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Early Cities Spurred Evolution of Immune System? [ "Amazing" DNA results show benefits ]
National Geographic News ^ | November 8, 2010 | Matt Kaplan

Posted on 11/12/2010 9:03:42 PM PST by SunkenCiv

As in cities today, the earliest towns helped expose their inhabitants to inordinate opportunities for infection -- and today their descendants are stronger for it, a new study says.

"If cities increase the amount of disease people are exposed to, shouldn't they also, over time, make them natural places for disease resistance to evolve?" asked study co-author Mark Thomas, a biologist at University College London... study co-author Ian Barnes, a molecular paleobiologist at University College London, screened DNA samples from 17 groups long associated with particular regions of Europe, Asia, and Africa -- for example Anatolian Turks and the southern Sudanese.

Barnes analyzed the DNA samples for a gene associated with resistance to tuberculosis (TB) and suspected of being associated with resistance to leprosy as well as to leishmaniasis, a reaction to sand fly bites, and to Kawasaki disease, a childhood ailment that involves inflamed blood vessels and can lead to heart disease...

In areas of ancient urbanization, it turned out, "we found very high frequency" for the TB-resistance gene, study co-author Thomas said. But, for example, "the Saami people from northern Scandinavia and the Malawi people from Africa, who have little history of urban living, did not have this frequency.

...said epidemiologist Andrew Read... "That it took the rise of disease-ridden cities to cause this resistant gene to become common suggests to me that there must be a cost to having it -- or else it would have been common in the first place," said Read, of Pennsylvania State University, who wasn't involved in the new study... And while it may be small consolation to the allergic and arthritic, having those disorders, Read said, might be a small price to pay for avoiding death by tuberculosis.

(Excerpt) Read more at news.nationalgeographic.com ...


TOPICS: Health/Medicine; History; Science; Society; Travel
KEYWORDS: cities; dna; early; emptydna; evolution; godsgravesglyphs; harappan; immune; mtdna; spurred; system; tuberculosis
Workers excavate a culvert at the circa-2725 B.C. site of the Harappa settlement in Pakistan (file photo; Photograph by Randy Olson, National Geographic)

Early Cities Spurred Evolution of Immune System?

1 posted on 11/12/2010 9:03:49 PM PST by SunkenCiv
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To: martin_fierro; neverdem; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 1010RD; 21twelve; 24Karet; ...

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2 posted on 11/12/2010 9:05:36 PM PST by SunkenCiv (The 2nd Amendment follows right behind the 1st because some people are hard of hearing.)
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To: SunkenCiv

People are similar to bacteria in one sense, i.e. there are always a few in any population who are naturally immune to certain things, therefore they don’t really “evolve”. It is just the naturally disease resistant people who propagate.


3 posted on 11/12/2010 9:13:24 PM PST by Blood of Tyrants (Islam is the religion of Satan and Mohammed was his minion.)
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To: SunkenCiv

So... we are the result of our environment.


4 posted on 11/12/2010 9:26:46 PM PST by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
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To: SunkenCiv
That, I believe, is a corbel arch, the less efficient predecessor of the Roman arch. Can someone with with architectural training weigh in on this?
5 posted on 11/12/2010 9:27:58 PM PST by PUGACHEV
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To: SunkenCiv

I disagree with this thesis.

Most communicable diseases to which humans are susceptable are contracted from domesticated animals. Hence areas of the world where domesticated animals weren’t the norm before the arrival of Europeans, such as the Western Hemisphere, were horrifically affected by diseases like small pox, which originated from close contact with cattle.


6 posted on 11/12/2010 9:30:20 PM PST by SatinDoll (NO FOREIGN NATIONALS AS OUR PRESIDENT!)
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To: Blood of Tyrants

It’s adaptation, not evolution.


7 posted on 11/12/2010 9:35:43 PM PST by Jack Hydrazine (It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine!)
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To: PUGACHEV

Yes.

“The corbeled arch is made of overlapping courses of stones, each block projecting slightly further over the opening than the block beneath. The weight of the blocks above the supported end of the the projecting blocks help prevent the unsupported ends from tipping and falling...”

