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 Cancer: a man-made disease?
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 10/15/2010 :  03:47:10  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
This is not something that I know a lot about, but a study of fossils and mummies seem to indicate that we "brung it on ourselves."
Cancer is a man-made disease fuelled by the excesses of modern life, a study of ancient remains has found.

Tumours were rare until recent times when pollution and poor diet became issues, the review of mummies, fossils and classical literature found.

A greater understanding of its origins could lead to treatments for the disease, which claims more than 150,000 lives a year in the UK.
Scientists found no signs of cancer in their extensive study of mummies apart from one isolated case. Michael Zimmerman, a visiting professor at Manchester University, said: 'In an ancient society lacking surgical intervention, evidence of cancer should remain in all cases.

'The virtual absence of malignancies in mummies must be interpreted as indicating their rarity in antiquity, indicating that cancer-causing factors are limited to societies affected by modern industrialisation.'

To trace cancer's roots, Professor Zimmerman and colleague Rosalie David analysed possible references to the disease in classical literature and scrutinised signs in the fossil record and in mummified bodies.

Despite slivers of tissue from hundreds of Egyptian mummies being rehydrated and placed under the microscope, only one case of cancer has been confirmed.

This is despite experiments showing that tumours should be even better preserved by mummification than healthy tissues.

Dismissing the argument that the ancient Egyptians didn't live long enough to develop cancer, the researchers pointed out that other age-related disease such as hardening of the arteries and brittle bones died occur.

Fossil evidence of cancer is also sparse, with scientific literature providing a few dozen, mostly disputed, examples in animal fossil, the journal Nature Reviews Cancer reports.

Even the study of thousands of Neanderthal bones has provided only one example of a possible cancer.






"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


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and Crypto-Communist!

chefcrsh
Skeptic Friend

Hong Kong
380 Posts

Posted - 10/15/2010 :  04:41:35   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send chefcrsh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It, like heart disease is a disease of aging. People only began living long enough and not dying young of things like infection recently. Average life expectancy from birth before the 20th century was under 40.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26016 Posts

Posted - 10/15/2010 :  04:44:33   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by chefcrsh

It, like heart disease is a disease of aging. People only began living long enough and not dying young of things like infection recently. Average life expectancy from birth before the 20th century was under 40.
The article addresses that:
Dismissing the argument that the ancient Egyptians didn't live long enough to develop cancer, the researchers pointed out that other age-related disease such as hardening of the arteries and brittle bones died occur.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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Why not question something for a change?
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chefcrsh
Skeptic Friend

Hong Kong
380 Posts

Posted - 10/15/2010 :  04:50:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send chefcrsh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by chefcrsh

It, like heart disease is a disease of aging. People only began living long enough and not dying young of things like infection recently. Average life expectancy from birth before the 20th century was under 40.


First I saw that but it is a bait and switch cancer insets at late age and then moves quickly artery disease or brittle bone is a slow cumulative process.

Besides according tho the American cancer society cancer was around and diagnosed 1600bc In Egypt...hardly modern.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cancer#History
Edited by - chefcrsh on 10/15/2010 04:51:24
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 10/15/2010 :  08:09:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
In 1984, I was diagnosed with stage III Hodgkin's Disease (a lymphoma) at age 39. A bit more than 40 years earlier, my ass would have been grass, as that was when the "MOPP" chemo that saved me was developed. If I'd lived and died of Hodgkin's in ancient times (and assuming my bones had survived to be forensically examined), I highly doubt that the cause of my death would be apparent to contemporary science.

Except for highly preserved mummies, just about all soft tissue cancers in ancient remains is probably going to go unnoticed for some time to come.

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13470 Posts

Posted - 10/15/2010 :  08:56:51   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

Originally posted by chefcrsh

It, like heart disease is a disease of aging. People only began living long enough and not dying young of things like infection recently. Average life expectancy from birth before the 20th century was under 40.
The article addresses that:
Dismissing the argument that the ancient Egyptians didn't live long enough to develop cancer, the researchers pointed out that other age-related disease such as hardening of the arteries and brittle bones died occur.

I dunno. Let's say that a person who might have developed cancer or were in the first stages of cancer died of influenza or any of the other number of things people died from, many of which are now treatable, but were death sentences when our average life span was 40 years. How would we determine if they would have died from cancer had they lived longer?

There are risk factors for cancer aside from environmental and the stupid things we do to ourselves like smoking or working around asbestos and other toxic substances. Genetics plays a role too. We all know of smokers who lived to a ripe old age and so on. Plus, all things considered, wouldn't the sampling that leads to their conclusion be rather small? And even in the study, they noted that the slow progression of age related disease was there. But cancer usually moves quickly. So I am I wrong in suggesting that to compare cancer to hardening of the arteries is comparing apples to oranges?

I'm willing to agree that we have created more risk for cancer for those who are already at risk for cancer because of a genetic predisposition, and even for those who aren't predisposed to be more at risk. (Farmers used to throw DDT on their crops right out of the bag. I'm sure there are many less extreme examples of how we put ourselves at a higher risk for cancer without even knowing it.) But almost certainly life span has to be considered too. I just don't see how they have ruled that out by comparing it to common degenerative diseases.

