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Lec 23 - Evolutionary Medicine - Lecture Outcomes

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Western University
Biology 1001A
Tom Haffie

Tanya Malhotra Lecture 23 – Evolutionary Medicine – Lecture Outcomes 1. Examples of relevance of evolutionary principles to human health  Pathogens evolve o Evolve resistance to drugs and vaccines o We can change ecology of pathogens to steer evolution in order to favour less harmful forms  Traces of evolutionary history affect our health o Types of selection pressures we are historically adapted to are different from modern day/ what we are used to now  Trade-offs between competing demands o Why selection doesn’t result in things becoming perfectly adapted?  Because of competing demands  E.g. long tailed birds = more sexually attractive to females but have a harder time escaping predators/ flying  Symptoms may be defenses, not defects o Unpleasant or uncomfortable but may have historically been defenses against disease 2. Trends in incidence of infectious vs. Autoimmune disorders with respect gdp  Infectious diseases have decreased in developed nations due to o Better hygiene/sanitation o Vaccines o Better understanding about disease transmission  Autoimmune diseases have increased because o Body’s immune system attacks itself or overreacts to mild stimulants o These disorders are happening at higher rates in wealthy countries (with high GDP) 3. Evolutionary basis of diseases of civilization  Disorders that arise because of mismatch between current environment and ancestral environment (environment to which we are best adapted)  Ancestors = risk of starvation  Current environment = risk of morbid obesity  We never evolved in an environment where fat was so readily available  Metabolic disorders are a disease of civilization because sweet tooth and storage of fat are historical adaptations that are no longer necessary  Myopia is another disease of civilization o Historically myopia affected ability to hunt and a
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