Human activities are changing the environment in a way that causes cancer in wild animal populations, according to a study.
"We know that some viruses can cause cancer in humans by changing the environment that they live in - in their case, human cells - to make it more suitable for themselves," said Tuul Sepp, a postdoctoral researcher at the Arizona State University (ASU) in the US.
"We are changing the environment to be more suitable for ourselves, while these changes are having a negative impact on many species on many different levels, including the probability of developing cancer," said Sepp.
In the study published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, the researchers point out many pathways and previous scientific studies that show where human activities are already taking a toll on animals.
These include chemical and physical pollution in our oceans and waterways, release of radiation into the atmosphere from nuclear plants, and the accumulation of microplastics in both land- and water-based environments.
In addition, exposure to pesticides and herbicides on farmlands, artificial light pollution, loss of genetic diversity and animals eating human food are known to cause health problems, researchers said.
"Cancer has been found in all species where scientists have looked for it and human activities are known to strongly influence cancer rate in humans," said Mathieu Giraudeau, a postdoctoral researchers at ASU.
"This human impact on wild environments might strongly influence the prevalence of cancer in wild populations with additional consequences on ecosystem functioning," he said.