation of genomic mutations over time results in cellular function degradation which plays an important role in understanding aging and cancer development. Specifically, degradation of the mechanisms that underlie somatic maintenance can occur due to decreased immune cell function and genomic responses to DNA damage. Research has shown that this degradation can lead to the accumulation of mutations that can cause cancer in humans. Despite recent advances in our understanding of cancer in non-human species, how this risk factor translates across species is poorly characterized. Here, we analyze a veterinarian cancer dataset of 4,178 animals to investigate if age related cancer prevalence is similar in non-human animals. We intend for this work to be used as a primary step towards understanding the potential overlap and/or uniqueness between human and non-human cancer risk factors. This study can be used to better understand cancer development and how evolutionary processes have shaped somatic maintenance across species.

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Date Created
2022-05

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Reproductive Cancer Prevalence Across Mammalian Species

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Cancers of the reproductive tissues make up a significant portion of the cancer burden and mortality experienced by humans. Humans experience several proximal causative carcinogens that explain a portion of cancer risk, but an evolutionary viewpoint can provide a unique

Cancers of the reproductive tissues make up a significant portion of the cancer burden and mortality experienced by humans. Humans experience several proximal causative carcinogens that explain a portion of cancer risk, but an evolutionary viewpoint can provide a unique lens into the ultimate causes of reproductive cancer vulnerabilities. A life history framework allows us to make predictions on cancer prevalence based on a species’ tempo of reproduction. Moreover, certain variations in the susceptibility and prevalence of cancer may emerge due to evolutionary trade-offs between reproduction and somatic maintenance. For example, such trade-offs could involve the demand for rapid proliferation of cells in reproductive tissues that arises with reproductive events. In this study, I compiled reproductive cancer prevalence for 158 mammalian species and modeled the predictive power of 13 life history traits on the patterns of cancer prevalence we observed, such as Peto’s Paradox or slow-fast life history strategies. We predicted that fast-life history strategists will exhibit higher neoplasia prevalence risk due to reproductive trade-offs. Furthering this analytical framework can aid in predicting cancer rates and stratifying cancer risk across the tree of life.

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2022-05