Survival of the Sickest: The Surprising Connections Between Disease and Longevity

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Was diabetes evolution's response to the last Ice Age? Did a deadly genetic disease help our ancestors survive the bubonic plagues of Europe? Will a visit to the tanning salon help lower your cholesterol? Why do we age? Why are some people immune to HIV? Can your genes be turned on -- or off?

Joining the ranks of modern myth busters, Dr. Sharon Moalem turns our current understanding of illness on its head and challenges us to fundamentally change the way we think about our bodies, our health, and our relationship to just about every other living thing on earth, from plants and animals to insects and bacteria.

Through a fresh and engaging examination of our evolutionary history, Dr. Moalem reveals how many of the conditions that are diseases today actually gave our ancestors a leg up in the survival sweepstakes. When the option is a long life with a disease or a short one without it, evolution opts for disease almost every time.

Everything from the climate our ancestors lived in to the crops they planted and ate to their beverage of choice can be seen in our genetic inheritance. But Survival of the Sickest doesn't stop there. It goes on to demonstrate just how little modern medicine really understands about human health, and offers a new way of thinking that can help all of us live longer, healthier lives.

Survival of the Sickest is filled with fascinating insights and cutting-edge research, presented in a way that is both accessible and utterly absorbing. This is a book about the interconnectedness of all life on earth -- and, especially, what that means for us.

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About the author

Dr. Sharon Moalem is an award-winning neurologist and evolutionary biologist, with a PhD in human physiology. His research brings evolution, genetics, biology, and medicine together to explain how the body works in new and fascinating ways. He and his work have been featured on CNN, in the New York Times, on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, on Today, and in magazines such as New Scientist, Elle, and Martha Stewart's Body + Soul. Dr. Moalem's first book was the New York Times bestseller Survival of the Sickest. He lives in New York City.

Jonathan Prince was a senior adviser and speechwriter in the Clinton White House and oversaw communications strategy at NATO during the war in Kosovo. He was named one of America's Best and Brightest by Esquire in 2005 for his work to improve political advertising. With former U.S. senator John Edwards and Edwards's daughter Cate, Prince edited Home: The Blueprints of Our Lives.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Harper Collins
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Published on
Oct 13, 2009
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9780061842245
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Language
English
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Genres
Medical / Diseases
Medical / Genetics
Science / Life Sciences / Evolution
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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A groundbreaking, evidence-based text to the growing field of evolutionary medicine

Evidence-Based Evolutionary Medicine offers a comprehensive review of the burgeoning field of evolutionary medicine and explores vital topics such as evolution, ecology, and aging as they relate to mainstream medicine. The text integrates Darwinian principles and evidence-based medicine in order to offer a clear picture of the underlying principles that reflect how and why organisms have evolved on a cellular level.

The authors—noted authorities in their respective fields—address evolutionary medicine from a developmental cell-molecular perspective. They explore the first principles of physiology that explain the generation of existing tissues, organs, and organ systems. The text offers an understanding of the overall biology as a vertically integrated whole, from unicellular to multicellular organisms. In addition, it addresses clinical diagnostic and therapeutic approaches, both traditional and cell-homeostatic. This groundbreaking text:

• Offers a much-needed, logical, and fundamental approach to biology and medicine
• Provides a clear explanation of complex physiology and pathophysiology
• Integrates topics like evolution, ecology and aging into mainstream medicine, making them more relevant
• Contains the first evidence-based text on evolutionary medicine

Written for medical and graduate students in biology, physiology, anatomy, endocrinology, reproductive biology, medicine, pathology, systems biology, this vital resource offers a unique text of both biology as an integrated whole with universal properties; and of medicine seeing the individual as a whole, not an inventory of parts and diseases.

In this fully revised and updated edition, the editors have integrated a completely new set of contributions from the leading researchers in the field to describe the latest research in evolutionary medicine, providing a fresh summary of this rapidly expanding field 10 years after its predecessor was first compiled. It continues to adopt a broad approach to the subject, drawing on medically relevant research from evolutionary genetics, human behavioural ecology, evolutionary microbiology (especially experimental evolution of virulence and resistance), the evolution of aging and degenerative disease, and other aspects of biology or medicine where evolutionary approaches make important contributions. Evolution in Health and Disease describes how evolutionary thinking gives valuable insights and fresh perspectives into human health and disease, establishing evolutionary biology as an essential complementary science for medicine. Integrating evolutionary thought into medical research and practice helps to explain the origins of many medical conditions, including diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, asthma, allergies, other autoimmune diseases, and aging. It also provides life-saving insights into the evolutionary responses of pathogens to antibiotics, vaccinations, and other human interventions. Why are we vulnerable to disease? Why are our bodies not better designed? Are unpleasant surprises in store as we use more antibiotics and vaccines? Why do we respond to inappropriately to so many modern conditions? How do cancers evolve? Why must we grow old? The book discusses answers to these and many other questions while suggesting new approaches to treatment and research. This research-level text is suitable for graduate-level students and researchers in the fields of evolutionary (Darwinian) medicine, evolutionary biology, anthropology, developmental biology, and genetics. It will also be of relevance and use to medical researchers and doctors.
An award-winning physician and New York Times bestselling author reveals how genetic breakthroughs are completely transforming our understanding of both the world and our lives.

Conventional wisdom dictates that our genetic destiny is fixed at conception. But Dr. Moalem's groundbreaking book shows us that the human genome is far more fluid and fascinating than your ninth grade biology teacher ever imagined. By bringing us to the bedside of his unique and complex patients, he masterfully demonstrates what rare genetic conditions can teach us all about our own health and well-being.

In the brave new world we're rapidly rocketing into, genetic knowledge has become absolutely crucial. Inheritance provides an indispensable roadmap for this journey by teaching you:

Why you may have recovered from the psychological trauma caused by childhood bullying-but your genes may remain scarred for life.How fructose is the sugar that makes fruits sweet-but if you have certain genes, consuming it can buy you a one-way trip to the coroner's office.Why ingesting common painkillers is like dosing yourself repeatedly with morphine -- if you have a certain set of genes.How insurance companies legally use your genetic data to predict the risk of disability for you and your children-and how that impacts the coverage decisions they make for your family.How to have the single most important conversation with your doctor -- one that can save your life.And finally, why people with rare genetic conditions hold the keys to medical problems affecting millions.In this trailblazing book, Dr. Moalem employs his wide-ranging and entertaining interdisciplinary approach to science and medicine -- explaining how art, history, superheroes, sex workers, and sports stars all help us understand the impact of our lives on our genes, and our genes on our lives. Inheritance will profoundly alter how you view your genes, your health -- and your life.
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