Survival of the Sickest: Part 4 (Chapeters 7-8)

What did you think about the reading?:

        After eight amazing chapters, I’m sad to say that the book is over! Survival of the Sickest is definitely one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read. One would believe that a book about disease and human longevity would be unpleasantly boring, however, the author wrote it an a way that you could kind of relate to what is being stated and if not, then enjoy his humorous analogies. Chapters seven and eight were without a doubt my favorites in the book! I truly enjoyed learning about why we are how we are; whether it is why we show traits we inherited from our parents or why we are structured how we are.

What did you learn?:

        One of my favorite things I learned from the whole book came from chapter seven: it was epigenetics. Epigenetics is a subfield of genetics that is concerned with the study of how children can inherit and express seemingly new traits from their parents without changes in the underlying DNA. I also learned about DNA methylation, which is the process of chemicals attaching to a gene to suppress its instructions. An example is the maternal effect- the characteristics of offspring are controlled my epigenetic effects that occur during fetal position. The DNA doesn’t change but the mother’s experiences influence the gene expression in her offspring. What I really found interesting was that the egg someone was developed from was created in your mother’s ovaries while she was still in your grandmother’s womb. Meaning, your grandmother’s experiences during pregnancy also affected your gene expression. In chapter eight, I was very interested in the many uncommon diseases such as progeria syndrome. Children with progeria age up to ten times the speed of people without it. I also learned that cells only divide a fixed number of times before they quit due to the Hayflick limit. The Hayflick limit is the cut off of telomeres after a specific number of times your cells divide; once all telomeres are cut off, the cell begins to lose a little bit of DNA. The way that cancer survives is by the use of telomerase- an enzyme that lengthens the telomeres at the ends of the cells so that they keep reproducing. Lastly, it was interesting to learn the two theories of why we are structured the way we are: the “savana hypothesis” and the aquatic ape theory.

What questions do you still have?:

        I have no questions.

Thank you Ms. Mathew for assigning this book!


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