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The Autoimmune Epidemic Paperback – February 10, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Type 1 diabetes, Crohn's disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis—all these increasingly common illnesses are autoimmune diseases in which the immune system attacks the body's own tissues or nervous system. Equally alarming, as journalist Nakazawa tells us, is researchers' growing suspicion that autism may be an autoimmune disease, brought on in part by genetic predisposition, exposure of young bodies to man-made chemicals and perhaps viral triggers. Nakazawa (Does Anybody Else Look like Me?), who herself has been diagnosed with the autoimmune Guillain-Barré syndrome, tells of a lower-income Buffalo, N.Y., neighborhood where the growing number of relatively young residents with lupus led one persistent woman to discover that a lot where children played had been a dumping ground for industrial chemicals. She also chronicles the work of researchers at Johns Hopkins and other medical centers who have been able to regrow nerves using embryonic stem cells and destroy errant T cells of the immune system that have run amok. Included are suggestions for foods that may promote healthy immune response and consumer body care products to avoid. Everyone with a friend or family member with an autoimmune disease will find this a must read.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"In this important book, Donna Jackson Nakazawa sounds the alarm about the rise of autoimmune disorders, and the too-often unexamined evidence of linkages to the environmental contaminants we encounter on a daily basis in our homes, schools and workplaces. I encourage every American to read this book and learn about the choices you can make to reduce the spread and impact of this growing epidemic." --Senator John Kerry

"For the first time sufferers from the epidemic of autoimmune disease are offered a ray of hope and understanding about why their bodies have rebelled against themselves. Seriously asking the question "why", Donna Jackson Nakazawa provides answers and a roadmap for recovery which just doesn't exist with conventional medicine." -- Mark Hyman, MD, Founder and Medical Director of The UltraWellness Center; Author of the New York Times bestselling UltraMetabolism, The UltraSimpleDiet, and UltraPrevention; and Editor in Chief, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine

"An insightful exploration of one of the greatest medical mysteries of our time." --Frederick W. Miller, MD, PhD, Chief, Environmental Autoimmunity Group, National Institutes of Health

"Autoimmune diseases touch millions of Americans. Most of these diseases seem to be increasing in frequency. It is most likely that the environment is a major contributor to this increase. Ms. Nakazawa deserves credit for putting this important issue before the public". --Noel R. Rose, M.D., Ph.D., Director, Johns Hopkins Center for Autoimmune Disease Research

"Donna brilliantly blends personal stories with pure science highlighting the severity of autoimmunine disorders and the role everyday environmental toxins play in triggering onset of a myriad of diseases. As patients and policymakers, we must heed her warnings and demand attention to the causes and potential cures for this growing autoimmunine epidemic." --Congressman Fortney H. "Pete" Stark (California)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; 1 Reprint edition (February 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743277767
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743277761
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,892 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Donna Jackson Nakazawa

Donna Jackson Nakazawa is an award-winning science journalist interested in exploring the intersection between neuroscience, immunology, and the deepest inner workings of the human heart. Her most recent book, Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal, examines the lifelong consequences--both emotional and physical--of adverse childhood experiences, and offers readers suffering from chronic conditions a window to healing. Donna's other works include The Autoimmune Epidemic (Touchstone, Simon & Schuster, 2008, 2009), which investigates the causes of a growing environmental health crisis, and The Last Best Cure (Hudson Street Press / Penguin, 2013), which chronicles a year-long journey to test a variety of mind-body therapies in order to unlock the restorative powers of the brain. She is also the author of Does Anybody Else Look Like Me?: A Parent's Guide to Raising Multicultural Children (Perseus, 2003).

In addition to her work as a science journalist, Donna lectures nationwide and has keynoted numerous events, including the 2012 International Congress on Autoimmunity; the Johns Hopkins Women's Health Conference, "A Woman's Journey;" and the To Your Health Lecture Series, hosted by the 92nd Street Y in New York City. She has moderated panels for national health symposiums, including the American Association of Autoimmune Related Diseases (AARD) 2010 Summit, and lectured at medical schools nationwide.

Donna has appeared on The Today Show, National Public Radio, and ABC News. Her work has been highlighted on the cover of Parade, as well as in Time, USA Today Weekend, Parenting, and Psychology Today. Additionally, her writing has been featured in The Washington Post, Glamour, Ladies Home Journal, and AARP Magazine. She has been a regular contributor to More and blogs for Psychology Today.

She is the recipient of the 2012 AESKU award, presented to those who have made a lifetime contribution in the field of autoimmunity, and the 2010 National Health Information Award, which strives to recognize the nation's best magazine articles in health.

Donna has completed writing-in-residence fellowships at the Corporation of Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English and Public Policy from Duke University and is a graduate of the Radcliffe Publishing Procedures Program.

