Genetic Twists of Fate

MIT Press
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How tiny variations in our personal DNA can determine how we look, how we behave, how we get sick, and how we get well.

News stories report almost daily on the remarkable progress scientists are making in unraveling the genetic basis of disease and behavior. Meanwhile, new technologies are rapidly reducing the cost of reading someone's personal DNA (all six billion letters of it). Within the next ten years, hospitals may present parents with their newborn's complete DNA code along with her footprints and APGAR score. In Genetic Twists of Fate, distinguished geneticists Stanley Fields and Mark Johnston help us make sense of the genetic revolution that is upon us.

Fields and Johnston tell real life stories that hinge on the inheritance of one tiny change rather than another in an individual's DNA: a mother wrongly accused of poisoning her young son when the true killer was a genetic disorder; the screen siren who could no longer remember her lines because of Alzheimer's disease; and the president who was treated with rat poison to prevent another heart attack. In an engaging and accessible style, Fields and Johnston explain what our personal DNA code is, how a few differences in its long list of DNA letters makes each of us unique, and how that code influences our appearance, our behavior, and our risk for such common diseases as diabetes or cancer.

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About the author

Stanley Fields is Professor of Genome Sciences and Medicine at the University of Washington and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.

Mark Johnston is Professor and Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Genetics.

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Additional Information

Publisher
MIT Press
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Published on
Sep 24, 2010
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Pages
240
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ISBN
9780262289009
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Language
English
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Genres
Medical / Genetics
Science / Life Sciences / Genetics & Genomics
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

The New York Times bestselling author of The Hormone Cure and The Hormone Reset Diet shows every woman how to create a lifestyle that will help her look great, feel energized, and slow down the effects of aging.

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The body is magnificent but it doesn't come with a lifetime warranty, or an operating manual. You're the result of millions of years of evolution, but many of the adaptations that helped your ancestors survive are now working overtime to accelerate the aging process. The assumption here is that we are our genes and therefore trapped by the past. The good news is that your genetic code—the DNA sequence that is the biochemical basis of heredity—can play a minor role in the way you age.

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You're already living it.

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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