Survival of the Sickest: A Medical Maverick Discovers Why We Need Disease

Survival of the Sickest: A Medical Maverick Discovers Why We Need Disease

by Sharon Moalem, Jonathan Prince
4.4 52
Pub. Date:
HarperCollins Publishers
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Survival of the Sickest: A Medical Maverick Discovers Why We Need Disease

Read it.

You're already living it.

Was diabetes evolution's response to the last Ice Age? Did a deadly genetic disease help our ancestors survive the bubonic plagues of Europe? Will a visit to the tanning salon help lower your cholesterol? Why do we age? Why are some people immune to HIV? Can your genes be turned on — or off?

Joining the ranks of modern myth busters, Dr. Sharon Moalem turns our current understanding of illness on its head and challenges us to fundamentally change the way we think about our bodies, our health, and our relationship to just about every other living thing on earth, from plants and animals to insects and bacteria.

Through a fresh and engaging examination of our evolutionary history, Dr. Moalem reveals how many of the conditions that are diseases today actually gave our ancestors a leg up in the survival sweepstakes. When the option is a long life with a disease or a short one without it, evolution opts for disease almost every time.

Everything from the climate our ancestors lived in to the crops they planted and ate to their beverage of choice can be seen in our genetic inheritance. But Survival of the Sickest doesn't stop there. It goes on to demonstrate just how little modern medicine really understands about human health, and offers a new way of thinking that can help all of us live longer, healthier lives.

Survival of the Sickest is filled with fascinating insights and cutting-edge research, presented in a way that is both accessible and utterly absorbing. This is a book about the interconnectedness of all life on earth — and, especially, what that means for us.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060889654
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/06/2007
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

