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Evolving Health: The Origins of Illness and How the Modern World Is Making Us Sick

ISBN: 978-0-471-35261-7
256 pages
April 2002
Evolving Health: The Origins of Illness and How the Modern World Is Making Us Sick (0471352616) cover image


Human illnesses can be understood as damage to those adaptations that we took on at various stages in our evolution from pre-life molecules to modern Homo sapiens. Preventing these illnesses entails avoiding what causes the damage-- which too frequently are the everyday hazards of twenty-first-century life, as the chart below shows:

Level of Evolution

Cause of adaptive failure

resulting disease or problem


Environmental poisons

Certain birth defects

Single cell (bacteria and amoeba-like)

Viral infection


Morula (sponge-like)

Cellular stress



Physical stress

Back pain


Excess dietary salt

Hypertension/heart disease


Tobacco smoke

Lung cancer/emphysema

Lower primate

Excess dietary sugar

Diabetes mellitus

Higher primate

Vitamin C deficiency



Excess dietary protein


Homo sapiens

Reduced dietary variety

Nutritionaldiseases/food allergies
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Table of Contents

List of Tables.



1. Achieving Adaptive Normality, Your EvolutionaryBirthright.

2. How Our Health Evolved.

3. An Evolutionary Child s Birthright:Perinatal and Pediatric Diseases.

4. The Virus War.

5. Cellular Stress: A General Model for Cancer.

6. Breast Cancer, Prostate Diseases, and Cancersof the Reproductive System.

7. Heart Disease and High Blood Pressure:A Story of Fish and Chips.

8. Why We Smoke.

9. Diabetes Mellitus and the Thrifty Genotype .

10. Gout, Liver Enzymes, and Global Climate Change.

11. Back Pain, Bad Knees, and Flatfeet.

12. Gut Diseases.

13. The Evolution of Psychiatric Disorders.

14. Uncivilized Solutions: ReestablishingAdaptive Normality in Your Life.


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Author Information

NOEL BOAZ, Ph.D., Biological Anthropologist, is the founder and Director of the International Institute for Human Evolutionary Research and Professor of Anatomy at Ross University School of Medicine. He is the author of more than fifty scientific papers, the leading textbook in biological anthropology, and two popular science books, Quarry and Eco Homo.
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"...many of the book's points are excellent and would yield delight if effectively delivered to the public and to the clinicla specialists...a gem..."(human-nature.com, 11 June 2002)

"...rich in facts and good quality high-fibre solid information..." (Evolving Health Focus, August 2002)
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