Cause of Napoleon's Death Finally Solved?

j d worthington

Well-Known Member
May 9, 2006
I suppose this could go in either Science or History:

Mystery of Napoleon's Death Said Solved - Yahoo! News

Putting to rest a 200-year-old mystery, scientists say Napoleon Bonaparte died from an advanced case of gastric cancer and not arsenic poisoning as some had speculated.

After being defeated by the British in 1815, the French Emperor was exiled to St. Helena--an island in the South Atlantic Ocean. Six years later, at the age of 52, Bonaparte whispered his last words, "Head of Army!"

An autopsy at the time determined that stomach cancer was the cause of his death. But some arsenic found in 1961 in the ruler's hair sparked rumors of poisoning. Had Napoleon escaped exile, he could have changed the balance of power in Europe; therefore murder speculations didn't seem outlandish.

However, a new study--combining current medical knowledge, autopsy reports, Bonaparte's physician memoirs, eyewitness accounts, and family medical histories--found that gastrointestinal bleeding was the immediate cause of death.

The original autopsy descriptions indicated that Bonaparte's stomach had two ulcerated lesions: a large one on the stomach and a smaller one that had pierced through the stomach wall and reached the liver.

"It was a huge mass from the entrance of his stomach to the exit. It was at least 10 centimeters [4 inches] long." Genta said. "Size alone suggests the lesion was cancer."

"Even if treated today, he'd have been dead within a year," Genta said.

The story is from LiveScience, by Sara Goudarzi, datelined Tues., Jan. 16, and titled "Mystery of Napoleon's Death Said Solved".