Survival of the Sickest – Sharon Moalem

A fascinating book with an underlying theme of how evolution drives certain patterns that appear counter-intuitive at first glance; this book will make you rethink things you always knew to be true, and some you wished you had known before.

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Each chapter can be read independently. Here is a sampler:

Bloodletting may be a cure: germs thrive on iron, and decreasing iron in the body helps fight the infection.

Fava beans damage red blood cells in people with a specific gene variant. This gene variant is common in several populations, but these same people cultivate Fava beans in the first place. The link? protection against malaria.

Epigenetics: It’s Nature and Nurture, apparently. to the extent that a pregnant woman on junk food can cause her grand-daughter to have higher risk of obesity and diabetes! Nutrition levels in the mother even at time of conception have a marked effect on the development of the baby.

A lot of our DNA actually comes from ancient (and recent) viruses. The good news is, at least some of this DNA is useful to humans.

  1. Survival of the Sickest by Sharon Moalem, 2007, HarperCollins Publishers
  2. Thanks to Dr. Prasad Agashe for lending me a copy of this book!
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