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2,200-Year-Old Egyptian Mummy Had Prostate Cancer


Cairo, 30 Jan (TAG) – An American professor and his international research team have diagnosed the oldest case of prostate cancer a 2,200-year-old mummy in ancient Egypt. The researchers throw light on the findings that cancer was caused by genetics, not environment.

Using high-resolution multi detector computerized tomography scanners, the researchers identified the cancer in a mummy subject, which produced 'really unusual high quality images', Carlos Prates, a radiologist at Imagens Médicas Integradas in Lisbon, told Discovery News.
Digital X-rays showed that mummy known as M1 had been buried with crossed arms although in the New Kingdom it was often associated with royals. Whether environment or genetics triggers cancer is key to understanding it.
This is the second oldest case in the world. The oldest detection of prostate cancer in the world came from the 2,700-year-old skeleton of a Scythian king in Russia, leading scientists to suspect that cancer was quite prevalent in the past despite the scarcity of recorded cases.
Professor Salima Ikram, of the American University in Cairo, Egypt, said that “living conditions in ancient times were very different; there were no pollutants or modified foods, which leads us to believe that the disease is not necessarily only linked to industrial factors.”
The unnamed Ptolemaic mummy, which is kept at the National Archaeology Museum of Lisbon, had a pattern of round and dense tumors between its pelvis and lumbar spine - giveaway signs of man's modern-day killer.
The mummy was that of a 5ft 5ins adult male who lived between 285 and 230 BC and was between 51 and 60 years old when he died, researchers said.
“The bone lesions were considered very suggestive of metastatic prostate cancer,” Ikram said.
“Cancer is such a hot topic these days; experts are constantly trying to probe in hopes of answering the one question- when and how did the ailment really evolve?”
“Findings such as these bring us one step closer to finding the cause of cancer, and, ultimately, the cure to a disease that has besieged mankind for so long,” she added.
The study, published in the International Journal of Paleopathology used CT scans with pixel resolution of 0.33 millimeters on three Egyptian mummies from the collection of the National Archaeological Museum in Lisbon.
The images revealed several small, round, dense bone lesions located mainly in M1’s pelvis, spine and proximal limbs, indicative of metastatic prostate cancer.
Until recently, researchers have believed the widespread occurrence of carcinogens in food and in the environment were the main causes of cancer in the modern industrial age.
However, according to Ikram, “We’re starting to see that the causes of cancer seem to be less environmental, more genetic. Living conditions in ancient times were very different; there were no pollutants or modified foods, which leads us to believe that the disease is not necessarily only linked to industrial factors.”
Ikram suggested that there are more deaths attributable to cancer today simply because people are living longer. “Life expectancy in ancient Egyptian societies ranged from 30 to 40 years, meaning that those afflicted with the disease were probably dying from reasons other than its progression,” she argued.[]
2,200-Year-Old Egyptian Mummy Had Prostate Cancer 2,200-Year-Old Egyptian Mummy Had Prostate  Cancer Reviewed by Nurdin Hasan on January 30, 2012 Rating: 5

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