Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The End of Illness

If David Agus’s book, The End of Illness, achieves nothing more, it has certainly stirred conversation regarding a few of the more commonly accepted health assumptions of the Western world.  Dr. Agus has explained and defended his beliefs in this 336-page book clearly enough that most readers will come down hard on one side or the other of his theories.  Others, like me, will find themselves straddling the fence a bit. 

The doctor’s critics will proclaim that he is merely a shill for the big pharmaceutical corporations or that he wrote the book only to promote his own new ventures in the medical world, ventures in which he claims to be on the cutting edge of new diagnostic technology.  His proponents will embrace his beliefs about things like over-the-counter vitamins being a useless waste of money, and that everyone over 40 should be on a statin drug because of the drug’s potential to prevent cancer.

Personally, I found Agus’s theory about a link between cancer and internal inflammation of the body to be an intriguing one.  Because statins and aspirin both reduce inflammation in the body, the doctor theorizes that a daily dose of each might go a long way in preventing a person from developing a tumor.  Since many older people already take both drugs at the direction of their doctors, this type of “side effect” would be good news for many. (Of course, others cannot take statins or aspirin because of the negative side effects they suffer.)  Much of what Agus says in The End of Illness is not new, and some of it just makes good common sense.  Too, the book’s title is a bit misleading because this is more a book about preventing illness than one about ending it once and for all. 

These are a few other interesting “takeaways” (some of which will simply reinforce what readers may already believe) I found in The End of Illness:

  • Frozen fruit is more nutritional than fresh fruit because it is fresher when frozen than the fruit bought in a grocery store produce department.
  • Eating and sleeping on a regular schedule will add years to a person’s life.
  • Sitting for hours at a time on a job is the “new smoking.”  Standing and, even better, walking around as much as possible during the day, will allow a person to live longer and healthier.
  • Combining a flu shot, a low dose of aspirin, and reduced stress will greatly lessen the kind of internal inflammation that makes tumors more likely.
  • Tumors might actually feed on excessive doses of vitamin C.
  • Each of us should set our personal health baseline, from which we can measure negative changes.

There is a lot of information in The End of Illness.  Some of it seems to fly directly in the face of what people have been taught their entire lives and will be controversial.  We may never know if all of Agus’s theories are correct – and there is always the chance that some of what he advocates here will do harm.  Readers will have to decide for themselves, of course, but I do applaud the doctor for igniting a passionate conversation on the subject.

Rated at: 4.0


  1. What are the author's interests and credentials in the health field - are the things he talks about in the book a result of studies he's done, or research? or personal views only? It certainly seems interesting, what you have written about his theories. And controversial. How realistic do you think some of them are? I've heard about the taking of aspirin every day.

  2. I have this one at home and have skimmed most of it but will go back and read it more carefully in the future. I was intrigued with his theory about inflammation in the body but agree that much of what I have read so far is well known already.

  3. Susan, Agus is a medical doctor engaged in research and he does seem to really be on the cutting edge of research pertaining to DNA that will allow doctors to personalize an individual's health care in great detail. It is still largely theory at this point, I think, but it makes sense to me. Whether it will be affordable - and covered by insurance companies - is another question. I don't know how countries like Canada and the U.K. will react to something like this, cost-wise.

  4. The theory that bodily inflammation (both internal and external) has such a direct impact on tumor generation really intrigues me. I have been on a low dosage of asperin and a statin for years...would be nice to get some Good side-effects, for a change.

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  6. Anonymous, I've decided to delete your comment about Dr. Agus and his knowledge of genomics. Give me a fact or two, and your name, and I will be happy to post your thoughts here.

    I am aware that this is a controversial book, and that Is why I suggest that people read it for themselves and reach their own conclusions. I find it to be rather thought-provoking but, because I'm not a specialist in the field, I can only go by gut feel.

    Let me know if you want to try this again...and I do mean that seriously because I enjoy watching a conversation about books I've read.