Archaeologists Find 3,200-Year-Old Skeleton With Cancer

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By Parismita Goswami | March 18, 2014 9:19 PM EST

Archaeologists have found 3,200-year-old skeleton of a man with metastatic cancer that is common in today's modern lifestyle.

Reuters
Archaeologists Find 3,200-Year-Old Skeleton Found With Cancer

The remnants of the man believed to be between 25 to 35 years of age, were found in 2013 by a team of researchers from Durham University and the British Museum in a tomb in Sudan, close to the banks of the river Nile.

The bones showed evidence of cancer that spread throughout the body of the skeleton. A close examination of the corpse using radiology and scanning electron micrograph showed lesions on the bones with cancer causing tumors on the collar bones, upper arms, shoulder blades, pelvis, thigh bones and vertebrae.

"Insights gained from archaeological human remains like these can really help us to understand the evolution and history of modern diseases," said Michaela Binder, a Ph.D. from Durham and the lead researcher of the finding who examined and excavated the skeleton.

"Our analysis showed that the shape of the small lesions on the bones can only have been caused by a soft tissue cancer ... though the exact origin is impossible to determine through the bones alone." He said.

Despite being the leading cause of death today, cancer had no archaeological records as compared to other diseases, which gave rise to the thought that cancers solely belong to modern lifestyle.

However, the new findings suggest that cancer is not a disease of modern day, but were even prevalent in ancient times.

Though it is not clear as to what may have caused cancer in the man, researchers believe it may have been due to genetic factors or due to environmental carcinogens like smoke from wood fires or from schistosomiasis, an infectious disease that is caused by parasites.

The details of the findings have been published in the Plos One Journal.

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(Photo: Reuters / )
Archaeologists Find 3,200-Year-Old Skeleton Found With Cancer
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