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The Autoimmune Epidemic: Bodies Gone Haywire in a World Out of Balance--and the Cutting-Edge Science that Promises Hope
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The Autoimmune Epidemic: Bodies Gone Haywire in a World Out of Balance--and the Cutting-Edge Science that Promises Hope

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  481 ratings  ·  92 reviews
From the foreword by Dr. Douglas Kerr, Director, Johns Hopkins Transverse Myelitis Center

"The Autoimmune Epidemic by Donna Jackson Nakazawa is an astounding book....It is the kind of book that will rivet you and scare you. It will make you angry. It will amaze you with the courage of some of the people described in the book...The Autoimmune Epidemic is every bit as co

Hardcover, 352 pages
Published February 5th 2008 by Touchstone
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Mar 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend this book for anyone w/autoimmune disorders OR anyone who is interested in the impact of our world becoming increasingly toxic and chemical. . . In fact, I'd recommend this to anyone who has food or other allergies, asthma or anyone who has KIDS . . . . or anyone interested in medical mysteries. Thoroughly researched and documented . . . a very interesting read.
Jul 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Living with Crohn's Disease and awaiting a possible Lupus diagnosis, Nakazawa's The Autoimmune Epidemic proved to be both enlightening in its evidence based argument of the environmental causes and pathophysiology of autoimmune disease as well as shocking in its presentation of heartbreaking anecdotes and expose of the hidden killers that are pervasive in our everyday lives. Readers with and even those without autoimmune diseases will undoubtedly rethink the way we approach diet and lifestyle af ...more
Dec 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I read it because I have an autoimmune disease, but everyone would benefit from a quick read.
The number of people in the USA who have an autoimmune disease outnumber Cancer patients, or Heart disease patients. Research has confirmed that chemicals - industrial, man-made chemicals - are causing many if not all autoimmunity. I worked around a solvent that (as I found out later), that has been shown to trigger my disease.
A co-worker has the same disease (Maybe more, I'm not in touch).
But this sa
Jul 13, 2008 rated it liked it
Scary stuff... Throw away all your furniture and plastic and stay away from processed foods.

This book needs editing, but contains some good facts. I wouldn't call it light reading, because the subject matter is not light... I recommend for people who don't mind overuse of bad metaphors, but want a very superficial understanding of autoimmune disease.

I fear its emphasis on medical research, especially genetics, detracts from the larger message that we have created a world full of plastic and chem
Mar 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is written by a journalist who finds herself with a somewhat rare and very debilitating autoimmune disease called guillain-barre syndrome.

As someone with an autoimmune disease, I was intrigued. At the age of 25, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism (the result of an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto's thyroiditis) after suffering with extreme symptoms for over a year. At the time, I was in grad school, studying to become a physical therapist. I was tired, chronically cold, and dare I
Little Pianist
Mar 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was one of the highly educational ones that I have read. Recently I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, and I did not know how or why it happened. But as I read this book it helped to explain what was going on and why. Also, it helped to realize that while there is no cure there are ways to live green and to keep a person safe while being treated with this disorder.
Dec 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, lupus
Out of all the books that I've read on autoimmune diseases, this one is the most informative. The topics that I so often dwell upon and obsess over are all discussed and with extensive evidence, citation and sensitivity. These topics include chemical toxicity, Vitamin D, vaccinations, adrenaline, emotional sludge, stress, and of course the workings of the immune system. I really feel this book as a value to my education and outreach in researching and learning about the autoimmune disease I was ...more
Feb 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2008_reads
I started reading the book in the middle, because I was flipping through it at the library. I was perusing the new nonfiction to just catch up on what we had, and I started reading about a swarm of lupus cases in one neighborhood. I wanted to know why, so I kept reading until the end. Then I went back and read the first half of the book. It is very good, well-researched, and very scary. However, I cannot find a reference in the book for the statement the author makes that hair dye increases the ...more
Books Ring Mah Bell
Mar 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
excellent resources in the book for those with (or who know someone with) an autoimmune disease. Worth reading just for the chapter on autoimmune disease in the East Ferry neighborhood in Buffalo. please think again if you think the government (example FDA) really gives a rats ass about people. scary info at
Feb 26, 2016 rated it did not like it
The ONLY reason this book received 1 star instead of 0 stars is because at least she got her basic history right when it came to the basic research of autoimmune diseases. From the discovery of the fact that yes, it was possible for our immune systems to attack each other in rodent studies (confirming how Hashimoto's disease works), to how specialists seem to split up autoimmune diseases based on how they affected the body (Chron's and other IBDs were claimed by gastroenterologists, RA and Lupus ...more
Dec 16, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: health
The author seems to think that to get an autoimmune disease one needs
1 the wrong genes
2 to be female
3 to be exposed to chemicals
4 to be exposed to certain viruses
5. more stuff...

