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Experimental Man: What One Man's Body Reveals about His Future, Your Health, and Our Toxic World Hardcover – Bargain Price, March 3, 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"...gives us a brilliant view of what cutting-edge medical technology can - and -cannot tell us about our future health." (Financial Times, July 4th 2009)

From the Inside Flap

Why would an arguably normal, healthy individual submit himself to hundreds of blood tests, body scans, brain scans, and other medical tests? Why would this same seemingly robust specimen have his DNA—and the DNA of his family—analyzed for genetically related diseases, as well as for genes that affect personality, intelligence, physical and mental abilities, and more—then publish the results for all to see? If you've heard the term "guinea pig journalism" and wondered what exactly it meant, you are about to learn the definition in ways you'll never forget.

In Experimental Man, award-winning journalist, public radio correspondent, and bestselling science author David Ewing Duncan puts every aspect of his physical makeup under the microscope. His mission, as perhaps the most tested healthy person in history, is to discover what cutting-edge medical technology can tell him, and us, about our future health; the effects of living in a toxin-soaked world; and how genes, proteins, personal behavior, and an often-hostile environment interact within our bodies.

Duncan begins by eating two servings of large fish in a single day and watching his blood-mercury level nearly triple overnight. He is relieved to discover that he is among the lucky humans with a genetic proclivity for expelling most mercury in a month or so. He goes on to examine evidence of hundreds of chemical exposures that occurred in his childhood in Kansas and later in life, and their impact on his health. In the end, he receives startling news about how long he might live based on his profile and an alleged "longevity gene."

A series of brain scans explains why Duncan is a writer and not a London cabbie; provides insights into his moods and emotions; and, perhaps, reveals whether he is an atheist or a true believer, or prefers hip-hop or Beethoven—but what can a brain scan tell him about consciousness and self-awareness?

Duncan is startled by a computer model that predicts he could have a heart attack by 2017, and nonplussed by a nutritionist who informs him his diet is not as healthy as he thinks. He investigates a bump on his kidney and provides a fascinating, organ-by-organ tour of himself as seen through a total body scan.

As a new age of personalized medicine dawns, these tests and more will soon be available to millions of people. But will knowing the intricate details of our physical condition now and in the future put our minds at ease or make us paranoid? Will this information be used against us at work and even in love? Experimental Man explores these and many other questions about health, medicine, and the nature of life in the twenty-first century.

The book Experimental Man is interactive with The Experimental Man Project Web site, which includes articles, news, a blog, tests you can take, and a complete download of David Ewing Duncan's data, presented section by section. Go to www.experimentalman.com.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (March 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470176784
  • ASIN: B003156AE6
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,132,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Nadia Mustafa on March 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I just got a copy of David Ewing Duncan's new book, and it's amazing. It
makes sense of some of the new science that I've been reading about --
genetics and brain scans and the like -- and explains it from the
perspective of a real person taking these tests. The environment parts of
the book are riveting -- and a bit frightening: that we are being exposed to
everything from mercury to pesticides, and that our genes might give us some
protection, or not, from these chemicals.

In the end, it's a great read, well written with very human stories. I
highly recommend this book if you want to see what the future holds for
medical testing.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In David Ewing Duncan's new book, "The Experimental Man", he takes us on an adventure through his own body that a mere decade ago would have been seen as science fiction, not science fact. A modern "Fantastic Voyage", we travel with David through a variety of tests that explores who we are and where are going.

Most people by now have heard an advertisement for fully body scans, genetic testing for markers, or genetic testing for family lineage. David Ewing Duncan has obviously decided to take this not just a few steps further, but leagues in the future-present and doing what many would be fearful of doing, taking the world along for the ride.

Not just a book of medical tests, medical capabilities, or the effects of the world on our bodies, this is a masterly crafted story of one man's odyssey of medically-enhanced self-discovery.

If you a wondering "Should I buy this or not?" stop hesitating. David Ewing Duncan's book is a must read and belongs on everyone's book shelf and will soon be the topic of discussion at every water cooler and social gathering.
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This could have been a much shorter book. What do you learn by acquiring lots of data from many different modalities on a healthy individual? Not much. Certainly very little that is actionable beyond things that are well known -- he should watch his weight and his diet. The most insightful point in the book pertains to the author's brother who led an incredibly active life before being sidelined by a debilitating disease. If his parents had known through, say, genetic testing, that he would break lots of bones, would they have taken away the activities that gave him the most pleasure in life? For the most part, this book is a pretty good advertisement for ignorance being bliss.
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Great read. Note that the information about Resveratrol mentions SRT501, which was pulled by the manufacturer during clinical trials after the book was published. However, as a supplement Resveratrol was worth every penny. The book helps set the stage for a lot of the studies that have been done since, which have proved how polluted our bodies are, and how we are foolish to believe that they can clear out all of the toxins they encounter. So trying to encounter less is the wise sustainable choice. There is a website that will evaluate genomic data, like that gathered from a 23andMe SNP sequencing ($99) at https://www.promethease.com/ondemandlicense. It requires a small donation ($5+) to have them do an analysis. Remember if you find anything funky, don't take it to heart, until after you've discussed it with your family Doctor, or a genetics counselor. My Genetics showed multiple variants for Adult Onset Diabetes (type 2). Getting blood tests, which showed it was true, was a real heads up. So I was able to make changes in my diet and supplement to bring my blood glucose level down to within normal range.
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This book takes you thru the authros journey of obtaining and understanding many different medical tests-mostly the newer genetic tests. In this regard, it provides a lot of information about what tests are available and what to expect from them. Nonetheless this book is tediously long and doesnt get to make many points other then the authors life was little changes despite the many tests he took. In addition, this book offer little guidance for people seeking some of these newer tests. I also wasnt crazy by the lack of orgnaization of the material. The author should have shortened the book and focused more on helping others for it reads almost like a travelogue thru a bunch of new and unusual medical tests.
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Amazing project, well researched and thorough. If you're interested in the quantified self movement, or in simply understanding what the state of personal health measurement is, this book is for you. Although written in 2008 or 2009, it's a wonderful introduction and overview, and the companion website is still up and relevant. Duncan is a fantastic writer who identifies all the factors impacting one's health.
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Format: Hardcover
Is Gattaca around the bend? How long until we're all living to be 125 years old? Can a 50 year old have the brain of a 25 year old? Will neurologists and scientists studying chemicals in the environment and geneticists all be able to play nicely together to create my personalized health profile, which will predict which diseases and problems I'll be at risk for?

David Duncan explores all of these questions and more-- simplifying a lot of science and testing and theory to accessible language, making for a fascinating read. The answers aren't always conclusive-- in fact, they're quite often not-- but the questions and potential implications are a good starting point nonetheless.
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