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The End of Illness

After seeing David Agus on the Daily Show, and receiving The End of Illness as a birthday gift from some work colleagues (thanks guys!), I was looking forward to some new insights from this book.  I wish I could say that it lived up to its promises (and my expectations):

Can we live robustly until our last breath? Do we have to suffer from debilitating conditions and sickness? Is it possible to add more vibrant years to our lives? In The End of Illness, David B. Agus, MD, one of the world’s leading cancer doctors, researchers, and technology innovators, tackles these fundamental questions, challenging long-held wisdoms and dismantling misperceptions about what “health” means.

Instead, I found it to be filled with rather commonplace ideas:

  • Get your nutrients from whole foods rather than through vitamins.
  • Make sure to exercise daily and avoid being sedentary for long periods of your day.
  • Get your annual flu shot.
  • Establishing regular sleeping and eating routines is good for your health.

He also pushes proteomics, or protein-mapping within the genes, as a wave of the future — helping to create your own custom health plan.  But knowing he himself owns a proteomics company, I couldn’t help but feel like the book was just an extended advertisement.

The End of Illness, however, did make me curious about two other books that are now at the top of my to-read list: The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee, and Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto (you can see my review of his book, The Omivore’s Dilemma here).  I think my desire to know more about the workings of cancer — which seems to be striking more and more of my friends and family these days — as well as the best ways to fuel my body, will be more likely found in these sources.

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