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The End of Illness

The End of Illness [Kindle Edition]

David B Agus
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

The time has come for us to stop thinking about illnesses like cancer as something the body 'gets' or 'has' but rather to think of them as something the body does. In this landmark work, leading researcher and physician Dr David Agus takes readers on a journey to decode the mystery of health and the human body. Based on his groundbreaking research and clinical trials, Dr Agus has come to the realization that the best way to combat cancer is to prevent it.
For decades we've tried to whittle down our understanding of the body and its ailments to a finite point - a mutation, a germ, a deficiency or a number. But this has led us astray from a fundamental basic understanding of our bodies as systems. The End of Illness presents a system's view of the body, urging readers to begin viewing their total health as a complex network of processes that cannot be explained by any single pathway or focal point. In many instances, it does us no good to try and understand a certain disease; we just need to control it, much like an air traffic controller manages planes without knowing how to actually fly one.
This radically different perspective on health will not only change how we care for ourselves, but also how we spur the next generation of treatments, and, in some instances, cures. The book also shows readers how to personalize their self-care; much of the advice is surprisingly simple and affordable - such as wearing good shoes and eating lunch at the same time every day.

About the Author

David B. Agus is a Professor of Medicine at the USC Keck School of Medicine and heads USC's Westside Cancer Center and the Center for Applied Molecular Medicine. His research focuses on the application of proteomics and genomics for the study of cancer and the development of new therapeutics for cancer. Dr. Agus received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University and his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He has received various honors and awards including the American Cancer Society Physician Research Award, a Clinical Scholar Award from the Sloan-Kettering Institute, the International Myeloma Foundation Visionary Science Award, an the 2009 GQ Magazine Rockstar of Science Award. He is the founder of, the largest cancer internet resource/community, Applied Proteomics, and Navigenics, a health care technology and wellness company. He lives in California with his wife and children.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1101 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (26 Jan 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006ZTUO88
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #159,547 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read 17 Jan 2014
This book is good because it looks at things in a different way. So often health and illness are turned into a pure physiological process and looked at as a single entity. For example - asthma = tightened airwars = inhalors. There is so much more surrounding illness and this book takes steps into acknowledging and exploring this.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great health book 26 Nov 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I learned alot from this book, well written. Changed my view of health. The idea that health and the body ate a complex emergent system made such an impact on me.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.3 out of 5 stars  251 reviews
747 of 764 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent Book, Brilliant Marketing! 9 Feb 2012
By AppleTexts - Published on
I got this book after seeing some of the five-star reviews, and watching the author's January 9 pre-publication interview with Connie Chung. I've now read it, and I found it provocative and engaging. The author describes the relevant studies in an easy, conversational manner, and he presents convincing cases for several different life-style changes:

(1) Taking a baby aspirin a day might well save your life.

(2) If you spend a lot of time sitting down on the job, get up every once in a while and walk around. Take the stairs when possible. That could add years to your life.

(3) Frozen fruit is probably better for you than "fresh" fruit. As a result, making smoothies is probably better than juicing.

(4) As the costs of whole genome sequencing come down (and patent issues are resolved), people would be well advised to get their genome read and diagnosed - whether by this author's company or another's. While genes don't tell the whole story, they can be very indicative of preventable problems. And prevention is far preferable to treatment.

(5) Do whatever you can to avoid the release of stress hormones - those can cut your life short too. Obviously stay clear of stressful situations (or develop coping mechanisms); less obviously, try to eat your meals on a regular schedule, and keep a regular sleep schedule.

(6) Do what you can to avoid inflammation generally - inflammation can have long-term effects. Taking a daily aspirin is a good start; getting a regular flu shot might be another.

A bit more controversial are his recommendations regarding statins and nutritional supplements. He says that taking statins when you turn forty will reduce your chances of inflammation and cancer, and he points to studies that suggest that in some cases, taking nutritional supplements can do more harm than good - specifically that taking large amounts of vitamin D or vitamin E has been linked to prostate cancer, and that tumors tend to feed on vitamin C. I see that other reviewers consider these studies biased (apparently they were paid for by pharmaceutical companies), or simply wrong (was the study vitamin D, or its metabolite calcitriol?), but I think the author makes a valuable contribution by bringing them to our attention. If in fact the studies he relies on are flawed, people will come forward with the studies and books that refute them.

