Carnivorous Animals Are Prone to Cancer?

Cancer, unfortunately, is a very common disease amongst humans. The Georgetown University Health Policy Institute advised that it is the second leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 550,000 people dying from it in one year.

Recent nature studies, however, are finding that humans are not the only recipients of the illness. Mammals, particularly meat-eating ones, also have high cancer-related mortality rates.

According to Ars Technica, researchers studied the records of 110,148 animals from 191 species that died in zoos. Most of the species, except for the blackbuck (an antelope) and the Patagonian (a rodent), faced some kind of cancer risk. But the carnivores, particularly the clouded leopards, bat-eared foxes, and red wolves, all died of cancer.

Carnivores are found to have different microbiomes than herbivores; rich numbers of microorganisms can help limit cancer. Those carnivores who lived in confined spaces (zoo cages) faced a high risk because of the lack of physical activity and the raw meat they ate—which contains bacteria and other microbes.

Orsolya Vincze, a researcher at the Centre for Ecological Research in Hungary, stated that the data on the zoo animals came from Species360, an international non-profit that collects information on zoos around the world. She also advised that collecting information on animals in the wild would’ve been more difficult because those animals who die of cancer are more likely to be preyed upon or starve to death.

“You have to go to zoos where every individual is followed and you know when they die and you know what they died of.”

The animal’s size, Vincze argued, surprisingly, does not correlate with the cancer risk: Peto’s Paradox.

Cancer mutations occur when cells divide, and larger animals should have more cell divisions than smaller ones. But due to Peto’s Paradox, those species evolved in their genetic past in ways that combat cancer.

More research, however, is still being done on mammals. So I’ll keep you all posted on any new information that I come across.

Until Next Time…


Photo Credit: The Labrador Site

Johnson, D. (2021, December 28). For mammals, eating other animals can increase cancer risk. Ars Technica. Retrieved December 28, 2021, from 


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