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Can postfertile life stages evolve as an anticancer mechanism?

Thomas, Frederic, Giraudeau, Mathieu, Renaud, Francois, Ujvari, Beata, Roche, Benjamin, Pujol, Pascal, Raymond, Michel, Lemaitre, Jean-Francois and Alvergne, Alexandra 2019, Can postfertile life stages evolve as an anticancer mechanism?, PLOS biology, vol. 17, no. 12, pp. 1-19, doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000565.

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Title Can postfertile life stages evolve as an anticancer mechanism?
Author(s) Thomas, Frederic
Giraudeau, Mathieu
Renaud, Francois
Ujvari, BeataORCID iD for Ujvari, Beata orcid.org/0000-0003-2391-2988
Roche, Benjamin
Pujol, Pascal
Raymond, Michel
Lemaitre, Jean-Francois
Alvergne, Alexandra
Journal name PLOS biology
Volume number 17
Issue number 12
Start page 1
End page 19
Total pages 19
Publisher Public Library of Science
Place of publication San Francisco, Calif.
Publication date 2019-12
ISSN 1545-7885
Summary Why a postfertile stage has evolved in females of some species has puzzled evolutionary biologists for over 50 years. We propose that existing adaptive explanations have underestimated in their formulation an important parameter operating both at the specific and the individual levels: the balance between cancer risks and cancer defenses. During their life, most multicellular organisms naturally accumulate oncogenic processes in their body. In parallel, reproduction, notably the pregnancy process in mammals, exacerbates the progression of existing tumors in females. When, for various ecological or evolutionary reasons, anticancer defenses are too weak, given cancer risk, older females could not pursue their reproduction without triggering fatal metastatic cancers nor even maintain a normal reproductive physiology if the latter also promotes the growth of existing oncogenic processes, e.g., hormone-dependent malignancies. At least until stronger anticancer defenses are selected for in these species, females could achieve higher inclusive fitness by ceasing their reproduction and/or going through menopause (assuming that these traits are easier to select than anticancer defenses), thereby limiting the risk of premature death due to metastatic cancers. Because relatively few species experience such an evolutionary mismatch between anticancer defenses and cancer risks, the evolution of prolonged life after reproduction could also be a rare, potentially transient, anticancer adaptation in the animal kingdom.
Language eng
DOI 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000565
Indigenous content off
Field of Research 06 Biological Sciences
11 Medical and Health Sciences
07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2019, Thomas et al.
Free to Read? Yes
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30133098

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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.