Series: Cambridge Studies in Biological and Evolutionary Anthropology Volume: 54
223 pages, Figs, tabs
As a group, western diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, allergies and mental health problems constitute one of the major problems facing humans at the beginning of the 21st century, particularly as they extend into poorer countries. An evolutionary perspective has much to offer standard biomedical understandings of western diseases. At the heart of this approach is the notion that human evolution occurred in circumstances very different from the modern affluent western environment and that, as a consequence, human biology is not adapted to the contemporary western environment.
Written with an anthropological perspective and aimed at advanced undergraduates and graduates taking courses in the ecology and evolution of disease, Tessa Pollard applies and extends this evolutionary perspective by analysing trends in rates of western diseases and providing a new synthesis of current understandings of evolutionary processes, and of the biology and epidemiology of disease.
'... a powerful and compelling evolutionary analysis of the 'diseases of civilisation', a stellar achievement ... every medical student, practitioner, and researcher in the field of human health should read it.' Peter T. Ellison, John Cowles Professor of Biological Anthropology, Harvard University '... a beautifully written, very up-to-date review of the most current information on the chronic illnesses that best modern peoples.' Daniel Brown, Professor of Anthropology and Coordinator of Research and Graduate Studies, University of Hawai'i at Hilo 'Pollard offers new ways to approach old problems and never shies away from pointing out the sometimes surprising gaps in our present knowledge. This is an excellent text for undergraduate and graduate students interested in public health, medical anthropology, reproductive ecology, biological anthropology, and/or evolutionary medicine.' Professor Lynnette Leidy Stewart, Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts Amherst '... Western Diseases persuades us that we can only understand health and disease in an evolutionary context.' American Scientist
1. Introduction; 2. An evolutionary history of human disease; 3. Obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease; 4. The thrifty genotype versus thrifty phenotype debate: efforts to explain between population variation in rates of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease; 5. Reproductive cancers; 6. Reproductive function, breastfeeding and the menopause; 7. Asthma and allergic disease; 8. Depression and stress; 9. Conclusion.
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Tessa Pollard graduated from Oxford University with degrees in Human Sciences and Biological Anthropology. She is currently a lecturer in Biological Anthropology at Durham University. She conducts research on risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes in western and westernising populations.