From Abacus to Zeus, by James Smith Pierce, Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.


8 posted on 11/12/2010 9:48:02 PM PST by SatinDoll (NO FOREIGN NATIONALS AS OUR PRESIDENT!)
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To: Blood of Tyrants; SunkenCiv; blam; All

While caring for my husband who eventually died from Alzheimers I noticed that he was most likely to escape from the house as I was quickly trying to get dinner cooked for him. I then though of those stories of American Indian elderly wandering off into the forest in the middle of winter to die so their grandchildren would have more food.

Anyway, I have developed a theory that Alzheimer’s is actually a positive genetic survival gene. Among tribal and spread out populations, if there was a tendancy to wander off in search of food while failing from Alzheimer’s ones descendents probably stood a better chance of surviving because more food was available. This behavior on my husband’s part was about a year before he became too debilitated to be useful around the house/camp. Thus, had we been a primative encampment, he would have gone out to pee and look for food, and never found his way back just before he would have become a general burden to the tribe.

Genetically, my husband was Scottish, with some American Indian, red haired, reddish sun sensitive skin, heavy boned, pale blue eyes, very hairy, warrior temperment, and I suspect more of the Neanderthal genes than most.


9 posted on 11/12/2010 10:39:02 PM PST by gleeaikin
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To: gleeaikin

Bookmarking this due to interest in Alzheimer’s stories....

Your observation is very interesting.


10 posted on 11/12/2010 10:43:37 PM PST by antceecee (Bless us Father.. have mercy on us and protect us from evil.)
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To: Jack Hydrazine; Blood of Tyrants; SunkenCiv; blam; All

There is some confusion about the term evolution. While Darwin proposed the phenomenon, it was not until Gregor Mendel did is work along with others that the principles of genetics were established. Darwin new that more useful traits became the dominant ones over time amoung species. He did not know anything about dominant and recessive genes, nor about mutations. Adaptation in the biological sense is the building up of a reservoir of favorable genes among a population. In the social sense, it is learning to change one’s behavior to function better in difficult circumstances.

Thus, the white skin mutation in African homo sapiens as it became more common enabled our ancestors to push the Neanderthals out of Europe. This was a genetic adaptation, or evolution.

On the other hand, when Greenland became much colder in the Middle Ages as a result of The Little Ice Age, the residents failed to learn and adopt the living and hunting strategies of the Inuit natives and their settlements died out. This was a failure of social adaptation.


11 posted on 11/12/2010 10:47:41 PM PST by gleeaikin
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To: gleeaikin

Interesting theory. Alzheimer’s almost always strikes the elderly well past child bearing and effective working age. However, in primitive societies the elderly perform the critical task of childcare and food preparation while the parents are out hunting/gathering/growing food and Alzheimer’s doesn’t affect everyone or even most people. I don’t know if it is more prevalent among some races than others. Do you?


12 posted on 11/12/2010 10:53:28 PM PST by Blood of Tyrants (Islam is the religion of Satan and Mohammed was his minion.)
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To: Blood of Tyrants

99.9%of people before the year 1850 didn’t live long enough to get it. we’re talking dead at 55 in the middle ages for sure, 30 for bronze age people.


13 posted on 11/12/2010 10:58:04 PM PST by DreamingWest
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To: Blood of Tyrants; SunkenCiv; blam; All

My husband was able to help me build a cabin with no available electricity. We did this from 2002 to late 2004. He died in June 2005 at age 75. He could not plan anything, but if I began a saw cut, I could turn over the sawing to him. He could hold a timber in place while I hammered it. He loved to sweep the leaves off the moss and in the city the sidewalk. He simply could not remember anything for more than 10 or 15 seconds. Thus he could do any job that was a series of continuous actions. Before he became seriously nonfunctionally, I had to call the police because he had swept 10 blocks of sidewalk, just kept on going and I had no idea where. Always before, he would sweep to the end of the block then come back to the house. After that I had to watch him. This was also the time period when he would wander off if he was hungry. In a primative society with people all around it would be easier for an Alzheimer person to function usefully. In a primative society, he could have gone out with others and picked berries or nuts and carried them home. He could have played with children under supervision. He could have turned a spit.

