The modern plagues of obesity, physical inactivity and processed food have been definitively established as modern causes of colon cancer. Researchers have also associated a mutation of the Adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) gene with the deadly disease. But which came first? Is colon cancer a lethal product of modernity? Or is this an open-and-shut case of DNA gone awry?
A new Tel Aviv University discovery suggests that a genetic predisposition to colorectal cancer preceded the advent of modernization — and, in a bizarre twist, they discovered this evidence in an 18th-century Hungarian mummy.
The research team was led by Dr. Rina Rosin-Arbesfeld of the Department of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology at TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Dr. Ella H. Sklan of the same department, together with Prof. Israel Hershkovitz and Michal Feldman of the Department of Anatomy and Anthropology at the Sackler Faculty. The findings were published February 10, 2016, in the journal PLOS ONE.
Meeting the mummies
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…