Prostate Cancer Found in Egyptian Mummy
The world’s second oldest case of prostate cancer was found in a 2,200-year-old mummy, the Canadian Press reports. According to American University in Cairo professor Salima Ikram, extensive testing of the mummy revealed that the disease was not caused by environmental influences, but rather by genetics.
“Living conditions in ancient times were very different,” Ikram explained. “There were no pollutants or modified foods, which leads up to believe that the disease is not necessarily only linked to industrial factors.”
Whether prostate cancer is caused by genetics or environmental factors is a big question in the field of cancer research, the Canadian Press said. While scientists often link cancer to diet and industrial toxins, older cases of cancer suggest that genetics may play a role as well.
Ikram and her team have been studying the ancient Egyptian mummy in Portugal for the past two years. The prostate cancer was discovered by using a high-resolution computerized tomography (CT) scan, which revealed lesions on the mummy’s lumbar spine.
The man died in his forties, researchers say. The mummy is kept at the National Archaeology Museum of Lisbon.
The oldest known case of prostate cancer was found in a 2,700-year-old skeleton of a Scythian king in Russia, AUC said in a statement. His skeleton was found in a steppe in Southern Siberia.