(MANCHESTER, England) -- Environmental factors, such as pollution and lifestyle choices, are to blame for causing cancer in humans, according to a study conducted at the University of Manchester. The scientists deemed cancer as a "man-made" disease after studying hundreds of mummies, fossils, and ancient literature.
Their research, published in Nature, found only one case of cancer in the mummies studied, as well as few literary references to the disease. They suggest this proves cancer was very rare in ancient times, and point out that the rate of the disease has risen greatly since the Industrial Revolution.
Professor Rosalie David, at the Faculty of Life Sciences, said, “In industrialised societies, cancer is second only to cardiovascular disease as a cause of death. But in ancient times, it was extremely rare. 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.”
She added, “The important thing about our study is that it gives a historical perspective to this disease. We can make very clear statements on the cancer rates in societies because we have a full overview. We have looked at millennia, not one hundred years, and have masses of data.”
The data includes the first case of cancer ever found in an Egyptian mummy. Professor Michael Zimmerman, a visiting professor at Manchester University, based at Villanova University in Pennsylvania, diagnosed the mummy with rectal cancer.
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