A controversial British study says cancer is based on modern factors and industrialization, and it suggests cancer was rare in ancient societies.
“Now there’s this fascinating new study. They looked at almost a 1,000 mummies and found that only a couple of them had any signs of tumors. It modern life styles and pollution that may be the cause of cancers.”
Yep! You heard right–cancer could be man-made. That’s the conclusion from a controversial British study just released — which says cancer is a relatively new phenomenon caused by modernization. After testing hundreds of Egyptian mummies, the study concluded cancer was virtually non-existent in the ancient world.
It led some scientists to suggest modern lifestyles were the cause for the disease. A cancer specialist on MSNBC says the study is not entirely true based on some facts: “But there’s a bit of misleading information. The problem is that all of these mummies died young and cancer is a disease that comes on as we get older, But there’s no doubt that the environment is responsible for most human cancers. Look around you now ask how many people that you know are thirty or forty have colon cancer or prostate cancer. These are diseases that increase remarkably as we get older.”
But researchers of the study seem to disagree. In an opinion piece written on Nature.com Professors Rosalie David and Michael Zimmerman dispute the naysayers. They say they still found modern day problems in the Egyptian mummies: “Although life expectancy was statistically lowered by infant and maternal mortality and infectious diseases, many individuals did live to a sufficiently advanced age to develop other degenerative diseases…”
A blogger for Cancer Research UK says it’s hard to believe the findings in the study — and that there isn’t enough evidence to make sweeping claims about cancer rates in ancient populations.
In an interview with Cancer Research, Walker says cancer is not new at all, and certainly not man-made: “…When we look and think about cancer, it’s always been with us. It was actually found in mummies, so cancer was always there…The key risk factor is age, and then after that there are many other external factors that we know about.”
Finally – Marie Claire quotes Dr. Rachel Thompson of the World Cancer Research Fund — saying the researchers could be onto something: ‘Scientists now say a healthy diet, regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight can prevent about a third of the most common cancers so perhaps our ancestors’ lifestyle reduced their risk from cancer.’
So what do you think, is cancer a man-made disease?
Writer: Rico Bush
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