If Mr Occam was alive today, he'd take his razor to this pile of babel.

The one thing the author is sure doesn't cause AI disease,
is the Hygiene Hypothesis.

In a recent book: An epidemic of absence,
that author make a very compelling case that overly hygienic conditions in the 20th century is the main cause.

To discredi
Carrie Kellenberger
I purchased this book after a recent rash of autoimmune flares had me in bed and unable to walk without pain for 20 out of 60 days. I never realized how much of an impact diet, stress and environment have on my condition until I started reading this book. It has inspired me to change my diet and start thinking about the environment that I live in and how it is affecting my health. The exact mechanisms that trigger autoimmunity are not completely understood, but toxins in industrial chemicals, he ...more
Aug 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, i-own, 2010
I'm not totally sure what to say about this book. Seems to be well researched, although it's a few years old so I'm sure some things have changed. Mainly it seems to be thought provoking. The fact that 1 in 12 Americans have an autoimmune disorder is shocking. And the possibility of those numbers increasing greatly are disturbing. It definitely shows how complicated the autoimmune disorder can be - so many possible puzzle pieces of causes and so many illnesses or disorders in one big umbrella. S ...more
Scott Strumello
Sep 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book talks about the variety of reasons which may contribute to the rise in various autoimmune diseases, but ends on a very positive note, highlighting some progress being made in the field. The biggest downside is that funding for research is too limited, so progress is slow.
Stephanie Graca myers
Jan 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Hands down the most comprehensive, informative book on the rising autoimmune diagnosises and their many complexities. Shocking and scary from a medical and social perspective. A lot of medical research and data. The author does tend to over cover topics long after a point has been driven home.
Feb 20, 2008 rated it it was ok
Good info but so much conspiracy theory it was depressing.
Dennis Littrell
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The smoking gun? The canary in the coal mine?

What is causing the unprecedented and alarming increase in the number of people with autoimmune diseases in recent years? What is causing the frightening rise in the number of children with autism? In this painstakingly researched and thoroughly documented book, Donna Jackson Nakazawa makes the case that pollution is the culprit. She argues convincingly that levels of pollution below those allowed by government standards enter our bodies and confuse o
Oct 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-read, health
4.5 stars

This book was exactly what I needed to read at the right time. I've been fighting with autoimmune issues for several years and can especially relate to the author's stories of bizarre symptoms (especially for my age) and the seemingly neverending appointments with new specialists but coming home with no answers except useless suggestions to get more sleep (I had 3 children four and younger at the time!), have less stress and get a better bra! I even had one Rheumatologist who'd rather d
Oct 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: health, autoimmune
I can't claim to "like" this book. It scared me.

But compared to another book I read on the same topic, as I began doing more research into my autoimmune condition(s), this one was much more researched-based. The narrative journalism style also made it much more of an engaging read --though not a fun one. I have to admit I skipped/skimmed several parts, too. But unlike other authors, this one actually convinced me to consider the possibility that diet, environmental toxins, and stress could poss
Jun 30, 2017 rated it liked it
I got this book from the library. I do believe that toxins and hazardous waste can cause all sort of diseases, however this book is not updated anymore. I should have checked the date of the edition before reading.
John M.
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely fantastic !

