Using Mummy, Israeli Researchers Find Pre-Modern Genetic Predisposition To Cancer

The Jerusalem Post reports: A defective gene linked to colon cancer has been identified in an 18th-century Hungarian mummy by researchers at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine — proving that malignancies are not diseases only of the modern era with its obesity, lack of physical activity, processed food and other plagues of the 20th and 21st centuries.

The research by Dr. Rina Rosin-Arbesfeld, Dr. Ella Sklan, Prof. Israel Hershkovitz and Michal Feldman have just been published in the Journal PLoS One .

The researchers suggest that a genetic predisposition to colorectal cancer preceded the advent of modernization. In 1995, more than 265 mummies were excavated from sealed crypts in the Dominican church in Vác, Hungary.

These crypts were used continuously from 1731 to 1838 for the burial of middle-class families and clerics and provided ideal conditions for the natural mummification of corpses — low temperatures, constant ventilation and low humidity. Some 70 percent of the  bodies found had been completely or partially mummified.

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