Scientists have examined hundreds of mummies in an unsuccessful attempt to find traces of malignant tumors, they concluded: that cancer is a modern disease that is provoked by environmental pollution and improper diet.
The authors of the sensational findings were Michael Zimmerman, a professor at Manchester University, and his colleague Rosalie David. They were preceded by many years of research – the scientists have studied hundreds of mummies of ancient Egypt and South America about 3,000 years old, and they found no clear signs of tumors. Only one Egyptian mummy seemed to have colon cancer.
If you believe the scientists, and in literary sources, including the oldest written evidence, there are no hints of the disease, which after thousands of years, has become almost the most massive on Earth, and the second place – after deaths from cardiovascular diseases – it holds firmly.
“In the mummified form, tissues of malignant tumors are preserved better than healthy ones,” says Zimmerman. “We wouldn’t miss a mummy with cancer, especially since surgery was underdeveloped in Egypt. No one would have risked cutting out a tumor.
Finding no ancient traces of malignancy, British scientists concluded: that there was no cancer in antiquity. So it’s a modern ailment. In short, the price of progress.
“In ancient times, if they did get sick with cancer, it was extremely rare,” says Rosalia. “Because there were practically no factors in nature that contributed to the development of cancer.” Today, environmental pollution, and changes in our diet and lifestyle cause cancer.
New Scientist magazine brought in experts – other British scientists – who contradicted their colleagues at the University of Manchester.
For example, oncologist Kat Arney from Cancer Research UK believes that there are still factors in nature that provoke cancer. At least ultraviolet light, and beyond that, natural radiation, and some viruses accompany the development of uterine and liver cancer.
Kat believes that her colleagues have not found tumors in mummies for one simple reason: in those distant times, people rarely lived longer than 50 years, and they didn’t have time to develop cancer, and if most people had lived another 10 or 20 years, they would have certainly gotten some kind of tumor.
“Age is one of the main causes of cancer,” agrees French oncologist Joachim Schüz. “Almost 90 percent of diseases occur in those over 50, and if now suddenly found a thousand modern mummies who were under the age of 50 years, it is unlikely they could find many tumors.” And how do you get around a mummy with rectal cancer? So did the disease exist in one form or another? And there is no new mystery about ancient Egypt.
There is a mystery of all times and all peoples. After all, the nature of cancer has not been understood to this day. Hypotheses abound, of course, as well as suspects, but there is no exact understanding.
Although it’s been more than 200 years since the first scientific papers appeared, identifying tumors as a separate disease. As early as 1761, nasopharyngeal cancer was identified and described in tobacco sniffers, and a little later – in 1775 – scrotal cancer in chimney sweeps.