I checked a little about frequency of Alzheimers in foreign urban populations. A long settled area of India had a very low rate. A long settled urban area in Africa also had a very low rate. Black population in Cleveland, Ohio had a high rate. In conjunction with my theory I think that American blacks would have been captured from the jungle and small scattered villages, and not from the large urban centers, which fits with my theory. Obviously, this could be studied a great deal more, especially as specific genes related to Alzheimers are discovered.


14 posted on 11/12/2010 11:33:30 PM PST by gleeaikin
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To: DreamingWest
we’re talking dead at 55 in the middle ages for sure

Ran across some interesting stats from the early modern period (1500s). They were about the marriages of peasants in Central Germany.

The average age of marriage for a male was 30 years old. This was because a guy generally couldn't marry till he inherited the farm. This implies his father, who himself got married around 30, was living on average well into his 60s.

The very low numbers tossed around for average life expectancy are generally skewed drastically by child mortality. If every adult lives to 60 and you have 50% child mortality, you have "average life expectancy" of 30 years.

15 posted on 11/13/2010 12:51:20 AM PST by Sherman Logan
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To: SunkenCiv

16 posted on 11/13/2010 1:05:52 AM PST by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet - Visualize)
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To: PUGACHEV

True, though this dates from before 1700 BC, so the architectural flaws are understandable :)


17 posted on 11/13/2010 1:28:26 AM PST by Cronos (This Church is Holy,theOne Church,theTrue Church,theCatholic Church - St. Augustine)
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To: gleeaikin

Your theory has a lot of truth behind it — have you pursued it any further? A white paper sounds possible


18 posted on 11/13/2010 1:32:35 AM PST by Cronos (This Church is Holy,theOne Church,theTrue Church,theCatholic Church - St. Augustine)
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To: JoeProBono

not good — that pic is originally from Stormfront. Not relevant to this article


19 posted on 11/13/2010 1:35:23 AM PST by Cronos (This Church is Holy,theOne Church,theTrue Church,theCatholic Church - St. Augustine)
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To: Cronos

20 posted on 11/13/2010 1:39:48 AM PST by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet - Visualize)
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To: SunkenCiv

Cities may benefit the immune system but they make people crazy. I’d rather just wade through a septic tank once a month.


21 posted on 11/13/2010 1:41:54 AM PST by SWAMPSNIPER (The Second Amendment, A Matter Of Fact, Not A Matter Of Opinion)
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To: SunkenCiv

A visit to Cap Hatian would cure them of this notion.


22 posted on 11/13/2010 1:57:39 AM PST by screaminsunshine (Americanism vs Communism)
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To: SunkenCiv

There might be a lot of truth to this study. I’ve watched city workers and their immune systems seem pretty strongly resistant against work or speed.


23 posted on 11/13/2010 2:17:09 AM PST by count-your-change (You don't have be brilliant, not being stupid is enough.)
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To: SunkenCiv

There might be a lot of truth to this study. I’ve watched city workers and their immune systems seem pretty strongly resistant against work or speed.


24 posted on 11/13/2010 2:17:10 AM PST by count-your-change (You don't have be brilliant, not being stupid is enough.)
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To: Cronos; gleeaikin

I agree. Your theory is very interesting and makes sense. You ought to consider a white paper on it. The peer reviews you’d get would serve to buttress or refute it.


25 posted on 11/13/2010 2:59:47 AM PST by 1010RD (First Do No Harm)
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To: gleeaikin

Thanks gleeaikin.


26 posted on 11/13/2010 5:52:01 AM PST by SunkenCiv (The 2nd Amendment follows right behind the 1st because some people are hard of hearing.)
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To: gleeaikin

Thanks gleeaikin.


