Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Croatian skeletons reveal changing status of cancer in Europe across the centuries

06.07.2004


Cancer incidence rates in the developed world are increasing each year and developing countries are also now showing an increased incidence of the disease. But how much were our ancestors affected by the disease? Dr Mario Slaus of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Zagreb presented archaeological findings at the 18th Meeting of the European Association of Cancer Research (EACR-18) in Innsbruck today (6 July 2004), suggesting that the disease was very uncommon even in our recent ancestors, reinforcing the concept that cancer is a ‘modern’ disease and is largely a consequence of the greater longevity we are now experiencing.



Dr Slaus and his colleagues1 analysed the skeletal remains of the 3,160 individuals in the Skeletal Collection of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts for evidence of neoplasms (uncontrolled and abnormal tissue growth). The remains in the collection date from 5,300BC to the 19th Century AD and have been collected from archaeological sites across Croatia. Analysis (including gross morphology, X-rays and CT-scans) revealed 4 cases of neoplastic disease in individuals ranging from 3-4 years to 50-60 years of age. All 4 cases involved bone neoplasms (obviously, as bone was the only tissue remaining): two fibrous cortical defects, an osteochondroma and an osteoma. All three conditions were benign, with little potential for malignant transformation.

“The low frequency of neoplasms in the Croatian Skeletal Collection is characteristic for archaeological material”, said Dr Slaus. “We found no evidence of secondary bone tumours in any individual in the collection, a factor that is probably explained by the fact that the mean age-at-death of the specimens is 35.6 years. Primary malignant and benign tumours of bone are relatively rare, even in young individuals where the incidence of these neoplasms is highest, whilst secondary tumours of bone, although much more common, are associated with older age”.


Life expectancy in the 21st Century is higher than it has ever been in the past; a consequence of a range of factors such as better nutrition, improved health awareness in the population, better sanitation and more accessible healthcare. However, increased longevity is accompanied by an increased incidence of cancer. The factors most clearly correlated with the development of cancer in the European Union are smoking (estimated to cause 30% of all cancer deaths) and obesity / dietary factors (estimated to be responsible for a further 30% of all cancer deaths) but these factors often take many years to lead to the development of symptomatic tumours, so aging populations naturally show a higher incidence of the disease.

“The individuals in the Croatian Skeletal Collection would have been prone to diseases such as syphilis, tuberculosis and leprosy (and we found evidence for each of these conditions in individuals in the collection) and these illnesses (and others) would certainly have contributed significantly to mortality in our ancestors”, added Dr Slaus.

“The change from these ‘old’ illnesses to ‘modern’ ones such as cancer can be seen as part of the evolution of our society, but as with the ‘old’ illnesses we can go some way to combating the ‘modern’ illness of cancer through educating people about the risks of the disease and encouraging them to adopt a healthy lifestyle”, said Dr Slaus.

The Croatian Skeletal Collection demonstrates how cancer is, in large part, a consequence of our recently significantly increased life-span, as well as significant changes to our lifestyle. The incidence of cancer we currently have in Europe, and the increasing incidence being seen in the developing world, can be reduced significantly through greater education about the benefits of not smoking tobacco, by encouraging people to eat a diet plentiful in fresh fruit and vegetables, through the promotion of a lifestyle that includes regular exercise and by encouraging people not to drink alcohol to excess.

Stuart Bell | alfa
Further information:
http://www.fecs.be

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Researchers find new mutation in the leptin gene
24.06.2019 | Texas Biomedical Research Institute

nachricht Straight to the heart
24.06.2019 | Max-Delbrück-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin in der Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fraunhofer IDMT demonstrates its method for acoustic quality inspection at »Sensor+Test 2019« in Nürnberg

From June 25th to 27th 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT in Ilmenau (Germany) will be presenting a new solution for acoustic quality inspection allowing contact-free, non-destructive testing of manufactured parts and components. The method which has reached Technology Readiness Level 6 already, is currently being successfully tested in practical use together with a number of industrial partners.

Reducing machine downtime, manufacturing defects, and excessive scrap

Im Focus: Successfully Tested in Praxis: Bidirectional Sensor Technology Optimizes Laser Material Deposition

The quality of additively manufactured components depends not only on the manufacturing process, but also on the inline process control. The process control ensures a reliable coating process because it detects deviations from the target geometry immediately. At LASER World of PHOTONICS 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be demonstrating how well bi-directional sensor technology can already be used for Laser Material Deposition (LMD) in combination with commercial optics at booth A2.431.

Fraunhofer ILT has been developing optical sensor technology specifically for production measurement technology for around 10 years. In particular, its »bd-1«...

Im Focus: The hidden structure of the periodic system

The well-known representation of chemical elements is just one example of how objects can be arranged and classified

The periodic table of elements that most chemistry books depict is only one special case. This tabular overview of the chemical elements, which goes back to...

Im Focus: MPSD team discovers light-induced ferroelectricity in strontium titanate

Light can be used not only to measure materials’ properties, but also to change them. Especially interesting are those cases in which the function of a material can be modified, such as its ability to conduct electricity or to store information in its magnetic state. A team led by Andrea Cavalleri from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg used terahertz frequency light pulses to transform a non-ferroelectric material into a ferroelectric one.

Ferroelectricity is a state in which the constituent lattice “looks” in one specific direction, forming a macroscopic electrical polarisation. The ability to...

Im Focus: Determining the Earth’s gravity field more accurately than ever before

Researchers at TU Graz calculate the most accurate gravity field determination of the Earth using 1.16 billion satellite measurements. This yields valuable knowledge for climate research.

The Earth’s gravity fluctuates from place to place. Geodesists use this phenomenon to observe geodynamic and climatological processes. Using...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on UV LED Technologies & Applications – ICULTA 2020 | Call for Abstracts

24.06.2019 | Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

2nd International Conference on UV LED Technologies & Applications – ICULTA 2020 | Call for Abstracts

24.06.2019 | Event News

'Sneezing' plants contribute to disease proliferation

24.06.2019 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Researchers find new mutation in the leptin gene

24.06.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>