Survival of The Sickest: Book Summary

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 459 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Mar 16, 2024

Words: 459|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Mar 16, 2024

Survival of the Sickest, written by Dr. Sharon Moalem, explores the intriguing concept of how diseases and genetic mutations have shaped human evolution. The book delves into the idea that some diseases, like sickle cell anemia and hemochromatosis, may have actually provided an evolutionary advantage to humans in certain circumstances. Moalem argues that understanding the relationship between disease and evolution can provide valuable insights into our health and well-being. In this essay, we will summarize the key points of the book and analyze its implications for our understanding of human biology and evolution.

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One of the main themes in Survival of the Sickest is the idea that certain genetic mutations that cause diseases can actually confer a survival advantage in certain environments. For example, the gene responsible for sickle cell anemia, a potentially deadly disease, also provides protection against malaria. In regions where malaria is prevalent, individuals with the sickle cell trait have a higher chance of survival, leading to a higher frequency of the gene in the population. This concept challenges the traditional view of diseases as purely negative aspects of human biology and highlights the complex interplay between genetics, environment, and evolutionary pressures.

Another fascinating aspect of the book is the discussion of how certain diseases and genetic mutations may have shaped human evolution over time. For example, the ability to metabolize alcohol may have provided early humans with a competitive advantage, as it allowed them to consume fermented fruits and grains that were unavailable to other species. Similarly, lactose tolerance in adults may have been selected for in populations that domesticated dairy animals, providing a valuable source of nutrition in times of scarcity. These examples illustrate how diseases and genetic adaptations can influence human evolution in unexpected ways.

In some cases, diseases that were once deadly threats have become less prevalent or even beneficial in modern society. For example, the gene responsible for hemochromatosis, a condition that causes the body to absorb too much iron, may have provided protection against the bubonic plague in medieval Europe. As a result, individuals with this mutation were more likely to survive and pass on their genes to future generations. Understanding the evolutionary history of diseases like hemochromatosis can shed light on their current prevalence and impact on human health.

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Survival of the Sickest offers a thought-provoking perspective on the relationship between disease, genetics, and evolution. By exploring the ways in which diseases have shaped human biology and survival, the book challenges traditional notions of health and illness. By understanding the evolutionary origins of diseases, we can gain valuable insights into their impact on human populations and potential strategies for prevention and treatment. Overall, Survival of the Sickest provides a compelling argument for the importance of considering evolutionary principles in the study of human health and disease.

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Survival of the Sickest: Book Summary. (2024, March 15). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from
“Survival of the Sickest: Book Summary.” GradesFixer, 15 Mar. 2024,
Survival of the Sickest: Book Summary. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 May 2024].
Survival of the Sickest: Book Summary [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 15 [cited 2024 May 26]. Available from:
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