27 posted on 11/13/2010 5:54:10 AM PST by SunkenCiv (The 2nd Amendment follows right behind the 1st because some people are hard of hearing.)
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To: JoeProBono; SWAMPSNIPER; screaminsunshine; count-your-change

:’)


28 posted on 11/13/2010 5:58:26 AM PST by SunkenCiv (The 2nd Amendment follows right behind the 1st because some people are hard of hearing.)
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To: SunkenCiv

I bought my Aunt one of those kits to determine your origin using DNA for her Birthday. After sending in my information I got a wave of regular mail and email spam from National Geographic. They have so many products that they hawk now days.


29 posted on 11/13/2010 6:24:47 AM PST by Sawdring
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To: SunkenCiv

It's amazing how little Pakistan has progressed since then. What modernity they have has trickled in from elsewhere.

30 posted on 11/13/2010 6:31:43 AM PST by Moonman62 (Half of all Americans are above average.)
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To: JoeProBono

What does this have to do with the effect of city dwelling on immune systems?


31 posted on 11/13/2010 7:07:49 AM PST by SuzyQue (Remember to think.)
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To: DreamingWest

Don’t know about that, I have been looking at my family tree and I have a LOT of ancestors who lived into their 70s and 80s before 1850.


32 posted on 11/13/2010 8:57:31 AM PST by Blood of Tyrants (Islam is the religion of Satan and Mohammed was his minion.)
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To: gleeaikin

What a wonderful post. Your husband was a lucky man.


33 posted on 11/13/2010 9:15:58 AM PST by r9etb
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To: Sherman Logan

You are correct concerning men.

My German greatgrandfather had four wives; most died due to complications involving childbirth.

If a woman could survive childbirth then usually she could look forward to a long life. Nuns live the longest lifetimes in any time period. I’ve always found that fact interesting.


34 posted on 11/13/2010 6:48:33 PM PST by SatinDoll (NO FOREIGN NATIONALS AS OUR PRESIDENT!)
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To: DreamingWest
"99.9%of people before the year 1850 didn’t live long enough to get it. we’re talking dead at 55 in the middle ages for sure, 30 for bronze age people."

Psalm 90:10:
"The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away."

It sounds like hitting 70 was no big deal 3000 years ago...

35 posted on 11/13/2010 6:58:36 PM PST by Flag_This (Real presidents don't bow.)
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To: 1010RD; Cronos; All

I have thought about writing about this in more detail. Do you have any thoughts as to where I might submit such a “white paper”?


36 posted on 11/13/2010 10:17:29 PM PST by gleeaikin
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To: gleeaikin
I would suggest two options:
1. your nearest phd. university (though be aware that you do not want to tell them all of your research, just that you have a theory on the sociological causes of Alzheimers.
2. John Hopkins --> write in to them with this basic idea as above and ask them if you can submit something for peer review

Your theory may not help prevent Alzheimers, but it provides a response for the answer "Why"?
37 posted on 11/14/2010 1:20:38 AM PST by Cronos (This Church is Holy,theOne Church,theTrue Church,theCatholic Church - St. Augustine)
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To: Moonman62
Actually, Pakistan progressed a lot since then -- but then progress stopped around 1000 AD when Islam invaded. And since then they've regressed.

Islam is a civilisational virus that destroys living civilisations like it did to the Egyptian, Syrian, Anatolian, Berber (land of St. Augustine) and nearly destroyed Irani and western Indian (Pakistan) civ
38 posted on 11/14/2010 1:32:33 AM PST by Cronos (This Church is Holy,theOne Church,theTrue Church,theCatholic Church - St. Augustine)
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To: gleeaikin; Cronos

My experience with PhDs is that they are very territorial, narrow minded and narcissistic.

Once they propound a theory that’s it and they’re not likely to change. This has gotten worse as government funding has politicized the process.

I’d put your ideas down on paper, organize them and expand them. Do some research to find additional data.

Realize that your theorem covers several scientific realms. Brain study, biology, aging, population and environment, and anthropology specifically in the realm of tribes (familial). So your research would cross into each of the preceding areas (& possibly more) and you’d glean insights by contacting experts or reading papers that discuss those aspects pertinent to your theory.

What exactly is your theory? “Alzheimer’s is a natural biological response in humans to limited food resources and declining utility of the elderly to support the tribe”?

