Reading gives me such a rush

Wendel Sloan

Wendel Sloan

By Wendel Sloan

Local columnist

When I occasionally turn off the TV and computer and open a book, a strange jolt surges through my brain.
Granted, there are no opera-singing cats, graphics comparing Hillary to Hitler, or a bachelor making out with 25 women on 25 first dates, but the endorphin rush makes electronic entertainment seem stupefyingly monochrome.

Example: I recently finished “Survival of the Sickest” by Dr. Sharon Moalem. The basic premise is some diseases evolved to protect ancestors from more lethal ones. The protective diseases still eventually killed — but gave humans time to reproduce.
Cases in point: Having one copy (two copies is deadly) of the cystic fibrosis gene offered protection from tuberculosis. Because of iron-deficient macrophages (white blood cells), hemochromatosis protected from the plague. Because sugar is an anti-freeze, diabetes protected from fatal freezing during ice ages.
The problem is when the more immediately deadly diseases subside, the protective diseases still remain and kill.

Other tidbits:
• Our immune systems have a million-plus different antibodies.
• Because of their increased iron, healthy men were more vulnerable to the plague than malnourished children.
• Cholesterol levels are higher in winter because increased summer sun converts more to Vitamin D.
• Human skin color is related to the amount of sun a population is exposed to over long periods.
• Despite limited sunlight, the sub-arctic, dark-skinned Inuit are an exception to the rule because they eat so much Vitamin D-rich fatty fish they only need limited ultraviolet exposure to make Vitamin D.
• Formerly parasitic bacteria evolved a mutually beneficial relationship with our evolutionary predecessors and became part of our DNA.
• During times of crisis, birth rates skew female. After great conflicts, such as world wars, the male birth rate goes up.
• The vast majority of women giving birth in water need no painkillers, or widening-incisions to prevent tearing, and there is no danger of babies inhaling water because they don’t breathe until they feel air on their faces.
“Hoarders” is coming on.
Later.

Contact Wendel Sloan at:
wendel.sloan@yahoo.com