A study which examined ancient remains concluded that cancer is an entirely man-made disease caused by our modern day lives.
The study, which tested ancient mummies, and examined fossils and classical literature, found that tumours were rare until such a time on our planet when pollution and poor diet became a real negative issue.
A visiting professor at Manchester University, Michael Zimmerman, who carried out the investigation with his colleague Rosalie David, explained that during such a time when there was no surgical intervention, there should have been evidence of the disease which claims more than 150,000 lives a year in the UK alone. But this was not the case.
Zimmerman explained, “the virtual absence of malignancies in mummies must be interpreted as indicating their rarity in antiquity, indicating that cancer-causing factors are limited to societies affected by modern industrialisation.”
The study was carried out by the professors in an attempt to trace back to cancer’s roots in the hope of finding a cure for the increasingly common disease.
They proceeded to rehydrate slivers of tissue from hundreds of Egyptian mummies, and examined them for signs of cancer, to which only one case was confirmed, despite past evidence showing that cancer cells are better preserved by mummification than that of healthy tissues.
The journal Nature Reviews Cancer also reports that only a few dozen examples of cancer has ever been found in animal fossils, and these examples are not confirmed.
Whilst it has been found that the ancient Greeks were probably the first to define cancer as a specific disease, and to distinguish between benign and malignant tumours, this evidence does not suggest a significant rise in the disease, but rather a development in medical knowledge.
Professor David presented the findings of the study to Professor Mike Richards, the UK’s cancer tsar, and other oncologists at a conference, and said about the findings: “In industrialised societies, cancer is second only to cardiovascular disease as a cause of death. But in ancient times, it was extremely rare. There is nothing in the natural environment that can cause cancer. So it has to be a man-made disease, down to pollution and changes to our diet and lifestyle.
“The important thing about our study is that it gives a historical perspective to this disease. We can make very clear statements on the cancer rates in societies because we have a full overview. We have looked at millennia, not one hundred years, and have masses of data.
“Yet again extensive ancient Egyptian data, along with other data from across the millennia, has given modern society a clear message – cancer is man-made and something that we can and should address.”
Dr Rachel Thompson, from the World Cancer Research Fund, said that about one in three people in the UK will get cancer at some stage in their lives, so it is commonplace in the modern world and something that we should all be conscious of during our modern lifestyles.
Scientists claim that maintaining a healthy, balanced diet, doing regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight can prevent a third of common cancers.
IMAGE CREDIT: royaltystockphoto / 123RF Stock Photo
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