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Mummies Don't Lie: Cancer is Modern and Man Made

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2010-10-15 03:04

It turns out you can learn a lot from mummies, including why the modern world is plagued by cancer. Clues from nearly one thousand mummies indicate that cancer was extremely rare in ancient times and appears to be a modern, man made disease.

Modern lifestyle and pollution are main cancer cause

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that cancer is a leading cause of death around the world, accounting for about 13 percent of all deaths in 2007. It also notes that about one-third of cancer deaths can be prevented, and that tobacco use is the single most important risk factor. Numerous studies have found an association between diet and cancer.

Researchers have been intensely interested in learning what causes this spectrum of diseases. While some have maintained that cancer is a naturally occurring phenomenon or that the dramatic rise of cancer incidence since the Industrial Revolution is related to people living longer, mummies indicate a different story.

Professor Rosalie David, a biomedical Egyptologist at the University of Manchester, and a colleague, Professor Michael Zimmerman, searched for evidence of cancer in hundreds of mummies, fossils, and ancient medical texts. One might say that the silence was deafening.

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In fact, the researchers uncovered only five cases of tumors, most of them benign. As an aside, they also found evidence of arthritis and hardening of the arteries, which suggests some ancient people lived long enough to develop these age-related conditions. The researchers determined that the average life expectancy of the mummies they inspected was 25 to 50 years.

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