Survival Of The Sickest By Sharon Moalem

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The process of natural selection makes it so organisms with characteristics further suitable to their environment outlive and reproduce more than those with less suitable characteristics. This process helps ensure that each generation becomes increasingly adapted to their surroundings so that they can ultimately live longer and increase population sizes. At first glance, diseases are the exception to this principle since they seem to be unfavorable attributes that have somehow continued to pass down the generations. But what if each disease has actually contributed to human survival at some point in time? This is Dr. Sharon Moalem’s exact notion in his book “Survival of the Sickest”. Dr. Moalem discusses multiple illnesses in his book, however, …show more content…
The illness attacks the circulatory system because it causes red blood cells in the blood to burst. There are no symptoms of the disease until the organism comes into contact with free radicals, but if when it does the person may experience abdominal pain, fever, and fatigue. Favism was first detailed hundreds of years ago in Ancient Greece, where many believed that fava beans, a common trigger for favism, contained the souls of the dead and resembled the gates of hell. It was officially discovered in the 1950’s during the Korean War, where many soldiers developed anemia and fell ill after taking malaria medication containing free radicals. Favism is the most common enzyme deficiency in the world and around 400 million people carry the gene. Diagnosis for the disease was simply if you had a negative reaction to favism triggers, such as alcohol. The treatment was also very simple, patients were simply told to avoid foods or other substances that could cause free radicals to form. Favism did not have a major influence on society because it was relatively straightforward to manage and most people didn’t even realize they had it. Favism gave and continues to give an advantage at this point in time by preventing people from contracting malaria. Because people with favism lack the G6PD enzyme to …show more content…
Sharon Moalem discusses the concept that all diseases actually contribute to human survival in some way, in his book “Survival of the Sickest”. The diseases that stood out to me in the book were hemochromatosis, diabetes, and favism, for multiple reasons. The text has reoriented my perspective on illness and inheritance, and I have learned many things about evolution. For example, natural selection chooses traits that could potentially kill you someday because they can help save your life today. I have also learned that the effectiveness of some medical practices is dependent on what the patient is being treated for. Moreover, I now think that diseases are more scientifically understandable and served a purpose at some point in history. I have learned that geographic location and lifestyle can change how illnesses impact you. Finally, I now understand that as evolution occurs, the traits that improve life for one species can hurt the population of another species. I learned that many of the traits we inherit are multi-dimensional. Comprehensively, Dr. Moalem had made me realize that in order to make scientific discoveries, we cannot be close minded and we cannot let our preconceived notions get in the way of our collective research as a

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