Can aliens get cancer?


 

As human beings, we are very aware of the harm caused by cancer. So, do aliens get cancer too? To answer this question, we must first understand whether cancer is unique to life on Earth or a general problem that can also arise in the alien biosphere.


Let's first understand what cancer is. Some researchers believe that the root cause of cancer is that when certain cells are exposed to stress such as toxins, viruses, or radiation, they revert to an ancient single-cell survival mode: break away from the group, multiply rapidly, and spread. to new "colonies" a process called metastasis. Cancer cells go back to the earliest stages of eukaryotic evolution, to the time when the first single-celled life forms appeared on Earth when the nucleus was more complex than that of bacteria. If this idea holds true, it could explain why cancer cells are better suited to survive and thrive in an oxygen-poor microenvironment.


Understanding cancer in terms of evolution explains why we find this disease in all animals on Earth. Some animals are more prone to cancer than others, and some have evolved special ways to protect themselves from cancer, like naked mole rats. But in theory, all animals could develop cancer. In general, the more complex the organism, the more likely it appears to be a victim of cancer, and not just in older individuals. There are even contagious cancers, which can occur in dogs, devils, Syrian hamsters, and certain clams. Transmissible cancers are very rare and are often spread by clonal cells or viruses. In the case of the devil, a contagious facial tumor disease has driven the species to near-extinction.


So what about other multicellular organisms on Earth? Plants may experience cancerous growth, a condition in which cells around the infected part of the plant multiply uncontrollably, similar to tumors in animals. Coronary gall disease is a typical cancerous growth, and there will be hypoxic conditions inside it. However, because plant cells are not mobile, relatively fixed in position, and surrounded by cell walls, "cancerous" metastases have not been found in plants. So, can fungi get cancer? Research on this is very rare, and it doesn't look like they get cancer. Most fungi are unicellular or have a unicellular stage where rapid reproduction is advantageous. When fungi are in the multicellular stage, such as mushrooms, their cells stop dividing and instead expand in size.


So, if intelligent alien life exists, will they get cancer? They should have gone through a similar evolutionary selection process as humans. Alien intelligent life may be mobile animal-type creatures in a predator-prey relationship and may develop complex social relationships. Intelligent life forms on Earth have complex internal circulatory systems that make them vulnerable to cancer cell metastasis, the most serious problem in cancer. So, if these aliens were at the same stage of development as us, and had the same organic biological basis, they might also be susceptible to cancer. Unless they develop further, master sufficiently advanced genetic engineering techniques, or evolve into more advanced mechanical entities.

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