Helpful, accessible information about a broad variety of health concerns.




Up-to-date, easily understandable answers to common medical questions.

With the assistance of former Medco executive Lotvin and Fisher, Chopra (Medicine and Continuing Education/Harvard Medical School; The Liver Book: A Comprehensive Guide to Diagnosis, Treatment, and Recovery, 2001, etc.) presents a quasi-reference book in five parts: food and drink; drugs, vitamins and supplements; medicine; alternative medicine; and health risks. Each part includes a half dozen or more questions, such as “Is Wine the Best Medicine?” “Does Aspirin Prevent Cancer” and “Should Children be Immunized?” While most are about common concerns, others, such as “Is Restless Leg Syndrome Really a Billion-Dollar Disease?” read more like a headline from a tabloid. In a brief discussion of each issue, the authors present science-based evidence to support the answer, or in some cases, an examination of the lack of evidence currently available. Sidebars highlight key points in the discussion so that readers looking for a specific answer can readily find it without reading the entire section. Chopra adds a coda to each discussion in which he sums up the take-home message in a paragraph or two. Although the preface and the introduction stress that the doctors will be presenting only evidence-based answers, this is not, strictly speaking, always the case. Chopra inserts his personal experience with acupuncture (“I know it works. I’ve seen it. More important, I’ve felt it”) and with prayer (“I personally pray for my sick patients and encourage their family and friends to do so”), even though the text has made clear that the scientific evidence isn’t there. The introduction’s explanation of clinical trials and of epidemiological and longitudinal studies is clearly written and contains useful information for anyone attempting to assess a medical claim. The concluding chapter outlines the healthful lifestyles of the two doctors along with the gentle suggestion that readers learn from them. Includes a foreword by Mehmet Oz.

Helpful, accessible information about a broad variety of health concerns.

Pub Date: Dec. 21, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-312-37692-5

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...


A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.


A study of swimming as sport, survival method, basis for community, and route to physical and mental well-being.

For Bay Area writer Tsui (American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods, 2009), swimming is in her blood. As she recounts, her parents met in a Hong Kong swimming pool, and she often visited the beach as a child and competed on a swim team in high school. Midway through the engaging narrative, the author explains how she rejoined the team at age 40, just as her 6-year-old was signing up for the first time. Chronicling her interviews with scientists and swimmers alike, Tsui notes the many health benefits of swimming, some of which are mental. Swimmers often achieve the “flow” state and get their best ideas while in the water. Her travels took her from the California coast, where she dove for abalone and swam from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, to Tokyo, where she heard about the “samurai swimming” martial arts tradition. In Iceland, she met Guðlaugur Friðþórsson, a local celebrity who, in 1984, survived six hours in a winter sea after his fishing vessel capsized, earning him the nickname “the human seal.” Although humans are generally adapted to life on land, the author discovered that some have extra advantages in the water. The Bajau people of Indonesia, for instance, can do 10-minute free dives while hunting because their spleens are 50% larger than average. For most, though, it’s simply a matter of practice. Tsui discussed swimming with Dara Torres, who became the oldest Olympic swimmer at age 41, and swam with Kim Chambers, one of the few people to complete the daunting Oceans Seven marathon swim challenge. Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of “an unflinching giving-over to an element” and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually).

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-786-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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