home
RSS
How the ancient world dealt with cancer
October 14th, 2010
06:15 PM ET

How the ancient world dealt with cancer

Cancer is widespread today, but it doesn't appear to have been in the ancient world. Why not?

Researchers are learning more about the history of cancer and how civilizations have treated it.

A study in the journal Nature Reviews Cancer suggests that cancer has become a more common disease only recently, because of modern lifestyle.

Rosalie David, professor at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom and Michael Zimmerman, professor at Villanova University in Pennsylvania, explored the evidence of cancer in the fossil record of early humans, in ancient Egypt and in ancient Greece. They argue that modern carcinogens - such as tobacco and pollution - may have contributed to the apparent rise in cancer in the last several hundred years.

However, there are many reasons why this is a tenuous conclusion: No one can conduct a survey of ancient populations. The risk of cancer rises with age, and people only started living longer more recently. Cancer is also highly genetic. To say that pollution has helped make cancer prevalent is highly controversial, said James Olson, historian at Sam Houston State University in Texas.

But certainly smoking, poor diet, and lack of exercise all contribute to cancer in the modern world, Olson said.

Still, the paper makes some interesting points about the historical record of cancer, he said.

There are very few indications of cancer in early human remains, and possibilities that have been found have been disputed, the analysis said. In Egypt, out of hundreds of mummies only one case of cancer has been confirmed: Zimmerman's experiments on modern mummified tissue suggest that mummification does not destroy evidence of the malignancy - he and colleagues found colorectal cancer in a mummy.

The ancient Egyptians wrote about many magical spells they used to treat cancer-like illnesses, a few of which are described in papyri. Here's one particularly gruesome remedy for what may have been cancer of the uterus: Break up a stone in water, leave it overnight, and then pour it into the vagina. Another treatment described was fumigation: The patient would sit over something that was burning. Still, it's not certain that any of the maladies described were actually cancer, David said.

Ancient Greece first identified cancer as a specific illness, the analysis said. It appears that the Greeks had a better knowledge and awareness of cancer than their predecessors, which is a more likely explanation than an increase in cancer, David and Zimmerman said.

In Ancient Greece, cancer gets referenced in the Hippocratic Corpus- texts said to have been written by the "father of medicine" Hippocrates between 410 and 360 B.C.
These texts say that an excess of black bile causes cancer. "Hippocrates used the carcinos (crab) and carcinoma to desribe a range of tumours and swellings," David and Zimmerman wrote. The Roman physician Galen of Pergamum said around 200 A.D. that this was because some cancers appeared crab-like.

Ancient Greeks knew that a mastectomy would help a patient with a lump in her breast, but they also recognized that cancer can recur and spread to other parts of the body.

"They recommended an unbelievable variety of potions, and plant extracts, and combinations to see if they couldn’t kill the cancer in other places," Olson said. "None of those worked."

It can be argued that since life expectancy was lower in the ancient world, most people didn't live long enough to develop cancer, David said. But the lack of evidence of childhood bone cancer suggests that perhaps overall rates were lower as well, she said.

From about 500 to 1500 A.D. there was little advancement in understanding cancer, the analysis said. Then, in the 17th century, Wilhelm Fabricus described operations for breast and other cancers. Cancer rates appear to have increased since the Industrial Revolution, David said. In the past 200 years, reports of specific cancers such as scrotal cancer and Hodgkin's disease have emerged.

Here's an overview from the American Cancer Society of the history of cancer.


soundoff (2,769 Responses)
  1. Leadership Examples

    http://thevillagesatpinevalley.com/Click.aspx?url=//backboneleaders.com

    June 27, 2021 at 01:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Strategic Leadership

    https://www.cs.odu.edu/~mln/teaching/cs895-s13/?method=display&redirect=http://www.backboneleaders.com/

    June 27, 2021 at 01:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. nc best restaurants

    You ought to take part in a contest for one of the greatest blogs online.
    I most certainly will recommend this web site!

    June 27, 2021 at 01:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Authentic Leadership

    After I originally commented I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I recieve four emails with the same comment. Perhaps there is an easy method you can remove me from that service? Thank you!

    http://wmcasher.ru/out.php?url=https://backboneleaders.com

    June 27, 2021 at 02:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Leadership Meaning

    https://www.edamam.com/widget/nutrition.jsp?widgetKey=4a7071d1-178b-4780-b73e-73fb5b417a60&url=http://backboneleaders.com/

    June 27, 2021 at 02:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Trait Approach To Leadership

    https://shop.merchtable.com/users/authorize?return_url=https://backboneleaders.com

    June 27, 2021 at 03:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Quotes About Leadership

    https://4men.news/bitrix/rk.php?goto=https://backboneleaders.comholostyak-stb-2021

    June 27, 2021 at 03:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. fun 88

    Tin Tức, Sự Khiếu Nại Liên Quan Đến Trực Tiếp Soccer Nữ Giới link m88Đội tuyển futsal nước ta đã có một trận đấu chấp nhận được trước đối thủ cạnh tranh đầy mức độ mạnh Lebanon. Kết trái Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu vs Bình Phước ngày hôm nay 18h00 ngày 5/5, Hạng nhất nước ta.

