By Robert Cohen Executive Director Text Only

The ICEMAN Had More Than Just Icy Blood In His Veins

The ICEMAN Had More Than Just Icy Blood In His Veins

Milk did not kill the Iceman, but his 25-year-old body,
preserved and mummified for more than 50 centuries inside of
a glacier, died with severe arthritis and heart disease. Did
all sheepherders suffer a similar fate as a result of their
dairy diets?

In 1991, the Iceman became an overnight sensation. The well-
preserved corpse of a 5300-year-old man was found in a
melting glacier between Italy and Austria.

Besides his stash of hallucinogenic mushrooms, and a torso
that was liberally ornamented with tattoos, the man's body
had many things to teach 21st century man about life long

Archeological coroners have determined many things about the
man's way of life. Teams of investigative forensic
scientists and paleobotanists have found microscopic
bacteria and pollens from hop blossoms, proving that the man
did not vanish in the middle of winter as had been
previously theorized. In fact, an arrow to his back and
other factors may be evidence that the Iceman was a

This investigation and analyses would make for a fascinating
episode of the hit CBS TV show, CSI.

The 5300-year-old Iceman wore leather underwear and outer
garments fashioned from animal skins. One conclusion shocked
even the pathobiologists. That one conclusion remains
perfectly clear. Based upon stomach contents (fibers of
meat) and artifacts found in his backpack, and a rigorous
examination of the man's internal organs, it was observed
that the man had "abnormally hardened arteries, due no doubt
to his unhealthily high-cholesterol diet."

Although there is some controversy, one of the lead
investigators, Konrad Spindler believes that the man was a
shepherd. He believes that the Iceman perished in a summer
storm while searching for one of the sheep that he herded.
Apparently, his diet consisted of ovine milk, and lots of

The Iceman also had severe arthritis and diarrhea. Perhaps
sacrifice of a man with severe illnesses was society's
antibiotic pill. Such was the fate of pre-historic men who
drank diseased body fluids from other mammals.

I just finished reading Brenda Fowler's ICEMAN. On page 151.
Here's where it got very interesting for me. A CAT scan
revealed that part of the Iceman's brain suggested signs of
a stroke. Here is what the author writes:

"The CAT scans revealed a heavily calcified region in what
was probably the man's abdominal aorta-the largest artery in
the body, at the point where it breaks into the main vessels
that go to the legs-as well as in the carotid artery, which
carries blood from the heart to the neck. This was a clear
sign of arteriosclerosis-hardened arteries-a condition that
occurs when plaques adhere to the walls of the arteries,
partly blocking the flow of blood...but the iceman was not
very old, and zur Nedden was amazed at how much plaque had
already accumulated."

Milk and Heart Disease, see:

The age of the man was estimated to be between 25 and 30.
Severe arthritis. Heart disease. Diarrhea. Milk drinker.

Makes sense to me. After all, a sheepherder would be
drinking lots of saturated animal fat and cholesterol in the
milk from the sheep that he herded. Very little has changed
in 53 centuries.

Robert Cohen, author of:   MILK A-Z
Executive Director (
Dairy Education Board

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