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Medical Anthropology A Biocultural Approach

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Oxford University Press
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  • Medical Anthropology: A Biocultural Approach
    Medical Anthropology: A Biocultural Approach


An ideal core text for introductory courses,Medical Anthropology: A Biocultural Approach, Second Edition, offers an accessible and contemporary overview of this rapidly expanding field. For each health issue examined in the text, the authors first present basic biological information on specific conditions and then expand their analysis to include evolutionary, historical, and cross-cultural perspectives on how these issues are understood.Medical Anthropologyconsiders how a biocultural approach can be applied to more effective prevention and treatment efforts and underscores medical anthropology's potential to improve health around the world. NEW TO THIS EDITION: ˇ "Anthropologists in Action" examples show how various anthropologists address real-world health issues ˇStreamlined overview of infectious diseases, with less historical and biological detail ˇFurther consideration of the ways in which climate change is already influencing human health

Table of Contents

A Biocultural Approach to Medical Anthropology
What Is Distinctive about This Text
What's new in this edition
Outline of the Book

Chapter 1: Introduction
What is Anthropology?
The Development of Medical Anthropology
What is Medical Anthropology?
The Culture Concept
A Biocultural Perspective
Looking Ahead

Chapter 2: Anthropological Perspectives on Health and Disease
Definitions of Health
Anthropologist in Action: Arthur Kleinman
Health, Ethics, and Cultural Relativism
The Locus of Health: The Body and Society
Biological/Medical Normalcy
Evolutionary Perspectives on Health
Behavioral Adaptability
Cultural Approaches in Medical Anthropology
Political Economy of Health
Ethnomedical Systems
Interpretive Approaches to Illness and Suffering
Applied Medical Anthropology

Chapter 3: Healers and Healing
Culture and Healing Systems
Living Longer with Cystic Fibrosis
Recruitment: How Healers Become Healers
Alternative and Complementary Medicines
Navajo Medicine
When Biomedicine Is Alternative Medicine
Alternative Biomedicines
Death as a Biocultural Concept
Harnessing the Power of the Placebo
Placebo and Nocebo

Chapter 4: Diet and Nutrition in Health and Disease
Fundamentals of Nutrition
How are Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) constructed?
Digestive Physiology
An Evolutionary Approach to Nutrition
Scurvy in Evolutionary Perspective
Ascertaining Diet and Nutritional Status from Ancient Bones
C3 versus C4 in Bones
Anthropologist in Action: Ellen Messer
Nutrition and Chronic Diseases
Sugar and High-Fructose Corn Syrup in Biocultural Perspective
Lactose Intolerance
Celiac Disease

Chapter 5: Growth and Development
Life History Theory
Gestation: The First 40 Weeks of Growth and Development
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Birth weight in the Mountains
Small but Healthy?
Anthropologist in Action: Gretel Pelto
Is Bigger Better?
Does Milk Make Children Grow?
Puberty and the Onset of Adolescence
Teenage Pregnancy in the United States
Sex, Gender, Growth and Health
Environmental Toxins and Growth

Chapter 6: Reproductive Health in Biocultural Context
Medicalization of Women's Health and Reproductive Health
Oral Contraceptives and Biological Normalcy
Premenstrual Syndrome
Determinants of Fertility
Falling Sperm Counts: Environmental Causes of Male Reproductive Health Problems
The Medicalization of Male Sexual Dysfunction
Female Genital Cutting
Anthropologist in Action: Ellen Gruenbaum
Humoral Medicine: Concepts of Hot and Cold
Cosleeping and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
Reproductive Events and Breast Cancer Risk

Chapter 7: Aging
The Aging Body
Physiological Theories of Aging
Somatic Mutations
Free Radicals
Wear and Degeneration
Evolutionary Theories of Aging
The Aging Brain
Alzheimer Disease, Genes, and Evolution
Extending Life? Caloric Restriction and an Okinawa Case Study
Health, Illness, and the Cultural Construction of Aging

Chapter 8: Infectious Diseases: Pathogens, Hosts, and Evolutionary Interplay
Koch's Postulates
Taxonomy of Infectious Disease
How Pathogens Spread
Human Defenses against Pathogens
To Treat or Not to Treat
The Immune Response: A brief overview
Vaccination: How Does It Work?
The Language of Immunity
Human-Pathogen Co-Evolution
Malaria: a post-agricultural disease
Evolutionary changes in pathogens
Antibiotic Resistance
Variation in Pathogen Virulence
Allergies and Asthma: Relationship to Infectious Disease Exposure?
The Hygiene Hypothesis
The Helminth Hypothesis
Anthropologist in Action: David Van Sickle and managing asthma

Chapter 9: Globalization, Poverty, and Infectious Disease
Emergent and resurgent diseases
Social transformations, colonialism, and globalizing infections
Colonization in the Tropics
Colonialism's health legacy
Climate Change and Emerging/Resurging Diseases
Genetic Adaptation to Cholera
Dams and Infectious Disease
Tuberculosis: Emerging and Resurging
HIV/AIDS: A New Disease
Bushmeat Hunting and the Emergence of Human Diseases
Anthropologist in Action: Paul Farmer and HIV in Haiti

Chapter 10: Stress, Social Inequality, and Race and Ethnicity: Implications for Health Disparities
Biology of the Stress Response
The Nervous System Stress Response
The Hormonal Stress Response
Why Is Stress Different for Humans?
Stress and Biological Normalcy
Stress and Health
Cardiovascular Disease
Immune Function
Medical Anthropologist in Action: Nancy Schoenberg
Child Growth
Inequality, Stress, and Health
Relative Status
Social Cohesion
Social Support
Race and Ethnicity and Health in the United States
BiDil and "Racial Medicine" in the United States

Chapter 11: Mental Health and Illness
The Medical Model in Biocultural Context
Culture-Bound Syndromes
A French Culture-Bound Syndrome
Eating Disorders
ADHD and Culture
Mood Disorders
Bipolar Disorder and Creativity
The Evolution of Substance Use and Abuse
An Ethnography of Futility

Epilogue: The Relevance of Medical Anthropology
What Can I Do Next if I Am Interested in Medical Anthropology?
Graduate Programs in Anthropology
Public Health Programs
Medical Schools and Clinical Health Professions
Work in Governmental and Nongovernmental Health Agencies


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