Researchers from the University Of Manchester, United Kingdom, have concluded that cancer is a purely modern, man-made disease.
In the United Kingdom alone, Cancer claims more than 150,000 lives each year. Statistics also show that about one in three people in the United Kingdom is likely to get cancer.
The researchers spent a great deal of time studying mummies, fossils and classical literature before arriving at their conclusion. The researchers said the disease is a man-made disease fuelled by the excesses of modern life. This is because tumors were rare until recent times, when pollution and poor diet became an issue.
In the study of Egyptian mummies, for example, the researchers found no signs of cancer in many of them—with the exception of one isolated case. Slivers of tissue from hundreds of Egyptian mummies were rehydrated and placed under the microscope. The researchers found only one case of cancer in the mummies examined.
In the past, some researchers have argued that the ancient Egyptians did not live long enough to develop cancer. To dismiss this weak argument, the researchers pointed out that other age-related disease, such as hardening of the arteries and brittle bones, occurred during this time.
The journal Nature Reviews Cancer reports that fossil evidence of cancer is not solid, with scientific literature providing a few dozen, mostly disputed, examples in animal fossils. Even the study of thousands of Neanderthal bones has provided only one example of a possible cancer.
Evidence of cancer in ancient Egyptian texts is also tenuous, with cancer-like problems more likely being caused by leprosy or even varicose veins. It is said the ancient Greeks were probably the first to define cancer as a specific disease, and to distinguish between benign and malignant tumors.