Here’s the scientific method:

1. Observation - you’ve done this
2. Research - how much have you done?
3. Hypothesis - you have one, but can you state what it is specifically?
4. Testing - what proofs would you need to support your hypothesis and what would refute it? (you’ve got to consider both sides to make a good test)
5. Findings - report your findings or alter your hypothesis

I’d tighten up your hypothesis and then start testing. You’re at the right place to do it.

If you set up a paper, publish it to the web and copyright it, then post it here on FR and invite commentary. The “peer” review process can be harsh, but don’t take it personally. It is to your benefit and to the benefit of your theory.

What do you think?


39 posted on 11/14/2010 4:47:38 AM PST by 1010RD (First Do No Harm)
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To: 1010RD; gleeaikin
I think glee's worry is also how to:
1. Contact the experts
2. Where to publish this on the web

and I don't know either :) But your suggested process makes a lot of sense. Also, posting it somewhere on FR to have it publicly noted that glee was the one who first thought of this and made the connection is a very, very good point
40 posted on 11/14/2010 6:27:08 AM PST by Cronos (This Church is Holy,theOne Church,theTrue Church,theCatholic Church - St. Augustine)
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To: 1010RD; Cronos; SunkenCiv; blam; All

I want to thank you for your detailed responses to this idea. Although I did study biological sciences, and worked as a lab tech in medical schools and at NIH, I did many years of other things. So now at 72 it feels a little unreal to think I could actually do something significant with this, so the encouragement is much appreciated. Now I will answer the specific points you raised. This will also help clarify my thinking.

First of all my theory is that there is at least a partial genetic basis for Alzheimers. Scientists have discovered some genes which they believe correlate with the occurance of Alzheimers (like they now identify breast cancer genes). My hypothesis is that, based on the detailed observation and care of my husband, such a gene may cause wandering bahavior that would benefit surviving blood relatives because there would be more available food, especially in winter or drought conditions. Thus the offspring bearing this gene would tend to pass it on and on. This behavior seemed to occur at a time when mobility and potential usefulness was coming to an end, but before real helplessness set in. This would be an optimum time in a primative setting for the person to cause their own death.

Secondly, in the realm of sociology, I have found that it is possible to set up conditions that make it possible for someone with Alzheimers to be a contributing member of the “tribe” past the time I have heard/read that most believe it is possible or practical. When my husband first became “difficult” and I looked into an insitutional placement, I was told it was over $50,000 a year and could go on for as much as 10 years. I ended up caring for him with minimal help and he died at home. Only the last 6 months was physically very hard as his body began to deteriorate rather rapidly. Fortunately, I was ten years younger, in good health, and physically strong.

1) I have made a great many other observations besides the ones I have mentioned here and have already written a lot of them down.

2) The additional research I have done was to look at aging research data from long settled relative urbanized areas in India and West Africa, and black people in Cleveland. I should do a lot more of this. Also, I would need to talk with others who have cared for Alz. people, especially in a family (tribal) setting to see if their observations tend to confirm mine.

3) I have outlined my hypotheses above. Need to think more about this whole issue.

4) Testing would involve much larger studies that I am not in a position to do. However, if I could interest professionals, I could certainly suggest some practical parameters for conducting some aspects. This might include genetic testing, familial observations and record keeping, more detailed studies on aging in homogenious populations from long settled well populated areas vs. the same on thin widely scattered populations like Laplander, Inuit, Kalahari Bushmen, etc.

5) Reporting findings could occur in several ways. I have already thought of writing something for the AARP magazine about my experience caring for my husband, including my observations and theory generated by caring for him. If not AARP, some other popular journal or blog dealing with aging, Alzheimers and dying. Where that might lead, who knows?

