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Why is stress so deadly? An evolutionary perspective.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society
Publication Date
Volume
273
Issue
1588
Pages
881–885
Identifiers
PMID: 16618683
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

The reaction of the body to prolonged stress has many harmful effects. Classical theory assumes that stress responses have evolved due to their short-term selective advantages ('flight or fight'), and despite their adverse long-term effects. In contrast, we demonstrate that the adverse effects of stress responses may have a selective advantage. Using an analytical model we show that a gene that causes the early death of a relatively unfit individual can increase in frequency in a structured population even if it has no positive effect on that individual. This result offers a new perspective on the relations between stress factors, stress responses and stress-related diseases.

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