ALLERGIC TO THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

THE EXPLOSION IN ENVIRONMENTAL ALLERGIES--FROM SICK BUILDINGS TO MULTIPLE CHEMICAL SENSITIVITY

An investigation into the phenomenon of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), a condition that, like chronic fatigue syndrome, is regarded with considerable skepticism by much of the mainstream medical community. Science writer Radetsky, a regular contributor to Discover magazine, interviewed sufferers, activists, so-called environmental physicians, and a variety of traditional medical specialists to probe the nature of this controversial new illness and how it's being treated. His depiction of the extreme steps taken by some to create safe, toxin-free environments for themselves—porcelain sleeping cubicles, aluminum-foil-lined rooms, water-filled moats- -makes it easy to see why they have often been dismissed as obsessive, if not paranoid, hypochondriacs. While environmental physicians are convinced that MCS is a valid disease caused by exposure to chemicals in the environment, most conventional allergists see it as a psychological problem. Radetsky talks to a psychologist who treats it with traditional psychotherapy in combination with relaxation, feedback, and other approaches; an immunologist who sees it as the first symptom of serious autoimmune disorders, such as lupus; a pulmonary specialist who views it as a respiratory disorder; and a psychiatrist who hypothesizes that it is a physiological illness involving the brain's limbic system. While most MCS sufferers are white, middle-class, middle-aged women, Radetsky notes that Gulf War syndrome, whch has virtually identical symptoms, is overwhelmingly an affliction of young, active men, a fact that he feels may give MCS some credibility as a genuine disease. Needed now, he says, are controlled clinical studies to determine the cause of chemical sensitivity, plus some serious measures to clean up the environment. An appendix lists support groups, environmental consultants, and sources of safe products. MCS sufferers may see this as another Silent Spring, but the AMA will take more persuading. (Author tour)

Pub Date: July 2, 1997

ISBN: 0-316-73221-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1997

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Authoritative and, most helpfully, accessible.

HEALING OUR VILLAGE

A SELF-CARE GUIDE TO DIABETES CONTROL

Self-help guide for diabetes sufferers, mostly in question-and-answer format, with an emphasis on helping racial and ethnic minority diabetics.

Coleman is a pharmacist with a doctorate in her specialty, Gavin a Ph.D. and M.D. Aside from acknowledgments and a foreword signed by Gavin alone, their voices and expertise are indistinguishable, offering lucid, simple solutions for diabetes patients. Gavin relates watching his great-grandmother endure debilitating pain as a result of diabetes while he visited her as a youngster. He remembers hearing adults mention that sugar killed her, and he wondered how something that tasted sweet could cause so much harm. As an adult, he realized that his great-grandmother's affliction could be controlled through treatment. The authors focus on Type 2 diabetes, the most common form in minority populations. An estimated 18.2 million Americans are diabetic, with perhaps 5 million unaware of their situation. About 11 percent of U.S. diabetics are African-American, and about 8 percent are Latino. The question-and-answer format begins with an overview section about diabetes, with an emphasis on risk factors. Section Two covers management of the disease, including nutrition, exercise, blood-testing, oral medications and insulin use. In addition, the authors continually recommend smoking cessation, as well as instructing patients on the readiness of self-treatment. Section Three explains the complications—high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease—that could arise if the condition remains untreated or treated ineffectively. The questions in all of the sections are worded simply, and the answers are usually free of medical jargon. Though the sudden shifts in tone and voice are occasionally jarring, the writing remains clear enough to distill the facts. The real downside here, though: patronizing, laughable illustrations that degrade the overall product.

Authoritative and, most helpfully, accessible.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2004

ISBN: 0-9746948-0-0

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2010

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There's a clear and intelligent gadfly at work here, offering much food for thought through his outrage.

CANCER-GATE

HOW TO WIN THE LOSING CANCER WAR

An astute—and sadly revealing—collection of articles from the past 15 years covering a wide number of topics related to the state of cancer research in the United States.

While it's true that Epstein—a physician and professor of occupational and environmental medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine—is clearly distressed by the current situation regarding our nation's approach to seeking cures and causes of cancer, this is far from a screed or conspiracy theory. He and a small number of contributors explain clearly why they feel the cancer fight has been stymied from the beginning. Epstein suggests the elimination of two impediments immediately: blaming the victim and putting the emphasis on diagnosis and treatment instead of prevention. He further suggests that there ought to be a distance between research institutions and those who fund the research. Since that likely means state intervention, he would like to see that ideologically biased individuals are not put in positions of power, dispersing funds (as happened under the Reagan administration, with its closed-door sessions with industry executives); too often the economic and political strings are held by those with a conflict of interest, such as the makers of products with suspicions of carcinogenic properties, or those with a vested interest in selling drugs to cancer patients. He also suggests that groups like the American Cancer Society stop spending three-quarters of their massive annual outlay on administrative costs, and start working more closely with environmental and occupational groups. Finally, he addresses the potential threats from pre-menopausal mammography, and the food industry's use of growth hormones.

There's a clear and intelligent gadfly at work here, offering much food for thought through his outrage.

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2005

ISBN: 0-89503-310-0

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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