Medical Anthropology: A Biocultural Approach

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Medical anthropology encompasses a wide range of perspectives as it seeks to understand human health and illness. An ideal core text for introductory courses, Medical Anthropology: A Biocultural Approach provides a current and accessible overview of this diverse and rapidly expanding field. Working from a biocultural approach, Medical Anthropology examines the major health issues that affect most human societies, describing and synthesizing the ways in which biology, culture, health, and environment interact. It integrates up-to-date and relevant biological data with analyses of both evolutionary theory and the sociocultural conditions that often lead to major challenges to our health and survival.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195308822
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrea S. Wiley is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Human Biology Lab at Indiana University. She is the author of An Ecology of High-Altitude Infancy: A Biocultural Perspective (2004) as well as numerous articles in medical anthropology and related fields.

John S. Allen is Research Scientist at the Dornsife Cognitive Neuroscience Imaging Center and the Brain and Creativity Institute, University of Southern California, where he is also Adjunct Research Associate Professor of Anthropology. He is a coauthor of Biological Anthropology: The Natural History of Humankind, Second Edition (2008).

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Table of Contents

Preface xiii

Chapter 1 Introduction 1

The Culture Concept 4

A Biocultural Perspective 5

Looking Ahead 8

Chapter 2 Anthropological Perspectives on Health and Disease 10

Definitions of Health 10

Disease 11

Illness 12

Sickness 13

The Locus of Health: The Body and Society 17

Biological/Medical Normalcy 18

Evolutionary Perspectives on Health 19

Adaptability 22

Behavioral Adaptability 23

Cultural Approaches in Medical Anthropology 26

Power Differentials and Health 26

Ethnomedical Systems 27

Interpretive Approaches to Illness and Suffering 29

Applied Medical Anthropology 31

Epidemiology 32

Conclusion 34

Chapter 3 Healers and Healing 36

Culture and Healing Systems 37

Recruitment: How Healers Become Healers 44

Alternative and Complementary Medicines 49

Acupuncture 51

Chiropractic 53

Navajo Medicine 55

When Biomedicine Is Alternative Medicine 57

Death as a Biocultural Concept 60

Placebo and Nocebo 66

Conclusion 68

Chapter 4 Diet and Nutrition in Health and Disease 71

Fundamentals of Nutrition 72

Digestive Physiology 76

An Evolutionary Approach to Nutrition 78

Nutrition and Chronic Diseases 86

Obesity 89

Diabetes 96

Lactose Intolerance 100

Salt and Hypertension 102

Celiac Disease 103

Conclusion 104

Chapter 5 Growth and Development 107

Life History Theory 107

Gestation: The First 40 Weeks of Growth and Development 109

Infancy 116

Childhood 120

Small but Healthy? 121

Is Bigger Better? 123

Puberty and the Onset of Adolescence 128

Teenage Pregnancy in the United States 129

Sex, Gender, Growth and Health 131

Environmental Toxins and Growth 133

The End of Childhood: Transitions toAdulthood 135

Chapter 6 Reproductive Health 138

Medicalization of Women's Health and Reproductive Health 138

Menstruation 139

Premenstrual Syndrome 146

Determinants of Fertility 147

Infertility 151

Falling Sperm Counts: Environmental Causes of Male Reproductive Health Problems 155

Female Genital Cutting 158

Pregnancy 161

Birth 165

Mothering 171

Menopause 176

Reproductive Events and Breast Cancer Risk 178

Conclusion 181

Chapter 7 Aging 184

The Aging Body 186

Physiological Theories of Aging 192

Somatic Mutations 192

Free Radicals 192

Wear and Degeneration 193

Evolutionary Theories of Aging 194

The Aging Brain 196

Extending Life? Caloric Restriction and an Okinawa Case Study 202

Health, Illness, and the Cultural Construction of Aging 207

Conclusion 212

Chapter 8 Infectious Disease: Introduction to Pathogens and the Immune System 215

Koch's Postulates 217

Taxonomy of Infectious Disease 218

Viruses 219

Bacteria 220

Protozoa 222

Fungi 223

Worms 224

Prions 225

How Pathogens Spread 225

Human Defenses against Pathogens 226

The Immune Response 229

How Does the Immune System Recognize Pathogens? 230

How Does the Immune System Respond to a Recognized Pathogen? 232

Pathogen Strategies for Avoiding Immune Destruction 236

Concealment 236

Antigenic Drift and Shift 236

Immunosuppression 237

Variation in Immune Response 240

Variation in the MHC 240

Undernutrition and Immune Response 240

Allergies and Asthma: Relationship to Infectious Disease Exposure? 241

The Hygiene Hypothesis 242

The Helminth Hypothesis 243

Variation in Pathogen Virulence 246

Conclusion 251

Chapter 9 Historical Perspectives on Infectious Disease in Human Populations 254

Origins of Infections in Humans 255

Agriculture's Effects on Infectious Disease 256

The Globalization of Infection 264

Smallpox 268

Colonization in the Tropics 272

Immigration, War, and Infection 280

Bioterrorism and Biological Warfare 280

The 1918 Influenza Epidemic 281

Conclusion 283

Chapter 10 Emerging and Resurging Infections: Biocultural Interactions between Humans and Pathogens 286

Emergent and Resurgent Diseases 287

Malaria: An Early "Emergent" Disease 290

Malaria Life Cycle and Pathogencity 291

Genetic Adaptations to Malaria 293

Behavioral Adaptations to Malaria 298

Efforts to Control Malaria 299

Malaria as a Resurgent Disease 300

Cholera 301

Genetic Adaptation to Cholera: Cystic Fibrosis Alleles 301

Ecology of Cholera Resurgence 303

Dams and Infectious Disease 304

Onchocerciasis 305

Schistosomiasis 305

HIV/AIDS: A New Disease 309

How HIV Works 310

Cultural Responses to HIV 311

Origins of HIV 312

Tuberculosis: A Resurgent Disease 316

Biology and Pathogenicity of TB 316

TB as a Resurgent Disease 317

Conclusion 321

Chapter 11 Stress, Social Inequality, and Race and Ethnicity: Implications for Health Disparities 324

Biology of the Stress Response 325

The Nervous System Stress Response 326

The Hormonal Stress Response 327

Why Is Stress Different for Humans? 327

Stress and Biological Normalcy 329

Stress and Health 330

Cardiovascular Disease 330

Immune Function 332

Immunosuppression 332

Autoimmunity 334

Child Growth 336

Inequality, Stress, and Health 338

Relative Status 342

Social Cohesion 343

Social Support 345

Race and Ethnicity and Health in the United States 346

Conclusion 354

Chapter 12 Mental Health and Illness 357

The Medical Model in Biocultural Context 358

Culture-Bound Syndromes 363

Eating Disorders 369

ADHD and Culture 374

Mood Disorders 376

Depression 376

Bipolar Disorder and Creativity 380

Schizophrenia 385

Conclusion 390

Epilogue: The Relevance of Medical Anthropology 392

What Can I Do Next if I Am Interested in Medical Anthropology? 395

Graduate Programs in Anthropology 395

Public Health programs 396

Medical Schools and Clinical Health Professions 396

Work in Governmental and Nongovernmental Health Agencies 397

Glossary 398

References Cited 412

Index 444

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