Cancer is the second leading cause of death after heart disease. It is scary because of its high death rate. Some people may claim that human created cancers just like how we created genetically-modified (GM) fruits. Unfortunately, the claim is not true simply because cancer has existed way before our knowledge of genetics. Cancer is derived from the Greek word ‘karkinos’ which was used to describe cancer as how we describe it today. A document describing that cancer was found by the physician Hippocrates as early as 370 B.C. had been discovered. There were also evidences from manuscripts dated around 1600 B.C. of human bone cancer found in mummies in ancient Egypt. The world’s oldest record of breast cancer originated from Egypt around 1500 B.C.
Despite the fact that cancer is NOT a man-made disease, more people are developing cancer due to a bad lifestyle that we have nowadays
Cancer, in short, is a mass consisting of cells that grow uncontrollably in our body, due to damages of the DNA (the “heart” of our cells which carry the genetic information required for cell function). Most of the time our body will attempt to repair these DNA damages. Unfortunately, once it reaches a level of damage that is beyond repair, it will remain with us, to be inherited from generation to generation. Some of our daily activities or lifestyle (eg: smoking) may hasten the rate and degree of damage. Despite the fact that cancer is NOT a man-made disease, more people are developing cancer due to a bad lifestyle that we have nowadays compared to our grandparents. Therefore, it is critical to have a good and balanced lifestyle to lower your risk of getting cancer to the minimum.
Another fact to support why cancer is NOT a man-made disease is that animals can also develop cancers. Animal species that have been domesticated live longer and consequently higher incidences of cancer. Anyone who owns a cat or dog will know that usually the cause of death in companion animals is cancer. In Western countries and some Asian countries like Thailand, there are small animal hospitals which provide integrated cancer care to small animals. The animals will receive diagnosis, surgery, radiation or cancer treatment just like human who developed cancer. Perhaps the choice of diagnostic tools and treatments may vary from human. Having said so, cancers also affect wild animals, from anteaters to zebras. We are hardly aware about these wild animals’ cancer simply due to our human’s negligence. These animals move around from one continent to another and may not be easily observed for long periods of time.
In a study conducted in 2003, 3% of the dinosaur specimens scanned had cancer
If you are still not convinced that cancer is not just a man-made disease, scientists also found cancers in dinosaurs’ vertebrae specimens. In a study conducted in 2003, 3% of the dinosaur specimens scanned had cancer. However, the scientists also claimed that some species of dinosaurs had no recorded cancer incidence, probably due to lack of samples rather than species specificity.
- Sudhakar A. History of Cancer, Ancient and Modern Treatment Methods. Journal of cancer science & therapy. 2009;1(2):1-4.
- Dorn CR. The Epidemiology of Cancer in Animals. California Medicine. 1967;107(6):481-489.
- Pearse AM and Swift K. Allograph theory: Transmission of the devil facial-tumor disease, Nature. 2006; 439: 549
- Rothschild BM, Tanke DH, Helbling M 2nd, Martin LD. Epidemiologic study of tumors in dinosaurs. Naturwissenschaften. 2003;90(11):495-500.