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Evolution Applied to Human Health and Medicine Essay

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Evolution is defined as a gradual process in which organisms become better adapted to their environment through gradual changes that occur from generation to generation. Throughout the history of life, the human species has changed to become better suited to the environment. All of the changes have ultimately resulted from mutations, which occur at the gene level. Pathogens such as bacteria or viruses that live inside of our cells have had a major influence upon our evolution (Parks, Panelli & Weinstein, 2003). Pathogens have affected our evolution in two major ways, which I will focus on: antibiotic resistance and virulence. Virulence has also changed in regards to ways of reproduction and establishing a higher rate of fitness. Other than pathogens, the human body has evolved to develop processes in which the cells are better protected (Parks, Panelli & Weinstein, 2003). These processes are referred to as the defense mechanisms, or immune system. Due to the ongoing change in human health and medicine, evolution has been selective to provide the human species with a higher level of fitness.
At the cellular level, genes are made of DNA, which is the genetic blueprint for growth and development. When DNA is replicated and undergoes cell division, there may be errors, known as mutations that occur. After multiple generations of offspring are produced, eventually the mutations will change enough to show a new distinguishable trait such as disease or a particular disorder (Ovchinnikov, Rubin & Swergold, 2002). If the same genes are passed on and carry the traits for a particular disorder, then fitness of the host will be lowered, because of the impact of a certain disease. An example would be cystic fibrosis, which develops ...


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...ca, 88(10), 4270-4274.
Madigan, M., & Martinko, J. (2006). Brock biology of microorganisms. (11 ed.). New York, NY.
McDade, T. (2005). The ecologies of human immune function. Annual review of anthropology, 34, 495-521.
Ovchinnikov, I., Rubin, A., & Swergold, G. (2002). Tracing the lines of human evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 99(16), 10522-10527.
Parkes, M., Panelli, R., & Weinstein, P. (2003). Converging paradigms for environmental health theory and practice. Environmental health perspectives, 111(5), 669-675.
Futuyma, D. (2009). Evolution. (2 ed., pp. 421-424). Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, Inc.
Willard, H., Angrist, M., & Ginsburg, G. (2005). Genomic medicine: Genetic variation and its impact on the future of health care. Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences, 360(1460), 1543-1550.


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