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Harmful gene mutations may have kept us alive in untamed wilderness

| January 3, 2017

[C]ould a genetic mutation…that puts populations at risk for illnesses in one environmental setting manifest itself in positive ways in a different setting?

 

The goal of this study…was to reexamine the potentially detrimental effects of the globally-present ApoE4 allele in environmental conditions more typical of those experienced throughout our species’ existence — in this case, a community of Amazonian forager-horticulturalists called the Tsimane.

[O]ne might expect Tsimane ApoE4 carriers who also have a high parasite burden to experience faster and more severe mental decline in the presence of both these genetic and environmental risk factors…[However, researchers] discovered the exact opposite.

In fact, Tsimane who both carried ApoE4 and had a high parasitic burden displayed steadier or even improved cognitive function in the assessment versus non-carriers with a similar level of parasitic exposure.

“It seems that some of the very genetic mutations that help us succeed in more hazardous time periods and environments may actually become mismatched in our relatively safe and sterile post-industrial lifestyles,” [explains Ben Trumble, an assistant professor at Arizona State University’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change.]

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Ancient DNA can both diminish and defend modern minds

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Click the link above to read the full, original article.
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