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It Takes a Genome: How a Clash Between Our Genes and Modern Life Is Making Us Sick

Book Description

Human beings have astonishing genetic vulnerabilities. More than half of us will die from complex diseases that trace directly to those vulnerabilities, and the modern world we’ve created places us at unprecedented risk from them. In It Takes a Genome, Greg Gibson posits a revolutionary new hypothesis: Our genome is out of equilibrium, both with itself and its environment. Simply put, our genes aren’t coping well with modern culture. Our bodies were never designed to subsist on fat and sugary foods; our immune systems weren’t designed for today’s clean, bland environments; our minds weren’t designed to process hard-edged, artificial electronic inputs from dawn ‘til midnight. And that’s why so many of us suffer from chronic diseases that barely touched our ancestors.

Gibson begins by revealing the stunningly complex ways in which multiple genes cooperate and interact to shape our bodies and influence our behaviors. Then, drawing on the very latest science, he explains the genetic “mismatches” that increasingly lead to cancer, diabetes, inflammatory and infectious diseases, AIDS, depression, and senility. He concludes with a look at the probable genetic variations in human psychology, sharing the evidence that traits like introversion and agreeableness are grounded in equally complex genetic interactions.

It Takes A Genome demolishes yesterday’s stale debates over “nature vs. nurture,” introducing a new view that is far more intriguing, and far closer to the truth.  

  •     See how broken genes cause cancer
    Meet the body’s “genetic repairmen”—and understand what happens when they fail

  • The growing price of the modern lifestyle
    Why one-third of all Westerners have obesity, Type 2 diabetes, or other signs of “metabolic syndrome”

  • The Alzheimer’s generation
    Why some of us are predisposed to dementia

  • What’s really normal: the deepest lessons of the human genome
    The remarkable diversity of physical and emotional “normality”

  • Table of Contents

    1. Copyright
    2. Praise for It Takes a Genome
    3. Preface: How a genetic culture clash with modern life is making us sick
    4. The adolescent genome
      1. Genetic Imperfection
      2. Unselfish Genes
      3. How Genes Work and Why they Come in Different Flavors
      4. Three Reasons Why Genes Might Make Us Sick
      5. A Unified Theory of Complex Disease
      6. The Human Genome Project
      7. Genomewide Association
    5. Breast cancer’s broken genes
      1. Cancer of the Breast
      2. Broken Genes, Broken Lives
      3. Epidemiology and Relative Risk
      4. Brakes, Accelerators, and Mechanics
      5. Familial Breast Cancer
      6. Growth Factors and the Risk to Populations
      7. Pharmacogenetics and Breast Cancer
      8. Why Do Genes Give us Cancer?
    6. Not so thrifty diabetes genes
      1. Jackie and Ella
      2. The Pathology of Diabetes
      3. Type 1 Diabetes
      4. An Epidemic Genetic Disease
      5. Genetics of Obesity
      6. Type 2 Diabetes
      7. Debunking the Thrifty Genes Hypothesis
      8. Disequilibrium and Metabolic Syndrome
    7. Unhealthy hygiene
      1. Athletic Asthmatics
      2. Inflammation and Respiration
      3. The Hygiene Hypothesis
      4. Asthma Epidemiology
      5. Genetics of Asthma
      6. Inflamed Bowels and Crohn’s Disease
      7. Rheumatoid Arthritis
      8. Imbalance of the Immune System
    8. Genetic AIDS
      1. AIDS and the World
      2. From HIV to AIDS
      3. Why HIV is so Nasty
      4. How to Resist a Virus with Your Genes
      5. HIV Imbalance
    9. Generating depression
      1. Creative Depression
      2. An Epidemic of Mood Swings
      3. Bipolar and Monopolar Disorders
      4. The Pharmacology of Despair
      5. Misbehaving Serotonin
      6. Faint Genetic Signals
      7. Schizophrenia and Other Mental Disturbances
      8. The Genetic Tightrope of the Mind
      9. A Kindling Theory in the Modern World
    10. The alzheimer’s generation
      1. Slow Walk to Dementia
      2. Alzheimer’s on the March
      3. Tangles and Plaques
      4. Early Onset FAD
      5. Late Onset LOAD
      6. Just Growing Old
    11. Genetic normality
      1. Height and Weight
      2. Pigmentation
      3. The God Gene
      4. A Few Words About IQ
      5. On Being Human
      6. The Adolescent Genome Revisited
    12. Notes
      1. Chapter 1
      2. Chapter 2
      3. Chapter 3
      4. Chapter 4
      5. Chapter 5
      6. Chapter 6
      7. Chapter 7
      8. Chapter 8
    13. About the author
    14. Index