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Abstract

Every day, the cells in your body are super busy growing and dividing. When something goes wrong, mutations appear. Our immune system usually detects cells with mistakes and kills them before they become a problem. But sometimes they go undetected and the rogue cell multiplies, turning into cancer. So, if an animal has more cells and a longer life, it should get more cancer. Whales have up to 1,000 times more cells than humans and some live for over 200 years. But their cancer rates are no higher than ours! To figure out why this is, we compared the humpback whale and other whale genomes to other mammal genomes. Our DNA analysis showed that in whales there was duplication of cancer-suppressing genes. We also found that whales have the slowest rate of genetic changes. Our findings help us understand the role of DNA in preventing cancer. It could also help us fight cancer in humans!

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