A group of short-statured Ecuadoreans has surprised scientists, not for its members' dwarfism, but because they are also immune to cancer and diabetes. Now scientists think they've figured out the group's healthy secret.
The individuals have Laron syndrome, a rare disease that causes stunted growth in about 250 people worldwide. Scientists have known the syndrome results from a mutation in a gene that regulates how cells grow and divide. And it turns out the mutation's effect on a growth-signaling pathway in the body also leads to resistance to cancer and diabetes.