By Wendel Sloan
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.
• 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.
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