It’s caused mostly by dietary intake and pollution in their environment.
At the University of Manchester’s KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology in England, in 2010, after looking over remains and literature from ancient Greece and Egypt, looked into earlier periods too, a study had included the first historical case of cancer in an Egyptian mummy.
This published study from Nature Reviews Cancer, notes that researchers only found one case of cancer while looking into hundred of Egyptian mummies.
There were also rare references to this disease in literature, which conveys that in ancient times, there was very little to no cases of cancer. It wasn’t until after the Industrial Revolution when cancer rates had shockingly increased. Particularly, it was affecting mostly children. It proves that the rise in these cases is not tied to a longer life span.
“In industrialized societies, cancer is second only to cardiovascular disease as a cause of death. But in ancient times, it was extremely rare,” states Prof. Rosalie David, of the Faculty of Life Sciences.”There is nothing in the natural environment that can cause cancer. So it has to be a man-made disease, down to pollution and changes to our diet and lifestyle.
“The important thing about our study is that it gives a historical perspective to this disease,” she continued. “We can make very clear statements on the cancer rates in societies because we have a full overview. We have looked at millennia, not one hundred years, and have masses of data.”
The team of researchers had examined mummified remains as well as evidence and literary documentation from ancient Egypt. They examined mostly literary evidence from ancient Greece, because there was no known human remains from that period.The team even went as far as to looking into medical studies of human and animal remains from earlier time periods that extend back to the dinosaur age.
Another explanation for the lack of cancer presence in ancient times is that tumors were not well-preserved. Zimmerman has conducted some experimental studies that indicate that mummification preserves the tumors structure and is more preserved than normal body tissues.There has only been two discoveries of mummies having a microscopic presence of cancer. There have also been radiological exams that were conducted to detect cancer, but found no evidence of it at all.