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The End of Illness Paperback – October 16, 2012
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“In this brilliant book, David Agus introduces a whole new way of looking at illness and health. Taking a cue from physics, he views the body as a complex system and helps us see how everything from cancer to nutrition fits into one whole picture. The result is both a useful guide on how to stay healthy and a fascinating analysis of the latest in medical science.” —Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs
“Dr. David Agus has given us a remarkable peek into our health--and the impact will be profound. I’ve made it my mission in life to live strong and help others do the same. The End of Illness is one more empowering piece to the puzzle of knowing how to do just that. This book will prevent illness, revolutionize treatments, and lengthen people's lives. A tour de force in its delivery and message.” —Lance Armstrong, 7-time Tour de France winner and Founder and Chairman, LIVESTRONG
“David Agus is one of America’s great doctors and medical researchers, a man dedicated to improving the health of as many people as he can. Written in a style and format that will truly engage readers, The End of Illness presents a dramatic, new way of thinking about our own health—a way that could lead to greatly improving the quality of life for millions, starting right now.” —Al Gore, 45th Vice President of the United States, Nobel Laureate in Peace, 2007
“As physician, research scientist, and friendly guide, Dr. Agus takes his readers on a fascinating tour of ideas and facts about health and illness. They will find many of those ideas to be unconventional and thought-provoking and many of the facts to be both striking and surprising. Read this book and you will very likely change at least some of your views on health and illness.” —Murray Gell-Mann, PhD, Nobel Laureate in Physics, 1969, and Distinguished Fellow and Cofounder of The Santa Fe Institute
“David Agus's The End of Illness is a brilliant blend of enlightening manifesto and practical how-to in the realm of our most important ingredient to a long and happy life: health. Filled with unorthodox ideas backed with hard science, it simplifies for the reader the complexity of vital developments happening in medicine today and teaches us how to make the most of what's available, as well as what's soon to come.” —Michael Dell, Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of Dell, Inc.
“Dr. David Agus is surfing the crest of two great waves of innovation -- in information technology and the life sciences. His End of Illness uses Big Data to decode the personal and molecular basis of disease. And, more important, advance a new model for health where prevention is key." —John Doerr, partner Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers
"David Agus, one of the nation's most innovative cancer doctors, shatters the myths about health and wellness and provides us with a handbook for living a long, healthy life." —Steve Case, Chairman of Revolution and The Case Foundation, cofounder America Online
“In this seminal book, Dr. David Agus presents a brilliant new model of health based on the body as a complex system with an emphasis on prevention. The End of Illness may reframe everything you thought you knew about health. It is both provocative and inspiring. Highly recommended.” —Dean Ornish, MD, founder and president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco
“Dr. David Agus has been disrupting medicine as we know it for his entire career. Now, he brings his ideas out of the lab and exam room and into the lives of everyone—showing us how to live long, healthy, disease-free lives. Reading this book is the best thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones. A monumental work that will change your life.” —Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO, salesforce.com
"David Agus is one of the great medical thinkers of our age. "The End of Illness" reframes the entire discussion of sickness and health. Instead of thinking about disease Agus thinks about the system that is the human body, and what we need to do to guide it toward health. Before you take your next vitamin, read this book." —Danny Hillis, PhD, cofounder, Applied Minds and Thinking Machines
About the Author
David B. Agus, MD, author of the New York Times and international bestsellers The End of Illness and A Short Guide to a Long Life, is a professor of medicine and engineering at the University of Southern California and heads USC’s Westside Cancer Center and the Center for Applied Molecular Medicine. He is one of the world’s leading physicians and pioneering biomedical researchers, and is a CBS News contributor. He lives in Beverly Hills, California.
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(1) Taking a baby aspirin a day might well save your life.
(2) If you spend a lot of time sitting down on the job, get up every once in a while and walk around. Take the stairs when possible. That could add years to your life.
(3) Frozen fruit is probably better for you than "fresh" fruit. As a result, making smoothies is probably better than juicing.
(4) As the costs of whole genome sequencing come down (and patent issues are resolved), people would be well advised to get their genome read and diagnosed - whether by this author's company or another's. While genes don't tell the whole story, they can be very indicative of preventable problems. And prevention is far preferable to treatment.
(5) Do whatever you can to avoid the release of stress hormones - those can cut your life short too. Obviously stay clear of stressful situations (or develop coping mechanisms); less obviously, try to eat your meals on a regular schedule, and keep a regular sleep schedule.
(6) Do what you can to avoid inflammation generally - inflammation can have long-term effects. Taking a daily aspirin is a good start; getting a regular flu shot might be another.
