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Survival of the Sickest

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In this groundbreaking and absorbing book, wunderkind Dr. Sharon Moalem delves back into the evolution of man to reveal hitherto unknown and astonishing ways the human body is built to survive. With this revolutionary new book, Sharon Moalem completely turns modern medicine's understanding of disease on it's head. "It is not," he argues, "that dark country to which we're exiled when we're not 'healthy.' The truth, I intend to show you, is much more interesting and encouraging." His research will reveal that many common diseases are in fact complicated blessings. In considering the question of why diseases exist, Moalem proposes that most common diseases came into existence for very good reasons. Diabetes, hemochromatosis, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia all may exist because at some point they helped our ancestors survive some grand challenge to human existence. In turn, he also discovered that genetic and cultural differences have led to each race having different and unique ways of reacting to their environment and subsequently how they become susceptible to certain diseases. With mesmerizing insight, Moalem demonstrates how diabetes may be a by-product of a mechanism that helped humans survive the Ice Age, why African Americans living in the north might suffer from vitamin D deficiencies, and why Asians can't drink as much alcohol as Europeans. Information in this book is extremely timely, such as Moalem's exploration of the Avian Flu, a disease that threatens to be the world's next great pandemic. Revelatory and written in an utterly engaging fashion, Sharon Moalem's book will change the way we think about our own bodies.
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Promotional Information

/ Key title In this groundbreaking and absorbing book, wunderkind Dr. Sharon Moalem delves back into the evolution of man to reveal hitherto unknown and astonishing ways the human body is built to survive. / This is a groundbreaking and engaging popular science book, in the mould of 'Freakonomics' and 'The Tipping Point'. / Contains revolutionary ideas about the way humans have developed and how different cultures lead to different biological strengths and weaknesses. / The ideas in the book will create a great buzz and attract huge amounts of publicity. / The author is already creating a high media profile for himself, with articles in the Guardian and Independent

About the Author

Sharon Moalem has a Ph.D. in the emerging fields of neurogenetics and evolutionary medicine. His research has discovered a new genetic association for familial Alzheimer disease. He has also published on the adaptive advantages of the genetic mutations that cause Hemochromatosis. Previous to that he studied how bees make their own antibiotics when they get sick as well as how plants clean up a toxic waste by extracting metals from the soil.


History does not always receive a great deal of attention in the scientific disciplines, yet this book shows us exactly why it shouldn't be ignored, even in the more analytical areas of genetics and medicine. Moalem (Ph.D., neurogenetics & evolutionary medicine) uses numerous examples to show how analyzing history might help explain why a certain genetic trait that seems useless-even harmful-to us now made perfect sense in our ancestors' environment. He also introduces such recent research topics as host manipulation, noncoding DNA, and epigenetics. The particularly coherent writing style makes complex ideas accessible to people without a science background. With the book's emphasis on evolution's goals of survival and reproduction, readers will gain insights into why evolution may have selected for certain traits and why having that insight may better our lives. Highly recommended for general audiences. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/06.]-Tina Neville, Univ. of South Florida Lib., St. Petersburg Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Moalem, a medical student with a Ph.D. in neurogenetics, asks a number of provocative questions, such as why debilitating hereditary diseases persist in humans and why we suffer from the consequences of aging. His approach to these questions is solidly rooted in evolutionary theory, and he capably demonstrates that each disease confers a selective advantage to individuals who carry either one or two alleles for inherited diseases. But very little is new; the principles, if not every particular, that Moalem addresses have been covered in Randolph Nesse and George Williams's Why We Get Sick, among others. Whether he is discussing hemochromatosis (a disorder that causes massive amounts of iron to accumulate in individuals), diabetes or sickle cell anemia, his conclusion is always the same: each condition offers enough positive evolutionary advantages to offset the negative consequences, and this message is repeated over and over. Additionally, Moalem's endless puns and simple jokes wear thin, but his light style makes for easy reading for readers new to this subject. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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