Call me skeptical. But I need more convincing.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 10/15/2010 :  11:41:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Considering the resources the researchers had as compared to the actual populations of the era, the question at least remains open.

But, the life styles of ourselves, starting during the Industrial Revolution, as compared to that of the ancient Egyptians (and Neandertal, et al.), we are pretty nasty. What with atmospheric and water pollution, smoking and other substance abuse, and the various poisons such as mercury and lead that we ingest on nearly a daily basis, it would be a wonder if we didn't get the various cancers. The question might be: why does such a small percentage of our total population get them?




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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tomk80
SFN Regular

Netherlands
1278 Posts

Posted - 10/15/2010 :  17:35:26   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit tomk80's Homepage Send tomk80 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm not convinced, not by far.

On the sampling of mummies, I'd say that in itself is a case of biased sampling. I don't know much about how royalty lived in the past, but I'd guess that their lives differed quite a bit from the general population. So than you are comparing a very selective group from the past, to prevalences in the general population at present.

Also, to what extent would you be able to detect cancer if the person had it? I mean, the three most common cancers are lung cancers, colon and rectal cancers, prostate cancers (for men) and breast cancers (for women). It's all soft tissue and probably amongst the tissue that would be removed in mummification or wouldn't fossilize. So to what extent can you even make a diagnosis?

And is our lifestyle that nasty compared to the ancient egyptians? Or neanderthals? Sure, there are a lot of substances in the environment that may increase the cancer risk (note that of many, like DDT*, we aren't sure). But on the other hand, we don't sit in the soot of our camp fires everyday anymore.

*DDT was rated possibly carcinogenic (category 2b) by IARC, meaning that there was strong evidence that it can induce cancer in animals, but that evidence on it being carcinogenic in humans is weak.

Tom

`Contrariwise,' continued Tweedledee, `if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic.'
-Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Caroll-
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Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9680 Posts

Posted - 10/16/2010 :  05:43:49   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by tomk80
*DDT was rated possibly carcinogenic (category 2b) by IARC, meaning that there was strong evidence that it can induce cancer in animals, but that evidence on it being carcinogenic in humans is weak.
This is a thing I don't understand, and I'd appreciate someone educate me:

Homo Sapien is a sub-group of animals. If DDT is carcinogenic in animals, and even in mammals, when why shouldn't it also be concidered dangerous to humans too? We don't differ all that much from other animals... The basic biological processes are the same, where DDT is concerned, isn't it?

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sailingsoul
SFN Addict

2830 Posts

Posted - 10/16/2010 :  14:31:17   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send sailingsoul a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I agree with tomk80 there it's not a real diverse database.
Also, DDT is not something I want to ingest, ever but it's effects is more effective and deadly to "insects". It effects aree not parallel on non-insects. There are many compounds who's effects are not the same in diverse life forms. SS

There are only two types of religious people, the deceivers and the deceived. SS
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tomk80
SFN Regular

Netherlands
1278 Posts

Posted - 10/16/2010 :  18:48:26   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit tomk80's Homepage Send tomk80 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dr. Mabuse

Originally posted by tomk80
*DDT was rated possibly carcinogenic (category 2b) by IARC, meaning that there was strong evidence that it can induce cancer in animals, but that evidence on it being carcinogenic in humans is weak.
This is a thing I don't understand, and I'd appreciate someone educate me:

Homo Sapien is a sub-group of animals. If DDT is carcinogenic in animals, and even in mammals, when why shouldn't it also be concidered dangerous to humans too? We don't differ all that much from other animals... The basic biological processes are the same, where DDT is concerned, isn't it?

While all animals have similar metabolisms, they differ as well on important points. Different animals also have different weight to body size ratios, different resistance to genetic damage and other differing characteristics. Therefore, that a substance is carcinogenic in one animal does not mean it is also carcinogenic in other animals.

Say you test the carcinogenicity of a substance on test mice. You give them enough of a certain substance and the mice start showing tumours. Now, this substance might cause cancer in test mice, because the dose given is so high for mice compared to the levels for humans, that in nature such levels for humans never occur. Or the mice might not have a certain metabolic pathway, so that they cannot convert the substance quickly to a harmless metabolite, while humans have that metabolic pathway. Or they have a certain metabolic pathway which converts an in itself harmless substance to a carcinogenic substance, a pathway humans lack. All of these options and more, may mean that these mice will develop cancer, while humans wouldn't.

This is why for IARC, carcinogenicity in non-human animals is not sufficient evidence to mark a substance as a carcinogenic to humans (group 1). For that, you need to show (generally from epidemiologic data) that the substance will actually cause cancer in humans. Otherwise, it will be marked as a possible carcinogen (group 2a or 2b), not classificable as a carcinogen (group 3) or probably not carcinogenic to humans (group 4).

Tom

`Contrariwise,' continued Tweedledee, `if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic.'
-Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Caroll-
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