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March 12, 2014

Did a Carcinogenic Crucible Produce the Human Brain?

In writing my 1992 book Cancer Selection I had several objectives. I wanted to introduce to a wider audience the essential core of my peer-reviewed theory—that defenses against lethal juvenile cancer enabled precise construction of complex animals. My theory says that if cancer did not exist the Bilaterians would not exist. I also wanted to argue vigorously in favor of its acceptance as a major amendment to evolutionary theory, hoping for its adoption. Finally, I wanted to extend the theory, explain why I thought certain phenomena no one else associates with cancer actually originated as defenses against it. I wrote that sleep, animal senescence and the human brain originated largely because they defend against lethal juvenile cancer.

Regarding sleep, I wrote in the book that any future discoveries of increased immune activity during sleep, which is when somatic cells divide, would support my idea. Subsequent research seems to have done that. 

Although I am not aware of any published research supporting my proposal that animal senescence originated as an anti-cancer mechanism, an American scientist has informed The New York Times that he had reached the same conclusion. 

In the remainder of this posting I will concentrate on my third proposal, that cancer played a major role in the origin of the human brain. Much of what follows is an adaptation of material appearing in Chapter Nine.