A new study may explain why elephants rarely get cancer. This study found that elephants have 40 copies of a gene called TP53. TP53 is a gene that finds mistakes in copied cells and deletes them. Because elephants grow a lot and live a long time, their cells are copied many, many times. This creates many opportunities for mistakes to happen. However, the elephants’ TP53 genes help to catch these mistakes before they can turn into cancer. This helps elephants get cancer less frequently than humans, who only have 2 copies of TP53.
Photo of an elephant running by Four Oaks/Shutterstock Images.