Evolution has worked to improve the genetic foundations of our health for millions of years now but new research suggests that things may be reversing and that might spell bad news for modern humans in the modern world. The study was conducted by the Georgia Institute of Technology recently.
Human evolution has worked to weed out genetic variants that are associated with diseases and it’s worked to promote variants that protect us against certain diseases according to this new study which was a comparative genetics study. However, for some odd reason over the past 500 to 1000 years it appears things have reversed. For example, the study has concluded that cardiovascular problems were much more common in our ancient human ancestors than they are today. What this means is that some diseases may be on the rise in modern humans and especially in terms of mental health.
Large populations are better able to purge disease causing gene variants and today with the human population near 7 billion people that is happening but still for some reason it appears this trend has been reversing over the past 500-1000 years. The study also found that Neanderthals and Denisovans had a lot more alleles (genetic variants) that promoted disease than we do today including heart disease. Over the course of time things got better and the variants for such widespread diseases were apparently weeded out as protective alleles rose. Continue Reading
Hypertrichosis seen in a young man
I got an email a while back and this post is in answer to that email but first here is the email with the name changed to protect the reader:
Dear Dr. Peron:
I realize you are an anthropologist and not a medical doctor but do you know anything about excessive body hair growth at birth? If so, can you put up a post about it? Here’s why I am asking you this question.
When I was born I had a reddish “fur” all over my newborn body. Probably it was hair but my grandparents described it as “fur” like that seen in a little monkey or puppy. I also had a projecting jaw that was corrected by orthodontics when I was about 13 years old, thankfully. I also had a somewhat flat nose and pointed ears. In fact, my grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. said I looked more like a ” baby ape” than a “human baby.” I lost the “fur” during the first few years of my life but retained a colorless hair type all over my body which kind of shines like a blond color when I am in the sun. I know this might all sound freaky but my family is reluctant to talk about this and my mother gets very angry and absolutely refuses to discuss it whenever I bring it up. Additionally, when my father arrived at the hospital (he was off somewhere and had to travel) he took one look at me and angrily said, “That’s not my son!” and stormed out of the hospital never to return. Needless to say he and I did not have a very good relationship when he was alive, unfortunately. I just want to know if you’ve ever heard of anything like this and if you can post a bit about it if you have.
Miguel I’m not claiming to be an expert in this subject but here are some things that might aid in your understanding of this phenomena. Also, note that things like this DO happen so you are NOT alone.
Before I begin let me define a few terms. First is the term “atavism.” An “atavism” is a term used in biology to describe an “evolutionary throwback.” Traits appear in a species or individual that have generally disappeared generations before. Atavisms can occur in several ways. One way, and the most common, is when genes for previously existing phenotypical features are preserved in DNA and they become expressed through a mutation that knocks out the overriding genes for the new traits OR makes the old traits override the new one(s). A number of traits can vary as a result of shortening of fetal development of a trait (neoteny) OR by prolonging of it (neoteny). In such a case a shift in the time a trait is allowed to develop before it is fixed can bring about an ancestral phenotype. I do not wish to insult you so please do not take what I’m writing that way. What you are describing comes closest to the ancient human ancestor species known as Homo habilis (aka: Tool Man, Handyman, et al) minus the heavy brow ridge. This species existed roughly between 2.1–1.5 mya. That in my mind is significant and if you have any pictures of you as a newborn with this condition I would be HIGHLY interested in taking a look at them. Continue Reading
A few new studies appear today that I find highly interesting. The first concerns a study from the University of Toronto that shows too much structured knowledge hurts creativity and, frankly, I couldn’t agree more. Of course structure helps us organize our activities throughout the day and it helps us to understand the world around us BUT it can also kill creativity! Structure tends to box us in and we might want to try thinking “out of the box” more. This leads me back to “everything in moderation” as it appears from the finds of this study too much of a good thing (structure) is not good when it comes to creativity. I’ve seen this over and over again. We are indoctrinated in our education and tend to then wear blinders as if we are looking through a tunnel (tunnel vision). We can see what’s in the tunnel before us but not what is on the sides of the tunnel. This increase in structure explains why creativity has gone down in modern society and education today. You’ll find the study results at the link below.
Another study focuses on aging and DNA repair. This study comes from the Harvard Medical School. They found that as we age the body has a harder time repairing DNA which causes cell demise (body degeneration) and greater susceptibility to cancers and other diseases. This study also shows that treatment with the NAD precursor NMN mitigates age-related DNA damage and “wards off DNA damage from radiation exposure. This study is significant because it helps us understand the aging process better and may help us come up with better anti-aging strategies or at least help us battle age-related diseases.
