Body by Darwin: How Evolution Shapes Our Health and Transforms Medicine

Body by Darwin: How Evolution Shapes Our Health and Transforms Medicine

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 022605988X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

We think of medical science and doctors as focused on treating conditions—whether it’s a cough or an aching back. But the sicknesses and complaints that cause us to seek medical attention actually have deeper origins than the superficial germs and behaviors we regularly fault. In fact, as Jeremy Taylor shows in Body by Darwin, we can trace the roots of many medical conditions through our evolutionary history, revealing what has made us susceptible to certain illnesses and ailments over time and how we can use that knowledge to help us treat or prevent problems in the future.
In Body by Darwin, Taylor examines the evolutionary origins of some of our most common and serious health issues. To begin, he looks at the hygiene hypothesis, which argues that our obsession with anti-bacterial cleanliness, particularly at a young age, may be making us more vulnerable to autoimmune and allergic diseases. He also discusses diseases of the eye, the medical consequences of bipedalism as they relate to all those aches and pains in our backs and knees, the rise of Alzheimer’s disease, and how cancers become so malignant that they kill us despite the toxic chemotherapy we throw at them. Taylor explains why it helps to think about heart disease in relation to the demands of an ever-growing, dense, muscular pump that requires increasing amounts of nutrients, and he discusses how walking upright and giving birth to ever larger babies led to a problematic compromise in the design of the female spine and pelvis.  Throughout, he not only explores the impact of evolution on human form and function, but he integrates science with stories from actual patients and doctors, closely examining the implications for our health.
As Taylor shows, evolutionary medicine allows us think about the human body and its adaptations in a completely new and productive way. By exploring how our body’s performance is shaped by its past, Body by Darwin draws powerful connections between our ancient human history and the future of potential medical advances that can harness this knowledge.

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during World War II. As a result, the country has been partitioned into Russian and Finnish Karelia ever since. Although Russian and Finnish Karelians have the same genetic makeup, including the same susceptibilities to diabetes, the differences in their socioeconomic status and health could not be more stark. According to Knip, one of the steepest standard-�of-�living gradients in the world exists at the border between Russian and Finnish Karelia, with the latter having eight times the gross

after ovulation, but there were a number of women who implanted much later— even eight to eleven days beyond. Wilcox showed there was an exponential increase in miscarriage with late implantation. Brosens believes this is because late implantation misses the crucial window of receptivity in which decidual changes in the uterine wall prepare the mother to envelop and examine implanting embryos like a stern schoolmistress. Late-Â�implanted embryos fail to turn up for this time-Â�limited

wedging of the vertebrae. All these proposed mechanisms invoke things going wrong at the local level of the spine and its attachments. But could there be some more fundamental cause? A number of studies have identified chromosomal regions that can be linked to idiopathic scoliosis and one gene in particular, CHD7, which is also involved in a number of critical processes inside cells. Abnormal variants are involved in CHARGE syndrome, for instance, which is often fatal for babies. They suffer from

invariably expire on the spot and form the pus we associate with the healing process of stings, cuts, and abrasions. CML is caused during stem cell division when the ABL gene on the long arm of chromosome 9 accidentally gets transferred to chromosome 22 in an event called a translocation. There it attaches to the BCR gene to make a fusion gene called BCR-Â�A BL. This starts producing a mutated form of the enzyme tyrosine kinase, which normally acts as an “on-Â�off” switch to stop and start cell

cannot be stressed strongly enough that autism is a complex, multi-Â� factorial illness and that the therapeutic application of all the science associated with the hygiene hypothesis, for a variety of autoimmune and allergic diseases, is still very much in its infancy and largely unproven—Lawrence Johnson’s treatment, for instance, is a one-Â�off experiment, not the result of tried-Â�and-Â�tested medicine. But much of the research is compelling, and if it can translate into medical therapy, it

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