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Why We Get Sick The New Science of Darwinian Medicine

Why We Get Sick: The New Science of Darwinian Medicine” is a book written by Randolph M. Nesse and George C. Williams, first published in 1994. The book explores the field of evolutionary medicine, which applies principles of evolutionary biology to understand why certain diseases and health problems persist in the human population.

The central premise of the book is that many aspects of our modern environment and lifestyle are mismatched with the conditions under which our ancestors evolved. As a result, our bodies may not always function optimally in contemporary settings, leading to various health issues.

Some key ideas and topics discussed in the book include:

Evolutionary Perspectives on Disease: The authors argue that many diseases and health problems can be better understood by considering how natural selection has shaped our bodies over millions of years. They discuss the idea that certain health problems may be byproducts of adaptations that were advantageous in our ancestral environments but less so in the modern world.

Trade-offs and Constraints: Nesse and Williams discuss the concept of trade-offs in evolution, where adaptations that benefit one aspect of an organism’s life may have negative consequences for another. They also explore how genetic constraints can limit the ability of natural selection to eliminate certain diseases.

Infectious Diseases: The book delves into the evolutionary arms race between pathogens (disease-causing organisms) and the human immune system. It explores how our susceptibility to infectious diseases can be understood in an evolutionary context.

Chronic Diseases: The authors discuss how evolutionary factors may contribute to the prevalence of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune disorders. They examine why these diseases are more common in modern societies and suggest that they may be linked to changes in diet, lifestyle, and reproductive patterns.

Implications for Medicine: “Why We Get Sick” explores the potential implications of evolutionary medicine for the practice of modern medicine. It suggests that understanding the evolutionary origins of diseases can lead to more effective prevention and treatment strategies.

Overall, “Why We Get Sick” provides a thought-provoking perspective on the intersection of evolution and medicine, offering insights into the origins and prevalence of various health issues. It has been influential in promoting the field of evolutionary medicine and encouraging researchers and healthcare professionals to consider evolutionary principles when addressing health-related questions.

“Reviewed by: Dr Debleena Bhattacharya is presently Assistant Professor in Marwadi University (MU), Rajkot, Gujarat. Prior to joining MU, she has worked as Project coordinator for BIRAC-SRISTI PMU, a joint venture of Govt. of India and NGO located in Gujarat. She received her doctoral degree from IIT Dhanbad and her area of interest is wastewater treatment, environmental biotechnology, and molecular genomics. She has authored a book published by CRC Press, U.S.A alongwith scientific papers & book chapters.”

InnoHEALTH magazine digital team

Author InnoHEALTH magazine digital team

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