From the Wall Street Journal:
Evolution, the theory goes, guarantees survival to the fittest. But we can blame evolution for some of today’s most pressing health problems, such as cancer, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
A 2009 Gallup poll found that 44% of Americans believe that God created human beings in their present form within the past 10,000 years. Many of them also think the human body is perfectly designed.
But most scientists—including biologists, anthropologists, paleontologists and geneticists—see the 21st century human body as a collection of compromises, jury-rigged by evolution as our ancestors adapted to changing conditions.
“In many ways, we are maladapted for modernity,” says Stephen Stearns, a Yale evolutionary biologist. He and others in the field are urging medical schools to include more evolutionary thinking when teaching doctors about modern diseases.
For example, the immune system was honed to fight off epidemics like malaria and cholera, which proliferated along with urbanization. According to the “hygiene hypothesis,” asthma and auto-immune diseases are increasing because the human immune system doesn’t face enough challenges in today’s cleaner environments and is picking fights with the body’s own systems instead.
The current epidemic of obesity also has prehistoric roots…
[continues in the Wall Street Journal]
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