Many of us think of cancer as a contemporary killer, a disease of our own making caused by our modern lifestyles. But that’s not true. Although it might be rare in many species, cancer is the enemy lurking within almost every living creature. Cancer has always been with us. It killed our hominid ancestors, the mammals they evolved from and the dinosaurs that trampled the ground before that. Why? Because cancer is a bug in the system of life. We get cancer because we can’t not get it. Geneticist and science writer Dr Kat Arney takes us to the dawn of life on planet earth right up to the present day to get to the heart of what cancer really is and how by better understanding its evolutionary journey we might one day overcome it.
Dr Kat Arney is an award-winning science writer, broadcaster and public speaker. She is the author of How to Code a Human and the critically acclaimed Herding Hemingway’s Cats: Understanding how our genes work. Kat has spent more than 15 years working in science journalism and communication and was a key part of the science communications team at Cancer Research UK for more than a decade, co-founding the charity’s award-winning Science Blog, and acting as a principal national and international media spokesperson. Kat also presents the popular Genetics Unzipped podcast for The Genetics Society and has fronted several BBC Radio 4 science documentaries including the recent series Ingenious, looking at the stories behind our genes.
The music used in this episode is by Thula Borah and is used with permission.