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Western Diseases
An Evolutionary Perspective

$167.00 (P)

Part of Cambridge Studies in Biological and Evolutionary Anthropology

  • Date Published: June 2008
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521851800

$ 167.00 (P)

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About the Authors
  • As a group, western diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, allergies and mental health problems constitute one of the major problems facing humans at the beginning of the 21st century, particularly as they extend into poorer countries. An evolutionary perspective has much to offer standard biomedical understandings of western diseases. At the heart of this approach is the notion that human evolution occurred in circumstances very different from the modern affluent western environment and that, as a consequence, human biology is not adapted to the contemporary western environment. Written with an anthropological perspective and aimed at advanced undergraduates and graduates taking courses in the ecology and evolution of disease, Tessa Pollard applies and extends this evolutionary perspective by analysing trends in rates of western diseases and providing a new synthesis of current understandings of evolutionary processes, and of the biology and epidemiology of disease.

    • Only scholarly treatment of this topic to have been published in the last 20 years
    • Synthesises advances in evolutionary theory and in epidemiological understanding of the most important diseases, other than HIV/AIDS, facing humans today
    • Ends with an assessment of the future of western diseases, showing how poorer populations around the world are on the brink of an epidemic with huge consequences for human health
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "Throughout our history as a species, our biology and our cultural practices have adapted to changing environments, and that process is ongoing. Still, Western Diseases persuades us that we can only understand health and disease in an evolutionary context. Alas, it also reminds us that you can't fool Mother Nature--or Papa Evolution."
    Robert Dorit, American Scientist

    "Pollard's book should serve as a good introduction to this field, drawing the attention of a wider readership to the evils, one hopes not inevitably necessary, of progress."
    Mark Hanson, The Quarterly Review of Biology

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2008
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521851800
    • length: 236 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 14 x 152 mm
    • weight: 0.49kg
    • contains: 21 b/w illus. 4 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. An evolutionary history of human disease
    3. Obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease
    4. The thrifty genotype versus thrifty phenotype debate: efforts to explain between population variation in rates of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease
    5. Reproductive cancers
    6. Reproductive function, breastfeeding and the menopause
    7. Asthma and allergic disease
    8. Depression and stress
    9. Conclusion.

  • Resources for

    Western Diseases

    Tessa M. Pollard

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  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Anthropology and Global Health; Human Biology
    • Diseases and Human Evolution
    • Evolutionary Medicine
    • Human Biological Variation
    • Topics in Biological Anthropology: Evolutionary Medicine
  • Author

    Tessa M. Pollard, University of Durham
    Tessa Pollard graduated from the University of Oxford with degrees in Human Sciences and Biological Anthropology. She is currently a lecturer in Biological Anthropology at Durham University. She conducts research on risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes in western and westernising populations.

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