Why Do We Get Sick? Evolutionary Medicine

Evolutionary medicine is a fairly new field of study that uses what we know about evolution to help us better understand, prevent, and treat disease. Studies on evolutionary medicine can focus on humans, apes, mice, bacteria or any other organism that might contribute to our knowledge of how evolution affects human health. EvMed studies can also focus on whole animals, cells, or molecules. Scientists are learning new things about the field every day. They are also writing about their discoveries. In most cases they publish in science magazines called journals, such as the Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health or the Public Library of Science

In our EvMed Edits section you will find stories that will help you read and explore these articles. If you're interested in diving even further into the world of the scientific article, check out our Anatomy of an Article story. We also have stories exploring articles across a broader range of biology in our PLOSable section.

Obese man measuring waist
Written by: 
Andrew Burchill
Whether you overeat or try to cut back, your body may be playing a strategic game based on the amount of energy you take in.
Can Stress Prolong Pregnancy?
Written by: 
Taylette Nunez

Nine months – that’s about the amount of time that healthy babies develop before they are born. But what if that nine months is a bit more flexible, and can change in response to the environment?

Cooperation in Cancer Cells
Written by: 
Mylan Blomquist
We study cooperation in humans a lot, but what about cooperation in... cancer? Learn how researchers are applying the same behavioral dilemmas experienced by people to the outcomes of cell cooperation.
Does Parental Age Matter?
Written by: 
Patrick McGurrin

You might think of your parents as being old, or being fairly young; maybe they are many years apart in age. Did you know that parental age may affect the likelihood that a child will develop a brain disorder? 

Does Past Experience Affect Depression?
Written by: 
Patrick McGurrin and Alex Biera

Depression affects millions of people worldwide yet anti-depressive medications only work on a handful of people who suffer from the disorder. By looking at depression through the lens of evolution, scientists may learn more about depression and how it can be treated.

Down the Drain: Hospital Sewage and Antibiotic Resistance
Written by: 
Tyler Quigley

Hospitals try to stay clean and reduce the spread of germs within their walls, but what happens when medicines and bacteria from the hospitals reach bacteria in the sewer?

Lower spine
Written by: 
Andrew Burchill
Humans can suffer from certain back problems in their old age, but other very similar animals don’t have the same issues. Why might this be the case?
Helminth eggs
Written by: 
Alex Biera

We are often taught that germs are bad, but what if exposure to germs or other microorganisms has long-term positive effects? Recent studies show that certain microbes in our environment might actually offer a protective effect against Alzheimer’s Disease.

Written by: 
Tyler Quigley

They say mother knows best; this may be especially true when it comes to moms sharing protective immune molecules with their babies.

Written by: 
Kimberly Olney

Does being born a son or a daughter mean your reproductive success might be different? In some societies, it does. 

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Illustration of a human heart
What Happens During a Heart Attack?

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