Why We Get Sick: The New Science of Darwinian Medicine

( 5 )

Overview

The answers are in this groundbreaking book by two founders of the emerging science of Darwinian medicine, who deftly synthesize the latest research on disorders ranging from allergies to Alzheimer's and from cancer to Huntington's chorea. Why We Get Sick compels readers to reexamine the age-old attitudes toward sickness. Line drawings.

Describes evolutionary explanations for getting sick, incl. environmental novelties/design ...

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Why We Get Sick: The New Science of Darwinian Medicine

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Overview

The answers are in this groundbreaking book by two founders of the emerging science of Darwinian medicine, who deftly synthesize the latest research on disorders ranging from allergies to Alzheimer's and from cancer to Huntington's chorea. Why We Get Sick compels readers to reexamine the age-old attitudes toward sickness. Line drawings.

Describes evolutionary explanations for getting sick, incl. environmental novelties/design compromises/defenses/etc.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"By bringing the evolutionary vision systematically into one of the last unconquered provinces, Nesse and Williams have devised not only means for the improvement of medicine but fundamental new insights into the human condition."—Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University

"In moving the focus from 'how' to 'why' questions, Nesse and Williams introduce readers to a new way of thinking about illness, one that promises to be of increasing interest as...our culture turns toward evolutionary explanations for human predicaments."—Peter D. Kramer, author of Listening to Prozac

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Nesse and Williams have written a lively discourse on the application of the principles of evolutionary biology to the dilemmas of modern medicine. Nesse, a physician and an associate professor of psychiatry, and Williams, a professor of ecology and evolution, provide a primer on Darwin's theory of natural selection. They explain that the functional design of organisms-e.g., our bodies-may suggest new ways of addressing illness. The book begins with a look at the causes of disease and their evolutionary influences. But the book mainly assesses the concept of adaptation by natural selection, and illustrates the ways Darwinian thinking can be applied to medical problems. As one example, the authors examine the use of penicillin over the past 60 years against bacterial infections. The book's quirky information may speak to a broad audience: researchers, for instance, have found that relatives of schizophrenics have an unusually high frequency of inclusion in Who's Who-which may counterbalance drawbacks of the disorder in evolutionary terms. The tendency toward child abuse, too, may be influenced, the authors say, by evolution and the passing on of genes. And there may well be an evolutionary reason to welcome morning sickness, they argue: nausea and food aversions during pregnancy apparently evolved to impose dietary restrictions on the mother so as to correspond with fetal vulnerability and, thereby, minimize fetal exposure to food toxins. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Offering new insights on the failure of evolution to eradicate disease, psychiatrist Nesse and ecologist Williams offer numerous suggestions on why certain seemingly negative traits have not been eliminated through natural selection. A brief discussion of the basics of evolution is provided, along with examples of how the theory of natural selection may relate to aging, cancer, allergies, and other diseases. One particularly intriguing chapter is devoted to the possibility of an evolutionary contribution to psychological disorders such as excessive anxiety or depression. Marc Lappe's recent Evolutionary Medicine: Rethinking the Origins of Disease (LJ 10/15/94) conveys a similar message on the increasing need to consider evolutionary principles in the treatment of disease. Both books are thought-provoking and worthy purchases, but librarians interested in a slightly less technical narrative may prefer Why We Get Sick.-Tina Neville, Univ. of South Florida at St. Petersburg Lib.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679746744
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/28/1996
  • Series: Vintage Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 307,348
  • Product dimensions: 5.15 (w) x 7.97 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Preface
1 The Mystery of Disease 3
2 Evolution by Natural Selection 13
3 Signs and Symptoms of Infectious Disease 26
4 An Arms Race Without End 49
5 Injury 66
6 Toxins: New, Old, and Everywhere 77
7 Genes and Disease: Defects, Quirks, and Compromises 91
8 Aging as the Fountain of Youth 107
9 Legacies of Evolutionary History 123
10 Diseases of Civilization 143
11 Allergy 158
12 Cancer 171
13 Sex and Reproduction 182
14 Are Mental Disorders Diseases? 207
15 The Evolution of Medicine 234
Notes 251
Index 273
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 7, 2012

    Gives a whole new perspective on disease and nutrition. Very en

    Gives a whole new perspective on disease and nutrition. Very enlightening.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2002

    It will give you a better understanding of Physical and Mental Health

    Overall this is an excellent book for anyone interested in why our bodies (in particular our immune system) does what is does in response viral and bacterial infectious disease. In addition the book also discusses mental illness. The book stands apart from other scientific text in that it looks at sickness in the light of evolution. It takes human evolutionary history (millions of years) into account to understand the ultimate cause of sickness and not just the proximate cause. The book will expand your level of thinking and teach you to think at a higher level when it comes to answering questions about why we even have disease and sickness. I also picked up some helpful pointers on how I can improve my health and take care of my body, although the main point of this book is Darwinian Medicine and not a guide on nutrition and wellness. I think this is a must read for anyone interested in medicine or health related field, especially immunology.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2013

    Re: "God is real": If God created the universe, who th

    Re: "God is real": If God created the universe, who then created God?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2012

    God is real

    This book goes out and says that evolution is real and indirectly says thats there is no one true God. I know there is and if you are a christian then i hope you never have to read this book

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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