She lives with her husband, two children, and three dogs in Stevenson, Maryland.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

128 of 134 people found the following review helpful By Bob F. on March 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The Autoimmune Epidemic is an extraordinary book. "Extraordinary" may be an understatement. My wife suffers from an undiagnosed form of autoimmune. She has gone through many years of excruciating pain and uncertainty. We visited countless doctors, had more medical test than seemed humanly possible, searched through volumes of articles and professionals journals (we both have extensive professional experience doing research), learned the trials (so many of them) and tribulations of steroid therapy and, of course, began exploring an array of alternative approaches, all to limited avail. This is all to simply say we fortunately or unfortunately know a lot about autoimmune disease and better yet, know when we have found a resource that it comprehensive, timely and thoroughly researched (48 pages of citations). The Autoimmune Epidemic provides a comprehensive review of the evolution, impact, potential causes and potential strategies for managing and possibly dealing with various forms of autoimmune disease. Many of the major types of autoimmune disease (Lupus, Crohn's Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, etc.) are explored in detail. The damaging affect environmental factors, some that we control and some that we don't, play on our immune systems are thoroughly analyzed. The personal stories are riveting. The connection and statistics related to the various diseases are made clear. The author, Donna Jackson Nakazawa is not only an accomplished writer (Parade Magazine, AARP the Magazine and author of Does Anyone Else Look Like Me), she is another victim, a statistic but not a quiet statistic in what we are learning is a serious and growing epidemic. If you have one of the many autoimmune diseases, if you know someone who has one or if you are looking for a well documented analysis of the evolution, present status, research and potential breakthroughs, this book is for you. You will be educated, informed and possibly enraged.
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103 of 113 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The librarians in my community have had the insight to purchase three copies and have them on our shelves in the month that this book was published. Important? Yes, quite.

There's a web site referenced in the book, from Chapter Three, entitled "Dirty Little Secrets," that includes history about what happened to children in a Buffalo, NY neighborhood. Nakazawa refers you to a web site and invites you to type in the zip code for Buffalo and then read the story that unfolds about it.

Try this now! Go to the EPA dot gov web site using /enviro/emef as a suffix and type in YOUR zip code, then look at the map that pops up. It's color coded with all the locations being monitored by the EPA right now. The water was RED in mine.

So many people I know and love have had autoimmune diseases and/or cancer. This book has made me wonder even more than I already had how this all fits together - nutrition, the environment, our health, our children, our sick or already lost loved ones. If you read this book, perhaps the puzzle will begin to fit together for you too.

Have you noticed how many CHILDREN you see in WHEELCHAIRS these days? I see several children every day in wheelchairs at our elementary school. Was it like that where you grew up as a child?

I picked up a flyer at my son's school last week about dealing with ASTHMA in your school-aged child that's being presented here this week to teachers and parents and families in our county school system. How many children did you know with ASTHMA or DIABETES when you were growing up? I lived in a community where there were 5,000 people in my church alone.
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63 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Coker on February 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've been learning about nutrition and whole foods (instead of processed), "diseases of civilization", and brain health lately. This book really brings all those subjects together.

Full of thought-provoking, frightening, but hopeful examples of how - in the last several decades - we have created a toxic environment.

The most striking image was that of the "barrel effect." If one fills a rain barrel full of water - even above the top - the water will stay within. But when one more drop is added, the water just cascades down the sides. Many people, mainly women, seem to just fall apart suddenly with one autoimmune disease after another. We live in and consume this toxic soup for years and years, our body fighting it off as best as it can, until it just can't complete with the onslaught anymore.

If you wonder why each succeeding generation is suffering from more allergies, arthritis, neurological disorders, ms, etc. read this book.

If you have had doctors or family tell you that you are crazy or a hypochondriac, read this book.

Identify those things in your environment and diet you CAN change.

Change them.
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56 of 62 people found the following review helpful By James Gerofsky on February 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Donna Jackson Nakazawa has written a prophetic book, but not an entirely objective book. She is truly passionate about the topic of autoimmune disease and its potential links to environmental degradation and the lax regulation of foods and consumer products containing harmful substances. Given that she suffers from an autoimmune condition, one can understand her motives. However, the reader must account for that fact and take a step back from what she presents. There are legitimate reasons to suspect that many Americans are increasingly at risk of developing chronic autoimmunity because of "better living through chemistry". But much of the data and research needed to support this theory is incomplete. This is certainly a topic that needs public attention, but one that could be discredited if embraced too quickly.

The author interweaves human stories regarding the angst of having a strange and not fully understood medical condition with a bevy of facts and concepts about autoimmune disease. She also throws in a pinch of politics, as she narrates the struggles of communities seeking bureaucratic acknowledgment of disease clusters occurring near toxic waste sites. Her stories are compelling, and her knowledge of the processes of the immune system and its interactions with harmful substances such as mercury and TCE is extensive. Unfortunately, she fails give her readers "the big picture" of immunity and autoimmunity. As such, her references to CD44 proteins, toll-like receptors and other mechanisms of the immune system are scattered and disjointed.

Ms. Nakazawa provides an extensive notes section that backs up much of what she asserts. However, there are curious gaps for some of her more important and interesting claims.
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