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Why do we have them? What are they all about? Why are they so common that you can’t turn on the TV without seeing an ad for Claritin?

We will discuss these ideas during our next session: Hygiene Hypothesis.

IMPORTANT, the writing project will be on the topic of allergy (see below, even though the syllabus may indicate otherwise.)

Writing assignment, due September 10:

1. Exposure to dirt, living on a farm, and having a lot of siblings and pets in early childhood seems to be a protective factor against the development of asthma and allergies. With that in mind, explain the hygiene hypothesis of allergy. 2. Since allergies are so common, do you think that allergic symptoms have a function? Can allergies be good for you?


1.99th Dahlem Conference on Infection, Inflammation and Chronic Inflammatory Disorders: Darwinian medicine and the ‘hygiene’ or ‘old friends’ hypothesis 2010. Rook G. Clinical and Experimental Immunology. 160: 70–79.

2. Pet Exposure and Asthma (read abstract only)

3. Some of my best friends are germs

4. Read especially page 8 in Stearns. Evolutionary Medicine: Its Scope, Interest, and Potential.

ALSO: please note the correction below. I misspoke and students were correct when discussing mutation accumulation in class.  Mutation accumulation is an extension of the declining power of selection concept. Read the link here for a crystal clear explanation. Although there are proximate theories of aging that involve accumulation of genetic damage and wear and tear, mutation accumulation  is an ultimate hypothesis. It proposes that selection does not act against mutations (usually harmful) that occur at advanced chronological age.

General interest: NY Times article on immortal jellyfish

Categories: Uncategorized

Joe Alcock

Emergency Physician, Educator, Researcher, interested in the microbiome, evolution, and medicine

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