London: Cancer is a man-made disease triggered by the excesses of modern life, says a new study.
Tumours were rare until recent times when pollution and poor diet became issues, the review of mummies, fossils and classical literature has found.
Despite slivers of tissue from hundreds of Egyptian mummies being rehydrated, just one case of cancer has been confirmed, reports the journal Nature Reviews Cancer.
And references to cancer-like problems in ancient Egyptian texts are more likely to have been caused by leprosy or varicose veins, according to the Daily Mail.
Michael Zimmerman, the visiting professor at the Manchester University, Britain, said: "The virtual absence of malignancies in mummies must be interpreted as indicating their rarity in antiquity."
"This indicates that cancer-causing factors are limited to societies affected by modern industrialisation."
Co-researcher Professor Rosalie David said: "There is nothing in the natural environment that can cause cancer. So it has to be down to pollution and changes to diet and lifestyle."
"The important thing about our study is that it gives a historical perspective to this disease."
"Data from across the millennia has given modern society a clear message - cancer is man-made and something that we can and should address," David said.