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March 24, 1993

Ancestors May Provide Clinical Answers, Say 'Darwinian' Medical Evolutionists

JAMA. 1993;269(12):1477-1480. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500120011002

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MISMATCHES BETWEEN the genetically determined physical, emotional, and psychological needs of human beings and their current environment almost everywhere are at the root of many somatic and mental disorders today, according to proponents of a new discipline called evolutionary medicine.

Sharing their insights at a major conference for the first time, physicians, anthropologists, and other scientists who pursue studies in Darwinian or evolution medicine, as the field is also known, spoke at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), in Boston, Mass.

Numerous disorders arise from the fact that "20th century humans are Stone Agers displaced through time," says S. Boyd Eaton, MD, a diagnostic radiologist at Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Ga. Eaton explains that "the spontaneous mutation rate for nuclear DNA is estimated at 0.5% per 1 million years, so that over the 10 000 years since [humans began practicing] agriculture,