Natural resistance to cancers: a Darwinian hypothesis to explain Peto's paradox

Benjamin Roche, Michael E. Hochberg, Aleah F. Caulin, Carlo C. Maley, Robert A. Gatenby, Dorothée Misse, Frédéric Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Background: Peto's paradox stipulates that there is no association between body mass (a surrogate of number of cells and longevity) and cancer prevalence in wildlife species. Resolving this paradox is a very promising research direction to understand mechanisms of cancer resistance. As of present, research has been focused on the consequences of these evolutionary pressures rather than of their causes.Discussion: Here, we argue that evolution through natural selection may have shaped mechanisms of cancer resistance in wildlife species and that this can result in a threshold in body mass above which oncogenic and tumor suppressive mechanisms should be increasingly purified and positively selected, respectively.Summary: We conclude that assessing wildlife species in their natural ecosystems, especially through theoretical modeling, is the most promising way to understand how evolutionary processes can favor one or the other pathway. This will provide important insights into mechanisms of cancer resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number387
JournalBMC Cancer
StatePublished - Sep 3 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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