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Predictive Health: How We Can Reinvent Medicine To Extend Our Best Years

. October 2012. 272p. 978-0-46502-312-7. 26.99.
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Brigham (health, Emory Univ.) and Johns (chancellor, Emory Univ.) argue that the staggering amount of available data on health should by now be helping people avoid illness, not just fight it. This is a thoughtful, detailed account of the promise of a dizzying array of technologies and disciplines geared to prevent disease. The authors’ writing can be less dynamic than David Agus’s in his recent preventive medicine book, The End of Illness, but this is largely because this title wisely prescribes few shortcuts. (Agus controversially boosts the use of statins for many indications, even in the healthy, whereas Brigham and Johns briefly note the benefits for the heart of statins—then carefully talk side effects.) They recommend that providers and insurers continue to help patients avoid harmful fat, smoking, and stress, but they also embrace proven mind/body practices and health partners trained to coach patients in preventive health practices as additional methods to avoid illness.
VERDICT The authors, both founders of Emory’s predictive medicine school, are ultimately compelling in their argument for both openness to new ideas and critical thinking for the vigorous pursuit of evidence-based health measures, though they rely too much on buzzwords. An absorbing look at an exciting potential health-care revolution.
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