Can cancer be prevented?
There is new evidence today that cancer is a man made disease. And if so, there is hope that with the right diet and lifestyle we might someday find our way back. Investigators at the University of Manchester, England have published the results of the first official “historical diagnosis of cancer” and those results are creating a buzz.
It has long been the instincts of historians that cancer was a modern disease. Casual evidence of ancient Greek and Egyptian records show only minor incidents of cancer while the disease fairly explodes at the coming of the industrial revolution and with a new wrinkle; increased occurrences among children, unheard of in any fossil records.
The medical community has been dubious of so-called “historical diagnosis” but this study comes with mountains of data. Tests were conducted on Egyptian mummies and animal and human remains, including fossils, even into prehistoric times. Scientists point out that tumors would be even better preserved by the process of mummification than healthy tissue. None the less, only one of several hundred mummies showed signs of cancer.
The subject has been filled with controversy some suggesting that the media coverage of the information is influenced by millions of dollars in advertising from major drug companies. Perhaps in anticipation of the reaction, Professor Rosalie David, at Manchester University’s Faculty of Life Sciences, peppered his statement with apologetics. “We have looked at millennia,” David points out, “not one hundred years.”
Professor Michael Zimmerman, who found the first histological diagnosis of cancer in an Egyptian mummy is not arguing with the findings. “In an ancient society lacking surgical intervention, evidence of cancer should remain in all cases. The virtual absence of malignancies in mummies must be interpreted as indicating their rarity in antiquity, indicating that cancer causing factors are limited to societies affected by modern industrialization.”
References to cancer like symptoms in ancient Egyptian texts are now viewed as more likely the cause of varicose veins or leprosy.
What is striking is that while cancer is almost nonexistent in ancient Greek and Egyptian societies other diseases of age, Paget’s disease, arteriosclerosis and osteoporosis, are prolific. This seems to contradict the assertion of many in the medical community who argue that cancer was only rare because people didn’t live long enough for it to develop.
So the mummies are back, alive, talking to us again. Watch out! And telling us that if we have not yet found a way to cure cancer, we might be able to find ways to prevent it. They did.