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South African Medical Journal

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An Anthropologist Looks at Malaria

PV Tobias

Abstract


Regions in which malaria is hyperendemic correspond with areas of highest frequency of the genes for haemoglobin S and for the red cell enzyme lack, glucose-6phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency. It seems that the prevalence of malaria is a major selective agent influencing the geographical distribution and incidence of these two traits. Also, malaria may be associated with the lower levels of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) in the red blood cells of Blacks. Man's cultural evolution and especially the adoption of agriculture - may have played a big part in the establishment of areas of malarial hyperendemicity. Thus, indirectly, malaria may have helped the early Black agriculturalists to modify their own gene pool.

S. Afr. Med. J., 48, 1124 (1974)



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