A valuable corrective text for our overmedicated nation.

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OVERKILL

WHEN MODERN MEDICINE GOES TOO FAR

According to this expert skeptical account, there is less to many medical interventions than meets the eye.

Offit, a professor of pediatrics whose books include Pandora’s Lab: Seven Stories of Science Gone Wrong (2017), begins each chapter with the history of a belief or treatment and why it became popular, and then he describes the research showing why it’s ineffective and sometimes positively harmful. Regardless, too often, these remedies remain popular. Antibiotic eye drops rarely cure pinkeye. Antioxidants and vitamin E can contribute to cancer. Giving testosterone to older men doesn’t improve their sex lives but doubles the risk of a heart attack. Sunscreen doesn’t prevent skin cancer. Readers may be shocked to read that many studies designed to measure the efficacy of mammograms in preventing breast cancer deaths find no benefit. Other studies disagree, and this is an area of fierce debate. Offit writes that mammograms may save lives, but the effect is not as dramatic as once thought. The prostate specific antigen test measures a blood chemical sometimes elevated in prostate cancer but sometimes elevated for other reasons. Many experts agree with the author that it does more harm than good. Some worthless treatments are blasts from the past. As a cure for the common cold, Vitamin C peaked in the 1970s with Nobel Prize–winning Linus Pauling’s research. Today, enthusiasts still consider it miraculous, but it’s no more so than other vitamins. That teething causes fever is a Victorian belief that has achieved new life with the internet; ditto the conviction that amalgam dental fillings contain poison and should be replaced. Medical organizations such as the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians discourage most of the practices that Offit condemns. Physician inertia often hinders their work, but so does patient demand. Most readers know that doctors dispense too many unnecessary antibiotics, but research has shown that “no…factor was as strongly associated with patient satisfaction as receipt of a prescription for an antibiotic.”

A valuable corrective text for our overmedicated nation.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-294749-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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