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Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues Hardcover – April 8, 2014

ISBN-13: 978-0805098105 ISBN-10: 0805098100 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; 1 edition (April 8, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805098100
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805098105
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,913 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* You share your body with a vast population of microorganisms. Ten trillion human cells coexist with 100 trillion bacterial cells. The human microbiome—an elaborate ecology of microbes on us and within us—plays a major role in health, especially immunity and metabolism. But this collection of mostly pacifistic and beneficial species of bacteria that coevolved with human beings is increasingly endangered—by excessive use of antibiotics in humans and farm animals, overutilization of antiseptics and sanitizers, and the rising rate of cesarean sections. Blaser, an infectious-disease expert and researcher at NYU, is convinced that the swelling number of people with obesity, asthma, and esophageal reflux is a consequence of disrupting the microbiome. He warns that even short-term use of unnecessary antibiotics in children can have long-term implications. Antibiotics have been available for almost 70 years and have saved countless lives. Surprisingly, however, around 70 percent of antibiotics in use are allotted to livestock to promote growth and fatten them up. Human ­microecology is complex, even paradoxical: the bacteria Helicobacter pylori can make folks ill (ulcers and stomach cancer) and keep them well (protection against GERD, asthma, and esophageal cancer). Blaser’s Missing Microbes is a masterful work of preventive health and superb science writing. --Tony Miksanek

Review

"The weight of evidence behind Dr. Blaser’s cautions about antibiotics is overwhelming."—The New York Times

"Unlike some books on medicine and microbes, Dr. Blaser's doesn't stir up fears of exotic diseases or pandemic ‘superbugs’ resistant to all known drugs. He focuses on a simpler but more profound concern: the damage that modern life inflicts on the vast number of microbes that all of us, even healthy people, carry inside us at all times."—The Wall Street Journal

Missing Microbes presents a surprisingly clear perspective on a complex problem.”—Philadelphia Inquirer

“In Missing Microbes, Martin Blaser sounds [an] alarm.  He patiently and thoroughly builds a compelling case that the threat of antibiotic overuse goes far beyond resistant infections.”—Nature

"Readable and challenging, Missing Microbes provides a stimulus with which to probe existing dogma." —Science

“Blaser presents a sensible plan for reclaiming our microbial balance and avoiding calamity both as a society…and on an individual level.” —Discover

"Missing Microbes blazes a new trail."—The Huffington Post

"An engrossing examination of the relatively unheralded yet dominant form of life on Earth." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Blaser’s Missing Microbes is a masterful work of preventative health and superb science writing." —Booklist (starred review)

"Credit Blaser for displaying the wonders and importance of a vast underworld we are jeopardizing but cannot live without."—Kirkus

"Missing Microbes adds a new frontier towards understanding vastly underappreciated key contributions of the human microbiome to health and human disease. As a world leader in defining the microbiome, Dr. Blaser explains how disturbing its natural balance is affecting common conditions such as obesity and diabetes, long thought of as primarily nutrition and lifestyle related problems. Blaser's carefully and convincingly written book outlines new dimensions that need to be considered in fighting a number of common diseases and in promoting health and well-being." —Richard Deckelbaum, Director, Institute of Human Nutrition, Columbia University

"In a world that turns to antibiotics for every infection of the ear, sinuses, or skin, Dr. Blaser makes even the most nervous parent think twice about giving her child these ubiquitous drugs. Dr. Blaser contends that the excessive use of antibiotics—especially in children—is at the root of our most serious emerging modern maladies, from asthma and food allergies to obesity and certain cancers. He walks us through the science behind his theories and examines the duality of microbes, both as essential agents of good health and perpetrators of sickness. At a time when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is campaigning for more judicious use of antibiotics, Dr. Blaser delivers a thoughtful, well-written and compelling case for why doctors need to be more cautious about prescribing these medications and why consumers should consider alternatives before taking them." —Nirav R. Shah, MD, MPH, Commissioner of Health, New York

"Dr. Blaser’s credibility as a world class scientist and physician makes this exploration of our body’s microbial world particularly provocative. Missing Microbes will make you rethink some fundamental ideas about infection. Blaser’s gift is to write clearly and to take the reader on a fascinating journey through the paradoxes and insights about the teeming world within us."—Abraham Verghese MD, author of Cutting for Stone

"I have often wondered why kids today seem to have such a high incidence of asthma, ear infections, allergies, reflux esophagitis and so many other conditions that I rarely saw growing up. This mystery has been solved by the pioneering work of Dr. Marty Blaser and is communicated brilliantly in Missing Microbes. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this book to your own health, the health of your children and grandchildren and to the health of our country. Missing Microbes is truly a must read." —Arthur Agatston, author of The South Beach Diet

