What Caused Cancer in Ancient Times?

Cancer is a disease that has affected humans for centuries. In ancient times, cancer was not as prevalent as it is today.

However, there were still cases of cancer reported in ancient times. So, what caused cancer in ancient times? Let’s take a closer look.

The Causes of Cancer in Ancient Times

Lifestyle Factors

One of the primary causes of cancer in ancient times was lifestyle factors. Ancient civilizations did not have the same level of knowledge about health and wellness that we have today. They were not aware of the harmful effects of smoking or exposure to harmful chemicals.

Additionally, their diet was significantly different from ours today. Ancient people often consumed food that was high in salt and preservatives, which are known to increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer.

Environmental Factors

Another factor that contributed to cancer in ancient times was environmental factors. Many ancient civilizations lived in areas with high levels of pollution and exposure to harmful substances such as asbestos or radon gas.

Moreover, people in ancient times were often exposed to radiation from natural sources like the sun or cosmic rays. This radiation exposure could lead to DNA damage and increase the risk of developing cancer.

Genetic Factors

Finally, genetic factors also played a role in causing cancer in ancient times. Although people did not have the same level of knowledge about genetics as we do today, they still recognized that certain families were more prone to developing certain types of cancers than others.

In addition, some types of cancers may have been more prevalent among certain populations due to genetic mutations or inherited traits.


In conclusion, cancer has been around for centuries and was caused by a variety of factors in ancient times including lifestyle factors, environmental factors, and genetic factors. While our understanding of cancer has come a long way since then, it is still a major health concern today. By making healthy lifestyle choices and reducing exposure to harmful substances, we can reduce our risk of developing cancer and lead healthier lives.