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

DOCTOR CHOPRA SAYS

MEDICAL FACTS AND MYTHS EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW

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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THE END OF ILLNESS

Oncologist Agus (Medicine and Engineering/Univ. of Southern California) predicts that the application of advanced technology for modeling complex systems will transform 21st-century medicine.

The author writes that a remark Nobel Laureate Murray Gell-Mann made to him in 2009—“Look at cancer as a system"—transformed the way he views his own specialty and the entire field of preventative medicine. It made him realize that “[r]ather than honoring the body as the exceedingly complex system that it is, we keep looking for the individual gene that has gone awry, or for the one ‘secret’ that can improve our health.” Agus writes that although the ability to sequence the entire human genome is a great step forward, it is insufficient for achieving a significant breakthrough. Even though it may start with a mutation, cancer “is a dynamic process that's happening…far from the confines of a static piece of DNA”—it involves the body's immune system, its ability to regulate cell growth, metabolism and more. Agus directs his university’s Center for Applied Molecular Medicine and is the co-founder of two personalized medicine companies, Applied Proteomics and Navigenics. His hope is that their research will contribute to developing better analytical tools for preventative medicine and for the treatment of cancers. These will address the functioning of the body as a whole, applying digital technology already used by physicists to provide virtual models of cancers and model the action of proteins that regulate cell communication in the body. He also hopes to develop tools that will provide information on the concentration of different proteins in a drop of blood taken from a patient, which may reveal the onset of disease. The author also includes some guiding principles and warnings about certain healthy practices that may not be so healthy. A refreshing change of pace in the medical field, but by venturing beyond his field of expertise to pontificate on a wide range of subjects, Agus makes his otherwise intriguing narrative difficult to follow.  

 

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-1017-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

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

WHY WE SWIM

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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