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Medieval skeletons showed cancer was common for much longer than we thought.



White arrows point to suspected cancer spreading from the spine of a skeleton unearthed from a medieval cemetery.

White arrows point to suspected cancer spreading from the spine of a skeleton unearthed from a medieval cemetery.
Photograph: A. Jenna Dittmar / University of Cambridge

Cancer may pose a greater threat to the Middle Ages than previously assumed, new research this week suggests. The study, based on X-ray and CT scans of preserved bone, estimated that about one in every 10 people of medieval Britain died of cancer of the body.

The first account of cancer Retrospect It went to ancient Egypt more than 5,000 years ago, but it has long been thought that cancer is still rare in humans to date, largely due to a longer life expectancy, other trends that began to emerge in the 18th century, such as exposure. With more environmental pollution due to industrial expansion and the growing popularity of smoking may play a role as well.

But this new study Published In the journal Cancer Friday, it pointed out that cancer has been a feature of people’s lives for some time.

Researchers in the UK examined the skeletons of 143 unearthed from six medieval cemeteries located around Cambridge. These people died between the sixth and 16th centuries.They then analyzed the bones using medical images, closely looking for traces of advanced cancer that might not appear on the surface.

Most cancers begin to occur elsewhere in the body besides the bones. But some of these soft tissue tumors will spread to a person’s bones, leaving lesions that can be seen on medical imaging. Based on the number of cancers the team found in these bones, they attempted to predict the baseline level of medieval cancers in the area.

“We think that the total proportion of the medieval population that could have been cancerous somewhere in their bodies was between 9-14%,” said study author Piers Mitchell, a researcher at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Archeology. Testimony Issued by the university.

The researchers said their study is the first to use X-rays and CT scans to assess the historic incidence of cancer. If their findings were correct, it would reverse approximately ten times the previous predictions of the cancer incidence.

The authors caution that their research has some limitations.Even CT scans are foolproof in confirming cancer, and as their study samples stretched for centuries. But still quite limited in size and scope The best way to confirm their findings is to conduct similar studies using other collections of ancient skeletons in different parts of the world and at different points in history.

And just because cancer may be more common than we thought centuries ago, that doesn’t mean it’s not as common as 10 million people right now. that From cancer around the world each year and being the second leading cause of death in the United States, many people develop cancer. But death from cancer is not necessary, the authors cite research showing that 40% to 50% of people in the UK today are also dying. Cancer in their system

Regardless of how far the cancer has spread But it is clear that cancer has long been a staunch enemy of mankind.

“Until now, it was thought that the most important causes of ill health in the Middle Ages were infectious diseases such as dysentery and plague, as well as malnutrition and accidental or war injuries,” said co-author Jenna Dittmar. Medical history from University of Aberdeen “Now we have to add cancer as one of the major diseases that plagued people in the Middle Ages.”

over: A. A medieval Italian man changed his hand with a knife.


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