Cancer Is A Modern, Manmade Illness: Study

By R. Siva Kumar - 10 May '16 11:53AM

Cancer is the second-biggest killer in the US, following cardiovascular diseases. It takes 600,000 lives every year.

Researchers at the University of Manchester in UK suggest that cancer is man-made, with environmental factors such as diet, pollution, and modern lifestyles being the cause of the illness.

Studying literature and remains of mummies from ancient Greece and Egypt showed researchers from the university's KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology that there was just one case of cancer among hundreds of Egyptian mummies. Ancient literature too points to cancer as an extremely rare occurrence in those times.

Michael Zimmerman, lead researcher, says that there were age-related ailments such as brittle bones and hardening of the arteries mainly due to efficient healthcare systems.

But cancer shot up suddenly since the Industrial Revolution, said the study published in Nature Reviews Cancer. Childhood cancer was proof that the disease was not linked to people who lived longer. "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," states Professor Rosalie David from the university's Faculty of Life Sciences.

Zimmerman found only rectal cancer in a mummy at the Dakhleh Oasis of the Ptolemaic period around 200-400 CE. Cancer was not found in animal fossils either.

Even in Cairo Museum and other centers in Europe, scientists did not find any evidence of cancer. They discovered the first few instances only 200 years ago, especially scrotal cancer in chimney sweeps in 1775, nasal cancer among those who used snuff in 1761 and Hodgkin's disease among a few in 1832.

David says that cancer being manmade is "something that we can and should address."

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