Survival Of The Sickest Essay

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Survival of the Sickest, by Dr. Sharon Moalem, is a book that reveals the origins of some modern diseases that beset us today. It explains how these sicknesses have been passed on for so many generations, and the impacts they have had on humanity, thus shedding a new light on them. By reading this book, much can be learned from the many different infections the author wrote about. However, hemochromatosis, diabetes, and progeria most exemplify how such terrible diseases worldwide could have provided evolutionary advantages for our ancestors.
Hemochromatosis, an inherited disease, is a condition in which the body produces excess iron thinking there isn’t enough iron in the intestines, even though there is. Typically, “when your body detects that it has sufficient iron in the blood, it reduces the amount of iron absorbed by your
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In addition, it was helpful to women since the extra iron prevented anemia, which let them reproduce more. These evolutionary advantages eventually lead to the disease spreading all throughout Northern and Western Europe. According to Dr. Moalem, research was done to prove these theories about the evolutionary advantage of hemochromatosis were correct. In one experiment, “macrophages from people who had hemochromatosis and macrophages from people who did not were matched against bacteria in separate dishes to test their killing ability. The hemochromatic macrophages crushed the bacteria—they are thought to be significantly better at combating bacteria by limiting the availability of iron than the nonhemochromatic macrophages,” (pages 13-14). This shows that by using the scientific method to set up an experiment, and test an idea, scientists were able to prove that Dr. Moalem’s theory on the evolutionary advantage of hemochromatosis is correct. Armand Trousseau first reported the disease in 1865, but until 1996 it was considered very uncommon. In 1996, the primary gene that causes the mutation was tested and soon scientists found out

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