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Friday, October 15, 2010

Is cancer caused by modern way of life?

Cancer is a disease that is expected to cause 171,000 deaths in 2010 alone, and 1, 529,560 new cases are expected to be discovered, with an overall cost of $263 billion. As RTs we take care of many patients with cancer, and as humans just about all of us know of at least one person with some form of cancer. Yet new evidence shows that we humans might be the cause of our own cancers.

According to Fiona Macrae, "Cancer 'is purely man-made' say scientists after finding almost no trace of disease in Egyptian mummies," at, scientists have been thinking this way for many years. Yet a new study of Egyptian mummies showed only one case of cancer out of all those studies.

According to the article:
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.'
The study went by the belief that tumors would be better preserved than normal human tissue, and would be present in mummies if they were present at the time of death.

However, researchers were also aware that Egyptians might not have lived long enough to develop age-related diseases such as cancer. However, there was evidence of other age related diseases, such as hardening of arteries and brittle bones.

Yet Egyptian texts do mention cancer as a possibly caused by leprosy or varicose veins. So we know it was still occurring in ancient times, yet not as much as it is today.

Samples of Netherland bones also showed up only one case where cancer was evident.

I wrote a while back (click here)how lung cancer rates were very low until people started becoming addicted to cigarette smoke during WWI. I wrote here how as the number of people becoming addicted to cigarette smoke rose, so to did the lung cancer rate rise. And as those who smoke is on the decline, so is the lung cancer rate.

So there is clear evidence that most cancers are caused by humans, although not all.

Possible carcinogens may include the following:
  1. Radiation
  2. Cigarette smoke
  3. Asbestos
  4. Hepatitis B Virus
  5. Hepatitis C Virus
  6. Solar radiation
  7. Formaldehyde
  8. Pesticides: Used to control bugs and vermin
  9. Paradichlorobenzene: Found in toilet bowl cleaners
  10. Perchloroethylene: Found in dry cleaning fluid, spot removers, and carpet cleaners.
  11. Smog: The air we breath, especially in cities
  12. Deoderant
  13. Soap
  14. Hair spray
  15. Laundry detergent
  16. Hotdogs with nitrates in them (such as Oscar Myer)
  17. Zodiac Flea Collars
  18. Carpets with petrolatum based chemicals
For more carcinogens click here.

For more information about cancer, with statistics, click here.

I also should mention here that modern society and improved technology has also improved the quality of human life, and has increased the human lifespan from near 35-45 at the beginning of the 20th century, to about 80 years today.

Macrae concludes her article by writing:
Dr Rachel Thompson, of World Cancer Research Fund, said: Scientists now say a healthy diet, regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight can prevent about a third of the most common cancers so perhaps our ancestors’ lifestyle reduced their risk from cancer.'
Of course we can't live in a bubble, yet we can be aware of what we put in our bodies, and we should do a better job of eating well and exercising regularly. Or, as my grandpa used to say, "Anything in moderation."

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