Friday, May 06, 2005

Trousers tell why Napoleon died

BBC NEWS : "A study of Napoleon Bonaparte's trousers could put an end to the theory that the French Emperor was poisoned.

Napoleon died aged 52 on St Helena in the south Atlantic where he had been banished after his defeat at Waterloo.

His post mortem showed he died of stomach cancer, but it has been suggested arsenic poisoning or over-zealous treatment was to blame.

Now Swiss researchers say his trousers show he lost weight prior his death, confirming he had cancer.


We are sure that the autopsy report speaks clearly in favour of gastric [stomach] cancer
Alessandro Lugli, University Hospital Basel

The research, by scientists from the anatomical pathology department of the University Hospital in Basel and the Institute of Medical History at the University of Zurich, looked at 12 pairs of Napoleon's trousers.

Four were from before his exile and eight were pairs he wore during the six years he spent in exile on St Helena, including the pair he wore while dying.

The researchers also collated information from post mortems on the weights of patients who had died of stomach cancer.

They then measured the waists of healthy people to work out the correlation between that measurement and their actual weight.

This information was then used to calculate Napoleon's weight in the months leading up to his death.

The largest pair of trousers Napoleon wore had a waist measurement of 110cm; those he wore just before his death measured 98cm.

This, they say, shows he lost between 11 and 15kg over the last six months of his life."