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Cancer specialist offers fresh insight into disease prevention

Robin Wulffson MD's picture
The End of Illness, Dr. David Agus, health tips, disease prevention

Dr. David B. Agus is a cancer specialist affiliated with the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC). His new book, “The End of Illness,” first published in March 2012, is now available in paperback. He is a professor of medicine and engineering at USC and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering; he also heads USC’S Norris Westside Cancer Center and the Center for Applied Molecular Medicine.

Dr. Agus notes that in his book he presents a new paradigm for examining and caring for the human body, which honors our bodies as complex, whole systems rather than focusing on a single issue, such as a genetic mutation, a germ, a deficiency or a number such as blood pressure, weight, or cholesterol. He explains that this systemic viewpoint is what has allowed him to challenge long-held wisdoms and dismantle misperceptions about what “health” really means. In a new Foreword to the paperback edition of “The End of Illness,” he writes: “It seems I’ve struck a nerve on a variety of topics that provoke both members of my own medical community and the lay population alike.”

Dr. Agus has devoted more than two decades to fighting cancer on the front lines. He explains that his work searching for better treatments to combat this dreaded disease led him to new understandings about what it means to be healthy—and how to achieve it.

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In the book, Dr. Agus debunks the prevailing myths about such hot button health topics as:
Vitamin supplements: When we take multivitamins and supplements, we could be significantly increasing our risk for diseases such as cancer over time.

  • Exercise: Sitting down most of the day, despite a strenuous morning workout, can be as bad as or worse than smoking.
  • Colds and Flu: A series of passing colds or one bout with the flu can set us up for a lifelong higher risk of suffering a fatal heart attack, and other sneaky sources of daily inflammation can rob us of our longevity and even sanity.
  • Medication: Three inexpensive medications, aspirin, statins, and an annual flu vaccine, can substantially change the course of our health for the better and help us to live much longer.
  • Sleep: It is less about how much you sleep as it is about your regularity of sleep; and napping occasionally can pose a hidden danger.
  • DNA: We tend to overestimate the role of DNA in our fate rather than the millions of lifestyle decisions we make throughout our lives. DNA governs probabilities—not destinies.

In a new Epilogue to “The End of Illness,” Dr. Agus presents a Q&A that responds to particular questions thousands of people have asked. “If you’re wondering how I can continue to defend things like aspirin and statins while pooh-poohing vitamins and the like, then I encourage you to go there and read with an open mind. And for those who just want to stock your war chest with more fuel to add to the fire, then I welcome you, too. We need these conversations to happen. They power the vehicles that are our lives to the ultimate destination: a place where we all die the way we want to—with dignity, peace, a sound mind, and in as much good physical health as possible.”

Reference: David B. Agus, MD

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