Cancer is at least 1.7 million years old, as per a new fossil discovery

cancer million years old screen shot 2016 07 31 at 10 12 pm
Humanity’s battle against cancer has been ongoing for a very, very long time. At least 1.7 million years to be exact. As per new findings from researchers at South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand, cancer is no modern disease brought about by the stresses of our more advanced lifestyle. Rather, it has haunted our ancestors since what feels like the beginning of time.

The study, which was recently published in the South African Journal of Science, details the discovery by paleontologists of a benign tumor in a sample taken from a 12 or 13-year-old boy that is nearly 2 million years old. And more incredibly still, the researchers unearthed a malignant tumor on a little-toe bone of a 1.7 million-year-old left foot. This latest discovery has completely upended previous assumptions about the longevity of cancer — the oldest discovered human cancer cell before this point was between 780,000 and 120,000 years old.

The tumor was discovered by way of new method known as micro-CT imaging. In essence, this technique allowed researchers to examine detailed 2D and 3D images of the insides of the fossil, including the density differences in the bone. They discovered a “distinctive, cauliflower-like external appearance,” National Geographic reports, which helped the team ultimately diagnose the tumor as osteosarcoma. Study co-author Edward Odes noted that researchers compared the image of the fossil to that of a modern biopsy, and concluded, “It was bingo.”

The University of the Witwatersrand professor continued, “Modern medicine tends to assume that cancers and tumors in humans are diseases caused by modern lifestyles and environments, but our studies show the origins of these diseases occurred in our ancient relatives millions of years before modern industrial societies existed.”

So eat paleo all you want, folks. But sadly, it looks like our ancestors suffered from the same afflictions we do.

“The evidence is out there that these conditions have been with us a long time and we’ve been kind of hoodwinked that cancer is a modernity,” said Patrick S. Randolph-Quinney, study co-author and a professor as the University of Central Lancashire. “These things are ancient.”

He continued, “The takeaway is the notion that cancer is a huge continuous problem in the developed world. Even if we have very healthy, perfect lifestyles we still have the capacity for cancer. It is an inherent part of our evolutionary process.”

Emerging Tech

Live long and prosper? Experimental compound could slow down the aging process

Want to extend your natural lifespan beyond its current limits? A metabolite of biomolecules — found in pomegranates of all places — could help slow the aging process. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

The Very Large Telescope gets upgrade to aid its hunt for habitable exoplanets

The Very Large Telescope is growing even bigger. The latest addition to the telescope's suite of instruments is a tool called NEAR (Near Earths in the AlphaCen Region) which will hunt for exoplanets in the nearby Alpha Centauri star…
Emerging Tech

This crazy-looking robot uses microspines on its legs to climb up walls

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon have built a bioinspired robot, which uses microspines on its feet to grip onto rough surfaces. This allows it to climb up very steep gradients. Check it out.
Cars

Tesla screens may support YouTube with next software update

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced today at E3 that the infotainment screens will support YouTube video streaming very soon. This most likely lines up with the latest software update that is expected later this year.
Deals

Father’s Day Smartwatch sale: Garmin, Samsung Gear, and Apple Watch deals

Father's Day is around the corner, but there's still plenty of time to pick up a new smartwatch for Dad. We've scoured the web for the best deals on smartwatches, and have found a few from Apple, Garmin, and Samsung that we wanted to share.
Outdoors

The best Father’s Day gifts for outdoorsy, adventure-loving dads

For Father's Day 2019 forget the ties and socks and give your adventurous and outdoorsy dad the gifts that he really wants to take with him on his hiking and camping excursions in the backcountry.
Emerging Tech

A medical superglue alternative is made from Chinese giant salamander goo

Forget medical superglue! Harvard researchers have discovered a special natural adhesive that's able to seal up wounds, made from goo excreted from the skin of Chinese giant salamanders.
Deals

Amazon’s Father’s Day sale cuts $150 off Garmin’s Fenix 5X Sapphire smartwatch

There are great fitness smartwatch deals across the web ahead of Father's Day, especially on some of the high-end models like the Garmin Fenix 5X Sapphire. For fitness junky Dads, Garmin's top of the line smartwatch is a great choice.
Deals

Need to reduce dentist visits? Philips’ Sonicare electric toothbrush is $30 off

If you’re looking to improve your oral hygiene and save a few dollars along the way, Amazon is currently offering the Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100 Plaque Control for only $40.
Deals

Before buying an Apple Watch, check out this cheap smartwatch under $100

Not looking to spend hundreds of dollars on a smartwatch? You might want to consider this little-known but well-reviewed cheap smartwatch from Amazfit called the Bip. It's on sale on Amazon, and you can have it in one day if you're a Prime…
Emerging Tech

Custom 3D-printed heads let doctors practice delicate brain procedures

Radiotherapists who operate to remove brain tumors could benefit from being able to practice on specific patients ahead of time. Thanks to customized 3D-printed heads, now they can!
Health & Fitness

Stop waking up groggy every morning. Snooze smarter with the best sleep gadgets

Do you snore? Toss and turn? Alternate between extremely hot and extremely cold body temperatures at night? A deluge of smart sleep technology on the market aims to help you get a better night of shut-eye.
Emerging Tech

This lifesaving wearable could diagnose strokes more accurately

A new breakthrough wearable device uses two light measurement techniques to track the body's blood circulation — and accurately predict deadly strokes in the process. Here's how it works.
Product Review

Samsung's $99 fitness tracker takes on Fitbit. Can it keep pace?

Samsung’s going toe-to-toe against Fitbit’s Inspire HR with its own $99 fitness tracker -- the Galaxy Fit. It also has a heart rate monitor, can automatically detect six workouts, and has a battery that can last for days.