Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cancer in Mummies

A study on cancer in mummies at Manchester's KNH center for Biomedical Egyptology has found only one case of cancer in hundreds of mummies. Professor Rosalie David at the faculty of life sciences says that cancer in ancient mummies is very rare.

Very interesting as Dr. Zahi Hawass in his search for the mummy of Hatshepsut found that his candidate for the female king has a tumor in her pelvic region. Though a tumor is not necessarily cancer it would be interesting to know if it was cancerous?

The implication is that cancer is the result of man-made activities, such as pollution? Today cancer in the industrialized world is one of the leading causes of death.


Kate Phizackerley said...

Incraesingly viruses are being associated with many cancers. Perhaps the most famous is the assoication of HPV with cervical cancer. There is a theory that these viruses are on the rise because modern hygeine is limiting the growth of competing viruses. It's also possible, that these viruses have mutated and become more of a problem - in the way that HUV has become more prevalent in modern times.

It's also possible that there are dietary links.

The finding is interesting but drawing conclusions from it could be risky.

Chris MacDonald said...

It's crucial to know the *age* at which the mummies died. Cancer is strongly associated with age. Cancer is common now mostly because we are living long enough to get it. If the mummies all died young, the lack of cancers would be pretty meaningless.