I'm giving the book four stars because it taught me some things I didn't know and because I think it makes a real contribution. I'm not giving it the fifth star, because I don't think it's that much better, or that much more of an eye-opener, than any number of health and fitness books I have read. All of them have the same basic message about taking care of the entire organism, yet the author here acts like he's the first one who thought of that. And didn't Aristotle recommend moderation in all things?

On top of that, I'm disturbed by the way this book was marketed, and the route it took to the top of all the best-seller lists. I see from Beowulf's review that all of the big-name reviewers (Al Gore ["dramatic, new way of thinking about our own health"], Lance Armstrong ["tour de force"], Dean Ornish ["brilliant new model of health"], Steve Case ["shatters the myths"], etc.) turn out to be friends or investors of the author's, and that most of the five-star reviews are probably fake. I also recently learned that Connie Chung - whose interview with the author convinced me to buy the book in the first place - is actually the author's mother-in-law (or step-mother-in-law, to be more accurate - he's married to Maury Povich's daughter). I don't think it's fair to customers not to disclose all of these connections, and I'm concerned that all of these undisclosed connections have contributed disproportionately to the popularity of this book.
1,442 of 1,518 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Save Your Money - Get this at your local library 22 Jan 2012
By LuvUrPets - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
For once, I fell for the hype surrounding a book but after reading "The End of Illness" I realized I should have stuck with my original plan to check it out from my library. There is absolutely nothing groundbreaking or particularly significant about anything contained in this book. So why give it three stars? It does contain basic, medically supported info that some older person who has had no tv, no internet, no newspaper, and no radio access for the last 30 years and refuses to go to the doctor or listen to his doctor would need to know. As for the rest of us, all this book does is confirm what you already knew or suspected.

I am assuming though that you're interested in this book because you want to: (a) avoid an illness, particularly a life threatening illness or (b) you already have an illness and think this book will give suggestions on how to improve your life and get control of your illness. Learning about new advances in medicine which may or may not lead to anything that will help you during your lifetime is just a bonus but not high on your list of priorities. To be truthful, even if you read the book for that last purpose, you'd still be disappointed. I'm one of those unlucky people who was diagnosed with a chronic illness at the tender age of 13. Before then, nothing major happened in my life to kick start the illness - no drug use, no past illnesses/accidents, no lack of exercise, no atrocious diet, no lack of sleep habits, not a genetic disease. Sometimes $%&@ happens. As a mid 30s person, I'm pretty well versed in health matters but not an expert by far. I suspect many people my age and slightly older already know about the "tools" Dr. Agus "details" in this book and probably have been using them for years. It's the same "tools" you can learn about in any of the pithy little "Live to be 100" yahoo health articles the site spouts off every few weeks - and today.

Since the table of contents is available, I don't think I'd be breaking any rules or providing any spoilers by mentioning these tools:
(1) Don't believe every health study that comes out (duh)
(2) Taking vitamins is not as good as eating healthy food (duh)
(3) Try to avoid or lessen inflammation in the body (big Duh) - doesn't really tell you how except to get flu shots and wear comfortable clothes. Basically anytime you injure yourself or get sick there is inflammation. Not really a way to avoid all that esp. if you were a rambunctious kid since apparently things that happened to you as a kid can have a long lasting effect on your health today. From the anecdotes he tells in this section, I think Monk would be the only person capable of pulling this suggestion off successfully from birth to death. Even so, he could still get an illness because $%#@ Happens!
(4) Exercise (really?!)
(5) Keep a regular schedule for eating, sleeping, exercising (you don't say)
(6) Overall theme, keep track of how you are health-wise. Find out what's normal for you (done and done)

Rest of the book is filler on historical discoveries you learned in high school and hopes for the future, particularly with proteomics. He does seem to have a love affair with statins. Not being in the age range or having the type of illness to require these meds, I have absolutely no opinion on that.

There were only two things I took away from this book - that it's better to exercise in spurts than all at once (read about that earlier somewhere but it doesn't hurt to reinforce it) and you may want to get a DNA test to show your susceptibility to certain illnesses .... tests which coincidentally are offered by a company co-founded by Dr. Agus. Imagine that. Regardless, it does sound helpful esp. the ability to tell which drugs will work best for you. My doctor would probably say it's a waste of time and money but I'll make that decision after further research.

