By Marek Doyle, Organic Consumers Association
Diet, pollution and modern living conditions have been implicated as the factors responsible for cancer, concluded researchers, after analyzing the remains of almost 1,000 individuals from ancient Egypt and Greece.
The investigation, conducted by a team from Manchester University, looked into medical literature of the time for descriptions of cancer symptoms as well as examining today's remains for signs of the disease.
They did, for the first time, manage to identify cancer in one Egyptian mummy but this remained the only example in their widespread search.
With this in mind, the scientists concluded that cancer was even rarer than previously thought.
"In industrialized societies, cancer is second only to cardiovascular disease as a cause of death,” said Professor Rosalie David, who led the study.
“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 research team painstakingly pieced together the development of cancer over the last 3,000 years, much longer than several other scientific papers.
They found that cancer only began to emerge as a common disease in the 1700s, and its rate of occurrence dramatically rose during the 20th century.
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