• We are sorry, but NCBI web applications do not support your browser and may not function properly. More information
Logo of envhperEnvironmental Health PerspectivesBrowse ArticlesAbout EHPGeneral InformationAuthorsMediaProgramsPartnerships
Environ Health Perspect. Mar 2002; 110(3): 285–292.
PMCID: PMC1240769
Research Article

Cancer in wildlife, a case study: beluga from the St. Lawrence estuary, Québec, Canada.

Abstract

A population of approximately 650 beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) inhabits a short segment of the St. Lawrence estuary (SLE). Over 17 years (1983-1999), we have examined 129 (or 49%) of 263 SLE beluga carcasses reported stranded. The major primary causes of death were respiratory and gastrointestinal infections with metazoan parasites (22%), cancer (18%), and bacterial, viral, and protozoan infections (17%). We observed cancer in 27% of examined adult animals found dead, a percentage similar to that found in humans. The estimated annual rate (AR) of all cancer types (163/100,000 animals) is much higher than that reported for any other population of cetacean and is similar to that of humans and to that of hospitalized cats and cattle. The AR of cancer of the proximal intestine, a minimum figure of 63 per 100,000 animals, is much higher than that observed in domestic animals and humans, except in sheep in certain parts of the world, where environmental contaminants are believed to be involved in the etiology of this condition. SLE beluga and their environment are contaminated by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) produced by the local aluminum smelters. The human population living in proximity of the SLE beluga habitat is affected by rates of cancer higher than those found in people in the rest of Québec and Canada, and some of these cancers have been epidemiologically related to PAHs. Considered with the above observations, the exposure of SLE beluga to PAHs and their contamination by these compounds are consistent with the hypothesis that PAHs are involved in the etiology of cancer in these animals.

Full Text

The Full Text of this article is available as a PDF (1.0M).