    https://questiontime.info/detail/1gomtv-160275.html

    June 27, 2021 at 03:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. nhà cái

    Xem Trực Tiếp Viettel Vs Bình Dương Trên V League 2021 Ở Kênh Nào? trực tiếp bóng đá nhà cáiĐội tuyển Việt Nam chỉ cần thiết một kết quả hòa có bàn thắng nhằm lần thứ hai góp mặt trên World Cup futsal. Nhưng, để làm được như vậy

    https://transeunte.org/

    June 27, 2021 at 04:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. the daily podcast

    I seriously love your blog.. Very nice colors & theme. Did you make this website yourself? Please reply back as Iím looking to create my very own site and want to learn where you got this from or just what the theme is named. Cheers!

    https://contactmonkey.com/api/v1/tracker?cm_session=649ee30d-f8e6-4347-af27-18132dac8c44&cm_type=link&cm_link=5ee3c05a-9fb3-454f-aefc-eef5e6e69d7f&cm_destination=https://www.backbonehunters.com

    June 27, 2021 at 04:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Laissez Faire Leadership

    http://dmca.com/Protection/Status.aspx?ID=edc817fd-d796-4c84-abb8-d1cb5b2e3719&refurl=http://backboneleaders.com

    June 27, 2021 at 05:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Task Oriented Leadership

    https://www.fms.treas.gov/fmsweb/disclaimer.jsp?ciURL=https://backboneleaders.com

    June 27, 2021 at 05:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. dan le batard show podcast

    Excellent article! We will be linking to this great article on our website. Keep up the great writing.

    https://sh.shulcloud.com/track.php?id=4c5c111e733449a9a439790f0d4b1431&url=http://backbonehunters.com/

    June 27, 2021 at 06:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. the besties podcast

    https://lnk.bio/go?d=www.backbonehunters.com/

    June 27, 2021 at 08:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Leadership Style Assessment

    https://login.ermis.gov.gr/pls/orasso/orasso.wwctx_app_language.set_language?p_http_language=fr-fr&p_nls_language=f&p_nls_territory=france&p_requested_url=https://backboneleaders.com/

    June 27, 2021 at 08:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Leadership Skills Resume

    http://d-click.alterdata.com.br/u/15028/1120/88002/2068_0/6d5c3/?url=http://backboneleaders.com/

    June 27, 2021 at 08:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. david tennant podcast

    https://virusscan.jotti.org/cookies-ok?redirect=http://www.backbonehunters.com

    June 27, 2021 at 08:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. joe rogan podcast elon musk

    Hi, There's no doubt that your website could possibly be having browser compatibility problems. When I take a look at your website in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in I.E., it has some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Besides that, excellent website!

    https://pt-br.paltalk.com/client/webapp/client/External.wmt?url=https://backbonehunters.com/

    June 27, 2021 at 08:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. pharmaceptica.com

    hydroxycloro https://pharmaceptica.com/

    June 27, 2021 at 09:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. cult podcast

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this post and the rest of the website is also really good.

    https://www.mydoterra.com/Application/index.cfm?EnrollerID=458046&Theme=DefaultTheme&ReturnURL=backbonehunters.com

    June 27, 2021 at 09:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Leadership Academy

    This site was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me. Many thanks!

    http://www.zerocarts.com/demo/index.php?url=https://www.backboneleaders.com/

    June 27, 2021 at 10:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Books On Leadership

    http://www.galter.northwestern.edu/exit?url=http://www.backboneleaders.com

    June 27, 2021 at 10:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Executive Leadership Council

    I used to be able to find good advice from your blog articles.

    https://www.freecenter.com/db/review.cgi?category=pda&url=https://www.backboneleaders.com/

    June 27, 2021 at 11:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Leadership Courses

    Can I just say what a comfort to discover somebody who actually understands what they are discussing over the internet. You certainly know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. A lot more people ought to check this out and understand this side of the story. I was surprised that you are not more popular because you certainly have the gift.

    http://sportsinsights.actionnetwork.com/affiliatewiz/aw.aspx?B=53&A=188&Task=Click&TargetURL=https://backboneleaders.com

    June 27, 2021 at 11:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. tigerbelly podcast

    Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon everyday. It will always be useful to read through articles from other writers and use something from their websites.

    https://connectathon-results.ihe.net/open_is_url.php?url=//www.backbonehunters.com

    June 27, 2021 at 11:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. dungeons and dragons podcast

    https://trackings.oxfamintermon.org/click.php?campanya=SYD1612_S0310_03126_0001&data_enviament=20161207&desti=https://www.www.backbonehunters.com

    June 27, 2021 at 12:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Leadership Style Quiz

    Hi, I do think this is a great site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I will return yet again since I saved as a favorite it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide other people.

    http://hirlevel.mediacenter.hu/click.php?hirlevel_id=12405549102322&url=https://backboneleaders.com/

