Four years ago some heart specialists were in the Cairo Museum looking at the mummies when they read a plaque saying that one pharaoh had atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. The American cardiologists then decided to scan the mummies and study whether this disease was present in ancient Egyptians. They found that many ancient Egyptian mummies did have the signs of disease that we would tend to associate with a modern lifestyle, but critiques said that this was only because these were mostly pharaohs who did not exercise much and ate fatty foods. So was it their unhealthy lifestyles causing their problems or was atherosclerosis a more democratic disease? Professor Randall Thompson, from Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in the USA, decided to examine mummies from three other parts of the world to check. The results were recently published in the medical journal The Lancet.
The lean period of the Sahel region is just starting, but some communities are faring substantially better than their neighbours, despite annual food crises and the resulting shortage of staple foods such as maize. The secret lies in the role of trees; specifically 'famine foods' including the Baobab, the Moringa and the Safou, all of which have far better nutritional profiles than staple crops, and are highly resistant to drought. The BBC’s Angela Robson reports from Burkina Faso.
The Universe Inside You
A new book “The Universe Inside You” by science writer Brian Clegg reveals that it is not just biology that deals with the human body and the experiences we have as humans. In fact there is much more physics involved than one might think. And some of the most exciting discoveries in science are being played out in the human body.
Picture: Special scan of the mummy Meresamun
Credit: Philips Healthcare and University of Chicago/PA Wire