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Martineau D, Lagacé A, Béland P, Higgins R, Armstrong D, Shugart LR. Pathology of stranded beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) from the St. Lawrence Estuary, Québec, Canada. J Comp Pathol. 1988 Apr;98(3):287–311. [PubMed]
  • Muir DC, Ford CA, Rosenberg B, Norstrom RJ, Simon M, Béland P. Persistent organochlorines in beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) from the St Lawrence River estuary--I. Concentrations and patterns of specific PCBs, chlorinated pesticides and polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans. Environ Pollut. 1996;93(2):219–234. [PubMed]
  • Martineau D, Lair S, De Guise S, Béland P. Intestinal adenocarcinomas in two beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) from the estuary of the St. Lawrence River. Can Vet J. 1995 Sep;36(9):563–565. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Uys CJ, Best PB. Pathology of lesions observed in whales flensed at Saldanha Bay, South Africa. J Comp Pathol. 1966 Oct;76(4):407–412. [PubMed]
  • Stroud RK, Roffe TJ. Causes of death in marine mammals stranded along the Oregon coast. J Wildl Dis. 1979 Jan;15(1):91–97. [PubMed]
  • De Guise S, Lagacé A, Béland P. Tumors in St. Lawrence beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) Vet Pathol. 1994 Jul;31(4):444–449. [PubMed]
  • Mikaelian I, Labelle P, Doré M, Martineau D. Metastatic mammary adenocarcinomas in two beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) from the St Lawrence Estuary, Canada. Vet Rec. 1999 Dec 18;145(25):738–739. [PubMed]
  • Cowan DF. Pathology of the pilot whale. Globicephala melaena. A comparative survey. Arch Pathol. 1966 Aug;82(2):178–189. [PubMed]
  • Cowan DF. Involution and cystic transformation of the thymus in the bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus. Vet Pathol. 1994 Nov;31(6):648–653. [PubMed]
  • Kirkwood JK, Bennett PM, Jepson PD, Kuiken T, Simpson VR, Baker JR. Entanglement in fishing gear and other causes of death in cetaceans stranded on the coasts of England and Wales. Vet Rec. 1997 Jul 26;141(4):94–98. [PubMed]
  • Bossart GD, Ewing R, Herron AJ, Cray C, Mase B, Decker SJ, Alexander JW, Altman NH. Immunoblastic malignant lymphoma in dolphins: histologic, ultrastructural, and immunohistochemical features. J Vet Diagn Invest. 1997 Oct;9(4):454–458. [PubMed]
  • Snyder RL, Tyler G, Summers J. Chronic hepatitis and hepatocellular carcinoma associated with woodchuck hepatitis virus. Am J Pathol. 1982 Jun;107(3):422–425. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Aguirre AA, Bröjer C, Mörner T. Descriptive epidemiology of roe deer mortality in Sweden. J Wildl Dis. 1999 Oct;35(4):753–762. [PubMed]
  • Lipscomb TP, Scott DP, Garber RL, Krafft AE, Tsai MM, Lichy JH, Taubenberger JK, Schulman FY, Gulland FM. Common metastatic carcinoma of California sea lions (Zalophus californianus): evidence of genital origin and association with novel gammaherpesvirus. Vet Pathol. 2000 Nov;37(6):609–617. [PubMed]
  • MacVean DW, Monlux AW, Anderson PS, Jr, Silberg SL, Roszel JF. Frequency of canine and feline tumors in a defined population. Vet Pathol. 1978 Nov;15(6):700–715. [PubMed]
  • Campo MS, O'Neil BW, Barron RJ, Jarrett WF. Experimental reproduction of the papilloma-carcinoma complex of the alimentary canal in cattle. Carcinogenesis. 1994 Aug;15(8):1597–1601. [PubMed]
  • Cordes DO, Shortridge EH. Neoplasms of sheep: a survey of 256 cases recorded at Ruakura animal health laboratory. N Z Vet J. 1971 Apr;19(4):55–64. [PubMed]
  • Jarrett WF, McNeil PE, Grimshaw WT, Selman IE, McIntyre WI. High incidence area of cattle cancer with a possible interaction between an environmental carcinogen and a papilloma virus. Nature. 1978 Jul 20;274(5668):215–217. [PubMed]
  • Newell KW, Ross AD, Renner RM. Phenoxy and picolinic acid herbicides and small-intestinal adenocarcinoma in sheep. Lancet. 1984 Dec 8;2(8415):1301–1305. [PubMed]
  • De Guise S, Lagacé A, Béland P. Gastric papillomas in eight St. Lawrence beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas). J Vet Diagn Invest. 1994 Jul;6(3):385–388. [PubMed]
  • Cossa D, Picard-Bérubé M, Gouygou JP. Polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons in mussels from the Estuary and Northwestern Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol. 1983 Jul;31(1):41–47. [PubMed]
  • Martel L, Gagnon MJ, Massé R, Leclerc A, Tremblay L. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in sediments from the Saguenay Fjord, Canada. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol. 1986 Jul;37(1):133–140. [PubMed]
  • Martineau D, De Guise S, Fournier M, Shugart L, Girard C, Lagacé A, Béland P. Pathology and toxicology of beluga whales from the St. Lawrence Estuary, Quebec, Canada. Past, present and future. Sci Total Environ. 1994 Sep 16;154(2-3):201–215. [PubMed]
  • Culp SJ, Gaylor DW, Sheldon WG, Goldstein LS, Beland FA. A comparison of the tumors induced by coal tar and benzo[a]pyrene in a 2-year bioassay. Carcinogenesis. 1998 Jan;19(1):117–124. [PubMed]
  • Chow WH, Linet MS, McLaughlin JK, Hsing AW, Chien HT, Blot WJ. Risk factors for small intestine cancer. Cancer Causes Control. 1993 Mar;4(2):163–169. [PubMed]
  • Kaminsky LS, Fasco MJ. Small intestinal cytochromes P450. Crit Rev Toxicol. 1991;21(6):407–422. [PubMed]
  • Zhang QY, Wikoff J, Dunbar D, Kaminsky L. Characterization of rat small intestinal cytochrome P450 composition and inducibility. Drug Metab Dispos. 1996 Mar;24(3):322–328. [PubMed]
