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Cancer, Old Age and Evolution:


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Actually out of my comfort zone, but have  been interested in the science of abiogenesis and evolution from when I started visiting science forums.

So some questions that I have thought about. Is cancer, or can cancer be described as evolution gone mad? Can it be inferred as evolution? I once had a physicist named Dr Karl Kruszelniki make a prediction that in time, we will be living forever. At the time I thought he was crazy despite the high reputable reputaion he has In Australia. I still think he is crazy on that score https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Kruszelnicki

and https://blogs.unimelb.edu.au/sciencecommunication/2012/09/14/life-death-and-disagreeing-with-dr-karl/  "Yeah, well, I’m hanging out there for the genetic revolution and with a bit of luck, I will be, probably, in the last generation to die and you’ll be the first generation to live forever. Maybe I’ll be able to join in that generation. And by ‘forever’, I mean 500 to 5,000 years with a healthy 18- to 25-year-old body". 

Does this prediction sound scientifically valid? As medicine and technology do allow us to live longer, is cancer an inevitable outcome of old age? Assuming the rest of the body stays healthy, is cancer then an inevitable consequence as we do age? I have also seen the good doctor at a science gathering around 20 years ago and he certainly is impressive and humouress to boot.

Quick note, as per the good Dr narrative/quote, by forever he means "And by ‘forever’, I mean 500 to 5,000 years with a healthy 18- to 25-year-old body"

[still seems way over the top for me] 

 

Edited by beecee
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I would not frame it in evolutionary terms for a variety of reasons. The simplest being that I don't see a good reason to use that framework over classic cell biology.

While it is not my field, I think that everyone promoting even only doubling of healthy lifespans is massively overhyping the little we actually understand. To me it seems like we just figured out how to somewhat reliably make fire and now want to create cold fusion based on what we just learned. There are many steps between and these have not been outlined in a satisfying way (and/or include hand waving away massive knowledge gaps and challenges).

Note that cancer is not the only issue associated with aging, it is just one of the many things associated with it. Also there many cancer forms where it is more likely to die with it rather than of it (e.g.prostate). The average lifetime risk of getting cancer is about 44% in Canada and 40% in the US. The risk of dying from it is about half that, respectively.

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