Evolution is the single most important idea in modern biology, shedding light on virtually every biological question, from the shape of orchid blossoms to the distribution of species across the planet. Until recently, however, the theory has had little impact on medical research or practice. Evolutionary Medicine shows how this is beginning to change.
Collecting work from leaders in the field, this volume describes an array of new and innovative approaches to human health that are based on an appreciation of our long evolutionary history. For example, it shows how evolution helps to explain the complex relationship between our immune systems and the virulence and transmission of human viruses. It also shows how comparisons between how we live today and how our hunter-gatherer ancestors lived thousands of years ago illuminate a variety of contemporary ills, including obesity, lower-back pain, and insomnia.
Evolutionary Medicine covers issues at every stage of life, from infancy (colic, jaundice, SIDS, parent-infant sleep struggles, ear infections, breast-feeding, asthma) to adulthood (sexually transmitted diseases, depression, overeating, addictions, child abuse, cardiovascular disease, breast and ovarian cancer) to old age (osteoporosis, geriatric sleep problems). Written for a wide range of students and researchers in medicine, anthropology, and psychology, it is an invaluable guide to this rapidly developing field.
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Wenda Trevathan is at New Mexico State University. James J. McKenna is at University of Notre Dame.Review:
"Evolutionary medicine is a new, interdisciplinary field that brings together physicians, biologists, anthropologists, psychologists, and others to address questions about the evolutionary origins of many medical problems facing modern humans. The primary goal of the discipline is to compare modern human environments and behaviors with the conditions under which humans evolved to determine the extent to which medical conditions of the present may be a consequence of adaptation to different conditions of the past. . . . Evolutionary Medicine provides readers with a well-balanced and broad overview of the kinds of research being done in the area. . . . The book is primarily a reader in evolutionary medicine ... and ... a good introduction to a new field. . . . [A]nyone interested in learning more about how evolutionary theory is being used to gain insights into medical problems will find much in the volume to stimulate their creative juices."--Journal of the American Medical Association
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