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Survival of the Sickest 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 52 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was forced to read this book by my AP Biology teacher, but I'm glad she did! Moalem has a funny, sarcastic tone and a diction that is unlike a science journal, which has the boring fancy writing. This book gets straight to the point about diseases and genetics. And I actually want to read it again, as do other people in my class!
nattylight More than 1 year ago
This book is without a doubt amazing. It brings science into our everyday world and more importantly it makes science easy to understand. With every scientific explanation goes an interesting example in our lives today. One that I found incredible was our evolutionary need for diabetes. The author goes into the science of it and how our ancestors lived in an ice age and how to help keep their tissues and organs from freezing they developed diabetes. The sugar in our blood helps prevent our cells from freezing. Pay attention this is my favorite part! After explaining this, much better might I add, the author talks about the whole idea of sugar preventing freezing can be seen in our everyday slurpees that you get at a gas station! If you removed the sugar from a slurpee you would just have a block of ice! AMAZING!
songcatchers More than 1 year ago
Survival of the Sickest is an interesting and thought provoking book about disease. The author takes a handful of diseases, for example diabetes and favism, and looks at them from an evolutionary perspective. She shows how some of the diseases we have today might have actually been a good thing for our ancestors. "Evolution likes genetic traits that help us survive and reproduce-it doesn't like traits that weaken us or threaten our health (especially when they threaten it before we can reproduce)." If diabetes helped our ancestors survive the last ice age, those genes would have been passed on in reproduction. Dr. Moalem definitely makes sense in Survival of the Sickest. It gets a bit scientific in parts though and a little hard to digest. After reading this book I won't look at hereditary disease in quite the same way.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a genealogist, and an armchair geneticist, this was a fascinating read. It's data was entertaining and easily accessible. A rare find.
Dashiell3 More than 1 year ago
Wow, what a wonderful book. It makes you rethink every genetic trait and disease that ever plagued the human race in recent memory, in an evolutionary context. I read this for my Advanced Biology class and it still stands out as one of my all-time favorites.
OKWANYVA More than 1 year ago
I loaned my copy to a friend and as usually, you don't often get loaned copies back. I now have a Nook and am thinking of buying this book again as a Nookbook. One great thing about this book is its index. As a person with Hemochromatosis, the book is greatly appreciated. But even if you don't have this genetic disorder, it is still worth reading since it talks about such things as Vitamin D and its relation to cholesterol and brown fat which helps Eskimos keep warm in a frozen climate. Then there are chapters that deal with reptiles that have different tails if certain predators such as snakes are in the vicinity. Again, a great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was hard to put this book down, it covers topics of diabetes, malaria, and more. It includes why diseases are still in the gene pool and how they can be helpful for our survival.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dr. Moalem does very well in explaining scientific concepts in layman's terms. I do admit that he tends to jump around a bit; however, he also does very well at tying all of his seemingly random tangents together. I'm pretty sure that I'd enjoy this book even if I did not have the background in the study of biology and genetics that I do. Definitely recommend it for anyone curious about disease and its evolution.
dsledoux08 More than 1 year ago
Survival of the Sickest by Dr. Sharon Moalem takes the reader through a different point of view on disease and life as we know it.  It answers questions one didn’t even know they had when talking about evolution and disease.  It is very well written and easy to follow.  The purpose of the book is to explain why diseases are vital to our specie’s evolution, why some diseases are still around today, and why some diseases died out with our ancestors.  It starts of telling the story of an ill grandfather and a very intrigued and determined young grandson who spent countless hours at the library looking through medical research books for an answer.  Once he reaches a conclusion on that quest, another illness pops up in his grandfather so his grandson begins searching for a connection between the two.  This lead to his choice to study biology in college and eventually earn a Ph.D..  By analyzing and comparing complex and intricate gene sequences, he figured out a connection.  He also traces the roots of many types of diseases such as diabetes, hemochromatosis, and STDs.  He also conducted research on genetic diseases, cholesterol, and gene expression.  A quote to sum up the book would be found in the conclusion stating, “I hope that you’ll come away from this book with an appreciation of three things.  First, that life is in a constant state of creation.  Evolution isn’t over- it’s all around you, changing as we go. Second, that nothing in our world exists in isolation.  We- meaning humans and animals and plants and microbes and everything else- are all evolving together.  And third, that our relationship with diseases is often much more complex than we may have previously realized.”
Frank Wahl More than 1 year ago
As a biology teacher, this book gave me more insight into genetic disorders and adds to your arsenal of responses for the never ending "why's?" It even answered many of my own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is facinating to find out how some of the health problems that plague us today may have evolved within us. She explains where high blood pressure came from, why some people are lighter then others, etc. If you interested in the evolution of genetic diseases then this is the perfact book!
GulliverJF More than 1 year ago
I have a limited background in science, but this book was very clear and easy to understand. I particularly enjoyed his discussion of epigenetics. I recommend this book for just about anyone, no matter what field they are in. I give it five stars, its an excellent book. I also plan to read Dr. Moalem's next book that is coming out soon.
KathleenBur More than 1 year ago
Survival of the Sickest is one of the most interesting and intriguing scientific books I have ever read. Its full of insightful ideas and theories as well as facts I never new before. This book explains why diseases are vital to our evolution, why some diseases are still around today, and why some diseases died out with our ancestors. It was very interesting to see how certain diseases are what make us who we are today and how essential these diseases and genetic disorders were essential to our evolutionary development. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in genetics and diseases. It is very well written and is backed up with research and facts. Overall this is a very good book and I would highly recommend it.
VirziManSkells More than 1 year ago
Survival of the Sickest was an amazing book filled with interesting facts that was actually able to keep my attention.  Normal science books leave me day dreaming and skipping pages, this book however did not.  Every chapter reveals a new interesting topic of why humans have evolved the way we have. My favorite chapter was the final chapter. It addresses the human ape theory which really leaves you thinking.  He wrote a very persuading argument about the reasons the theory could actually be true.  Overall however, this book is the only science book I have ever read that I can honestly say I will read again.  
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