Book Review: The End of Illness

Ellen Padnos
Ellen Padnos

(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. David B. AgusDr. 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:

  1. After the age of 40, begin taking a daily statin
  2. Take a baby aspirin every day
  3. NO multi-vitamins or supplements
  4. 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!

Click here to see more articles on by Ellen Padnos.

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).


  1. Thanks for the review. If vitamins are so bad how come people are cured from some very serious disease from taking them? I agree that if you are not eating vegetable tainted with insecticides, that juicing has to be good for you. But a certain amount of your vegetables must be cooked to extract more nutrition. More and more kids are coming down with more and more cancers. Dr. Agus would appear to be a tool of the “MAN”. We are being fed like cattle.. and I would question Dr. Gary Null, Dr. Joel Wallach and Dr. Ronald Hoffman on Dr. Agus’ claims.

  2. Recent studies have indicated that taking statins for prophylactic purposes may cause brain damage and Dementia. Dr Agus’s recommendation that everyone over 40 take one daily makes me wonder who, by that I mean what drug companies, pays for his research. None of the discussions of his book have included a conflicts list.

  3. Who would would lump tens of thousands of supplements into one category, and say they are all harmful and none of them are beneficial could say that about prescription drugs? I certainly wouldn’t say that all food is bad or all water is bad.

    Funny how this guy doesn’t mention that doctors and drugs like Voxx kill people every day. Hasn’t everyone seen the constant commercials for: “if you or a loved one was killed by prescription X” please call our lawyers office immediately?

    If I’m going to die from some snake oil “cure,” I’m still far more likely do die at my doctors prescription than by taking vitamins, by over 1000 to 1. If you were paying attention The study that he references in his comments, was oxidized vitamin E.

    Not all vaccine are effective or safe either. My mom’s best friend was a nurse that was paralyzed for three months from her own flu shot. Do any studies plus your getting dose of heavy metals with every flu shot, Dr. Agus?

    How smart can this guy be?

    The fact is more and more people are choosing non-toxic supplements over prescription drugs and the drug companies have to do something about it. Most people just don’t believe everything a doctor on TV says anymore.

  4. Just this past week a large scale study came out showing that the risk of gastro intestinal bleeds from taking daily aspirin outweighs the cardiac prevention effect for most people. Statins have very serious side effects for a lot of people. I have heard this doctor interviewed and he repeatedly used the evidence against vitamin e supplementation for his case against all vitamin supplements. Yet many doctors believe that the low levels of vitamin d that so many of us have is a cause of disease.

    I am impressed that the commenters here are being reasonably skepticle of this book. None of the reviewers I have read or interviewers I have heard asked any of these very important questions. There is no excuse for this kind of “journalism”. People are losing faith in health information in part because the media mindlessly accepts all this information without question. Even Dr. Gupta of CNN did not challenge this doctor’s claims. The public is being taken for a ride – and having it’s pockets picked.

  5. I have to agree with most of the comments so far. Taking a man-made or man-engineered product is not the way to go. Drug companies are crooks.

    There is a lot of truth in books like the ones published by Kevin Trudeau, but many sites like to bash him and say he is a quack, a conspiracy theorist. From what I have read, all he promotes is naturally grown vegetables and fruits (with a list of ‘superfruits’), and meats raised without hormones or antibiotics, ever. He mentions the good effects of the sun for things like eyesite (he mentions the ‘safe’ time for sun gazing! lol). His explanation of drug companies and their agenda of forever treating instead of curing for nothing but profit makes incredible sense.

    The only reason I mention his book is because I have read two of them, and he does not try to promote products for his own profit interests, and that stands out. I would never trust a book written my a doctor again, unless he is one who takes a ‘cure’ approach over a ‘treatment’. He even mentions several ‘officials’ in our government who make great profits through prescription drug sales.

    It takes a whole lifestyle change to follow everything in the book for a healthy life, but making those changes one at a time will show results, almost immediately. I see positive results in myself already. There is no way I would read a single page of this book being promoted, the signs are already there.

    In no way am I affiliated with, or have ever met Mr. Trudeau, just so we are clear! 🙂

  6. This is one of the most dangerous books ever published. Statins are dangerous drugs that do nothing positive except in some exceptional cases. Do the research people – this guy is so misguided it’s not funny.

  7. I have been a foodie all my life and have cooked in a highly rated French restaurant in the San Francisco area. I catered dinners and parties and smoked my own ham and bacon in my back yard.

    After last Thanksgiving I wanted to eat light for a couple of days and after a week became a full fledged vegetarian. Since then I have lost 25 lbs, wake up less tired, hardly spend any money on food and just feel lighter, smarter, more awake and energetic. I am less thirsty than I used to be. And I have accomplished more personally in these 7 months that in the 2 years previous. I’ve written a horn sonata, a viola concerto, choral music and more, and have founded a non-profit to improve child safety.

    Anyone who tells you that the secret to staying healthy is in a pill is a quack. Our bodies were meant to eat whole, unprocessed food and to be up and doing things, not laying around or sitting behind a computer 10 hrs a day.

    My advice is to cut out any food that comes in a box or a can for a week. No McDonald’s or Olive Garden. Eat an entire head of lettuce each day. Learn to enjoy an apricot more than a burger.

    We are taught that energy comes from little red cans and that good food comes from a drive through, yet we wonder why cancer rates are so high and we are so obese.

  8. Dr. Agustin does not support his facts. Take a statin?? This is a liver destroying drug! Do not take vitamins?? He is obviously on the drug company payroll.

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