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Individualized medicine that you’ll want to see at the doctor’s office
by Terri Schlichenmeyer
Feb 26, 2012 | 587 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
“The End of Illness” by David B. Agus, MD c.2012, Free Press $26 / 336 pages, includes index
“The End of Illness” by David B. Agus, MD c.2012, Free Press $26 / 336 pages, includes index
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The picture truly surprised you.

You must have been 15 when it was taken, maybe a little older. You were smiling at something (you can’t remember what), the sun was shining on your face and you looked like you were having fun.

But what struck you was how healthy you looked. You weren’t exhausted, not aching somewhere, not fretting about a doctor’s visit. Arthritis was not an issue. You were miles from cancer and heart disease.

Is it possible to feel that way again? To avoid major sickness? According to David B. Agus, MD, it is. In his new book “The End of Illness,” he explains.

Imagine a war that lasts 40 years.

That’s what we’ve had since President Nixon declared war on cancer in 1971, and the battle still rages. In from 1950 to 2007, says Agus, the cancer death rate didn’t change much. It’s been around for thousands of years, there are “millions of kinds of cancers,” and we may never be able to cure it.

The key, though, is to remember that cancer is preventable — as are many diseases.

The first, most important thing to do to achieve the end of illness is to “get to know yourself,” says Agus, and to “be your own doctor first.” Health-wise, what’s different for you this year? What are your specific concerns?

Next, consider getting a DNA test to determine your genetic risk factors so you can actively avoid problems. Keep up on the latest research but understand that the Internet isn’t always the smartest place to find it.

If you’re over 40, ask your doctor why you’re not taking statins. Unless you’re filling a specific deficiency, save your money and forget about vitamins. Stick to a schedule. Buy comfortable shoes and don’t play football. Check into getting a proteomic analysis and get your medications tailored.

And if all else fails, do nothing but watch. Your body may be healing itself.

It struck me, as I was reading “The End of Illness,” that this book might have been shelved in the science fiction section a few years ago. What Agus presents here is as cutting-edge as it gets, even though he admits that there are still many unknowns and some questions we might never be able to answer.

But that’s what makes this book so intriguing is this: What we do know has come to the point of near-science fiction. Agus makes the argument for individual medicine from individual mapping, done through technology that looks at the “list of ingredients” that forms each of us. One-size-fits-all care is no longer effective and personalized medicine starts at home with things you can do today.

Unfortunately, what Agus leaves out is possible cost. Will healthy living will come at a healthy price? I couldn’t help but wonder …

Still, this is a book that will make you think. You’ll want to annotate it, flag parts of it and take it to your doctor’s office on the next visit. Then, with “The End of Illness,” you could be the picture of health.
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