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Debunking Paleo by Claiming Mummies had Heart Disease!?!

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 13, 2013 at 8:54 AM

My husband -- always the skeptic and on the look-out for a good paleo debunking opportunity -- sent this article to me. I already responded with a host of rebuttals (not least of which is that the only population tested that was actually hunter-gatherer in this study were the Aleutians and there were only five samples!). But I'm still interested to hear what everyone else has to say. I've started to notice more and more of these crop up as paleo/primal gains more traction in the mainstream media.

http://www.nature.com/news/mummies-reveal-that-clogged-arteries-plagued-the-ancient-world-1.12568

68655ec9711d207d69a63ebf96b37573

on March 13, 2013
at 08:31 PM

Exactly. Send him onto the wikipedia page for the paleolithic period - it was over by 8000BC at the latest, earlier in the fertile crescent and the middle eat. These mummies are squarely neolithic. It's well documented in the fossil record that after agriculture, people were about 4 inches shorter and their bones much poorer quality, too

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4 Answers

4
Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on March 13, 2013
at 11:33 AM

Why does he feel that this study and press debunks paleo somehow? The timeframe of all of these mummies is squarely in the neolithic.

If he thinks this debunks paleo, then just turn it around: all these mummies are from the neolithic, and of the group of them, only 5 were from a hunter-gatherer society (which could arguably be used in place of "paleolithic mummies"). Regardless, this debunks the neolithic diet way more than paleolithic diet.

Personally, I don't think it debunks or proves paleo or not paleo -- just that atherosclerosis likely endemic to humans.

68655ec9711d207d69a63ebf96b37573

on March 13, 2013
at 08:31 PM

Exactly. Send him onto the wikipedia page for the paleolithic period - it was over by 8000BC at the latest, earlier in the fertile crescent and the middle eat. These mummies are squarely neolithic. It's well documented in the fossil record that after agriculture, people were about 4 inches shorter and their bones much poorer quality, too

4
Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on March 13, 2013
at 09:54 AM

"I've written about mummy abuse before, but today the press is having a field day with the preliminary findings of the Horus study, an examination of atherosclerosis in ancient mummies. Luckily, you don't have to listen to them, because the study is available online for anyone to read. It's also pretty readable as studies go." - Melissa MCEwen.

http://huntgatherlove.com/content/atherosclerosis-human-condition

3
96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19413)

on March 13, 2013
at 10:43 AM

Let's think about this: so there were clogged arteries in mummies from various places, both hunter gatherer and agricultural, and there's clogged arteries today.

If we look at the skeletons of hunter gatherers in the wild, they are taller, stronger, have larger craniums, and have almost no cavities. If we look at the skeletons of agricultural skeletons, they are shorter, frail, have smaller craniums, and lots of cavities.

How does that negate the fact that grains, high carb intake, industrial transfat oils that have been bleached and deodorized, artificial ingredients/colors/preservatives, high fructose, pesticide residues, and GMOs are harmful?

Even if a paleo style diet cannot remove atherosclerosis, really a disease of clogged arteries, not of hearts, which is better for overall health? Which one is more likely to have dysfunctional LDL processing and allow for more oxidized LDL to circle around the blood system longer? Which one is more likely to cause organ damage, including liver problems, when our livers are so essential for cholesterol processing?

Would you rather live 90 years, spending the last 10 in a diaper, or live robustly and fall dead quickly?

So, again, how does this debunk the paleo diet?

As Mash posted (+1), Melissa McEwen's recent post shows a huge difference between modern and ancient levels of atherosclerosis and exposure to smoke.

2
C4f1a0c70c4e0dea507c2e346c036bbd

on March 13, 2013
at 12:11 PM

Its news to me that the Egyptians were hunter gatherers. I was pretty sure they ate wheat. Passover happened around that time as well where matzah (made with an older species of wheat) was made due to fleeing the Egyptians.

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