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It Takes a Genome: How a Clash Between Our Genes and Modern Life Is Making Us Sick by Greg Gibson

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Inflammation and Respiration

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to a crime against it. Whether the agent is an insect bite or the sting of poison ivy, the aggressive swelling around a nasty cut, or an allergic response to house dust mites, there are commonalities in the way the immune system responds. When a crime occurs, our first response is to cordon off the area. Then we send in various experts to deal with the problem: police, emergency medical technicians, forensic detectives, clean-up crews. The crime scene becomes a hive of activity, set apart from regular day-to-day life.

So too with inflammation. The word comes from the Latin to “set on fire.” It refers to an acute reaction characterized by redness, swelling, heat, and pain. ...

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