Natural selection end-game

| September 6, 2017

Researchers report they have spotted signs that human DNA is still evolving, and such evolution could eventually reduce smoking, according to a HealthDay story citing a new study.

“It’s a subtle signal, but we find genetic evidence that natural selection is happening in modern human populations,” said study co-author Joseph Pickrell, an evolutionary geneticist at Columbia University and the New York Genome Center.

Pickrell and his colleagues explored the genomes of ‘60,000 people of European descent from California and 150,000 from Great Britain’. The researchers looked for signs of mutations that are linked to longer life spans.

The researchers found that a genetic variation linked to Alzheimer’s appears to be fading in older women, possibly because women who have it tend to die earlier.

They also found similar evidence that a genetic variation linked to heavy smoking in men is becoming less common.

“It may be that men who don’t carry these harmful mutations can have more children, or that men and women who live longer can help with their grandchildren, improving their chance of survival,” said co-author Molly Przeworski in a Columbia news release. She is an evolutionary biologist at the university.

The study was published on September 5 in the journal PLOS Biology.

The HealthDay story is at: https://consumer.healthday.com/general-health-information-16/evolution-anthropology-972/evolution-not-over-for-humans-726038.html.

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Category: Breaking News, Harm reduction, People, Science

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