  • Zhang QY, Wikoff J, Dunbar D, Fasco M, Kaminsky L. Regulation of cytochrome P4501A1 expression in rat small intestine. Drug Metab Dispos. 1997 Jan;25(1):21–26. [PubMed]
  • Mikaelian I, de Lafontaine Y, Menard C, Tellier P, Harshbarger J, Martineau D. Neoplastic and nonneoplastic hepatic changes in lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) from the St. Lawrence River, Quebec, Canada. Environ Health Perspect. 1998 Apr;106(4):179–183. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Veatch JK, Carpenter JW. Metastatic adenocarcinoma of the mammary gland in a Père David's deer. J Vet Diagn Invest. 1993 Oct;5(4):639–640. [PubMed]
  • Gillete DM, Acland HM, Klein L. Ductular mammary carcinoma in a lioness. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1978 Nov 1;173(9):1099–1102. [PubMed]
  • Pogo BG, Melana SM, Holland JF, Mandeli JF, Pilotti S, Casalini P, Ménard S. Sequences homologous to the mouse mammary tumor virus env gene in human breast carcinoma correlate with overexpression of laminin receptor. Clin Cancer Res. 1999 Aug;5(8):2108–2111. [PubMed]
  • Blackwood A, Wolff M, Rundle A, Estabrook A, Schnabel F, Mooney LA, Rivera M, Channing KM, Perera FP. Organochlorine compounds (DDE and PCB) in plasma and breast cyst fluid of women with benign breast disease. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1998 Jul;7(7):579–583. [PubMed]
  • Güttes S, Failing K, Neumann K, Kleinstein J, Georgii S, Brunn H. Chlororganic pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls in breast tissue of women with benign and malignant breast disease. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 1998 Jul;35(1):140–147. [PubMed]
  • Perera FP, Estabrook A, Hewer A, Channing K, Rundle A, Mooney LA, Whyatt R, Phillips DH. Carcinogen-DNA adducts in human breast tissue. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1995 Apr-May;4(3):233–238. [PubMed]
  • Aubin M, Godin G, Vézina L, Maziade J, Desharnais R. Hypercholesterolemia screening. Does knowledge of blood cholesterol level affect dietary fat intake? Can Fam Physician. 1998 Jun;44:1289–1297. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Armstrong B, Tremblay C, Baris D, Thériault G. Lung cancer mortality and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons: a case-cohort study of aluminum production workers in Arvida, Quebec, Canada. Am J Epidemiol. 1994 Feb 1;139(3):250–262. [PubMed]
  • Tremblay C, Armstrong B, Thériault G, Brodeur J. Estimation of risk of developing bladder cancer among workers exposed to coal tar pitch volatiles in the primary aluminum industry. Am J Ind Med. 1995 Mar;27(3):335–348. [PubMed]
  • Bye T, Romundstad PR, Rønneberg A, Hilt B. Health survey of former workers in a Norwegian coke plant: Part 2. Cancer incidence and cause specific mortality. Occup Environ Med. 1998 Sep;55(9):622–626. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Patenaude NJ, Quinn JS, Beland P, Kingsley M, White BN. Genetic variation of the St. Lawrence beluga whale population assessed by DNA fingerprinting. Mol Ecol. 1994 Aug;3(4):375–381. [PubMed]
  • Fearon ER. Human cancer syndromes: clues to the origin and nature of cancer. Science. 1997 Nov 7;278(5340):1043–1050. [PubMed]
  • Perera FP. Environment and cancer: who are susceptible? Science. 1997 Nov 7;278(5340):1068–1073. [PubMed]
  • Munson L, Nesbit JW, Meltzer DG, Colly LP, Bolton L, Kriek NP. Diseases of captive cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus jubatus) in South Africa: a 20-year retrospective survey. J Zoo Wildl Med. 1999 Sep;30(3):342–347. [PubMed]
  • O'Brien SJ. A role for molecular genetics in biological conservation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1994 Jun 21;91(13):5748–5755. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Perera FP. Molecular epidemiology of environmental carcinogenesis. Recent Results Cancer Res. 1998;154:39–46. [PubMed]
  • Perera FP, Dickey C. Molecular epidemiology and occupational health. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1997 Dec 26;837:353–359. [PubMed]
  • Girard C, Lagacé A, Higgins R, Béland P. Adenocarcinoma of the salivary gland in a beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas). J Vet Diagn Invest. 1991 Jul;3(3):264–265. [PubMed]
  • Lair S, De Guise S, Martineau D. Uterine adenocarcinoma with abdominal carcinomatosis in a beluga whale. J Wildl Dis. 1998 Apr;34(2):373–376. [PubMed]
  • Martineau D, Lagacé A, Massé R, Morin M, Béland P. Transitional Cell Carcinoma of the Urinary Bladder in a Beluga Whale (Delphinapterus leucas). Can Vet J. 1985 Oct;26(10):297–302. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Baker JR. Causes of mortality and parasites and incidental lesions in dolphins and whales from British waters. Vet Rec. 1992 Jun 27;130(26):569–572. [PubMed]
  • Yonezawa M, Nakamine H, Tanaka T, Miyaji T. Hodgkin's disease in a killer whale (Orcinus orca). J Comp Pathol. 1989 Feb;100(2):203–207. [PubMed]
  • Georgsson G, Vigfússon H. Carcinoma of the small intestine of sheep in Iceland. A pathological and epizootiological study. Acta Vet Scand. 1973;14(3):392–409. [PubMed]

Articles from Environmental Health Perspectives are provided here courtesy of National Institute of Environmental Health Science

Formats:

Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...

Links

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...