Wed, Feb 22, 2017 | updated 03:07 AM IST

Turns out, we've been dealing with cancer for million years

Updated: Jul 29, 2016 15:24 IST

Washington D.C, Jul 29 (ANI): Is cancer really a modern man-made disease? Only if processed foods were available 1.7 million years ago, suggests a recent study.

Researchers led by scientists from the University of the Witwatersrand's Evolutionary Studies Institute and the South African Centre for Excellence in PalaeoSciences announced in two papers the discovery of the most ancient evidence for cancer and bony tumours yet described in the human fossil record.

The discovery of a foot bone dated to approximately 1.7 million years ago from the site of Swartkrans with definitive evidence of malignant cancer, pushes the oldest date for this disease back from recent times into deep prehistory. Although the exact species to which the foot bone belongs is unknown, it is clearly that of a hominin, or bipedal human relative.

In an accompanying paper appearing in the same journal, a collaborating team of scientists identify the oldest tumour ever found in the human fossil record, a benign neoplasm found in the vertebrae of the well-known Australopithecus sediba child, Karabo from the site of Malapa, and dated to almost two million years in age. The oldest previously demonstrated possible hominin tumour was found in the rib of a Neanderthal and dated to around 120,000 years old.

Edward Odes, lead author of the cancer paper, noted, "Modern medicine tends to assume that cancers and tumours in humans are diseases caused by modern lifestyles and environments. Our studies show the origins of these diseases occurred in our ancient relatives millions of years before modern industrial societies existed."

The cancer in a foot bone, a metatarsal, was identified as an osteosarcoma, an aggressive form of cancer which usually affects younger individuals in modern humans, and, if untreated typically results in early death. "Due to its preservation, we don't know whether the single cancerous foot bone belongs to an adult or child, nor whether the cancer caused the death of this individual, but we can tell this would have affected the individuals' ability to walk or run," said Dr Bernhard Zipfel, a Wits scientist. "In short, it would have been painful."

Lead author of the tumour paper and co-author of the cancer paper, Dr Patrick Randolph-Quinney suggested "The presence of a benign tumour in Australopithecus sediba is fascinating not only because it is found in the back, an extremely rare place for such a disease to manifest in modern humans, but also because it is found in a child. This, in fact, is the first evidence of such a disease in a young individual in the whole of the fossil human record."

Lee Berger, an author on both papers, added "not only has there been an assumption that these sorts of cancers and tumours are diseases of modernity, which these fossils clearly demonstrate they are not, but that we as modern humans exhibit them as a consequence of living longer, yet this rare tumour is found in a young child. The history of these types of tumours and cancers is clearly more complex than previously thought."

The study is published in South African Journal of Science. (ANI)

Chronic knee pain may be treated online

Updated: Feb 21, 2017 06:41 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Feb. 21 (ANI): A study has found out that an online intervention, combining home exercise and pain-coping skills training, provided substantial clinical benefits for patients suffering from chronic knee pain.

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Washington D.C. [USA], Feb. 21 (ANI): Only exercise is not enough to maintain that figure, which is an after effect of much toil and sweat!

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New Delhi [India], Feb. 20 (ANI): With rising life expectancy, increasingly sedentary lifestyles and surge in incidence of obesity, India is also witnessing a resultant rise in orthopedic problems as a natural corollary.

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Children inherit obesity from parents: Study

Updated: Feb 20, 2017 14:54 IST

Washington D.C. (USA), Feb. 20 (ANI): A study reveals that 35-40 percent of a child's 'Body Mass Index' - how fat or thin they are - is inherited from their parents.

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New Delhi [India], Feb 20. (ANI): Good news for all those lazy-headed not-really-a-cleanliness-freak out there! Scientists have found out that the obsession with hygiene could even be turning some beneficial bacteria found in the human gut into "endangered species".

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New Delhi [India], Feb 20. (ANI): In order to persuade someone to quit smoking, it is the 'emotions' that need to be triggered rather than inciting fear in an individual.

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No difference between good or bad diet: Study

Updated: Feb 20, 2017 05:54 IST

New Delhi [India], Feb 20. (ANI): Ever faced a choice between Brown and white bread?

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Washington D.C. [USA], Feb. 19 (ANI): To boost sustainability of livestock production, a study finds that gene editing - one of the newest and most promising tools of biotechnology - enables animal breeders to make beneficial genetic changes, without bringing along unwanted genetic changes.

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People with ADHD may have smaller brain volume

Updated: Feb 19, 2017 07:09 IST

New Delhi [India], Feb 19. (ANI): In a latest study it has been found out that people diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have smaller brain volume than those without the disorder.

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New Delhi [India], Feb 19. (ANI): What if we tell you that scientists can actually slow down the process of ageing. Sounds too good to be true right?

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New Delhi [India], Feb 19. (ANI): Lefty or righty? Well it was decided when you were still in your mum's womb!

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Dads-to be face greater risk of depression

Updated: Feb 19, 2017 06:53 IST

New Delhi [India], Feb 19. (ANI): Expecting a baby is always a joyous experience for both the mother and the father, however a latest study has found out that fathers-to-be can be at risk of depression symptoms if they feel stressed or are in poor health.

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New Delhi [India], Feb 19. (ANI): Do you find it difficult hearing out people at a noisy bar or a restaurant even though you have passed the hearing test with flying colors? Well, you might be secretly deaf!

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New Delhi [India], Feb 19. (ANI): What if we told you that rice has the potential of carrying arsenic and is more than hazardous to feed it to infants!

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Washington D.C. [USA], Feb. 18 (ANI): Now you can save your kid from surgery, as a study shows that antibiotics may be an effective treatment for acute non-complicated appendicitis in children, instead of surgery.

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Washington D.C. [USA], Feb. 18 (ANI): Attention new mommies, sing lullabies to your new born to feel more connected to your babies, suggests a study.

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Washington D.C. [USA], Feb. 18 (ANI): Cancer patients can improve their quality of life with just 30 minutes of walking, suggests a study.

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New Delhi [India], Feb. 17 (ANI): Birth of a baby may be a sweet moment but changing life style of women is posing 'sweet' challenge to it.

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New Delhi [India], Feb. 17 (ANI): Good news! A recent study shows that antibiotics may be an effective treatment for acute non-complicated appendicitis in children, instead of surgery.

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'Seagrass' can improve marine water quality

Updated: Feb 17, 2017 07:07 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Feb. 17 (ANI): Underwater flowering plants and seagrass meadows known to produce natural antibiotics, can also improve the water quality of sea by suppressing pollution, reveals a study.

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