This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Heart Disease is not a Modern "Invention"

It turns out that mummies can tell a lot of good stories, even after being dead for 4,000 years or so. A team of researchers led by Professor Randall Thompson, of Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, has found that mummies from several different parts of the world (not just the elite of ancient Egypt), show signs of heart disease. The research was published in The Lancet and BBC News has the story:
To try and get a better picture of how prevalent the disease was in ancient populations, the researchers used CT scans to look at mummies from Egypt, Peru, southwest America, and the Aleutian Islands in Alaska.
They found that 47 or 34% showed signs of definite or probably atherosclerosis [hardening of the arteries].
As with modern populations, they found that older people seemed to be more likely to show signs of the disease.
This work is entirely consistent with the long-running work of Barry Popkin on the nutrition transition, focused on the idea that our genetic predispositions as humans have not changed much over time, but rather our diets have changed, at the same time that we have controlled communicable disease to the point that we now live long enough to feel the effects of the combination of aging and diet.

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