By: April Carson
The etiology of cancer has been a long-standing mystery for the medical community. Recent scientific studies, however, are beginning to suggest that the cause of this insidious disease may not be as enigmatic as originally thought. It appears that some forms of cancer may have originated from human activity.
However, some cancer and human fossil experts have concerns regarding this idea. They argue that the evidence presented is not yet conclusive and that more research needs to be conducted before we can conclusively connect cancer to man-made causes.
Rosalie David from the University of Manchester in England stated that in their investigation of hundreds of Egyptian mummies, scientists have only discovered a single case of cancer. This is surprising because cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, responsible for about one in eight deaths in 2004, as per the World Health Organization. Despite attempts to contact the researchers via phone and email, they have not responded to inquiries.
According to Villanova University researcher Michael Zimmerman, the fact that cancer is rarely found in mummies indicates that it was not common in ancient times. He suggests that the causes of cancer are limited to societies that have been affected by modern industrialization. Zimmerman also notes that if cancer had existed in ancient societies, evidence of it would be present, especially considering the lack of surgical intervention at the time. "If cancer was common in ancient times," he says, "we would have seen more evidence of it."
Zimmerman made a diagnosis of rectal cancer in an Egyptian mummy from the Ptolemaic period 1,600 to 1,800 years ago by examining its tissues under a microscope. This was the first time that cancer was detected in an Egyptian mummy. The mummy was unnamed and had lived in the Dakhleh Oasis. "The causes of cancer in this individual were likely linked to environmental factors rather than genetic factors," said Zimmerman.
David and Zimmerman looked for signs of cancer in ancient literature from Egypt and Greece, as well as in medical studies of human and animal remains dating back to the time of dinosaurs. They found only a few uncertain examples of cancer in animal fossils, non-human primates, and early humans. Before the 17th century, there was no instruction in ancient literature regarding how to treat breast and other cancers. Only in the past two centuries have there been documented cases of certain types of cancer, such as scrotal cancer in chimney sweepers in 1775, nasal cancer in snuff users in 1761, and Hodgkin's disease in 1832.
Researchers have suggested that the low incidence of cancer in ancient times could be attributed to the shorter lifespan of individuals at that time. However, it has been noted that certain individuals in ancient Egypt and Greece did live long enough to develop other diseases like atherosclerosis, Paget's disease of bone, and osteoporosis.
According to David and Zimmerman, the main contributors to cancer in modern times are environmental factors created by humans like pollution and diet. These findings are published in the October edition of the Nature Reviews Cancer journal.
David stated that cancer is the second leading cause of death after cardiovascular disease in industrialized societies. He also mentioned that cancer was uncommon in ancient times. According to him, there is no naturally occurring factor responsible for causing cancer. "It is important to remember that the origins of cancer are man-made," he concluded.
Although you stated that dinosaurs were not affected by cancer during their time, scientific evidence shows that they did develop cancer even before humans existed. Additionally, some scientists suggest that the shorter life spans of ancient creatures could have contributed to the rarity of cancer during that period.
When studying the fossil record, it can be challenging to identify evidence of cancer because tumors that affect bones are required for diagnosis. This means that confirmed cases of cancer in skeletal remains are rare and difficult to determine. According to John Hawks, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, this is because diagnosing cancer from bone is a complex task.
Hawks acknowledged that contemporary lifestyles may result in increased cancer incidence, but this may not be attributed directly to pollution.
"I don't think there is any evidence that cancer rates have increased because of environmental contaminants," he said. "What we are seeing is simply a result of our longer lifespans."
Overall, the findings from David and Zimmerman's investigations indicate that the origins of cancer may be linked to man-made causes, such as environmental factors created by modern industrialization. These results suggest that more research needs to be conducted to determine the exact cause and prevalence of this devastating disease.
Researchers are making progress in determining the origins of cancer and developing strategies to prevent it. With growing knowledge, we may one day uncover the disease's origin and work towards eradicating it. "Ultimately," says David, "we aim to better understand how cancer is formed and what we can do to prevent it."
This research suggests that certain cancers may have a connection to human activity. However, further research is required to arrive at a definitive conclusion. Nevertheless, these findings provide an intriguing outlook on an illness that might otherwise seem incomprehensible and enigmatic.
The study's results imply that cancer might not be a naturally occurring disease, as previously thought for a long time. This observation could clarify the reason for the low occurrence of cancer in ancient samples. Unless observed closely in human fossils and other associated materials, the scant presence of cancer may indicate that it is a result of human activity. "These findings suggest that cancer is not a natural phenomenon and it should be monitored closely," said David.
The research presented suggests that further investigation is needed to determine the origins of this lethal disease. As scientists continue to study and search for potential causes and treatments, we can look forward to the possibility of a cure or at least a better understanding of its origins.
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April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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