"We live today in a world of modern plagues, defined by the alarming rise of asthma, diabetes, obesity, food allergies, and metabolic disorders. This is no accident, argues Dr. Blaser, the renowned medical researcher: the common link being the destruction of vital bacteria through the overuse of broad-spectrum antibiotics. Missing Microbes is science writing at its very best—crisply argued and beautifully written, with stunning insights about the human microbiome and workable solutions to an urgent global crisis." —David M. Oshinsky, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Polio: An American Story

"Why is it that you are fat, your son has asthma, and your 13-year-old daughter is six feet tall? Dr. Blaser says your bodies are missing vital, beneficial bacteria and I guarantee that after reading this book you will agree. Take a pass on the antibiotics and read Missing Microbes."—Laurie Garrett, Pulitzer Prize winning writer and Senior Fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations


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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Very well written and easy to follow.
sanoe.net
It is an interesting correlation, and may provide the answer to why there has been such a large increase in the number of obese children.
Frederick S. Goethel
This book really makes me look at how we treat patients in the ER setting.
P.N.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Frederick S. Goethel VINE VOICE on January 28, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As most of us know, the medical community has been over prescribing antibiotics for some time now, and there is a call for the practice to end. There is no need for the use of antibiotics in many cases, and the use of them could be curtailed significantly without harm to public health. In addition, the author of this book presents compelling evidence that the overuse of antibiotics is not just causing resistance in microbes, but may also be contributing to the alarming increase in a number of diseases.

The book begins with several chapters that explain microbiology and how microbes are aligned with the human body. For instance, there are millions of microbes living in your intestinal tract, but they are not harmful; in fact they may be very beneficial. Early and frequent use of antibiotics can disrupt this natural ecosystem causing a myriad of problems.

There is also information on how we obtain our microbiological flora. For instance, microbes are passed from a mother to a baby during birth. As the baby exits the birth canal, it is coated in the naturally occurring bacteria that is found there normally. In addition, the newborn will pick up bacteria from nursing and from being handled by the mother. All of this is normal, and healthy, but overuse of antibiotics maybe causing disruption of the normal process.

In information presented that was startling, the author has linked a bacteria found in the stomach, and thought to cause ulcers, to an increase in the number of cases of gastrointestinal esophageal reflux disease. When it was first proven that the bacteria in question was responsible for ulcers, doctors went on a spree to eradicate it from adults.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Burgundy Damsel VINE VOICE on February 20, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Antibiotics changed the face of medicine and have been responsible for saving untold lives. It's never been a secret that they tend to indiscriminately wipe out bacteria in our bodies, killing the good with the bad, or that antibiotic use has been rising dramatically for decades. Yet only recently that scientists have begun to piece together a real understanding of the grave, long term consequences that has on our bodies.

Scientist and author Martin Blaser does an excellent job of helping readers navigate the complex world of genomes, biomes, bacteria, viruses, and their complicated interactions and impacts on human health. He simplifies the material enough that it can be easily followed by a lay person while keeping it firmly rooted in solid science, research, and medicine. Shocking facts are sprinkled throughout (your average American gets more than 17 courses of antibiotics by age 20), but they are never used for shock value - merely reported in an honest, factual nature that keeps with the serious, professional tone of the book.

Blaser explores the long term consequences of heavy antibiotic use on individuals and society, and draws clear (and disturbing) links between overuse of antibiotics and modern plagues including diabetes, obesity, IBS/ulcerative colitis, asthma, and escalating food allergies. Using decades of sound scientific research and examples from both modern life and the history of medicine, he offers a slightly frightening but completely realistic picture of where we are headed as a planet if we don't change our ways. The book outlines key problems, offers viable (but not easy) solutions, and calls on all of us as a society to make better choices while we still can.

The book was a little on the dry side, but clearly written by a man passionate about his subject and it provides significant food for thought. An excellent read, and one we all do well to pay attention to!
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By M. Reynard VINE VOICE on March 20, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am not a doctor, nurse, scientist, really any type of person in the medical field. I'm just a person who thinks that reading about medical issues is interesting. So it's important for you to know that I'm going into this review without a lot of background and understanding of microbes and biology. There, the disclaimer is over with.

Missing Microbes is about the microbes in your body and the use of antibiotics. It explores the concept that perhaps we are doing ourselves a disservice by using so many antibiotics and that some of the microbes previously thought harmful, are in fact an integral part of our body's system and essential to our well being. Especially explored is H. Pylori that resides in your digestive system and is thought to be a contributor to stomach cancer and ulcers. Previously eradicated when it was found, new research is showing that it helps protect against other ailments and the destruction of it with antibiotics may not be the best course of action. There is also a section on birth and the impact that caesarian sections has on the passing of natural microbes from mother to infant. And several other facts about the bacteria in our bodies.

You can definitely tell the author wanted you to know what he's contributed to the field. And there's nothing wrong with that although it is a little distracting. Most of the focus is on the research and several studies are described. I appreciated the fact that it was written in language that I could understand. While there were some medical concepts that were a little harder for me, by and large, I understood the descriptions and theories that were presented in this book.
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