Survival of the Sickest: The Surprising Connections between disease and longevity | Teen Ink

Survival of the Sickest: The Surprising Connections between disease and longevity

February 8, 2009
By Anonymous

Survival of the Sickest: The surprising connections between disease and longevity, is an easy and fascinating nonfiction book that appeals to all sorts of audiences. Dr. Sharon Moalem, having a doctorate in human physiology and an expert on evolutionary medicine, answers many questions evolving evolution and its connection towards diseases. Through the use of puns and humor, Dr. Moalem explains the theories and facts of certain sicknesses in an interesting way providing real world examples making the reader become captivated in his explanations.

Dr. Moalem starts of explaining hemochromatosis, a hereditary disease that disrupts the body in its ability to metabolize iron, and the connection it has to the survivals of the bubonic plague. He then goes on to explain the origins of bloodletting, diabetes, why people have a higher tendency to urinate in the cold, and the connection of favism (coming from the fava beans) to certain illnesses such as cancer. Dr. Sharon examines all of the possible ways in which we could have acquired our genes that make up our gene pool that may make us sick today, but gave our ancestors the upper hand in surviving deadly infections. He uses rhetorical questions in his work to get the audience thinking on the same page as him as well as stating his main argument of the book which is 'that evolution doesn't favor genetic traits that will make us sick unless those traits are more likely to help us before they hurt us.'

Each chapter of the book focuses on a specific subject of evolutionary diseases and how that disease/s has evolved through out the ages. One of the chapters, of microbes and men, was a chapter I remember very clearly, mainly because it focused on the human body and the tiny parasites that live inside us. While reading it I felt a little disgusted thinking that we may get or already have tiny organisms living inside us that are controlling our bodily functions; and that range in size from tiny microscopic microbes to half an inch or more long worms. Although it grossed me out, it was still an interesting read that taught me more than I could have learned by reading a medical dictionary.

Dr. Moalem supports his findings and understandings through scientific inquiries and others relative work. Through his understanding research and his knowledge of circumstances that define evolutionary diseases, Dr. Moalem makes a well developed argument on diseases and longevity of health. He supports each claim with scientific evidence and research done by other specialists around the world.

Survival of the Sickest is a book filled with knowledge about diseases and their relationship to evolution. Dr. Sharon Moalem provides much evidence to his findings. He uses analogies to every day real world situations, and explains everything very clearly with reliable research. His understandings and explanations of the way evolution has shaped our gene pool today, reveals how and why we get sick, and why those traits are passed down from generation to generation. It is clearly shown that Dr. Sharon Moalem is an educated author who has doctorates in human physiology and evolutionary medicine. This book will not only captivate the reader into the text, but will keep him or her interested and curious about our health, asking more and more questions. A must read book for those who like to look beyond the surface, and into the evolutionary past and present of health today.

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