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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Useful but disappointingly commonplace tips.


In a follow-up to The End of Illness (2012), which explored how technological advances will transform medicine, Agus (Medicine and Engineering/Univ. of Southern California) restates time-tested but too often overlooked principles for healthy living.

The author outlines simple measures that average citizens can take to live healthier lives and extend their life spans by taking advantage of modern technology to develop personalized records. These would include a list of medical tests and recommended treatments. Agus also suggests keeping track of indicators that can be observed at home on a regular basis—e.g., changes in energy, weight, appetite and blood pressure, blood sugar and general appearance. He advises that all of this information be made available online, and it is also helpful to investigate family history and consider DNA testing where indicated. Along with maintaining a healthy weight, Agus emphasizes the importance of eating a balanced diet, with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and a minimum of red meat. Avoid packaged vitamins and food supplements, and if possible, grow your own vegetables or buy frozen vegetables, which will generally be fresher than those on supermarket shelves. The author also warns against processed foods that make health claims but contain additives or excessive amounts of sugar or fat. Regular mealtimes and plenty of sleep, frequent hand-washing and oral hygiene are a must; smoking and excessive time in the sun should also be avoided. Agus recommends that adults should consider taking statins and baby aspirin as preventative measures. He concludes with a decade-by-decade checklist of annual medical examinations that should be routine—e.g. blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol screenings, from one’s 20s on; colonoscopies, prostate exams and mammograms later—and a variety of top-10 lists (for example, “Top 10 Reasons to Take a Walk”).

Useful but disappointingly commonplace tips.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-3095-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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