An engaging self-help book that offers a clear road map for extending one’s life span.




Clean living improves the odds for a long life, according to this fascinating primer on the medical realities of aging.

Cortvriendt, a physician, focuses on the nutritional and lifestyle factors that affect our susceptibility to cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. Front and center is his detailed, wonderfully lucid discussion of food, which takes readers from the basic chemistries of carbohydrates, fats and proteins and their metabolism in the body through the subtle and often strange complexities of dieting. (Excess carbohydrates are bad, but an Atkins-style ban will do much more harm than good, he writes.) He provides a skeptical take on vitamin and antioxidant supplements; vitamins A and E, he writes, have been found to actually increase cancer risks at high doses. He balances this with the seemingly miraculous assertion that eating dark chocolate protects against cancer, diabetes and other ailments; tobacco is anathema, alcohol tolerable and coffee a downright boon, he says. However, Cortvriendt advises that what we do is as important as what we ingest and that there’s no end to the benefits of exercise, which wards off hypertension, dementia and other ills. Basking in sunlight may perk you up, the author says, but it can also give you cancer or make you look old. The book also advises that seething Type A personalities should learn to relax and meditate. There are facts, figures and charts galore, but the author presents the information in simple, straightforward prose that laypeople will understand, while paying due attention to complexities; for example, he explains the pitfalls of deriving reliable conclusions from a muddle of medical statistics and offers shrewd, evenhanded assessments of the conflicting evidence surrounding medical controversies. The result is an absorbing, highly readable exposition of the science of health that yields a wealth of common-sense advice.

An engaging self-help book that offers a clear road map for extending one’s life span.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4928-7008-1

Page Count: 380

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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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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Authoritative and, most helpfully, accessible.



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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