Earliest Human Cancer Found in 1.7-Million-Year-Old Bone
The ancient toe from a human relative in South Africa could have important implications for modern medical research.
In the fossil-rich region of South Africa known as the Cradle of Humankind, scientists have discovered the earliest known case of one of the world’s most deadly diseases.
Using 3-D imaging, the researchers have diagnosed an aggressive type of cancer called osteosarcoma in a foot bone belonging to a human relative who died in Swartkrans Cave between 1.6 and 1.8 million years ago.
The discovery—which has just been published in the South African Journal of Science—suggests that, while modern lifestyles have increased the incidences of cancer, especially in industrialized countries, the triggers for the disease are embedded deep within the human evolutionary past.
“You can opt for the paleo diet, you can have as clean a living environment as you want,