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Customer Review

on January 22, 2012
For once, I fell for the hype surrounding a book but after reading "The End of Illness" I realized I should have stuck with my original plan to check it out from my library. There is absolutely nothing groundbreaking or particularly significant about anything contained in this book. So why give it three stars? It does contain basic, medically supported info that some older person who has had no tv, no internet, no newspaper, and no radio access for the last 30 years and refuses to go to the doctor or listen to his doctor would need to know. As for the rest of us, all this book does is confirm what you already knew or suspected.

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.
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