Human Biology and Health: An Evolutionary Approach (Health and Disease Series) / Edition 3

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This book starts from the premise that patterns of illness and disability in modern human populations have been influenced by the biological and cultural evolution of the human species over the last five million years. Developments as diverse as the transition to an upright posture, the farming of grains, close contact with domestic animals, the use of cooking, and the proliferation of urban settlements, industrial processes and international travel have all had profound effects on human health. The evolution of infectious, genetic and degenerative diseases are viewed through the interaction between human biology and human culture, which helps explain the variation in susceptibility to disease between individuals and populations.

The authors are biologists who have written an introduction to human biology and evolution that is accessible to a general readership, but which aims to teach some fundamental biological principles, including DNA and the nature of genes, the structure and functions of cells, the evolution of infectious agents and the human immune system, and the interaction between human physiology and the physical environment. The potential for new biomedical and genetic technologies to offer partial solutions to a few major health problems is considered, alongside the ethical dilemmas they pose for health services and for individuals in the developed world. The book contains case-studies on genetic screening and gene therapy, lactose intolerance and dioxin pollution, and ends with the suggestion that the pace of cultural change is now seriously challenging human capacity to evolve genetic and social adaptations to maintain and improve health.
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Editorial Reviews

Presents an evolutionary history of human health and disease, starting from the premise that patterns of illness and disability in 20th- century populations have been influenced by the biological and cultural evolution of the human species over the last five million years. Focuses on the evolution of infectious, genetic and degenerative diseases and emphasizes the degree of variation in susceptibility between individuals and between human populations. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780335208395
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education
  • Publication date: 8/1/2001
  • Series: Health and Disease Series
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 398
  • Product dimensions: 8.10 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

A note for the general reader 6
Study guide for OU students 8
1 Why 'an evolutionary approach'? 10
2 The human biological heritage 17
3 The story of life in a few pages 51
4 Inheritance and variation 101
5 Living with other species 151
6 Surviving infectious disease 191
7 Digestion and dietary change 225
8 On living longer 261
9 Tinkering with nature 285
10 Living with the chemical industrial environment 329
11 The impact of modern culture 351
References and further sources 363
Answers to questions 372
Acknowledgements 385
Index 387
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