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Customer Review

on August 16, 2009
This book is a member of the O'Reilly Missing Manual series, long a favorite of mostly the geek crowd for filling in material that may have been left out of or been hard to find in the owner's manual. The subtitle is "The book you should have been born with."

The chapter headings are listed below:

Skin, Your Outer Layer
The Doors of Perception (the senses)
Your Lungs
Your Heart
Your Digestive System
Your Immune System
Sex and Reproduction
Your Final Exit: Aging and Death

The book introduces each subject with a description of the normal workings of the organ (its physiology). It then briefly discusses what can go wrong (what doctors call pathology). Practical tips for routine maintenance and health are discussed, many myths are shot down. A number of interesting factoids are discussed in text boxes that are enhanced visually by a yellow or blue background.

This book is a good introduction to the subject matter, but is incomplete in many areas. e.g. I could not find a list of generally accepted screening recommendations in the book, things like suggested frequency of blood pressure screening, when should a statin drug be considered in a patient with high cholesterol, the importance of knowing your HDL and LDL cholesterol values and not just your total cholesterol, how often should woman have Pap smears and mammograms, should a man have a PSA test done. These are a few of many issues that might have been addressed and weren't. On the other hand several pages are addressed to love-making techniques, how to use and not abuse the clitoris, and does penile size make a difference in sexual satisfaction of the woman. Alcohol is briefly discussed, not in relation to health, but rather sexual performance. Ovulation, the release of the egg from the woman is nicely discussed, including the need for intercourse to occur near the time of ovulation to improve the chances of conception.

Some common and practical issues aren't addressed, e.g. what is dandruff and how does one control it? Decisions must be made in deciding to limit the information in a book, but it might be more important to list more of the common things and less of the things one is unlikely to face in life.

There is a 16 page index.

The contributors are listed in the front pages of the book. The "technical" reviewer is listed as a medical student due to graduate in 2 years. The book might have been better served by enlisting a practicing physician who is more versed in the practical aspects of providing directed and economical health care to his patients.

A strength of the book is its emphasis on the importance of life style choices and their effects on health. There is no question that for many of us, our life styles have more to do with our health than the medicines we take or the number of visits we make to the doctor.

For most electronic devices we purchase, we receive both a User's Manual and a Quick Start Guide. This book is more of a Quick Start Guide, a tantalizing introduction to the subject, but incomplete in many ways.
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