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Sick Mummies

December 8, 2009

Researchers discover signs of heart disease in ancient Egyptian mummies.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Sick mummies…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

We tend to think of heart disease as a consequence of our modern diet and lifestyle. But a recent study of ancient Egyptian mummies calls this into question. UC Irvine cardiologist Greg Thomas and his colleagues made CT scans of a group of mummies. They were surprised to discover that many of them had atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, a sign of heart disease.

GREG THOMAS (University of California, Irvine):
I didn’t believe that these guys would have atherosclerosis, because I thought they lived a healthier life than we did.

HIRSHON:
Thomas says most of the mummies with atherosclerosis were older than 45 years of age when they died. The discovery suggests that while a healthful diet might slow it down, atherosclerosis may be an inevitable part of aging.

GREG THOMAS (University of California, Irvine):
We tend to think of atherosclerosis as something we can avoid. But I don’t actually think it is anymore. I think it’s probably part of the human condition.

HIRSHON:
I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.