What Killed Napoleon?

What's more, says Genta from his Dallas office, the autopsy does not show other signs of arsenic poisoning. Napoleon's skin and fingernails were both described as pale; fatal doses of arsenic would have caused noticeable discoloration.

Genta's team tried one other thing: They searched Europe's museums for Napoleon's pants.

A man's trousers can reveal many secrets. They found twelve pairs belonging to Napoleon, eight of them from his years on Saint Helena. They reported that in the last six months of his life, his waist size shrank from 43 inches to 38.

Do some math (Napoleon was said to be 5 feet, 2 inches high), and Genta and his colleagues conclude Napoleon lost about 30 pounds in his final months -- something, again, that fits a diagnosis of stomach cancer but not arsenic.

"Even if he had been taken to one of today's best hospitals," says Genta, "he would not have survived."

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