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Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues
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Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues

4.13  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,633 Ratings  ·  237 Reviews

A critically important and startling look at the harmful effects of overusing antibiotics, from the field's leading expert

Tracing one scientist’s journey toward understanding the crucial importance of the microbiome, this revolutionary book will take readers to the forefront of trail-blazing research while revealing the damage that overuse of antibiotics is doing to our h

Hardcover, 273 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published February 6th 2014)
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Tracey Dosch
Jun 13, 2014 Tracey Dosch rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014, non-fiction
I am a microbiologist who teaches pre-nursing students, so I read this with informed professional interest. The first half of the book provides a good overview of the relationships we humans have with the microbes who travel with us through life, why some of them make us sick and others keep us healthy, and the problems that have developed through the overuse of antibiotics. The chapter on the acquisition of our personal microbes as infants through the process of birth and breastfeeding was part ...more
Jan 12, 2015 Wanda rated it liked it
Recommended to Wanda by: CBC radio
I've been doing a lot of research lately about the inner biome of the human being--all the micro-organisms which share space with us and help to keep us healthy. This book distills a great deal of that information into one coherent volume, which is great.

We have more bacterial cells in and on us than we have body cells. They help us with digestion, hormonal regulation, and immune responses. Without them, we would be hooped. Evidence is accumulating that the use of antibiotics has drastically cha
David Schwan
May 08, 2014 David Schwan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An intriguing book. The author gives a broad overview of the microbes that live with all people and the effects of antibiotics on the the human microbiome. The author explains overuse of antibiotics--particularly in children and farm animals. Milk we buy in the grocery story can have measurable levels of Tetracycline and even though we may not think we are taking antibiotics we can be. The author explains the results found in many studies on mice, and the results of studies on humans showing how ...more
May 10, 2014 Jenn rated it it was amazing
WOW. This book was SO right up my alley but is not for every reader (I got a lot of "you're reading what??" Personal stories interwoven with sound science - absolutely fascinating and gives sound hypotheses for why we're seeing the modern plagues in today's society. If you've ever wondered why diabetes, allergies and other autoimmune disorder rates are rising so rapidly and want to go beyond the popular "hygiene hypothesis" I recommend this read! I wish I could start my children's first three ye ...more
Jun 28, 2014 Audrey rated it it was amazing
This book should be required reading for anyone in the medical profession, parents, and policy makers (especially in agriculture and drug regulation).

In a clear and non-technical way, Blaser--an MD and former head of the Infectious Diseases Society of America--lays out the chilling story of how the unintended consequences of antibiotic use and overuse may be in danger of destroying civilization. That might sound ridiculously overblown, but his case rests on sound science. He likens the changes
Bastian Greshake
May 07, 2014 Bastian Greshake rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
While I had to endure microbiology lectures and practical courses during my undergrad studies I never was too interested in it and just rote-learned the Krebs cycle as requested. I pretty much preferred living things that you can more easily observe on a macroscopic level and actually do stuff (i.e. animals. And the irony that I'm now exclusively working in silico, often without ever seeing 'my' organisms isn't lost on me…).

So I'm by no means an expert on any microbes and microbiomes, but by no
Mar 20, 2016 Donna rated it really liked it
I recently read another book about this exact same topic.....Microbes. I liked that one, and I liked this one too. This was written in terms that ordinary people without a biology major or an MD after their name can understand.

This topic is thought provoking because it sheds light on things that have been taken for granted regarding present day and future medical care and the new health threats that seem to be popping up. This type of research on microbes is new, and hopefully it will continue
Clif Hostetler
Aug 13, 2014 Clif Hostetler marked it as to-read
The following is excerpted from the book, "Missing Microbes" by Martin J. Blaser, MD. Blaser, former chair of medicine at NYU and president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. He is one of a growing number of medical practitioners and researchers who believe that we are experiencing a growing array of "modern plagues," and that the cause of these plagues is rooted in our "disappearing microbiota":

"Within the past few decades, amid all of [our] medical advances, something has gone terr
May 14, 2015 Michael rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biology-genetics
An excellent analysis of the war between antibiotics and our microbiome. The material was very well-composed; as a microbiologist, I felt comfortable without being bored. I think that someone who isn't in the field would enjoy the book as well thanks to the author's concise explanations of historical and current practice. A cut above most of the pop-science books out there!
Oct 16, 2014 Maggie rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-book
This is a fascinating book. It's a fast read - written for a layperson, not an MD or a researcher - and really interesting. Antibiotics are great, life-saving drugs, but they have side effects, some known, some unexpected.

"So on the farm, in our mouse experiments, and in an epidemiological study of human children, there was consistent evidence that early-life exposure to antibiotics could change development leading to larger size and more fat."

