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‘A lively study of the Big C, which makes the case that cancer is the price we pay for our marvellously complicated bodies.’ The Times, best books of 2020 ‘This book is packed with big ideas about life. Every chapter has something in it which made me think wow. Having worked in a major cancer charity for many years, Arney writes with genuine in-depth understanding and is a perfect guide.’ Daniel M. Davis, author of The Beautiful Cure ‘Rebel Cell is a bright, engaging read, fizzing with energy and metaphor. Kat Arney is a science writer for all of us – a powerful and talented story teller.’ Stephen McGann ‘Kat’s book is Dynamite. A crystal clear reappraisal of the story behind that word we fear to mention.’ Dallas Campbell, author of Ad Astra: An Illustrated Guide to Leaving the Planet
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. Tumours grow in pets, livestock and wild animals. Even tiny jelly-like Hydra – creatures that are little more than a tube full of water – can get cancer. Paradoxically, 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. Why? Because cancer is a bug in the system of life. We get cancer because we can’t not get it.
Cancer starts when cells revolt, throwing off their molecular shackles, and growing and dividing out of control in a shambolic mockery of normal life. This is why we can’t avoid cancer: because the very genes that drive it are essential for life itself. The revolution has raged, on and off, for millions of years. But it was only in the twentieth century that doctors and scientists made any significant progress in understanding and treating cancer, and it’s only in the past few decades that we’ve finally begun to kick the mob’s malignant arse. Now the game is changing. Scientists have infiltrated cancer’s cellular rebellion and are finally learning its secrets.
Geneticist and science writer Kat Arney takes the reader back 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 it we might one day overcome it.
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