Prehistoric Tumors Suggest Cancer Isn't Modern Day Diseases

By: Staff
Staff Writer
Published: Dec 29, 2021

Prehistoric tumors suggest cancer isn't modern day diseases. Prehistoric remains with tumors have sparked new debate on modern day cancer. Scientists say that cancer has always been with us.

Where scientists disagree is on how much it has been amplified by the sweet and bitter fruits of civilization. Over the decades archaeologists have made about 200 possible cancer sightings dating to prehistoric times. A recent report by two Egyptologists in the journal Nature Reviews: Cancer reviewed the literature, concluding that there is "a striking rarity of malignancies" in ancient human remains.

"The rarity of cancer in antiquity suggests that such factors are limited to societies that are affected by modern lifestyle issues such as tobacco use and pollution resulting from industrialization," wrote the authors, A. Rosalie David of the University of Manchester in England and Michael R. Zimmerman of Villanova University in Pennsylvania. Also on the list would be obesity, dietary habits, sexual and reproductive practices, and other factors often altered by civilization.

Across the Internet, news reports made the matter sound unequivocal: "Cancer Is a Man-Made Disease." "Cure for Cancer: Live in Ancient Times." But many medical experts and archaeologists were less impressed.

"There is no reason to think that cancer is a new disease," said Robert A. Weinberg, a cancer researcher at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Mass., and the author of the textbook "The Biology of Cancer." "In former times, it was less common because people were struck down in midlife by other things."

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