Evolution and medicine

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Evolution and medicine

More and more researchers are calling for evolution to be included in medicine. They postulate that evolutionary biology is a fundamental basis for medicine and essential for understanding and treating modern diseases.

Evolution medicine in the media
The topic was recently taken up by the online magazine of the Heinz Heise publishing house from Hanover, Telepolis. Co-founder Florian Rötzler wrote with the subtitle “Despite or because of the advances in culture and medicine, evolution continues to influence human health in many ways” about the ideas and activities of American evolutionary researchers, who wrote about them in an article in the specialist magazine “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ”.

The magazine “Der Spiegel” also took up the topic in September 2009. On the cover of issue 40/09 there were various modern ways of life, such as sitting in front of the computer monitor, eating chips, etc. under the heading "Human misconstruction - why we are not made for the modern world". In the article itself, experts such as Stephen Stearns from Yale University and Harvard University, such as the biologist David Haig or the anthropologist Daniel Lieberman, had their say.

The topic is also taken up in the current issue of the science magazine “bild der Wissenschaft”. The Amish people who formerly emigrated from Germany in the USA live as they did 300 years ago and are currently the subjects of study by doctors.

Fundamentals and theories of evolutionary medicine A steadily growing number of anthropologists and physicians from various disciplines as well as biologists are concerned with so-called evolutionary medicine. “To blame” for this is certainly the rise in diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, Alzheimer's and the increased number of allergies. The evolutionists assume that a lifestyle that is diametrically opposed to the biological requirements of our body is the cause.

Studies like the one from the German Institute for Nutrition Research (DIfE) seem to confirm this: The DIfE had found that more exercise and a healthier diet (as in previous centuries) reduced the risk of certain diseases by 78 percent.

According to evolutionary researchers, the function of certain organs and the development of diseases can be viewed and treated quite differently through knowledge and understanding of evolutionary processes in medical professions.

“Our biology is the result of many evolutionary compromises. Understanding these stories and conflicts, "said Cambridge University anthropologist Professor Peter Ellisson," can really help the doctor understand why we get sick and what we should do to stay healthy. " Questions that evolution researchers raise are e.g. : How does high blood pressure occur so frequently or how antibiotic resistance occurs in pathogens (e.g. MRSA) or how does autism come about?

They suspect explanations for many complaints and problems today, e.g. in old age, an imbalance between cultural and biological development, unusual modern diets (e.g. high sugar intake) and massively reduced exercise.

In part, the demands of evolutionary medicine seem like a manifesto of naturopathy. One should better observe nature and follow development processes in order to better understand and treat the human organism. Furthermore, they believe that through the massive use of antibiotics and strong hygiene, critical situations are created for organisms living in symbiosis with us and thus ultimately also for us, which damage the necessary balance and the ability to compensate our organism.

Precise knowledge and consideration of such factors could show new ways in medicine in the prevention and treatment of complaints.

Opportunities for further development The background to most of the suggestions made by researchers regarding the use of evolutionary biology in medicine and disease prevention are the evolutionary theories of Darwin.

So it happens that the scientists from the universities of Harvard, Yale, Michigan and Boston come to conclusions that are certainly interesting in the approach, but are ultimately quite one-sided. Here it is important for the future to include other theories of evolution.

Because other theories of evolution such as the embryology and anatomy expert Dr. med. Jaap C. van der Wal or Joachim Bauer, the German doctor, molecular and neurobiologist and author of popular science books, could enrich the findings, but they could also appear in a different light and allow other conclusions to be drawn.

Van der Wal e.g. takes the view that resistance, not adaptation, leads to further development. He interprets the classic image from evolutionary lessons at school, where all embryos (pig, bird, reptile, human) are identical, completely differently. Because the human embryo stays upright while the other (the animal) "lie down". So it practically "stops".

Bauer takes the view that, even according to recent scientific findings, it is clear that it is not the egoism of a gene, but cooperation that leads to survival. In the anatomical structure of our gene structures, he says, those parts predominate that are not fixed but are geared towards reconstruction, constant change and cooperation.

The initiators of the article in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" and the colloquium in early April 2009 at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, around the Cambridge anthropologist Prof. Peter Ellison, the professor of evolutionary biology and ecology at the University of Yale Stephen C. Hopefully Stearns and the Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Michigan, Randolph M. Nesse, have given the starting signal for further ambitions and impulses in the direction of evolutionary medicine.

It is possible that the evolutionary medicine doctors will face headwinds from analytical scientists. But even from the perspective of naturopathy, not all ideas should be accepted and cheered uncritically.
An example: Evolutionists mention the connection with today's lifestyle and spinal column pain. Doctors and practitioners from the manual sector such as orthopedists, Rolfer, osteopaths, FDM practitioners, etc. have recently questioned the anatomical structure of the spine as a place of pain. It is discussed whether sitting too much leads to a step backwards in evolution back to the four-legged position. This can permanently shorten the hip flexor muscle, which in turn can trigger the problems. The findings of the biomechanical engineer Professor Serge Gracovetsky, after the coarse connective tissue plate of the back, the thoracolumbar fascia, takes on around 80 percent of the flexion work on the back, should also be incorporated here. Because presumably, people with a passive structure as a holding mechanism could effortlessly lean forward for centuries (e.g. field work). More recent evidence from the American researcher Helen M. Langevin, who found a thickening of the deepest layer of the thoracolumbar fascia in patients with back pain, seems to point in this direction. Researchers at Heidelberg University recently found that the top layer of this connective tissue again has the most pain fibers.

The reduction of the cause of the complaint to the spine alone and its lordosis-kyphosis relationships seems to be shortened. If the evolutionists really want more influence on the medical business and cooperation with individual branches, more differentiation is necessary in the individual cases, taking into account more recent findings.

Otherwise it is foreseeable that this division with its concern for the enrichment of medicine will run into a dead end in the form of its own dogmatism. (Thorsten Fischer, naturopath osteopathy, February 6th, 2010)

Author and source information

Video: Prof. Gillian Bentley - The Clinical Significance of Evolutionary Medicine


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