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Cancer Strikes Sea Lions

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Cancer Strikes Sea Lions

By E.B. Solomont, MNN
Researchers in California are struggling to explain why California sea lions are getting sick with cancer.

Fourteen years after veterinary experts first noticed sea lions becoming ill, scientists are studying 300 sea lions and examining three prime suspects: viruses, PCBs in the water and genetics. “Years of study have led researchers to think the answer lies not with any one culprit, but with several,” reports TheNew YorkTimes.

“It’s such an aggressive cancer, and it’s so unusual to see such a high prevalence of cancer in a wild population,” said Dr. Frances Gulland, director of veterinary science at the Marine Mammal Center. In 1996, Gulland and colleagues at the University of California, Davis, found that 18 percent of deaths among stranded adult sea lions were related to cancerous tumors.

“That suggests that there’s some carcinogen in the ocean that could be affecting these animals,” Gulland said.

The first reports of sea lion cancer came 14 years ago, among rescued California sea lions. Today, the Marine Mammal Center sees 15 to 20 California sea lions with cancer each year.

“It’s pretty distressing to see,” Gulland said. During post-mortem examinations of the sick sea lions, doctors have found tumors in the animals’ genitals, lymph nodes, lower spine, kidneys, liver and lungs.

Next: What’s causing the cancer

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Megan, selected from Mother Nature Network

Mother Nature Network's mission is to help you improve your world. From covering the latest news on health, science, sustainable business practices and the latest trends in eco-friendly technology, MNN.com strives to give you the accurate, unbiased information you need to improve your world locally, globally, and personally all in a distinctive thoughtful, straightforward, and fun style.

158 comments

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10:46PM PDT on May 30, 2013

Such sweet creatures...so sad :( thanks for sharing.

4:39AM PST on Jan 26, 2011

Thanks for the article.

5:59AM PST on Jan 20, 2011

Someone is poisoning them, but nothing gets away from true justice.

10:22AM PDT on May 6, 2010

sea mammals likely get cancer from the same sources as
humans. and cancer rates are higher in the us of a than in
many developing countries. why? because we have better
health care? thx, jvh

3:59AM PDT on May 6, 2010

Please sign this petition to support marine health implementations
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/marine-health-implementations

3:59AM PDT on May 6, 2010

Please sign this petition to support marine health implementations
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/marine-health-implementations

7:35AM PDT on Apr 26, 2010

This a sad article. Not and signed Megan!!!!

8:41AM PDT on Apr 22, 2010

Please sign this petition to support Marine Health Implementations
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/marine-health-implementations

8:41AM PDT on Apr 22, 2010

Please sign this petition to support Marine Health Implementations
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/marine-health-implementations

4:49PM PDT on Apr 20, 2010

there was a documentary recently about the pacific ocean being used as a garbage dump for everything from paper and plastic to refrigerators and other appliances. if these companies are using the ocean for adumping ground for garbage to poisons and drugs it's no wonder these animals are getting sick and dying. people are creating this problem and we will all pay the price for it if we don't get it together and take care of our planet and everything on it

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