How is Darwinian medicine useful?

The article, “How is Darwinian medicine useful?”, written by Randolph M Nesse caught my attention, because it emphasized the usefulness of evolutionary principles in medicine. I think it is appropriate to post a blog about this article, since it is very relevant to our course in understanding evolution in sickness and in human health.

Evolutionary medicine uses an evolutionary perspective to learn why our body is not perfect and why diseases exist in human population. The article lists main principles of Darwinian medicine for explanations to these questions. One of the examples that the paper mentioned is that the obesity and its associated problems arise because our body is not designed to live in the modern environment. Natural selection shaped human appetite regulation mechanism in order to survive the periods of famine based on the environment in the ancient times. Another example the author mentioned is the usefulness of human defense systems. Pain, nausea, cough, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, and anxiety are all common defense mechanisms. These are not problems of themselves but it is an attempt to cure a problem. In addition, the paper explores the reason why humans are vulnerable to certain diseases.  One main reason stated is that natural selection is a random process with no direction. Moreover, the purpose for the natural selection is not to make an organism either perfect or healthy, but to maximize reproduction.

The paper emphasizes that the evolutionary view offers a richer view of the human body as a product of natural selection. I agree with this statement, and I believe evolutionary medicine will advance our understanding of the pathogenesis of various diseases. In addition, health professionals will be able to find more effective treatments by understanding why people get the disease rather than by simply considering how they get the disease.

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