It’s a theory being floated by a group of researchers who have been looking at mummies–pretty closely. Yes, mummies. Apparently, “whole body CT scans of 137 mummies from four different ancient populations revealed heart and vascular calcifications consistent with atherosclerosis, reported Randall Thompson, MD, of St. Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Mo., and colleagues” according to MedPage Today.
It’s long been believed that arterial plaque was a result of diet. But the analysis of mostly hunter-gatherers, whose active lifestyle and varied diet would indicate otherwise. The researchers are deducing that atherosclerosis found in the mummies might indicate that it’s as much a part of human aging as wrinkles, considering the condition was found in mummies from different continents and time periods.
If not inherent, one other theory had to do with fire, according the report. “One common factor was the use of fire for warmth and cooking, the researchers said. “Although cigarette smoking was not part of these four ancient populations, the need for fire and thus smoke inhalation could have played a part in the development of atherosclerosis,” they wrote.”