(p. 1A) Scientists’ conventional opinion about cancer was that it’s a relatively recent phenomenon caused by the stresses of modern life.
Dietary changes, behavioral changes and man-made changes to our environment have subjected humans to toxins that contribute to cancers, they say.
But new findings from researchers at South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand published in the South African Journal of Science challenge that assumption.
Paleontologists found a benign tumor in a 12 or 13-year-old boy specimen that dates back almost 2 million years.
More significantly, they also found a malignant tumor that’s 1.7 million years old on the little toe bone of a left foot.
Previously the oldest discovered human cancer was between 780,000 and 120,000 years old.
. . .
(p. 2A) “The evidence is out there that these conditions have been with us a long time and we’ve been kind of hoodwinked that cancer is a modernity,” said Patrick Randolph-Quinney, one of the study’s authors. “These things are ancient.”
The greatest predictor of cancer, the study argues, even in our ancestors, is longevity. The longer we live, the more chances something in our bodies goes wrong, the more chances that something is a tumor.
For the full story, see:
The Washington Post. “Ancient tumor upends notion of cancer as modern affliction; 1.7-million-year-old malignant growth is causing scientists to rethink diseases and human history.” Omaha World-Herald (Sat., JUNE 20, 2016): 1A & 2A.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
The scientific article mentioned above, is:
Patrick, S. Randolph-Quinney, A. Williams Scott, Steyn Maryna, R. Meyer Marc, S. Smilg Jacqueline, E. Churchill Steven, J. Odes Edward, Augustine Tanya, Tafforeau Paul, and R. Berger Lee. “Osteogenic Tumour in Australopithecus Sediba: Earliest Hominin Evidence for Neoplastic Disease.” South African Journal of Science (July/Aug. 2016), DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2016/20150470.