Something I’d not thought about

So, bigger people. Are they bigger because they have more cells? Or because their cells are bigger? Never thought about it before until I saw this:

Taller people have a greater risk of cancer because they are bigger and so have more cells in their bodies in which dangerous mutations can occur, new research has suggested.

So, that answers that question then.

Thinking it through, it needs to be that way too, doesn’t it? Things like, umm, sciencey words and insert the right ones here, osmosis, that sorta stuff, depend crucially upon size don’t they? Surface area to volume ‘n’ stuff? So it’s got to be more, not bigger, right?

And think if it were the other way. You’d be able to tell how tall someone was from the cell size in some dandruff, which would make cop shows rather different… this reality you can only do that by looking at the bruising from how far it has fallen.

12 thoughts on “Something I’d not thought about”

  1. So it’s got to be more, not bigger, right?

    Not in all cases, body builders become big by increasing the size of their muscle cells, instead of gaining more of them.

  2. “which would make cop shows rather different”

    Which reminded me of………

    “We can examine that letter. We might find a thread from the writer’s suit”

    – “What use is that going to be?”

    “well, we know he wears a suit that’s got a thread missing! And if he turns up to claim the thread, we’ve got him!”

    Hancock’s Half Hour.

  3. Within the body, cells with different functions vary widely in size. For example a fat cell is orders of magnitude larger than a red blood cell. But across mammalian species, the size of a particular type of cell (blood, hair, etc.) is within a much narrower range. Presumably there’s an optimal size for a cell.

  4. Yes, cell chemistry is very much influenced by the surface area:volume ratio (as are many biological processes).

    Although there is a very wide range of cell sizes in nature (a quick google suggests 5-50 microns for most eukaryotes but the outliers are considerably wider again).

    That’s why you don’t see dog-sized cells flopping around like those cartoon amoebas from The Far Side.

    And why large multi-cellular organisms have structures specifically designed to increase surface area (lungs, for example).

  5. Muscles lose their intermediate cell walls, so it’s arguable whether cells really increase in size. This is also why it is fiendishly difficult to culture them.

  6. Which prompts another thought.
    Humans generally consider themselves the most intelligent life-form on the planet, with dolphins a close second. (Dolphins on the other hand,… etc)

    But the blue whale has a brain vastly bigger than a human, and if the brain cell sizes are much the same (as per the above), then the blue whale has a vastly bigger and more complex brain than a human. So is it more intelligent?

    Books on this often compare brain size per body mass, but it’s not clear to me that 10 tons of blubber make any difference to the computing capability of a specific number of brain cell synapse-thingys.

    So are blue whales far more intelligent, and if not, why not? Does brain size/complexity not enter into it? So what does?

  7. TtC, could it be that larger bodies have more nerves and stuff that the brain needs to deal with?

    I dunno. It’s just what came to mind.

  8. Cells do not grow to make us bigger or we would be amoeba! Our body tissue increases because we grow more cells as we develop.

    The premise anyway is bunkum. Predisposition to cancer is genetic and environmental exposure. Size is irrelevant. .

    The cells in a one week old baby are the same size as when they are five, but at five there are more of them. Ergo, if we believe the rubbish being spouted they are more at risk of cancer when they are five than neonate.

    A short fat person may have the same number of cells as a skinny tall person.

  9. @Tim the Coder, October 24, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    iirc human brains are denser and have larger “thinking” parts of brain.

    One thought to ponder – apes/monkeys have good dexterity and intelligence, they’ve seen human houses for tens of thousands of years; yet they still live outside and look miserable when it’s raining/cold.

    Why don”t they copy us and build shelters?

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