If you don't want to read the book, read Jane Brody'
Keith McGowan
Oct 01, 2014 Keith McGowan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: medical-science
Whatever you are reading now, stop and get your hands on a copy of this book.

Antibiotics were once considered wonder drugs but now have become commonplace. Their overuse has led to concerns about the spread of "superbugs" (MRSA) that antibiotics will not be able to stop.

This author presents his research, albeit primarily on mice, that our overuse of antibiotics as well as C-section births and antiseptics has disrupted our microbiome - the relationship we have with bacteria. Not all bacteria is b
Jun 01, 2014 Emily rated it liked it
I picked this up because I was actually a subject in one of Dr. Blaser's experiments a few years back when I worked at NYU--the study was about the microbiome of people who do or don't have eczema and I was a control subject, which required me to walk downstairs to his lab every few months and have a grad student swab my elbow, cheek, and knee.

The book was worthwhile but I wish Blaser had put more effort into explaining the science at a deeper level. While he avoids the faux-peppy style I've co
Feb 13, 2014 Dachokie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other
Are We Ready for the Next Crisis?

This book was reviewed as part of Amazon's Vine program which included a free advance copy of the book.

The over-prescription of drugs isn’t exactly newsworthy … in fact, I’ll bet you can’t even watch a half-hour show on network television without at least one commercial dedicated to a drug that allows the suffering masses to better endure some miserable malady. Living in a world that promises a solution for every problem seems to have led to the “I-Med” path wer
Feb 13, 2014 Jk rated it it was amazing
I received a free ARC edition of this book through the Goodreads First Reads program and would like to thank everyone who made that possible.

I really enjoyed reading this. Some non-fiction and science books can be very dry, technical and boring but this was not one of those. It was very well-written and readable with some personal stories thrown in to illustrate certain points and the science was explained very well without going into unnecessary detail. I found the ideas and theories presented
Jun 02, 2015 Julie rated it it was amazing

This book is NOT anti-antibiotics, but a cautionary tale of the ramifications of over use.
Blaser is the director of NYU's Human Microbiome Program and a former chairman of medicine there. He talks about how the unbelievable rise in modern plagues such as asthma, eczema, reflux, food allergies, chrohns, childhood ear infections--areall coming from having an unhealthy microbiome.

Blaser talks about how the huge rise in the number of children who suffer immune responses to proteins in foods, not jus
Nicole Mahoney
Jan 17, 2015 Nicole Mahoney rated it it was ok
Interesting ideas and research but conclusions are overblown as the author links every ailment to the microbiome. Do we even know what a "healthy" microbiome looks like or how it changes over time? The book also reads like an autobiography in spots, which is ok, except the author is too boastful and I found it detracted from the book.
D.R. Oestreicher
Apr 02, 2015 D.R. Oestreicher rated it it was amazing
Missing Microbes by Martin Blaser describes the latest research and speculations in science's quest to better health. As Blaser is exploring health problems that impact people of all ages and social/economic classes, one might expect him to be a medical super star, but this has not happened...

"We published these ideas and the supporting evidence in ... a well-respected journal, but the article received very little attention--another big yawn."

This book and The Pied Pipers of Autism: How Televis
Travis J.
Jan 22, 2015 Travis J. rated it really liked it
Please see my extensive book review of Missing Microbes. I discuss Martin Blaser's hypothesis that the overuse of antibiotics and the “one microbe, one disease” model have diminished the diversity of our gut microbiota and are contributing to our "modern plagues."
Feb 14, 2014 Renee rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014-challenge
I received an advance copy of this book from a Goodreads giveaway. I hoped this book would be compelling and educational nonfiction, and I was right! Dr. Blaser's research into "the microbiome" is very interesting. He has a strong, clear writing style-- that is, he was able to explain complex ideas without "talking" over my head. Anything else I say would result in spoilers... I would recommend this book to anyone with even the slightest curiosity about science or medicine. It's fascinating!

Bening Mayanti
May 09, 2016 Bening Mayanti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I personally have an interest in human microbiome research area, but nowadays, at one point, I feel like human microbiome study is sort of a hype. Some of studies in this area were backed by multiple solid research, with big samples involved and good reproducibility . But some of the research are still in early stage with very little evident in human but the results were spread already as if it was a solid one.

