Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Jamie Jabber 79 - Keeping Disease Alive


  1. Sorry I didn't comment earlier.

    As a chemist, this post hits pretty close to home. My chosen calling is to develop molecules and methods to fight disease and prolong life.

    There are examples of diseases that do not strike until later in life, after someone has already passed on their genes. Examples include Huntington's and Alzheimer's diseases. In these sorts of late onset diseases, the victims would pass on the disorder even without the help of modern medicine.

    Genetic disorders that have early onset and are truly debilitating, are often not passed on. The first two examples I think of are cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia. The victims of these disorders more often then not, do not mate and pass on their genes. Even if they did, the chances of their child having the disorder are high, but not much over 50%.

    I think of modern medicine as molecular warfare against other organisms such as flu, TB, malaria, HIV and of course, cancer. Before penicillin soldiers were as likely to die off the battlefield, as a result of infected wounds, as on it. Other success stories of medicine include small pox, polio and flu.

    I think the bad genes that are passed on through access to modern medicine are minimal compared to the people saved from acute illnesses.

  2. Wow... this has crossed my mind in less depth, but is still tough to listen to. But, an interesting concept when you take the faces and relationships out of it.

    I have to wonder though. I've faced a lot of said disease in my few 26 years and have to question how many people would be left to reproduce if we weeded out everyone with something wrong with them. And if you have to choose a level at which to start cutting people off, what criteria do you choose?

    And yeah, it's also important to remember that a lot of disease today is likely caused by our enviornment. Nobody in my family - traced at least 20 generations back - has MS, for example. They believe a lot of cancers are caused by enviornment too. And just from my personal experience, I know my body has gotten a LOT healthier just from eating a vegan diet. If we're talking all of that into consideration, we're not only selecting for genetics, but also lifestyle choices and environmental factors that are probably outside most people's control and even awareness.

    Interesting stuff though, Jamie, I can always count on you.