Body by Darwin
How Evolution Shapes Our Health and Transforms Medicine
In Body by Darwin, Taylor examines the evolutionary origins of some of our most common and serious health issues. To begin, he looks at the hygiene hypothesis, which argues that our obsession with anti-bacterial cleanliness, particularly at a young age, may be making us more vulnerable to autoimmune and allergic diseases. He also discusses diseases of the eye, the medical consequences of bipedalism as they relate to all those aches and pains in our backs and knees, the rise of Alzheimer’s disease, and how cancers become so malignant that they kill us despite the toxic chemotherapy we throw at them. Taylor explains why it helps to think about heart disease in relation to the demands of an ever-growing, dense, muscular pump that requires increasing amounts of nutrients, and he discusses how walking upright and giving birth to ever larger babies led to a problematic compromise in the design of the female spine and pelvis. Throughout, he not only explores the impact of evolution on human form and function, but he integrates science with stories from actual patients and doctors, closely examining the implications for our health.
As Taylor shows, evolutionary medicine allows us think about the human body and its adaptations in a completely new and productive way. By exploring how our body’s performance is shaped by its past, Body by Darwin draws powerful connections between our ancient human history and the future of potential medical advances that can harness this knowledge.
How the Hygiene Hypothesis Explains Allergies and Autoimmune Diseases
A FINE ROMANCE
How Evolutionary Theory Explains Infertility and Diseases of Pregnancy
THE DOWNSIDE OF UPRIGHT
The Relationship between Bipedalism and Orthopedic Illnesses
How Developmental Biology Cures Blindness and Rebuts Creationism
Why Cancer Is Almost Impossible to Cure
A PROBLEM WITH THE PLUMBING
Why the Evolution of Coronary Arteries Makes Us Prone to Heart Attacks
THREE SCORE YEARS—AND THEN?
How Evolution Is Breathing New Life into Moribund
Suggestions for Further Reading
Royal Society of Biology: Royal Society General Biology Book Prize