Cancer Is Man-Made, Say Researchers Study: It barely existed before industrialization By Aaron Cowan, Newser User Posted Oct 16, 2010 12:38 PM CDT Promoted on Newser Oct 16, 2010 5:36 PM CDT 85 comments Comments Cancer cells (Shutterstock) (User Submitted) – Cancer accounts for about 1 in 8 deaths today, but a controversial new study asserts that it was virtually nonexistent in the ancient world and appears to have vastly accelerated as we industrialized. In other words, it's a man-made phenomenon. In the study, hundreds of Egyptian mummies were examined and only one was found to have the disease, reports LiveScience. "In an ancient society lacking surgical intervention, evidence of cancer should remain in all cases," says Villanova's Michael Zimmerman. Nor did researchers find evidence of it in literature of the times or in medical studies of ancient fossils. Descriptions of specific tumors began to crop up only in the late 18th century, notably among chimney sweepers and snuff users. One skeptic of the overall conclusion offers a different reason why cancer was so scarce way back when: People simply didn't live long enough to get it.