Well researched and thorough. This was an excellent primer for me to gain an understanding of autoimmune diseases. I would love to read a follow up book on this topic.
Susan Johnston
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Well written summary of relevant research informs the reader to understand and take action for one’s health and greater resilience.
Teresa Rosenberg
Dec 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
I have mixed feelings about this book, but on the whole, I would definitely recommend it to anyone who's interested in autoimmune disease.

It was actually quite well researched. However, the footnotes are not annotated within the text, so while I was reading along, it SEEMED like an awful lot of generalities and assumptions and made-up statistics with no studies to back it up. Only after I finished did I find the footnotes, many of which do provide hard data to back up the somewhat esoteric claim
Jun 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have had this book on my shelf for over a year now, and I have just been dreading to read it. Why? I am the statistic, that is why. I have an autoimmune disease (uveitis, which is inflammation of the uvea in the eye), and I wanted to read more about others who struggle with their bodies turning against them. I was also interested in theories on why I have this problem to begin with and learn about possible causes, factors, and also health tips.

With that said, I was interested very much in thi
Jul 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is extraordinary! A real eye-opener that should be required reading for anyone trying to lead a healthy life in our modern, chemical-laden world.

Donna Jackson Nakazawa's own experience suddenly becoming partially paralyzed (luckily for her it only lasted a couple months) and being diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, led her to follow her journalistic instincts and training and delve into the murky and messy world of autoimmune disease, which now affects 24 million Americans (more t
Feb 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
nonfiction; health/wellness. Would recommend for anyone with a mysterious chronic medical condition, or with a diagnosed autoimmune condition, or who is close to someone who is (more awareness is probably a good thing for anyone, but if you aren't personally concerned about these diseases, you're not likely to give it much credit. Even taken with a grain of salt, most of this is pretty depressing (with dramatic personal stories that might seem sensationalist to anyone who doesn't know someone wi ...more
Jun 23, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: health-diabetes
This probably really deserves a 3.5 or 3.75 :) Very interesting look at the combination of genetic, environmental, and health factors that when added together can result in autoimmune disease. Specifically the book is trying to address why we are seeing such sharp increases in diagnosis of autoimmune diseases (sometimes in clusters). I had no idea there were as many different diseases that are classified as autoimmune responses and it's interesting that each disease tends to get treated by a spe ...more
I read this book to get a better understanding of the disease I'll be dealing with (maybe for the rest of my life.) It was informative, but also a bit frustrating. If so many people are being diagnosed with auto-immune diseases, why isn't more being done in the field of science and medicine? According to the book, more patients suffer from auto-immune disease than heart disease and cancer. It's a little upsetting. Also, the book talks about how to change your lifestyle to help prevent further at ...more
Sarah Richards
This book had a few nuggets of good information, but overall I was not impressed it was too focused on Lupus to be a general comprehensive look at autoimmune diseases. Also her lifestyle changes and take on why there are more diagnosed cases of autoimmune issues is to get rid of all things with chemicals etc. She did not even really consider the possibility that more people are being diagnosed because more doctors know about them and the tests have become more advanced and accurate. It seemed to ...more
I think if I was a little more scientific, I would LOVE this book. What I did understand was fascinating. The title makes it sounds like one of those stupid books you would see at the drugstore - but it's actually based on research based on evolution/adaptation, and the alarmingly increasing amount of substances our bodies are exposed to. This would take HUNDREDS of years (if not more) for our bodies to accommodate to that and that's much of the reason so many of these auto immune disorders were ...more
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Award-winning journalist and internationally-recognized speaker Donna Jackson Nakazawa began writing at twelve years old, after her father passed away unexpectedly. Recording her thoughts and feelings in a journal helped her to make sense of a world without him. When she came to the last page of her diary, she wrote, “I think I’m going to be a writer.”

Later, in college, she joined the staff of Duk

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