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Friday, March 02, 2007

Food for the brain... and the body too...

Carl Zimmer points out an interesting review on Nature Reviews Cancer - abstract follows:

Darwinian medicine: a case for cancer

Mel Greaves

Epidemiological, genetic and molecular biological studies have collectively provided us with a rich source of data that underpins our current understanding of the aetiology and molecular pathogenesis of cancer. But this perspective focuses on proximate mechanisms, and does not provide an adequate explanation for the prevalence of tumours and cancer in animal species or what seems to be the striking vulnerability of Homo sapiens. The central precept of Darwinian medicine is that vulnerability to cancer, and other major diseases, arises at least in part as a consequence of the 'design' limitations, compromises and trade-offs that characterize evolutionary processes.

te last two sentences (about human vulnerability to cancer and Zimmer comments on genomic conflicts (Some important cancer genes appear to have rapidly evolved because they help sperm reproduce faster or allow fetuses to manipulate their mothers. It appears that these genes also make tumors more sucessful.) got me thinking...

So, we're more susceptible than normal to cancer because we've been evolving quicker than normal in the recent past? If so, when did this start? Since our environment has been kind of stable in the last thousands of year (ok, ice ages apart), is our evolution accelerating as a response to the increased demands of our social environment? So, is our evolution accelerating exponentially to follow the accumulation of knowledge (which certainly seems to be exponential)?

Uhm, lots of food for thought here.. have a nice evening...

gotta cook some pasta - otherwise my brain will run out of his preferred food :-)

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