(Editor’s Note: Dr. David Agus, author of The End of Illness appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on February 2. This book review originally posted on January 17, 2012.)
My Mom teases me that I’m the only 38 year-old woman who buys all her shoes at The Walking Company. I can’t help it, when my feet are uncomfortable, I’m miserable. So I glance with envy at my friends in their fashionable shoes and wish I could deal with the discomfort. Turns out, it’s a lucky thing I’ve never been able to stomach the pain. In his new book, The End of Illness, Dr. David B. Agus talks about a comprehensive view of maintaining good health into old age, which contains many surprises, one being that comfortable shoes are one of the keys to long-term good health.
I’ve always thought nutrition was the golden bullet. I eat my salads, juice (Dr. Agus has made me rethink my juicing) and take my multi-vitamins (he’s really made me think about taking my vitamins). I thought this was the only protection I needed to “beat” my genetics, but thanks to Dr. Agus, I now have much more to consider – and they are easy fixes!
Dr. Agus is is one of the world’s leading cancer doctors and pioneering biomedical researchers. He has the credibility to write a life-changing book, and that is exactly what The End of Illness is. It’s truly an important book that gives one the power, through knowledge, to attempt to beat genetic dispositions and move gracefully into old age.
The End of Illness begins with a graph showing Leading Causes of Death. The numbers start in 1950 and end in 2006. There have been great strides in fighting heart disease and strokes, but the battle against cancer has remained the same. Dr. Agus talks about how we’ve spent too much time “understanding but not controlling” cancer. He talks about the need for a paradigm shift. For example, he talks about how Sun Microsystems engineers can predict where a system is going to fail before it happens. They can swap out the faulty component before it brings the whole system down. He writes: “Imagine if we had that kind of capability in medicine. Rather than treating illness or breakdowns in the system after the fact, you’re effectively preventing failures from happening.”
There is a lot of science in this book. I am very much a layperson, yet I followed with interest and comprehended it all. I now know more about cancer than I ever wanted to know. At times I wanted to stop reading, I almost felt superstitious knowing this much about cancer – but that is the point to some degree. The more we know: the more we pay attention to our bodies, the more we know our medical history (and have it on a digital format “in case…”), the more we do simple annual blood tests and the more we really talk to our doctors about what is going on, the better we can protect and treat ourselves.
In addition to this information that almost serves as a “handbook” for what to look for and talk to your doctor about, Dr. Agus explains why 4 simple changes in your daily can help eliminate Illness:
- After the age of 40, begin taking a daily statin
- Take a baby aspirin every day
- NO multi-vitamins or supplements
- Get an annual flu shot
I’m sure you want to jump in and debate any one of these facts. Dr. Agus makes a compelling case for all. He also doesn’t recommend everyone blindly follow the same regimen; he encourages you to talk to your doctor before incorporating the baby aspirin and statin into your life.
Regarding the comfy shoes, that’s another recommendation, along with sleeping and eating on a schedule and “taking the stairs”. The book is rich with many more ideas and thorough explanations.
If I’ve piqued your interest but you still have questions, you can see Dr. Agus interviewed by Connie Chung here.
Ultimately, Dr. Agus succinctly shares mountains of data and gives actionable advice in The End of Illness. It’s one of those books you’ll want to keep on your bookshelf because it serves as a “handbook” for better health. If you are ready to take charge of your overall health don’t miss this important book!
Ellen Padnos lives in Manhattan Beach, CA with her husband, Ben, her children Anthony (5), and Annie (1), and her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Lola. You can also follow her on Twitter (@ellenpadnos).