Archaeologists discover 3,000-year-old skeleton with cancer
According to a report published in the journal _PLOS ONE, r_esearchers from Durham University in the U.K. have discovered the first complete human skeleton with metastatic cancer that dates back to 1200 BC.
Archaeologists found the skeleton in a tomb at Amara West in northern Sudan. It was a young adult male between 25 to 35 years old when he died.
Using radiography and a scanning eletron microscope, they analyzed the bones and found that cancer from an unknown organ had spread to the bones. Cancer metastases were found on the collar bones, shoulder blades, upper arms, vertebrae, ribs, pelvis and thigh bones.
There are several possibilities for what caused the cancer, such as exposure to smoke from wood fires or a particular parasitic infection that causes liver cirrhosis and has been linked to breast cancer in men. Researchers say the people of Amara West had large ovens in small, enclosed spaces, and breathing in one of the rooms would be just as unhealthy as smoking.
Though cancer is more common today due to people living longer and being exposed to more environmental factors, the scientists said ancient humans may have developed cancer more than previously thought.