    June 27, 2021 at 13:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. mark levin podcast

    https://kamaz.ru/away.php?url=https://www.backbonehunters.com

    June 27, 2021 at 14:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Sprinter Van Conversion

    https://www.maskintema.se/include/set_cookie.php?kaka=mt_sprak&varde=gb&url=https://customcampervans.com

    June 27, 2021 at 14:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. RV Repair Shops Nearby

    http://localbusiness.newbernsj.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvmotorsports.biz

    June 27, 2021 at 15:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. RV Repair Shops Nearby

    Iím impressed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog thatís equally educative and entertaining, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is something which too few people are speaking intelligently about. I'm very happy that I came across this during my search for something regarding this.

    http://onedegreecreative.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvmotorsports.info

    June 27, 2021 at 16:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. RV Repair Fountain Valley

    http://kingranchturfgrass.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvmotorsports.com

    June 27, 2021 at 17:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. 2003 Sprinter Ac Repair

    Having read this I believed it was really enlightening. I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this short article together. I once again find myself spending way too much time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

    https://slashwrestling.com/cgi-bin/redirect.cgi?https://commercialrepairshop.com

    June 27, 2021 at 18:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. RV Repair Shops Near Me

    http://www.golfcoursehome.com/ext_url.html?url=ocrv.me/

    June 27, 2021 at 18:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. RV Repairs Nearby

    http://isabellaalbert.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvmotorsports.life

    June 27, 2021 at 20:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. RV Repair Shop Near Me

    http://ww31.real-asx.wwf.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=orangecountyrvrepair.com

    June 27, 2021 at 20:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. South Haven Michigan Mercedes Sprinter Repair Near Me

    http://carglitz.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=fleetautorepairshop.com/

    June 27, 2021 at 21:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Sprinter Alignent Repair

    You need to take part in a contest for one of the most useful blogs on the web. I'm going to recommend this web site!

    http://www.cordoasis.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=fleetservicerepairshop.com

    June 27, 2021 at 22:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Mercedes Benz Sprinter Repair 19444

    https://studio.airtory.com/serve/pixels/b833f37181dfbce762f41367573578fe/click/pixel?redirect=http://sprintervanrepairnearme.com/

    June 28, 2021 at 00:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. RV Repair Near My Location

    Howdy! This blog post could not be written any better! Looking through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept talking about this. I most certainly will forward this information to him. Pretty sure he's going to have a great read. I appreciate you for sharing!

    http://tigers.data-lab.jp/2010/jump.cgi?Url=http://www.ocrvmotorcoachsales.com

    June 28, 2021 at 01:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. m888

    Liên Kết Xem Thẳng Bóng Đá Futsal Việt Nam Vs Lebanon Vòng Loại World Cuptính thuế fo4Đây có lẽ là ngôi trường hợp “của đi thay nhân viên" khá may mắn đối cùng với Ben McLemore. Thiếu chút nữa tay ném của Los Angeles Lakers đã được thể bắt gặp tai nạn nguy hiểm. Cập nhật kết trái trận nước ta vs Lebanon thuộc play-off vòng loại Futsal World Cup 2021.

    https://murraystivoli.com/detail/bong-da-hd-2717.html

    June 28, 2021 at 01:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Mercedes Sprinter Refrigerator Repair

    This website truly has all the information and facts I needed concerning this subject and didnít know who to ask.

    http://www.handbooklive.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=fleetservicesocrv.com

    June 28, 2021 at 02:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. RV Repair Shop Near Me

    I have to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this website. I really hope to view the same high-grade content from you in the future as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own blog now 😉

    http://mycloudhubb.org/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvmotorcoaches.com

    June 28, 2021 at 02:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. RV Repair Shop Near Me

    Excellent post! We will be linking to this great post on our website. Keep up the good writing.

    https://www.tricitiesapartmentguide.com/MobileDefault.aspx?reff=https://ocrvcenter.co

    June 28, 2021 at 03:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Camper Repair Shops Near Me

    http://www.peoplesinvestment.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrv.rocks

    June 28, 2021 at 03:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. 3.0 Sprinter Vacuum Pump Repair

    http://dannymager.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=commercialrepairshop.com/

    June 28, 2021 at 04:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. ma sói online pc

    Trực Tiếp Bóng Đá Thời Điểm Hôm Naytin nbaNếu cứ nghịch như cơ hội vừa tiêu diệt Everton tới 3-1 trên sân khách

    https://virandoamor.com/detail/bxh-v-league-2019-104850.html

    June 28, 2021 at 04:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Nearby RV Repairs

    http://www.pdxconcessions.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=oc-rv.com

    June 28, 2021 at 05:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. RV Repair Shop Near My Location

    Hello there! This blog post couldnít be written any better! Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept preaching about this. I'll forward this information to him. Fairly certain he's going to have a very good read. Thanks for sharing!

    http://www.weichertnews.com/t.aspx?S=1&ID=389&NL=1271&N=393&SI=220953&url=https://ocrvmotorcoachsales.com

    June 28, 2021 at 05:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. pharmaceptica.com

    sildenafil 100 mg https://pharmaceptica.com/

    June 28, 2021 at 06:16 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53

Leave a Reply to Mercedes Sprinter Refrigerator Repair


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.