Probably 20 percent of the U.S. population suffers from varicose veins, the authors say; the condition is more prevalent in women, increases with age, and, while nobody dies from varicosities, the complications--thrombophlebitis, pulmonary embolism, hemorrhage--are grave indeed. Not exactly the most dramatic of health problems--but the authors have managed to put together a lively if repetitive text with enough excursions into history (Egyptian papyri, the death of Queen Anne) to make it evident that swollen, twisted, unsightly veins or their complications have long been noted. The pair also reveal some interesting epidemiology: varicose veins may be a high-technology culture ailment. Parts of the world where exercise is common and sedentary occupations rare show little or no incidence of venous problems. So prophylaxis suggests we sit and stand less, but move more, maintain a non-constipating diet (to avoid the pressure of a weighty colon), and be wary of the Pill if there is a tendency to varicosities in the family. (The hormone connection is assumed to be contributory rather than causative, however.) No one cause for varicose veins is known, but Baron and Gorin suggest that an inherited weakness in vein walls or in malfunctioning valves may be aggravated by other factors. Surgery is suggested as the preferred treatment in moderately severe cases, although the English prefer injection. Curiously, the authors omit discussion of the care and treatment of one of the most common varicose plagues: hemorrhoids. Perhaps a sequel?