Cancer is a man-made disease fuelled by the excesses of modern life, says a study of ancient remains. Tumors were rare until recent times when pollution and poor diet became issues, the review of mummies, fossils and classical literature found,according to Michael Zimmerman, a visiting professor at Manchester University. To trace cancer’s roots, Professor Zimmerman and colleague Rosalie David analyzed possible references to the disease in classical literature and scrutinized signs in the fossil record and in mummified bodies. Despite slivers of tissue from hundreds of Egyptian mummies being rehydrated and placed under the microscope, only one case of cancer has been confirmed. This is despite experiments showing that tumors should be even better preserved by mummification than healthy tissues. Dismissing the argument that the ancient Egyptians didn’t live long enough to develop cancer, the researchers pointed out that other age-related disease such as hardening of the arteries and brittle bones did occur. The first reports in scientific literature of distinctive tumors only occurred in the past 200 years or so, including scrotal cancer in chimney sweeps in 1775 and nasal cancer in snuff users in 1761.
‘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.