That's the book in a nutshell. He could have just written that in a two page internet article but I guess it wouldn't get much attention or money. Oh, and although the book is called "The End of Illness," it of course does not say a thing about "ending" illness now or in the future. A more truthful title would be "The Possible Downgrading of Terminal Diseases and Chronic Diseases that Substantially Lower Your Quality of Life into Easily Manageable Minor Diseases that You'll Still Suffer From But Will Have Better Control Over than Previous Generations." Reminds me of the Chris Rock joke where he says doctors will never cure AIDS but they'll make it manageable so all you have to do is take a pill everyday. The money's in the medicine. Not the cure. Prevention is the biggest weapon we have but you don't need this book to tell you that.
375 of 438 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Trashes vitamin D, promotes aspirin, statins, flu vaccinations 13 Feb 2012
By William B. Grant - Published on
This book may have some good points regarding lifestyle choices, but in my field of expertise, vitamin D, misses the mark by a wide margin. Vitamin D is a natural compound that humans have required forever. Thus, much of what we know about the roles of vitamin D come from ecological (geographical or seasonal) and observational studies. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have provided very good evidence that vitamin D reduces the risk of cancer, hip fractures, type A influenza, pneumonia, increase survival after diagnosis of cardiovascular disease, and reduce all-cause mortality rate. A recent RCT found that pregnant and nursing women need at least 4000 IU/d and that there are no adverse effects. The reasons why there are not more successful randomized controlled trials with vitamin D reported are several: most studies used only 400 IU/d vitamin D, the benefical effects of vitamin D for many types of disease have been identified in the past few years, there are many sources of vitamin D such as food, supplements and solar UVB, and there is considerable person-to-person variability in serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D with respect to oral vitamin D intake. The author dismisses the benefit of vitamin D for reducing the risk of cancer based in part on a 2008 International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) report. The authors of that report were primarily dermatologists who consider their mission in life to keep people out of the sun in order to prevent melanoma and skin cancer. This report has been shown to be highly biased. The author also suggests that cancer rates are higher at high latitudes due perhaps to genomic effects. This idea is incorrect based on a comparison of cancer rates in Nordic countries based on occupation: those with outdoor occupations have reduced risk of 17 types of cancer compared to those with indoor occupations. The measure of UV exposure was lip cancer for males, so the finding is not related to exercise, obesity, or smoking.

As for the basic recommendations listed on the dust jacket, aspirin, statins, and annual flu shot, they have serious problems. About 5% of those taking aspirin suffer GI tract bleeding, leading to many unnecessary deaths. One of the important effects of statins is to enhance the effects of vitamin D, so why not just take vitamin D. As for flu shots, the evidence that they are effective is limited (see who sponsored the study and ask why influenza mortality rates fail to show much effect of vaccine use), and there are two RCTs showing that vitamin D greatly reduces the risk of type A influenza.

The reason Big Pharma does not like vitamin D is that it is very inexpensive and very effective at reducing risk of many types of disease. The tradeoff between protection against UV damage and vitamin D production is the reason why skin pigmentation varies from very dark in the tropical plains and very pale in northern Europe.

For more information on vitamin D, go to [...], [...]t, [...]and do your own search at [...]
379 of 445 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exciting prospect...that we may ultimately be in control of our health 17 Jan 2012
By Patty Kaye - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The End of Illness, by David B. Agus, M.D., is a book that describes in great detail the amazing complexity of the human body and what is happening to it when it begins to change, specifically with regard to illnesses such as cancer. Dr. Agus is an oncologist with an exciting, if not revolutionary, outlook on the future of how we treat, or actually prevent, such diseases. And although he is an oncologist, this is not just a book about cancer. It relates to all health issues we face.

While we have made great progress in combating death from other diseases, he is disappointed in the progress the medical profession has made in the fight against cancer and wonders if our way of looking at cancer is keeping us from curing it. We need to look at cancer as a "system."

Our goal should be to prolong our life and to make it a better one. To do so, we need to understand that steps can be taken to stop illness before it strikes rather than dealing with it after the fact. He likens it to going to war in order to understand peace. It is better to never have to go to war than to win the war. In other words, it is better to prevent the disease than to have to fight it.

Dr. Agus wants to empower us to take control of our bodies and the future of our health. He gives us a checklist to help us "get to know ourselves" and how we are feeling and explains ways in which we can, and should, become more involved in our own health care.

Health is a system of checks and balances, and each person's system is different. He gives advice on steps to take to understand your personal body and health, some suggestions on tests to take and how to be more involved in the process of keeping track of what is going on in your body. It is important to work in partnership with your doctor.

