Cancer Threatens Wildlife

Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) with fibropapillomatosis.  Photo: © Ursula Keuper-Bennett/Peter Bennett.  Click photo for copyright information.

Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) with fibropapillomatosis. Photo: © Ursula Keuper-Bennett/Peter Bennett. Click photo for copyright information.

A new study published in the July Nature Reviews Cancer suggests cancer is as much of a threat to wildlife as it is to humans and that some species are threatened by extinction due to cancer.  The Tasmanian devil is at risk of extinction due to a cancer known as devil facial tumor disease.  Animal life in areas polluted by humans is also at risk for cancer.  For example, beluga whales in the St. Lawrence River system have a very high rate of intestinal cancer.  One common pollutant there is a known carcinogen in humans.  In other known cases, virus-induced cancers threaten wildlife.   Fibropapillomatosis,  common in green sea turtles, causes skin and internal organ tumors and is thought to be caused by a virus.  For more information, see ScienceDaily.

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