As reported in The Daily Telegraph today, scientific research that has been performed on mummies that were found in both Egypt and South America, has shown that they are virtually cancer free.
The absence of any tumors in the mummies has scientists now wondering if cancer could actually be a man made disease.
A press release from the University of Manchester has the headline “Scientists suggest that cancer is purely man-made”, however this is based solely on an article that was written by professors Rosalie David and Michael R. Zimmerman, titled “Cancer: an old disease, a new disease, or something in between”.
The article states that because the occurrence of malignant tumors in ancient remains was very rare, some environmental change as we progressed to our modern society may be responsible for the increased number of tumors that are found today.
Of course the life expectancy in modern times is much higher than hundreds of years ago, with a British person now expecting to live to 79.9 years, whereas in ancient Egypt the life expectancy was about 40.
Three quarters of the cancer cases in the UK occur in people who are aged 60 and over, and 36 percent in those 75 and over, therefore if you take this into account, it’s not surprising that most people in ancient times didn’t have cancer.
But the researchers said that they have taken all these factors into account, and other diseases that are a sign of ageing do appear in Egyptian mummies, for example atherosclerosis and osteoporosis.
There are many more things in our modern world that can cause cancer, as compared to the world in antiquity, but cancer can also be caused by nothing at all, since it is caused by cell mutation, a failure to copy correctly as cells divide. Cancer is also caused by cells failing to die when they are supposed to.
Altogether, the evidence for cancer not being present in antiquity is slim.
The evidence that pollution and industrialisation also causes cancer is also weak, however on the other hand there is strong evidence that certain factors in our everyday lives do cause cancer, for example cigarettes, beer and overeating all increasing the chance of someone falling prey to this disease, plus of course spending too much time in the sun.
Cancer Research UK concludes therefore that we ought not to let a few Egyptian corpses make us panic about what we eat and what pesticides are used on our food.
Whatever the conclusions from this new report, it would be great if one day soon there was a major scientific breakthrough in determining the causes of cancers and how to cure them.
The Daily Telegraph