Since the main focus of the book is cancer, it is interesting to note that while many diseases can be attributed to external causes, cancer is the "sleeping giant" that lies within each of us, not a "germ" that attacks us from outside. He suggests that we are ultimately responsible for controlling whether or not this giant wakes up. I always wondered if cancer was a modern illness caused by something new we were exposed to. The author answered that by explaining that there is evidence that people had cancer at least 2,000 years B.C. Cancer isn't just a particular is a failure of a system, the communication between your cells that causes some to be destroyed. Like other diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, cancer isn't something the body "has" or "gets"; it's something that the body does.

Again, Dr. Agus puts great emphasis on ways in which we can be effective in our own health care. He explains why it is helpful to have a family health history, a genetic profile, in order to understand what risk factors you have. He also points out the fact that this is not necessarily your destiny, that you can "shift your fate" armed with these tools.

The author emphasizes the importance of not being quick to believe every headline with regard to health issues, such as vitamin supplements. He encourages thorough research and study of data. He devotes an entire chapter to the controversy over the vitamin D supplement. Even in the case of this doctor's data, you need to read it and decide for yourself. He then goes on in the next chapter discussing other vitamin supplements, gives data on the research that has been done, and will explain why he feels the "hype" over vitamins is overrated. He considers them to be shortcuts that are only necessary under certain conditions.

Dr. Agus covers "fresh" vs frozen fruits and vegetables, the popularity of juicing (and why you might want to avoid it), what fish to eat, wine, and how to eat for a healthy "gut." He discusses other areas that affect our health such as exercise, keeping a daily routine, and the importance of good sleep. The difference between this book and others, however, is that he breaks it down into such detail that you will thoroughly understand why and how to apply this to your life. Another great chapter. Yes, this information can be found in other health books, but not explained so thoroughly and in such depth.

The chapter on inflammation is profound. I had read some on this issue, but I never really understood the different areas of our lives that contribute to it (internal and external) or how detrimental it could be to our health. We're talking inflammation from obesity, external trauma, and even the flu. This is a very informative chapter, one you will want to share with others.

The author writes a chapter discussing the work being done at the Center for Applied Molecular Medicine at the USC and Applied Proteomics. This is the company he, along with Danny Hillis, cofounded. The work involves "trying to find the key to understanding all of our body's proteins and how they work together to create the language our bodies speak, which ultimately translates the dialogue of our health." Yes, this chapter is a bit over my head, but I do understand that the goal here is personalized medicine and how in the future it will change the way we are individually being treated; or more importantly, how it will help us to prevent needing to be treated.

Towards the end of the book, Dr. Agus gives advice in which he explains the reason we need to reevaluate the medications we take on a regular basis, keep track of our health issues and how they may be changing, keep up on new technologies and how they may apply to your life. The author is excited about new technology on the horizon that will virtually change health care in the near future. He encourages us to be willing to share medical information so that it can be used, via technology, to increase researchers' knowledge, add to the databases.

In conclusion, I would say this book is about preventive medicine, living a healthy life, rather than waiting to diagnose where we have gone wrong. Illness is largely preventable. Guide your body back to a healthy state, as he puts it, whereby your system will allow you to function on all cylinders and enjoy a high quality of life.
321 of 388 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This book is disappointingly selling statins... 18 Jan 2012
By Olivia Branson - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was excited to hear about this book on the evening news. I bought the kindle version and started reading. I thought Dr. Agus was going to focus on current findings of the benefits of good nutrition and less dependence on doctors prescribing magic bullets for our ailments. I have been fascinated by this subject after my own personal health improvements from changing the way I fuel my body. Using more farm foods and less factory foods has given me unbelievable energy in mind and body. My annual blood tests have all come into normal range without the use of statins! Dr. Agus says in this book anyone over the age of forty should take statins -this, to me, sums up the problem with the current medical field. The magic bullet. His "new" view on illness is give yourself a pill (and have it be a statin no matter what), eat whatever you want (as Agus says nutrition does not play a role in disease, that it's only by chance we get sick) and you will be on your way to the end of illness. I am so thankful that my small town doctor recommended I first try lowering my cholesterol by what I eat, not with a statin! Sure enough i lost 10lbs, my numbers are in the normal range, I have energy, no more dry, itchy skin and clarity of mind. I feel better now in my forties than I did in my 30's. I am thankful that my generation is catching on to the problems with doctors prescribing magic bullets before underlying causes are determined which many times can be cured by eating nutrition dense food and exercise....simple! I believe those who have cancer need experts in the field and think medicine and science can be beneficial when there are no other options. There is no reason to prescribe perfectly healthy forty year olds statins! After Agus' blind statin prescription I could not read further. Save you money on this book and instead go take a nice walk outside :-).
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