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August 25, 2015

Pediatric Cancers: Their Evolutionary Significance


The idea that selected changes in Bilaterian's bodies would cause an increase in juvenile cancer rates has been part of my theory from its inception; it was clearly expressed in the 1984 Journal of Theoretical Biology Letter as it was in manuscripts submitted to other journals as early as 1979.   

Here is a relevant paragraph from the 1984 Letter: 


Adaptive pro-oncogenes are those that imparted some survival benefit to the germ line in spite of a likely increase in juvenile deaths from cancer fol­lowing their selection.  Increased somatic complexi­ty, greater body size, ex­tended pre-reproductive life and migration to more mutagenic habitats occurred in so many Bilaterian lineages that they can be confi­dently judged to have been adaptive.  It is, however, most probable that selection of such characters was followed by increases in the incidence of somatic mutational events in juve­niles and resulted in in­creased losses of genetic material to cancer.