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According to the Greek mythology, Gerión was the monarch’s most ancient kingdom of Tartessos. He was a giant of three bodies, with their respective heads and limbs, who lived on the island Eritea, it would correspond to the present-day Cádiz, in the company of a dog of two heads called Ortro. The truth is that they should make a couple of the most unique.

it Seems that the rumors of the beauty of the princess Pirene came to the kingdom of Tartessos and the giant Gerión burned with desire to know. He quickly became enamored of her beauty when he first met her. At first, he tried to seduce her but when he saw that it was impossible to decided to use brute force.

Pirene fled from the clutches of Gerión and hid in a mountain surrounded by trees. As the giant was unable to discover it caused a huge fire in the hope that he would depart out. Pirene preferred to die asphyxiated before they suffer the indignities of the giant.

The news reached the ears of Hercules, who tried by all means to save the life of the young, but all was fruitless, we just took it away to bury her between those forests and to raise a mole of stone to remind them of her. From that time to the huge burial mound known as the Pyrenees.

Shortly after, in the context of his tenth labour, Hercules fought against the giant Gerión, which ended up taking his life after throwing an arrow emponzoñada with the poison of the Hydra.

The evil chimney sweeps

a Greek writer Strabo (63 to. C – 24 d. C) he dedicated the book III of his Geography of the Iberian peninsula. There collected that the name of the Pyrenees is derived from pyro –Greek-fire, justifying the name by a great fire that burned all the forests in the area.

In the combustion process of a fire of this magnitude was due to generate great amount of alpha-benzopyrene , a hydrocarbon insoluble in water, which is produced after condensation of five benzene rings.

The first few molecules of this family were described back in the NINETEENTH century by the German Agust Kekulé. It is said that the discovery was the result of serendipity after suffering a nightmare in which appeared a snake biting the tail. Kekulé was a parallelism and sensed an available chemical void, in which they joined six carbon atoms and six hydrogen atoms (C6H6).

The circle “benzene” is closed…

The benzopyrene found in all parties, are released to the atmosphere by volcanic eruptions or fires of forest masses, but the greater part of the benzopyrene that we breathe, eat or drink due to the human industry . Also in the combustion of our fireplace, forming part of the soot.

The occupation of chimney sweep is displayed masterfully described in the novels of Charles Dickens, a profession is poorly paid, dangerous, dirty and carcinogenic, but absolutely necessary in the Europe of the EIGHTEENTH century.

it Was the English surgeon Percival Pott (1714-1788) the first to associate this work with the presence of cancer in the skin of the scrotum. This description was the first association between cancer and occupational disease in the History of Medicine.

Since then we have not stopped to investigate and today we know that the benzopyrene and have a trigger that is triggered by the oncogene, leading, after long term intake, and chronic, the onset of neoplastic processes.

According to a work published some years ago in the prestigious journal New Scientist benzopyrene, also found in the smoke of the incense; a substance which was considered the scent of the gods and that the greeks used extensively in festivals, theatre shows, private banquets, Olympics…

In the Ancient times were the phoenicians who traded with incense to the length and breadth of the Mediterranean. It was precisely they who founded Gadir, present-day Cádiz, to 1,100 to. C. What they did in the vicinity of an ancient kingdom that based its economy on agriculture and livestock… The kingdom of tartesos!

M. Jara

Pedro Gargantilla is a internist in the Hospital of El Escorial (Madrid), and author of several popular books