I like how Blaser elaborates his idea by giving a basic understanding about human mi
Jenny Petsche
Missing Microbes by Martin J. Blaser opens the eyes of readers to the terrifying reality that comes with antibiotic use. Throughout the book he accounts the several negative repercussions that come with our overuse of antibacterials and antibiotics. He often compares our discovery and use of the drugs to the atomic bomb. They both were first seen in the 1940s, and while they seemed like an exciting solution, they have now shown their true colors with many unfortunate effects. I personally really ...more
Han Lee
Mar 01, 2016 Han Lee rated it it was amazing
Dr. Martin J. Blaser's book MISSING MICROBES bespeaks loudly how unique his research work has been and how hard he and his associates worked creatively on the subject matter, the microbes. The main message comes through clearly that all over the world antibiotics have been overused or misused to the detriment of human health.
To me the book is like a medical history or a detective story where the main characters are gut microbes. One of them, the Helicobacter pylori with conflicting roles against
Paul Smolen
Jul 21, 2015 Paul Smolen rated it it was amazing
it’s with great excitement that I read a book by Dr. Martin Blaser, a medical doctor and expert in the normal and abnormal microbes of the human body, something that scientist now call the “human microbiome.” Sounds dull, doesn’t it? Well, I have to tell you that this book is anything but boring. It’s not many books that can change one’s fundamental thinking about one of a pediatrician’s most basic tools-antibiotics, but this book does just that.

Ask any Western doctor and they will tell you that
Apr 07, 2015 Shana rated it really liked it
really important book. Not perfect and he doesn't have all the answers, but clearly his research has been thorough and he is in the right direction. Main messages: we are overexposed to antibiotics via prescriptions, but also via mass produced milk, dairy, eggs and meat. And the evidence shows that antibiotic use in infancy or early life has health repercussions still evident in later life. We have good Bacteria that has evolved to be in our systems, and antibiotics, especially the most prescrib ...more
Jan 18, 2015 Feyyaz rated it really liked it
The author talks mainly about the overuse of antibiotics in our modern health system.

He isn't necessarily against the use of antibiotics, but would rather that doctors saved the use for more emergency cases. Very similar idea by Nassim Taleb, who says that he only visits the doctors if it's an emergency, otherwise you will get more harm.

Blaser talks about how we evolved with our microbiome and how it not only protects us, but helps us live a healthy life.

He argues that food allergies, diabetes a
Dec 17, 2014 Martin rated it liked it
This book is essentially three parts: The opening, where the author lays out his case; the middle, where he offers the best evidence he can present to support his hypothesis; the closing, where solutions are offered. The quality of each part is very different. When laying out the case, he does a very good job of explaining his thinking. When offering evidence, he lost me a bit - actually, a lot - because the associations and causations don't seem that clear. With the closing, he shines, because ...more
Oct 15, 2014 Shana rated it liked it
The premise of this book is that the overuse of antibiotics and the increasing prevalence of Cesarean births may possibly be contributing to the growth of modern maladies ranging from asthma and Type I diabetes to food allergies and childhood obesity. Blaser presents his case in a way that even a person without a strong science background can comprehend. First, he delves into how we came to enter the situation we are in now where antibiotics are over-prescribed. I was surprised to find that 70 t ...more
Chris Demer
Jun 22, 2014 Chris Demer rated it it was amazing
This is a very readable book about what we have done to the microbes that inhabit our bodies, and have done so, probably since our evolution from other primates, and before.

The first few chapters provide a background, which covered information that I was familiar with. Namely, that our bodies contain more microbial cells than human cells and these organisms have co-evolved with humans. The vast majority of them do not cause us any harm, and many provide advantages, such as production of vitamin
Jun 02, 2014 Paul rated it it was amazing
This book looks at the harm that is being done to the human body by modern medicine, especially by the overuse of antibiotics, one of the greatest health discoveries of the last century.

First of all, if a person is suffering from some major ailment, and antibiotics have been shown to work in the past, then don't hesitate to take them. But, taking antibiotics for every sniffle and sore throat is a terrible idea. Penicillin, for instance, is a broad-spectrum antibiotic. That means that it does not
Breeann Kirby
May 23, 2014 Breeann Kirby rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2014
Everyone needs to read this. Blaser is top in his field and he makes a good argument of where we are headed. The sad part is that everyone who is born now is pretty much screwed.

But also read this by Jonathan Eisen:
"Extinguishing our microbiome? Really? The evidence simply does not support such a claim. I personally think antibiotics may be contributing to messing up the microbiome in many people and that this in turn might be contributing to the increase in a variety of human ailments (e.g., I
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Martin J. Blaser MD has studied the role of bacteria in human disease for more than thirty years. He is the director of the Human Microbiome Program at New York University, served as the chair of medicine at NYU and as the president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and has had major advisory roles at the U.S. National Institutes of Health. He co-founded the Bellevue Literary Review a ...more
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“Today, an estimated 70–80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the United States are used for the single purpose of fattening up farm animals:” 4 likes
“As long as amoxicillin is given to our children who have pneumococci in their noses and throats, whether harmless or not, antibiotic resistance is inevitable.” 2 likes
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