Can a person be inoculated with cancer surreptitiously?

Case in point various South American presidents. Don’t they “give” cancer to mice in laboratories? Is this a red herring or is there something to this?

Not a political argument or discussion. Just, is it possible?

Not directly. They could be given carcinogenics, but not every individual who’s exposed to a given carcinogenic will develop cancer. Not every single human being gets skin cancer, not every single smoker gets the types of cancer associated with smoking, not every person who’s worked with asbestos gets asbestos-linked cancer.

Re. those mice to which they “give cancer”: the actual scientific reports indicate, among other things, how many of the mice used did develop tumors and of which types. The reports on the reports normally don’t bother with that data.

It’s been a while since I’ve studied this, but to the best of my recollection, the problem with cancer(s) is that they involve your own cells growing wildly out of control. This is obviously hard to fight because unlike with bacterial invasions, you can’t just make a drug that targets the invader cells, because they aren’t invaders. So like Nava said, it has to be a carcinogenic agent of some kind, and you’re not sure whether it will “take” in your target and how long it may take to show any results and where it might turn up. It could be a glacially slow-growing cancer that doesn’t metastasize, or a quick, vicious kind.

When scientists “give” cancer to mice, they essentially have to circumvent a lot of natural defenses against cancer. Typically, a tumor suppressor gene is removed, or a cancer causing gene is introduced. In other models, cancer cells are physically transplanted into mice with compromised immune systems. Otherwise, an immune system is very good at detecting and destroying foreign cancer cells.

Well, a few cancers have been found to be contagious, most notably the one that’s killing all the Tasmanian devils. But that’s contagious because they bite each other a lot and the cancer causes facial tumors.

What case in point are you referencing? A cite would help.

At the moment:

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, president of Argentina
Hugo Chavez, ex-president of Venezuela
Dilma Rousseff, president of Brazil
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, ex-president of Brazil
Fernando Lugo, president of Paraguay

all suffering or suffered from cancer

In Venezuela, the new regime is claiming that vague foreign enemies poisoned Chavez and caused the cancer that killed him. They’re Just Sayin’ that the US happens to have labs that can produce cancer in animals.

I’m sure you can make a similar list of European leaders. Or of bankers. Or actors. I wouldn’t call that statistically significant.

As mentioned above, “giving” cancer is a generous way of putting it.

They make the conditions very good for cancer formation and wait. With mice, it’s quite simple to do that for hundreds of mice and just study the ones that develop cancer. The others can be culled.

RE: Tasmanian devils. It appears part of the problem is the severely low genetic diversity. Many of them are extremely similar genetically. There’s a correlation with lower transmission rates among even moderately more separated populations.

Of course, low genetic diversity is not a problem with most humans, especially world leaders.

There are cancers that can be caused by viruses - the Tasmanian devil example is one, as is the cervical cancer-causing papillomavirus. And Karposi sarcoma is caused by HHV8 (human herpesvirus 8). But AFAIK, none of these would make a particularly good weapon.

Yeah, I don’t think you could dose any carcinogen (virus, chemical, etc) in a way that would be guaranteed to cause a natural-looking cancer. At low doses, the chance of causing cancer at all is low. At high doses, the sudden appearance of hundreds of tumors throughout the body of your target would be awfully suspicious.

There is a theoretical risk* of contracting cancer through a blood transfusion from a donor with cancer, and this might be higher if the recipient had an immune deficiency that predisposed to cancer cells establishing themselves.

*a recent study showed no higher overall incidence of cancer in people who got transfusions from those with subclinical cancers (individuals who gave blood before developing signs/symptoms of cancer).

The idea that CIA agents are running around implanting cancer in South American leaders through trick cigars or umbrella jabs belongs in the realm of science fiction or batshit insane conspiracy theories.

NM, missed that the point had been made in one post.

So say I’m working for the CIA/KGB/North Korea/Iran, or whoever. I’ve managed to acquire live tissue samples from various South American leaders*. I culture those samples, then apply various carcinogens to the samples until at least one of the samples turn cancerous. Then I arrange to inject those samples back into the original person*. Will that give me a good chance giving them cancer?

  • We have ways…

Of course, in Chavez’s case, there are not forthcoming with details; but it appears to be centered around the hip area. Colon cancer? Prostate? Testicular? I could see why he might not want that sort of detail being public in Latin America if say, he’s not complete in the cojones department.

It is possible, for example to use a radiation source to cause cancer; but every cancer is different in every case. Stuff that causes lung cancer doesn’t (usually) cause colon cancer, etc. Plus, it would likely be noticeable - the people who ended up with radioactive gold wedding rings (poor recycle of radioactive material) reported that the ring gave them a bad rash where the ring touched their finger. Radiation treatment (kill tumor, don’t hurt flesh around it) zaps the tumour from 360 degrees to minimize exposure to the non-tumor flesh. Even then, as mentioned, either radiation damage heavy enough it is obvious that it happened immediately, or it’s long term and the risk of the contamination being found, or having no effect, is more likely.

Unless they snuck him an irradiated belt buck (or intimate piercing) then I don’t see how the effect could be carried out. (Embedded in the seat presidential chair in his office?) Probably easier and faster to slip him an exploding cigar, like they planned for Castro.

Older people where the chances of cancer are higher due to age and/or lifestyle…
more likely to happen in yor 50’s than 20’s…

Cell cultures prepared from most tissues have a finite life span - you can keep them going in culture only so many divisions before they die. It’d be a trick to identify the right carcinogen and isolate the (presumably now immortal) cancer cell line in time and find a way to introduce it back into the individual in sufficient quantity in such a way that their immune system wouldn’t destroy it.

Much simpler to spike their food with drugs or hire assassins.

There have certainly been sucessful lab attempts at transferring cancers between animals, both directly, and using mosquitos as a vector.

Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumours are not viral in origin - they are a parasitic cancer. The cancer cells transfer from Devil to Devil when they bite each other in fights over food or during mating. Because the Devils had a restricted breeding pool in the past, all their immune systems are similar and the tumour does not trigger a response. There is a similar cancer in dogs that is transmitted sexually.

Human immune systems are generally too diverse for this to happen - as noted above. The one time this does not apply is immunocompromised individuals, particularly if the immune system is knocked out (like for a bone marrow transplant) or if they are taking anti-rejection drugs after a transplant.

One approach to achieve ZenBeams aim would be to get a tissue sample from a target that can be used to make induced pluripotent stem cells - where an adult cell is modified to become a stem cell capable of turning into any other cell type. Unfortunately, what iPS cells are best at turning into are tumours - but they would not be rejected by the immune system as they match the host. But there are always better, faster and easier approaches to eliminating political enemies, and cancer is probably far off the mark.

There are plenty of tumors in various animals (and humans) that are caused by viruses.

But, there are also many tumors caused by the cells themselves becoming defective.

From the first page of a chapter on cancer pathology (human book I had to read), the author stated something like “the only way to not get any kind of tumor is to never be born”. :wink: