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Evolutionary Medicine [Paperback]

Wenda Trevathan , James J. McKenna , Euclid O. Smith

Price: 39.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

7 Oct 1999 0195103564 978-0195103564
Evolution is the single most important idea in modern biology, shedding light on virtually every biological question, from the shape of orchid blossoms to the distribution of species across the planet. Until recently, however, the theory has had little impact on medical research or practice. Evolutionary Medicine shows how this is beginning to change.

Collecting work from leaders in the field, this volume describes an array of new and innovative approaches to human health that are based on an appreciation of our long evolutionary history. For example, it shows how evolution helps to explain the complex relationship between our immune systems and the virulence and transmission of human viruses. It also shows how comparisons between how we live today and how our hunter-gatherer ancestors lived thousands of years ago illuminate a variety of contemporary ills, including obesity, lower-back pain, and insomnia.

Evolutionary Medicine covers issues at every stage of life, from infancy (colic, jaundice, SIDS, parent-infant sleep struggles, ear infections, breast-feeding, asthma) to adulthood (sexually transmitted diseases, depression, overeating, addictions, child abuse, cardiovascular disease, breast and ovarian cancer) to old age (osteoporosis, geriatric sleep problems). Written for a wide range of students and researchers in medicine, anthropology, and psychology , it is an invaluable guide to this rapidly developing field.

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"Evolutionary medicine is a new, interdisciplinary field that brings together physicians, biologists, anthropologists, psychologists, and others to address questions about the evolutionary origins of many medical problems facing modern humans. The primary goal of the discipline is to compare modern human environments and behaviors with the conditions under which humans evolved to determine the extent to which medical conditions of the present may be a consequence of adaptation to different conditions of the past. . . . Evolutionary Medicine provides readers with a well-balanced and broad overview of the kinds of research being done in the area. . . . The book is primarily a reader in evolutionary medicine ... and ... a good introduction to a new field. . . . [A]nyone interested in learning more about how evolutionary theory is being used to gain insights into medical problems will find much in the volume to stimulate their creative juices."--Journal of the American Medical Association"This book might be easier to read for nonspecialists. . . .Nevertheless, for anyone with an interest in the evolution of disease, Evolutionary Medicine offers thought-provoking material." The Quarterly Review of Biology the chapters in Stearns's book are generaly"With its evolutionary framework and cross-cultural perspective, this book could be successfully utilized as a valuable resource in advanced undergraduate and graduate Medical Anthropology courses, especially those with a physical anthropology orientation. Every selection contains multiple novel insights in the rapidly emerging field of evolutionary medicine." -- R.A. Halberstein, American Journal of Human Biology, Vol 13, No 3, Mar/Apr 2001

About the Author

Wenda Trevathan is at New Mexico State University. James J. McKenna is at University of Notre Dame.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Jaundice of the newborn is one of the most common, complex, well-studied, and misunderstood phenomena in modern pediatric medicine. Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some good chapters on fascinating new field 5 May 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This book applies Darwin's theory of evolution to medicine and that's very exciting. It's exciting because the theory of evolution turns out to be a framework with impressive explanatory power in the area of health and disease. Why do babies in modern Western societies show more excessive crying than infants of !Kung San hunter-gatherers? What makes many women that give birth in modern high-tech hospitals still unsatisfied with the process? Why do so many modern women get breast cancer? Evolutionary medicine proposes answers, sometimes controversial, but definitely almost always worth considering. Why only four stars then? Perhaps it's because the field is still maturing but I thought only six of the eighteen chapters of the book showed clear arguments, high-quality writing, and didn't require a Ph.D. in biochemistry to follow the details. (I liked the chapters about evolutionary perspectives on infant crying, sudden infant death syndrome, obstetrics, nutrition, psychiatry, and breast cancer). And finally, readers should keep in mind that "Evolutionary Medicine" is a university textbook. For a more accessible introduction into this exciting new field they should read Nesse and Williams' "Why We Get Sick".
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evolutionary Medicine is a Powerful way to Look at Disease! 25 July 2008
By Paul Theodorescu - Published on Amazon.com
While a bit dry, this book provides a great overview of evolutionary medicine and how it applies to clinical medical problems such as asthma, giving birth, colic. Evolutionary Medicine explains the "why" behind why diseases occur. It's rarely purely genetic, with epigenetic and environmental factors playing a key role in most modern chronic medical conditions!

The chapters on colic and giving birth were particularly interesting in my opinion and offer some great practical tips.

Some of the evidence is a bit on the theoretical side (ex: the benefits of elevated IgE levels), but overall very clinically relevant.

Paul 3rd year medical student
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a keeper 5 July 2014
By Omega 3 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was hoping it would be more interesting but is a good reference. Wouldn't buy it again. However, not found in many academic libraries. Maybe google books?
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