Survival of the Sickest: A Medical Maverick Discovers Why We Need Disease Paperback – Large Print, 1 Jun 2007
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'…an entertaining journey through evolutionary medicine.' New Scientist
'A tart, funny and fascinating confection about emerging evolutionary understanding of illness.' The Guardian
'Groundbreaking and absorbing.' Closer
'This is a revolutionary and engaging exploration of our evolutionary history'. The Herald
'Insightful and accessible.' The Good Book Guide
'Smart, entertaining and informative.' Lifescape
‘This excellent book deserves a place in every lending library in the land.’ The Oldie--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Sharon Moalem has a Ph.D. in the emerging fields of neurogenetics and evolutionary medicine. His research has discovered a new genetic association for familial Alzheimer disease. He has also published on the adaptive advantages of the genetic mutations that cause Hemochromatosis. He continues to work as a researcher while finishing his medical training at New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He lives in New York City.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Dr. Moalem elegantly explains why medical conditions that are deemed to be diseases today often helped our ancestors survive and reproduce in difficult environments. Take hemochromatosis, a hereditary condition that causes iron to accumulate in a person's internal organs, eventually leading to death. Although the gene that causes hemochromatosis was once thought to be rare, research completed in 1996 found that it's actually surprisingly common. Why wouldn't such a terrible disease have been "bred out" of our species long ago? The answer is that hemochromatosis reduces the amount of iron available to iron-loving bacteria, such as the bubonic plague that depopulated Europe in the mid-1300s. A person living in the Middle Ages with the hemochromatosis gene would have eventually died from iron build up, but in the meantime would have have had a smaller chance of dying from the plague and other iron-loving infections--in an age when few people lived past the age of 50, the disease resistance conferred by hemochromatosis far outweighed the disadvantage that would have materialized if the person carrying the gene had lived to old age. People with hemochromatosis reproduced and passed the gene one to their heirs; those without it died of the plague, without children.
"Survival of the Sickest" is filled with similarly surprising observations.Read more ›
One of the techniques our bodies use when fighting infection is to reduce the amount of iron available to the invaders. Bacteria need iron to reproduce. If there is a lot of it available their numbers can grow quickly. Without iron they can't reproduce at all. Iron is a limiting factor for many kinds of life. Vast stretches of ocean support little in the way of life because the microorganisms that begin the food chain can't grow where there is so little iron. As Dr. Moalem reports in this wide-ranging and eyebrow-lifting book, sprinkle some iron onto those patches of ocean and they will quickly turn green with microorganisms.
So it is a bit of an irony that people who have hemochromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes them to retain large amounts of iron in their bodies, are able to survival infections like the plague. This is because they starve the invading microbes through "iron locking." They have a lot of iron in their bodies, but they keep it away from the bacteria. Other people who have low levels of iron in their bodies are able to withstand bacterial attacks because they also keep what little iron they have away from the germs.Read more ›
It provides a really interesting perspective on how the diseases which plague us now actually helped our ancestors survive and there is a salutary warning about the link between too much iron in a person's bloodstream and Alzheimer's Disease. A touch of anaemia may not always be a bad thing!
It is written in a very easy style and flows very well. If you have any interest in health or medicine, read it!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I found this book really interesting. With very little science knowledge but an interest in diseases affecting us, it is really interesting to find out some of the background... Read morePublished on 1 April 2014 by sue manders
Really enjoyed this book. It had me asking questions and checking details as I read. Good job it was an e book. Read morePublished on 1 Mar. 2014 by Phil Edward
My teenage daughter recommended this book because she found it so interesting and informative about our body and health issues.Published on 18 Nov. 2013 by Mrs MD Cohen
This book has given me a real interest in genetics, it is a fascinating subject. The authors make it easy to understand.Published on 26 May 2013 by Jennifer Pols
If you are even vaguley interested in the human development and the Why's and Wherefores of your own body (and everyone else's) this is a great read.Published on 15 May 2013 by Ms. C. Kelly
This is an incredibly interesting book which isn't just about health but social history. It will really open your eyes.Published on 17 April 2013 by April Kerr