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For mammals, eating other animals can increase cancer risk

These rodents seemingly manage to avoid developing cancer.

Enlarge / These rodents seemingly manage to avoid developing cancer. (credit: Jason Hollinger / Wikimedia Commons)

Cancer is a sad fact of life, as nearly 40 percent of people are diagnosed with it at some point in their lives. But humans aren’t alone in this. Many different species can also develop the disease—some more often than others. By studying these species and their habits and natural defenses (or lack thereof), we can learn new ways to combat the disease.

New research that involves a comprehensive survey of cancer shows that many mammals can indeed get cancer. To gain insight into this, the team looked at records for 110,148 animals from 191 species that died in zoos. The data came from Species360, an international non-profit that collects and unifies this kind of data from zoos across the world, according to Orsolya Vincze, a research fellow at the Centre for Ecological Research in Hungary and one of the paper’s authors.

Using the data gathered by the organization, the research team could “collect information on what the animals died of,” she told Ars.

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