Med Hypotheses. 1992 Sep;39(1):41-8.
Comment in: Med Hypotheses. 1995 Apr;44(4):306.
Hadassah Medical Center, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.
The hypothesis presented here is that cancer is not a phenomenon where the normal functions of the human body break down (like diabetes mellitus or renal failure) but rather a well planned and well coordinated physiological response (similar to the inflammatory response). ‘Cancer initiating genes’ are presumed neoplastic DNA sequences involved in sensing genome deterioration, consequently enhancing preservation. This genetic trait, different from the concept of oncogenes, actively triggers the neoplastic transformation once genome deterioration is sensed. This self destructive, altruistic phenomenon, obviously devastating to the organism, is nevertheless shown to be a possible mechanism of natural selection. The survival advantage of cancer initiation is discussed using both the concepts of group selection and gene selection. Natural selection, the driving force of evolution, is believed to operate solely on the basis of phenotype differences among individuals. In this paper cancer is hypothesized to be a mechanism that directly scrutinizes the gene contents of the individual, therefore representing natural selection based on genotype differences.