Activists like journalism professor Michael Pollan are quick to blame foods in our “Western diet” for a smorgasbord of problems — heart disease being the most recent one. But a new investigation stuffs this foodie blame-game in a sarcophagus. Researchers examining Egyptian mummies discovered that our predecessors 3,500 years ago also suffered from hardened arteries, and they didn’t eat fast food. As The Wall Street Journal reports:
[Researchers] were able to identify the hearts, arteries or both in 16 of the mummies, nine of whom had deposits of calcification …
"Not only do we have atherosclerosis [artery hardening] now, it was prevalent as long as 3,500 years ago," said Gregory Thomas, a cardiologist and imaging specialist at University of California, Irvine, who was principal investigator of the study. "It is part of the human condition."
You wouldn’t think that it’s a “human condition” by listening to trial lawyers like John “Sue the Bastards” Banzhaf, though. Banzhaf and his fellow sharks make a living pushing the idea that foods — specifically, fast foods — are to blame for health problems like widening waistlines, and have filed a number of frivolous “obesity lawsuits” based on this premise. (Thankfully, these have been laughed out of court, both the legal and public-opinion kind.)
Hopefully, today’s news put a nail in the coffin of the idea that fast food — or any modern culinary convenience — is a unique cause of heart disease. As one of the researchers noted, heart disease “is as old as the pyramids.” So, likely, are super-sized food superstitions.