- File Size: 2254 KB
- Print Length: 402 pages
- Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (September 4, 2012)
- Publication Date: September 4, 2012
- Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0061P2L5U
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #352,325 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
An Epidemic of Absence: A New Way of Understanding Allergies and Autoimmune Diseases Reprint Edition, Kindle Edition
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1 in 5 Americans have an allergy, 1 in 13 an autoimmune disease, 1 in 3 are obese, and elderly Americans can expect to be felled by heart disease, cancer, and stroke, chronic diseases that are less common in developing countries, and absent from primitive cultures (see page 308). Are we missing something in our understanding of health and disease? This is the question journalist Moises Velasquez-Manoff addresses with the hypothesis that we’ve ignored ecological principles of diversity in our pursuit of single causes of disease and especially we have not realized the importance of microorganisms and parasites in tuning and maintaining our immune system. His evidence includes: as infectious diseases have decreased chronic diseases have increased, parasitized populations are at reduced risk of allergies and chronic disease, farmers and their children rarely have allergies more common among urban residents (until the farmers move to the city), bowel transfers often mitigate serious intestinal disorders, adults in developed countries with allergies and serious chronic diseases have occasionally benefited from voluntary infection with parasitic worms (but they have often suffered miserable consequences), infections of mothers often effect the immunity of their offspring, sometimes variations in immunity last more than one generation. All of this leads to a paradigm shift in understanding but, given our lack of consistent findings, not yet a paradigm shift in treatment. But just you wait!!!
He describes the efforts of cases of people suffering extreme autoimmune diseases, including himself, with non-medical treatments for their conditions, including infecting themselves with intestinal helminth colonies. The results vary widely, and the risks faced are discussed from all sides.
The research leaves me with an appreciation of the adaptive capacity of the human immune system to survive in a world of dynamically morphing microbes and viruses. A strong immune system, like a strong body that comes from lifting weights, is one that has to work actively to fend off low levels of agonists. This takes the understanding of how the body reacts to vaccines, for example, to a new, comprehensive level.
It is a most readable and even enjoyable, book written by a journalist researcher. The insights gained for personal health are well worth the time to read it from cover to cover.
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