Mike Smith's Reviews > The End of Illness

The End of Illness by David B. Agus
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Mar 05, 2012

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bookshelves: non-fiction

I'm not sure what to make of this book. The author, David Agus, who is unquestionably qualified in his field of oncology, argues somewhat persuasively for a new approach to health care. Rather than the current method of "diagnose and treat," he suggests we need to be more proactive, taking regular measurements of our personal health parameters and taking action to correct any deviations as soon as they are noticed, even if we exhibit no obvious symptoms of illness yet. He supports what I've read elsewhere, which is that we all respond to drugs differently because of our unique genetic profiles. But then he says that our _protein_ profiles are more important than our genetic ones. Our genes tells us about what tendencies we might have for various illnesses, but only our past and current protein profile (which changes all the time) can tell us what's going on inside our bodies right now. Few companies currently offer protein profiling, but Dr. Agus is the founder of one such company. This comes across as self-serving.

The narrative is a bit disjointed and wanders from topic to topic with sometimes abrupt transitions. There seems to be some contradictory advice as well. For example, he advises us not to take vitamins and other supplements unless a doctor has prescribed them because we can get all we need from a balanced diet. But then he says most food loses its nutritional value unless it's eaten within a day or two of being harvested. For most of us, shopping every day or two for fresh food is pretty much impossible, so maybe supplements aren't such a bad thing...?

The style verges from almost folksy to very technical and academic, yet there are gaps in the technical material. He spends quite a bit of time discussing the dangers of inflammation, for example, without ever really explaining what inflammation is. I was also somewhat put off to find that all the blurbs and endorsements for this book come from investors and entrepreneurs. Why are no medical experts praising these ideas? On the surface, they seem reasonable, but I'm just not sure.

All in all, there's some interesting food for thought here, but I'd like to see some corroboration from other experts.
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