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Scientists Find Why Elephants Are Less Likely To Get Cancer

Scientists Find Why Elephants Are Less Likely To Get Cancer

Did you know that besides humans, animals also die of cancer at the same percentage as us? It is also believed that some animals are moving toward extinction because of this deadly illness. And then, there are those animals that never get cancer. One big example is elephants.

The reason behind why elephants are less likely to get cancer is due to additional copies of a gene encoding tumor protein suppressor, p53. A new study performed by the researchers at Huntsman Cancer Institute at University of Utah Health Sciences, and researchers from the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation, shows this phenomenal result. Also, the study conducted that elephants have built-in powerful system of killing cancerous cells.

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Elephants dying out of cancer is 5% compared to 11 to 25% of humans dying out of cancer have baffled the scientists for many years. In order to solve this mystery, the scientists, along with the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation, Primary Children’s Hospital, and Utah’s HogleZoo, have performed experiments for several years. On a conclusion, they have discovered that elephants have 38 additional modified copies of a gene that encodes p53, a compound that subdues tumor development. Comparatively, humans have only 2. To come up with a solid answer, the scientists compared the elephants genes with healthy human genes, and genes from a group of patients suffering from Li-Fraumeni Syndrome. The patients have a 90% chance of developing cancer in their lifetime, and have only 1 copy of p53. The lifespan of elephants are from 50 to 70 years, and they have 100 times more cells than us. This made the scientists wonder that among so many cells, at least one or two would trigger cancer. But they don’t.

These results have been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

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“Nature has already figured out how to prevent cancer. It’s up to us to learn how different animals tackle the problem so we can adapt those strategies to prevent cancer in people,” said co-senior author Joshua Schiffman, M.D., pediatric oncologist at Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah School of Medicine , and Primary Children’s Hospital.

Schiffman and his team scoured through the African elephant genome, and uncovered 40 copies of genes that code for p53. This is a huge amount, given that humans have only 2 copies. What the team did next was they extracted white blood cells from the elephants during their routine check-ups, and subjected the cells to treatments that damage DNA. As a reply, the cells self-destructed, meaning, the cells died, and would be unable to turn into cancer.

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“If you kill the damage cell, it’s gone, and it can’t turn into cancer. This maybe more effective of an approach to cancer prevention than trying to stop a mutated cell from dividing and not being able to completely repair itself,” said Schiffman.

The team, then did another experiment. In order to see if more p53 can prevent cancer, they took cells from elephants (n=8), healthy humans (n=10), and Li-Fraumeni Syndrome patients (n=10), and exposed the cells to radiation. The response showed that elephant cells self-destructed at twice the rate of healthy humans, and more than five times the rate of Li-Fraumeni patients (14.6%, 7.2% and 2.7% respectively). These results supported the idea that more p53 can prevent against cancer. The scientists believe that too much p53 is nature’s way of protecting these majestic animals from cancer.

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Of course, there will be further studies and researches to see if the same can be applied to humans. “If the elephants can hold the key to unlocking some of the mysteries of cancer, then we will see an increased awareness of the plight of elephants worldwide,” said Eric Peterson, elephant manager at Utah’s Hogle Zoo. “What a fantastic benefit: elephants and humans living longer, better lives.”

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Last Updated on August 12, 2019

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko Biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and Black Tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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