Do plants get affected by cancer?


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Death and green can never go together…right?? You won’t believe that even Cancer is overcome by green. let’s have a look at how one of the worst diseases known to mankind fails when it comes to trees? To understand it better, first, we need to understand what cancer actually is.

Cancer is a group of diseases that involve the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in any part of the body, often caused by mutation of cells of living organisms. DNA is the part of a cell that can not be replaced when it receives any damage(can be radiation) and results in a mutation, altering the way a cell functions – for example: making the cell as a cancerous cell that grows uncontrollably and may form tumors. These tumors are often malignant which means they spread into nearby tissues and sometimes these cells travel to distant places from its origin through the blood or lymph and result in multiple tumors inside the body. These tumors cut off the healthy cell from receiving the nutrition it needs to function properly resulting in its death, and if enough of these healthy cells die, an organ(or two) fails and causes death.*

Plants do experience the same phenomenon but are often brought on by infections. Nevertheless, plants also get cancer but they don’t grow quite the way they grow in animals. Unlike animal cells, almost all plant cells have rigid cell-walls that stop the affected cell/s from metastasizing (spreading). So even if the cancerous cells create a tumor, it remains stuck in one place. Also, unlike animals, plants have a flexible and organic way of developing, for example, a human won’t survive with non-functioning lungs, but for trees, there are no such restrictions as there is not a single part in a plant that it can not grow another if it is necessary.

Image Source : Reddit user Zachman97
In some of the extreme environments, it is also seen that plants change/evolve their mechanism to protect their DNA from mutating and recover even if it is damaged. Also, plants are a lot older than humans, and in the early days on earth, the level of natural radiation was much higher so the trees might have evolved such a way that they are not affected by cancer.

That is how plants keep on living for hundreds even thousands of years with cancer in their body without the need for chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery.  


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