Middle Ages

Cancer and heart disease may have been more prevalent in ancient times than we’ve been told.

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The ancient, good ol’ days were not quite as good as modern romantics would like to think.

Two articles I’ve come across recently point out that there was a lot more illnesses that we consider to be modern disease than was previously thought.

4/29/21 – Medical Xpress – Cancer rates in medieval Britain around 10 times higher than previously thought, study suggests – Prior to a study which for the first time used x-rays and CT scans to look at skeletons of people who died in medieval England, the estimate was that less than 1% of people back then suffered from cancer.

The assumption was that without any modern chemicals or tobacco use people living in the medieval era just did not have cancer.

Previous research was limited to look at the surface of bones. Looking inside bones with x-rays and CTs found a whole lot more cancer than previously thought.

The study looked at 143 skeletons which range from the 6th through the 16th century.

The more extensive research estimates that somewhere between 9% and 14% of people had cancer. That is somewhere between 10 and 15 times more people than previously thought.

9/25/19 – Study Finds – First-Of-Its-Kind Study of Mummies Shows Cholesterol A Major Health Issue For Ancestors Research in the past on heart conditions in mummies used CAT scans to look for heart disease. That approach is good, since dissecting ancient mummified remains would destroy them which would in turn make historians, archeologists, and museum curators quite upset.

Down side of using CAT scans, according to the article, is it can only look for accumulated calcium, which is an indication of advanced heart disease.

An MD researcher developed a new approach, using near-infrared spectroscopy. Yeah, like you, I don’t have any idea what that is.  Apparently you place a catheter on the corpse and transmit a signal of some sort. The echo tells more about tissue than can be learned from CAT scans.

The doctor and the research team found evidence of arteriosclerosis, which is the early stage of heart disease marked by buildup of cholesterol on the walls of arteries. The calcium found from CAT scan is the late stage.

The five mummies under study ranged in age from 18 through 60. Archaeologists believe they lived between 2000 B.C. and 1000 A.D., a three thousand year spread.

Tentative conclusion is heart disease was very much a factor at a far younger age than the doctor would have expected to see in people who died several thousand years ago.

Heart disease was a lot more prevalent in ancient times than previously thought.

That concept that everyone lived wonderfully healthy lifes before the time of smog and too much processed food apparently is not a necessarily sound concept.

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