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Good Germs, Bad Germs: Health and Survival in a Bacterial World Paperback – September 16, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Science writer Sachs (Corpse) makes a strong case for a new paradigm for dealing with the microbial life that teems around and within us. Taking both evolutionary and ecological approaches, she explains why antibiotics work so well but are now losing their effectiveness. She notes that between agricultural antibiotic usage and needless prescriptions written for human use, antibiotic resistance has reached terrifying levels. A decade ago, resistant infections acquired in hospitals were killing an estimated eighty-eight thousand Americans each year... more than car accidents and homicides combined. Our attempts to destroy microorganisms regularly upset useful microbial communities, often leading to serious medical consequences. Sachs also presents evidence suggesting that an epidemiclike rise in autoimmune diseases and allergies may be attributable to our misguided frontal assault on the bacterial world. The solution proposed is to encourage the growth of healthy, displacement-resistant microbial ecological communities and promote research that disrupts microbial processes rather than simply attempting to kill the germs themselves. Despite the frightening death toll, Sachs's summary of promising new avenues of research offers hope. (Oct. 16)
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.
“Could hardly be more timely.” ―The New York Times
“Brings the battle against dirt firmly into the 21st century.” ―The Washington Post
“Explains how our obsession with cleanliness led us to this point and details how science may still find a way past the danger.” ―O, The Oprah Magazine
Top customer reviews
anyway, this book will open your eyes to the role bacteria play in our lives as well as the folly of our attempts to eradicate them. well written, and easy to understand without being simplistic, this is a book that everyone should read.
We've co-evolved with bacteria, and we need each other. Animals raised in a truly sterile environment, with no bacteria, do not thrive. Good bacteria help with food digestion, produce enzymes so we have better nutrition, and help fight off disease by crowding out disease-causing bacteria.
It looks as if we've been too successful in sterilizing our environment. Children raised on farms, where they are exposed to more bacteria while they are growing up, have a much lower rate of allergies and auto-immune diseases than children raised in cities. It looks like we need a certain amount of stimulation of our immune system by outside bacteria for it to develop optimally. Otherwise, our immune system grows up to be on a hair-trigger, ramping up too quickly and aggresively. Kids need to get dirty to grow up healthy :-)
This is an excellent book, with a background on the science of bacteria, how they evolve and respond to our use of antibiotics, how we are now threatened by antibiotic-resistant bacteria, techniques for reducing risks from disease-causing bacteria, a survey of probiotic developments and research, and discussion about where we are headed. Well written and engaging, highly recommended.