News NEWS Could Increasing Cancer Incidence Be Tied to Human Adaptation of Living in Extreme Environments? It is well known that cancer incidence is increasing worldwide, “These data show that these populations exhibit extremely with pockets of human populations and geographical loca- high cancer incidence, especially for lung, breast and color- tions seemingly at higher risk than others. ectal cancer,” said Dr Voskarides. Genetic evidence was also clear and highly significant. Researcher Dr Konstantinos Voskarides, of the Univesity of Genes that are under selection to populations in order to Cyrpus’ Medical School, noted that populations living in very survive under extreme environmental conditions predispose low temperatures, like the Denmark and Norway ones, had also for cancer. Among the highest cancer associations with among the highest incidences of cancer in the world genes under selection is colorectal cancer for Native (Voskarides 2017). Americans and Siberian Eskimos, esophageal cancer and Now, in a new paper, he has advanced a new hypothesis: lung cancer for Siberian Eskimos, leukemia for Oromi (a There is an evolutionary relationship that exists between high-altitude population in Ethiopia), and a variety of cancers adaptation at extreme environmental conditions—like cold for high-altitude dwelling Andeans–Tibetans. and high altitude—and increased cancer risk in humans. “Evidence was found that cancer rates have been increased “The findings of this study provide evidence that in those populations through natural selection procedures,” genetic variants found to be beneficial in extreme envi- said Dr Voskarides. “This is the first study that provides evi- ronments, can also predispose for cancer,” said Dr dence that high cancer risk maybearesultofevolutionary Voskarides. “Cell resistance at low temperatures and at adaptation in certain environmental conditions.” high altitude probably increases probability for malig- Another finding of this study is that natural selection has nancy. This effect hardly could be filtered out by natural favored especially tumor suppressor genes in those popula- selection since most cancers appear late on age, after tions instead of oncogenes. This is in accordance with pre- most people have their children.” vious studies that showed that mutations in p53 (the most Dr Voskarides focused on the effect of low temperatures, frequently mutated gene in cancers) help animals to survive either within Arctic/Scandinavian climates or high altitudes. at very high altitude. Dr Voskarides’ analyses focused on the relationship between “It seems that the populations segregated under the con- cancer risk and local average annual temperatures. He con- cept of extreme environment–extreme cancer risk,” said cluded that the extreme cold environment contributed to Voskarides. the cancer risk. For scientists pursuing the confluence of the environment To do so, Dr Voskarides carefully examined the most and genetic on cancer risk, the new study will open a new accurate and reliable data of worldwide cancer incidence avenue for exploring some of the key adaptive forces that (the GLOBOCAN-2012 database permits a variety of inci- could be driving cancer epidemiology. dence/prevalence analysis per country or per cancer type (http://globocan.iarc.fr/), as well as sifting through genetic clues among 247 different cancer genome-wide associa- References tion studies. Additionally, he probed the available litera- Voskarides K. 2017. Combination of 247 genome-wide association ture bibliographic cancer incidence and genetic data for studies reveals high cancer risk as a result of evolutionary adaptation. Mol Biol Evol. 35(2):473–485. human populations living at extreme cold and extreme high altitudes. A striking pattern began to emerge, with the highest ,1 Joseph Caspermeyer* incidence of certain cancers linked to those populations MBE Press Ofﬁce living in the coldest environments. Additionally, analysis *Corresponding author: E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. of 186 human populations showed a great linearity of doi:10.1093/molbev/msx329 high cancer incidence with the lower the environmental temperature. Advance Access publication January 11, 2018 The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail: email@example.com 778 Mol. Biol. Evol. 35(3):778–779 Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/mbe/article-abstract/35/3/778/4801216 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 22 March 2018
Molecular Biology and Evolution – Oxford University Press
Published: Mar 1, 2018
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