A bit more controversial are his recommendations regarding statins and nutritional supplements. He says that taking statins when you turn forty will reduce your chances of inflammation and cancer, and he points to studies that suggest that in some cases, taking nutritional supplements can do more harm than good - specifically that taking large amounts of vitamin D or vitamin E has been linked to prostate cancer, and that tumors tend to feed on vitamin C. I see that other reviewers consider these studies biased (apparently they were paid for by pharmaceutical companies), or simply wrong (was the study vitamin D, or its metabolite calcitriol?), but I think the author makes a valuable contribution by bringing them to our attention. If in fact the studies he relies on are flawed, people will come forward with the studies and books that refute them.
I'm giving the book four stars because it taught me some things I didn't know and because I think it makes a real contribution. I'm not giving it the fifth star, because I don't think it's that much better, or that much more of an eye-opener, than any number of health and fitness books I have read. All of them have the same basic message about taking care of the entire organism, yet the author here acts like he's the first one who thought of that. And didn't Aristotle recommend moderation in all things?
On top of that, I'm disturbed by the way this book was marketed, and the route it took to the top of all the best-seller lists. I see from Beowulf's review that all of the big-name reviewers (Al Gore ["dramatic, new way of thinking about our own health"], Lance Armstrong ["tour de force"], Dean Ornish ["brilliant new model of health"], Steve Case ["shatters the myths"], etc.) turn out to be friends or investors of the author's, and that most of the five-star reviews are probably fake. I also recently learned that Connie Chung - whose interview with the author convinced me to buy the book in the first place - is actually the author's mother-in-law (or step-mother-in-law, to be more accurate - he's married to Maury Povich's daughter). I don't think it's fair to customers not to disclose all of these connections, and I'm concerned that all of these undisclosed connections have contributed disproportionately to the popularity of this book.
I am assuming though that you're interested in this book because you want to: (a) avoid an illness, particularly a life threatening illness or (b) you already have an illness and think this book will give suggestions on how to improve your life and get control of your illness. Learning about new advances in medicine which may or may not lead to anything that will help you during your lifetime is just a bonus but not high on your list of priorities. To be truthful, even if you read the book for that last purpose, you'd still be disappointed. I'm one of those unlucky people who was diagnosed with a chronic illness at the tender age of 13. Before then, nothing major happened in my life to kick start the illness - no drug use, no past illnesses/accidents, no lack of exercise, no atrocious diet, no lack of sleep habits, not a genetic disease. Sometimes $%&@ happens. As a mid 30s person, I'm pretty well versed in health matters but not an expert by far. I suspect many people my age and slightly older already know about the "tools" Dr. Agus "details" in this book and probably have been using them for years. It's the same "tools" you can learn about in any of the pithy little "Live to be 100" yahoo health articles the site spouts off every few weeks - and today.
Since the table of contents is available, I don't think I'd be breaking any rules or providing any spoilers by mentioning these tools:
(1) Don't believe every health study that comes out (duh)
(2) Taking vitamins is not as good as eating healthy food (duh)
(3) Try to avoid or lessen inflammation in the body (big Duh) - doesn't really tell you how except to get flu shots and wear comfortable clothes. Basically anytime you injure yourself or get sick there is inflammation. Not really a way to avoid all that esp. if you were a rambunctious kid since apparently things that happened to you as a kid can have a long lasting effect on your health today. From the anecdotes he tells in this section, I think Monk would be the only person capable of pulling this suggestion off successfully from birth to death. Even so, he could still get an illness because $%#@ Happens!
(4) Exercise (really?!)
(5) Keep a regular schedule for eating, sleeping, exercising (you don't say)
(6) Overall theme, keep track of how you are health-wise. Find out what's normal for you (done and done)
Rest of the book is filler on historical discoveries you learned in high school and hopes for the future, particularly with proteomics. He does seem to have a love affair with statins. Not being in the age range or having the type of illness to require these meds, I have absolutely no opinion on that.
There were only two things I took away from this book - that it's better to exercise in spurts than all at once (read about that earlier somewhere but it doesn't hurt to reinforce it) and you may want to get a DNA test to show your susceptibility to certain illnesses .... tests which coincidentally are offered by a company co-founded by Dr. Agus. Imagine that. Regardless, it does sound helpful esp. the ability to tell which drugs will work best for you. My doctor would probably say it's a waste of time and money but I'll make that decision after further research.
That's the book in a nutshell. He could have just written that in a two page internet article but I guess it wouldn't get much attention or money. Oh, and although the book is called "The End of Illness," it of course does not say a thing about "ending" illness now or in the future. A more truthful title would be "The Possible Downgrading of Terminal Diseases and Chronic Diseases that Substantially Lower Your Quality of Life into Easily Manageable Minor Diseases that You'll Still Suffer From But Will Have Better Control Over than Previous Generations." Reminds me of the Chris Rock joke where he says doctors will never cure AIDS but they'll make it manageable so all you have to do is take a pill everyday. The money's in the medicine. Not the cure. Prevention is the biggest weapon we have but you don't need this book to tell you that.