Regarding posting on FR, I wish they would not call original contributions “vanities”. Certainly some of the posts are, but I would call others “original observations” or “original writing”. At any rate, thank you again for your suggestions, and any others you may be inspired to add. Last thought re PhDs. BS = Bull Sxxx, MS = More of Same, PhD = Piled higher and Deeper. ;-)


41 posted on 11/14/2010 10:22:10 PM PST by gleeaikin
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To: Flag_This; Blood of Tyrants; SatinDoll; SunkenCiv; All

I think that it was determined that in olden time if one survived to age 5, one might live to a ripe old age. My husband’s people were poor farmers in southern Illinois. In the mid 1800’s, one ancestor had 9 children. Five died at the age of 2 in August or September. This was probably the result of weaning and bad sanitation in the hot summer.

I once got an old book which described famous Greeks and Romans 2000 or more years ago. I was amazed to see that the average age of death for the famous Greeks was around 70, but the average age of death for the famous Romans was around 50, and this was after I removed Romans who died of military activity. I think the Greeks had a much healthier life style, diet and enviroment, including no lead in their pipes, if they had pipes.


42 posted on 11/14/2010 10:31:55 PM PST by gleeaikin
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To: gleeaikin

I’ve looked at my family tree, too. It seems that practically all of my ancestors had large families. You are correct about children. Many, many children never made it past their 5th birthday and barring accidents and wars, if you made it past that magical 5th birthday, you had a decent chance of living to a ripe old age.


43 posted on 11/15/2010 6:03:11 AM PST by Blood of Tyrants (Islam is the religion of Satan and Mohammed was his minion.)
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To: gleeaikin

I’ve looked at my family tree, too. It seems that practically all of my ancestors had large families. You are correct about children. Many, many children never made it past their 5th birthday and barring accidents and wars, if you made it past that magical 5th birthday, you had a decent chance of living to a ripe old age.

P.S. the “average life expectancy” of 40 years back in the 1800s included a LOT of small children to bring the average way down.


44 posted on 11/15/2010 6:04:15 AM PST by Blood of Tyrants (Islam is the religion of Satan and Mohammed was his minion.)
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To: gleeaikin
Maybe some ideas here:

The Neanderthal theory

The Neanderthal theory of autism, Asperger and ADHD

45 posted on 11/15/2010 6:08:50 AM PST by blam
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To: gleeaikin

Long-living famous Greeks had their needs met by people who died young slaving away, and that was true for the Romans as well. Augustus ruled for 50 years or so, and his immediate successor lived a long life, as did the fourth emperor, Claudius. Caligula (number three) was assassinated, and Nero (number five) committed suicide when he heard the coup d’etat group was nearing. There really wasn’t much difference in their diet and environment. The lead pipe thing is basically a myth — they had the lead pipes, but it didn’t do much to them, because the water systems the Romans used ran all the time (they didn’t use valves for home plumbing), and like the Greeks, the Romans drank wine more than water. :’)


46 posted on 11/15/2010 5:38:03 PM PST by SunkenCiv (The 2nd Amendment follows right behind the 1st because some people are hard of hearing.)
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To: gleeaikin

Good job. So you would view it as a useful gene. Is it dominant or recessive? You’d also want to measure the onset of this “wandering off” behavior. Is it consistent across Alzheimer sufferers as you postulate? That would go a long way toward supporting your theory.

I would formalize your ideas and try to correspond with univeristy scientists studying Alzheimers as a genetic issue or sociologists trying to help manage the disease for caregivers like you’ve been.

I’d love to read more about how you managed with your husband. It is the practical that often leads to the scientific insight. AARP would be a great way to get the information out and your observations are worthy of that.

Please keep me posted and FReepmail me if you rather not discuss this in public.

I’d just get started doing it today. Why wait?


47 posted on 11/16/2010 3:28:23 AM PST by 1010RD (First Do No Harm)
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To: 1010RD; All

Thank you for your encouragement. I may start printing up the several thousand words I have already written longhand, and I could forward them to you if you are interested. I don’t think it would be prosurvival under present circumstances. In fact, I think there will be a tremendous waste of resources until medicine finds a way to delay the onset of the severe phases of the disease. Also society can find better ways of getting some useful activity from early Alzheimers people as I did when I had him help me build a cabin.


48 posted on 11/16/2010 11:40:45 PM PST by gleeaikin
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