The following is an edited excerpt.
Type 2 diabetes is a major public health crisis in the United States and around the world. The current epidemic is attributed to unhealthy lifestyles, obesity and lack of exercise, but if it’s so clearly damaging to health, shouldn’t the genetic variants for the disease have been removed from the human population by natural selection long ago?
Laure Ségurel, currently a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Human Genetics, wanted to find out if type 2 diabetes variants were beneficial in the past, leading to their increased transmission from generation to generation.
In a study published in the European Journal of Human Genetics, she and her colleagues did a genetic analysis of two populations from central Asia, a group of Kyrgyz herders and one of Tajik farmers. Using this data, they were able to show that the genetic variants associated with the risk for diabetes weren’t the ones being selected in humans. Instead it was the variants providing a protective effect in regard to type 2 diabetes that happen to be favored by evolution.
Read the full article here: How Type 2 Diabetes Survived Evolution