The final study comes from John Hopkins Medical School. This study found that most cancer mutations are due to random DNA copying errors. They found that at least 2/3 of these mutations cause cancers. Each times a cell divides and copies its DNA it produces two new cells and sometimes it makes several mistakes. These copy mistakes foster cancer mutations that science has underestimated in the past. Of course, environmental factors such as smoking also cause cancers but researchers have mostly been at a loss to explain why people who don’t smoke and seem to do everything right still get cancer. These DNA copy mistakes could very well be the reason! The bad news to all this is that even in people who do everything right and still get cancer it seems there is no stopping it as it is caused by these DNA copy errors. More research is needed into this and as soon as possible I’d say! Hmmm….let me guess….we’ll blame it on our Neanderthal bad genes???? 🙂
Creativity Study: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170322152736.htm
DNA and Aging Study: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170323150518.htm
Cancer Study: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170323141403.htm
You might not realize it but food was the very first medicine used by ancient human ancestors. Over time ancient people learned that certain foods help certain conditions and our ancient ancestors began to build a knowledge base that was soon passed down from one generation to another. The keepers of this healing knowledge were called by many names but I prefer the term “shaman.” As time continued these ancient shamans continued to build on their knowledge base by figuring out which foods and which herbs helped which conditions. And, again, this knowledge was passed down to the next generation of shamans.
Sadly, today we have come to depend on modern medicine which produces chemical drugs for anything and everything that ails us but, often, with some very significant and even dangerous side effects. For example, I don’t know about you but for me I’m not willing to get “perfect skin” at the risk of also developing heart problems or seizure disorders. Frankly, when I see these drug commercials on TV and listen to the side effects it’s rather frightening. What many of us today don’t realize is that there are alternatives and these alternatives don’t have these dangerous side effect BUT they take longer to work as they don’t deliver “instantly.”
I came across a commercial on the Internet last week hosted by an inventor who is also an attorney. I guess he suffered from thinning hair since his early 20s and he had tried on the latest products for his condition including Rogaine among others. During his infomercial he admitted that these products did nothing! He said they were a waste of money and a waste of his time. Continue Reading
Researchers at McMaster University have identified a gene that can lead to sudden death in young people and athletes. The gene has been identified as CDH2. McMaster researchers believe it causes arrhymogenic right ventricle cardiomyopathy (ARVC) which is a genetic disorder that predisposes some people to heart attacks and is a major cause of unexpected and even early death in youth and athletes that appear to be very healthy.
The study results are a culmination by an international team that began 15 years ago. This is an answer for parents and families that have had a youth die suddenly from cardiac arrest.
Apparently, in these youth gene CDH2 has a mutation contained within which is the underlying culprit! Discovery of this will now help doctors and researchers design preventative measures in at risk youth and athletes. When researchers say “young people” they are referring to people under age 25. This new finding also will help make early detection possible.
The findings of this 15 year study are fantastic in my opinion as it identifies a genetic factor behind cardiac arrest in young people who appear healthy. It also will provide some closure to families who have lost a young loved one due to cardiac arrest. There are several more details of the study and findings at the below link well worth reading.
Oh…one last thought…..I wonder if they’ll blame this “bad gene” on our Neanderthal ancestors too. Seems the trend is now to blame all of our “bad genes” on our Neanderthal ancestors. Why it’s almost as if Homo sapiens originally had nothing but “good genes” isn’t it? LOL somehow I just don’t believe that.
For more on this study see:
A new evolutionary genetic study at the University of Arizona in Tucson confirms theories that HIV and AIDS started in New York City around 1970 and it also clears the name of the alleged culprit who was a gay flight attendant and who has been vilified as “Patient 0.” The research was done using frozen blood taken from patients years before HIV and AIDS was recognized. They then extracted genetic material and analyzed it.
According to this newest research AIDS was circulating widely during the 1970s and way BEFORE people took notice of the so-called “gay plague” in NYC in the 1980s. Researchers now believe AIDS entered the USA around 1970 or 1971 according to researcher Michael Worobey of the U of A in Tucson, Arizona an expert in the evolution of viruses.
HIV apparently had spread to a large number of people before AIDS was noticed and the new study also suggests HIV spread from NYC to San Francisco around 1976. NYC acted as a first hub for the disease. The study also confirms widespread theories that HIV first jumped from apes in Africa to humans in Africa around the beginning of the 20th century circulating in Central Africa before spreading to the Caribbean in the 1960s. Continue Reading