Halloween is coming up, and so today's topic is.... MUMMIES!
I found an article today "Cancer is caused by modern man as it was virtually no-nexistent in the ancient world". In typical media fashion the article is sensationalized and the conclusions don't fit the facts. According to the article:
Researchers looking at almost a thousand mummies from ancient Egypt and South America found only a handful suffered from cancer when now it accounts for nearly one in three deaths.
The findings suggest that it is modern lifestyles and pollution levels caused by industry that are the main cause of the disease and that it is not a naturally occurring condition.Yes, it goes into how they accounted for the fact that people live longer now. But the point that I'd like to make is that the findings don't "suggest that is it modern lifestyles and pollution levels caused by industry that are the main cause of the disease and that it is not a naturally occurring condition." All the findings can possibly tell us is that in ancient Egypt and South America in those regions where bodies were mummified the cancer rate was low at that time in history. Anything else is pure speculation.
Consider that these cultures were ethnically more homogeneous than today. Perhaps there was a group that developed genes for cancer that then spread throughout the world's population. Perhaps cancer is caused by a virus or other organism that did not exist in humans in that time. Perhaps they were subjected to some substance that prevented cancer. We know the ancient Egyptians, in particular, had antibiotics, what else might they have had? Perhaps the characteristics of solar radiation have changed over the years.
It's possible to find dozens of hypotheses that explain the data, but none are as sensational as the one the paper decided to go with. I can't blame them for wanting to sell more papers, but I do think it points to the lack of critical reasoning in the population in general. Kinda scares you, what with elections coming up and all.