Spanish anthropologists discovered that a 4,200-year-old skeleton showing signs of deterioration because of cancer is the earliest known case of breast cancer. They discovered her remains in a cemetery in Egypt. They think the woman’s breast cancer has metastasized (spread) to her bones.
A discovery this month in Qubbet el-Hawa near the southern city of Aswan and a finding from Sudan in 2014 suggest that cancer has long been present in the Nile Valley region. The woman unearthed this month is an aristocrat from Elephantine, Egypt’s southernmost town.
Although cancer is almost nonexistent in the archaeological record of ancient peoples, it is now the second leading cause of death worldwide after heart disease.
While modern lifestyles with a lot of food, smoking, obesity and environmental toxins have been vilified as leading causes of cancer, some researchers argue that people are actually living longer lives. rather than the main reason.
Cancer Research UK says three-quarters of cancer cases are diagnosed in people aged 60 and over, and 36 per cent in people 75 and over. The group’s website says:
The suggestion that cancers were rarer in ancient populations is not surprising. But it’s not just our modern lifestyle. That’s because we live longer today than at any other time in history. Hundreds or thousands of years ago, life expectancy was very short. Many people die in middle age from infectious diseases, and death in childbirth or childhood is also common. … Therefore, it is not surprising that cancer is a rare occurrence in populations where people are unlikely to pass the age of 40.
While cancer is a modern day disease, there seems to have been a number of cancers in ancient times. Recently there have been a number of ancient remains of people suffering from this terrible disease,
Also last year in the Nile Valley, British researchers found the 3,200-year-old skeleton of a man with metastatic cancer in a grave in Sudan. As of March 2014, there was only one example of metastatic cancer before the first millennium BC in human remains.
The man’s skeleton was found in Amara West, 750 kilometers (466 mi) downstream from the Sudanese capital Khartoum. He was buried on his back in a painted wooden coffin with an enameled amulet. The bones of a 25- to 35-year-old man showed evidence of a metastatic melanoma. Tests using X-ray and scanning electron microscopy methods give clear images of bone lesions, cancer metastases on collarbone, shoulder blade, upper arm, vertebrae, ribs , pelvis and femur.
Michaela Binder, the researcher from Durham University, UK, who made the discovery, said that it is not possible to pinpoint the exact location of the origin of the disease, but that the cause could be environmental, such as: carcinogens from fire smoke, genetics or from the schistosomiasis parasite still cause cancer in this area to this day.
In December 2014, researchers announced that they had found the earliest known case of cancer of any kind, a Bronze Age Siberian skeleton with metastatic cancer.
“The 4,500-year-old skeletons have significant marks and holes, warning researchers of the devastating prostate or lung cancer that ancient humans suffered. This new evidence of disease in ancient bones demonstrates that cancer is not only a modern phenomenon, but also affected the ancient world,” writes Ancient Origins’ Liz Leafloor.
The remains show the man was between 35 and 45 years old when he died. The cancer spread throughout his body, and the degenerative bone condition left him immobile. It was almost certain that those around him would realize he was ill. They placed him in a circular grave in the fetal position, with his knees propped to his chest, and buried him with a curved bone spoon, among other things. This type of burial was in contrast to other men of the time, who were buried on their backs with fishing or hunting gear.
In another case, in October 2014, researchers said they had found evidence of cancer in the 2,500-year-old mummy of a woman in what is now the Republic of Altai, Russia. Her remains were excavated from a mound in 1993, and the find is considered one of the most important Russian monuments of the late 20th century.
The woman had a primary tumor in her right breast and the right axis lymph nodes had metastasized. It is unclear if cancer was the ultimate cause of her death as she also suffered from osteomyelitis, a bone or bone marrow infection and serious trauma, including skull fractures, possibly due to a horse fall. . But one thing is for sure, the weak Ice Maiden, as she is called, will have to endure a lot of pain.
As well as the coffin with the mummy, six horses equipped with thick saddles and straps and two warriors were found indicating the woman was from an aristocratic family. Princess Altai and the two warriors found with her are believed to be nomadic Pazyryks.
Featured image: Researchers have unearthed what they say is the oldest breast cancer in the world.