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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 December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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