While revealing a disconcerting dearth of scientific knowledge about its causes, Cohen’s work on miscarriage is a worthwhile...

COMING TO TERM

MYSTERIES, MYTHS, AND THE LATEST SCIENCE OF MISCARRIAGE

A deft melding of what researchers are learning about miscarriage, persistent misconceptions about it, and deeply personal stories of women who have repeatedly miscarried.

Science writer Cohen (Shots in the Dark: The Wayward Search for an AIDS Vaccine, 2001) began delving into the subject of miscarriages after his wife had four in a row. Besides exploring the scientific literature, he interviewed and observed doctors working with their patients at clinics (in Boston, Vancouver, and London) that specialize in recurrent miscarriage; he also interviewed nearly one hundred women and their partners about the experience of miscarrying. In “Mother Nature,” Cohen looks at the biology of the female reproductive system, focusing on the mechanisms of miscarriage. Abnormal chromosomes, he reports, are the cause half the time or more, and, as women age, the frequency of abnormalities in their eggs increases. As for other causes, science has few clear-cut answers. In “Mysteries,” Cohen examines and rejects various ideas about causes, including a woman’s faulty immune system and contaminants in the environment. Fetuses, he says, are more rugged than we think, and the environment provided by the female body is remarkably protective. He also offers a warning tale about abortion interventions: the drug diethylstilbestrol, known as DES, once given to women to prevent miscarriage, turned out to cause grievous harm to pregnant women and their daughters. In “Hope,” Cohen tells the stories of couples seeking help in carrying babies to term and provides a close-up look at clinicians who are trying to help them. The success stories of women who carried to term after repeated failures puts a human face on a statistic Cohen uncovered early in his research: those who have had three or more consecutive miscarriages and become pregnant again will, with no treatment, carry to term 70 percent of the time.

While revealing a disconcerting dearth of scientific knowledge about its causes, Cohen’s work on miscarriage is a worthwhile addition to the literature and his reassuring message welcome.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-27724-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2004

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McWilliams presents a solid argument, though it is not as radical or inspiring as he may have hoped, and the book could use...

EATING PROMISCUOUSLY

ADVENTURES IN THE FUTURE OF FOOD

A food writer and historian argues that humans would be healthier with a more diverse diet.

McWilliams (History/Texas State Univ.; The Modern Savage: Our Unthinking Decision to Eat Animals, 2015, etc.) continues the attack on foodies, locavores, highbrow restaurants, and agribusiness’s “corn-soy-sugar-animal complex” that he mounted in previous books. Here, the author profiles quirky individuals who are “pursuing peripheral culinary goals” that “have the potential to revolutionize how we think about the human diet.” The author’s overriding assumption is that it would be better for people, animals, and the environment if our diets were more diversified. Hundreds of plants and protein sources, he rightly notes, are overlooked in favor of a narrow range of food. McWilliams hopes for a “global food system that’s accessible, flexible, abundant, sustainable, healthy, humane, and resourceful.” How that ideal could be achieved is left to readers’ imaginations. The author champions the bonobo, which eats a diverse array of plants, insects, grubs, and shellfish, and cavemen, who hunted and foraged for all their food. McWilliams begins by focusing on the Reeds, obese parents and son who have been victimized, he contends, by “a food system that rendered them emotionally depressed, physically sick, and socially ostracized.” Determined to lose weight, they embarked on a diet and exercise program and achieved success within a short time. However, as the author acknowledges, their struggle will be lifelong, embedded as they are in a food culture intent on undermining them. Among others profiled are a family that exists on foraged plants and venison, felled with a bow and arrow; a man who gathers and sells seaweed; an insect farmer promoting the nutritional value of bugs; oyster farmers; and a motley group of freegans, who forage among trash bags outside of markets and restaurants. Sadly, writes the author, over 40 percent of food in America is thrown out.

McWilliams presents a solid argument, though it is not as radical or inspiring as he may have hoped, and the book could use more focused attention on creating the ideal world the author envisions.

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61902-735-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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A realistic, motivating conversation about weight loss for those who have tried everything else and failed.

THE JOY OF EATING

Part memoir and part pep talk, this debut book urges dieters to stop counting fat grams and learn to enjoy food.

When her mother died, Irwin was devastated. She was also mortified that old friends would see her at the funeral because she had “gained so much weight.” Trapped in a cycle of yo-yo dieting that had begun when she was in junior high, Irwin was a size 22 by the time she was in her 40s. Miserable, she constantly berated herself while agonizing over calories and eating prepackaged diet industry food. Then one day Irwin decided to stop dieting and love herself at any weight, eating without guilt or shame. A big believer in the “law of attraction,” where thoughts create reality, she began thinking positively about herself. Retraining her mind to view food as pleasurable nourishment, she started eating nutrient-dense items—including leafy green vegetables and fruits. And if she wanted a piece of cake—well, she just went ahead and devoured it. The pounds began coming off naturally, and as time passed, Irwin’s once overweight body became fit. This dramatic and familiar life story quickly turns into an upbeat motivational speech for stressed-out dieters, as Irwin divulges her no-frills secret for healthy weight loss—eat good food and feel great about it. While this common-sense approach isn’t new, diet-disgusted readers who don’t mind a curse word or two may be able to relate to Irwin’s friendly, plainspoken voice, as when she describes dysfunctional labels people often place on food: “How about this classic attitude, ‘Fuck it, I’ve been so bad this week I think I’ll just eat the rest of this box of cookies’?” Some of the author’s inspirational thoughts are memorable: she compares the negative voice in her head to a bully who shouldn’t be tolerated. Light on diet jargon and health-related facts (the author mentions that 68.5 percent of U.S. adults are overweight, but she doesn't cite sources), this thin, fast-paced work can be read in a couple of hours.

A realistic, motivating conversation about weight loss for those who have tried everything else and failed.    

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5043-6051-7

Page Count: 124

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2017

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