Studying Elephants to Fight Cancer

A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association explores a fascinating fact: Elephants, despite their large body size, have cancer mortality rates of about 4.8%, compared to humans whose rates are between 11 and 25%.  The authors study a sample of various large mammals, including elephants, and one of their key findings--elephants appear to have 20 or more copies of a key cancer blocking gene (TP53) whereas humans only have one.

I find this research fascinating, and despite the fact I have no background in medicine, I found I could read the research and noticed a few things from the everydata perspective. First, the methodologies, sample sizes, and statistical precision of all the estimates are clearly stated.  Second, the authors do not appear to overstate their results--explaining that IF their results can be replicated, this could have significant implications for future cancer research.

The study received quite a bit of popular press attention, including this articles on CBS News.