Cancer is a man-made disease caused by modern day environmental factors such as pollution and diet, a new study suggests.
After analysing the remains of hundreds of Egyptian mummies, researchers at the University of Manchester concluded that cancer was extremely rare in ancient times.
Ancient Greek literature rarely refers to illnesses resembling cancer, and there is scant evidence of tumour growth in animal fossils and non-human primates, the researchers said.
Cancer rates in have risen massively since the Industrial Revolution, in particular childhood cancer, suggesting that the rise is not simply due to people living longer.
Professor Rosalie David, an expert in biomedical Egyptology 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.
“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.”
Cancer is a man made disease