Natural Causes

Natural Causes

An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer

Large Print - 2018 | First edition: April 2018.
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The respected cellular immunologist and author of the best-selling Nickel and Dimed shares cautionary insights into today's healthcare practices to identify the cellular sources of aging and illness while revealing how most treatments are aggressive and offer only an illusion of control and better survivability at the cost of life quality.
Publisher: New York : Twelve, 2018.
Edition: First edition: April 2018.
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9781538730928
Branch Call Number: 306.9 EHREN
Characteristics: xix, 374 pages (large print) ; 22 cm
large print, rdafs


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Aug 08, 2018

For me, this book boils down to, "whatever works for you." However, her academic knowledge and humorous style provide much food for thought. Her quirky take on things reminds me of my favorite author, Mary Roach. I will read more of Ehrenreich's stuff.

Jul 29, 2018

I was disappointed in this book. The author makes some valid points: We are all going to die someday (news flash!), no matter what we do to try to prevent it. Some of what we do in the name of “wellness” is counterproductive. For example, the 76-year-old author has decided she will not get any more mammograms or colonoscopies. She describes annual physicals as “rituals” that accomplish little, so she is giving those up too. She tells us that we have no real control over our bodies, only an illusion of control. She spends several chapters describing how microphages, that are supposed to keep us safe from disease, sometimes turn on us and help cancer cells reproduce. (I think that part of the book could have been a lot shorter, but she wanted to show off her scientific knowledge.)

She also tells us that some of us are working so hard on diet, exercise, mindfulness, and other “wellness” techniques that we are forgetting to enjoy life along the way.

OK, I get that. But what about exercising to help ourselves feel as good as possible as long as possible? How about exercising to keep our brains healthy as long as possible? How about exercising because we love moving and being able to do what we want? Isn’t it enjoyable to be able to live an active life as long as possible? Isn’t it enjoyable to be able to use our brains as we get older, instead of sliding into dementia?

Dr. Samuel Harrison made some of the same points in his book At Peace: Choosing a Good Death After a Long Life. At some point, the treatments and tests are more dangerous than the disease or potential disease. Also, if we live longer, it becomes more likely that we will have a period of disability prior to death.

Maybe I will feel differently when I am 76 or 86. For now, I will still try to take good care of the only body I have. I think it is certainly possible to enjoy life even if one is exercising and eating a reasonable diet most of the time. Should we all enjoy life? Of course! But I found this book rather tiresome. At Peace was a more useful book.

Jul 24, 2018

An interesting and valid take. I especially liked her viewpoint regarding medicine and being pregnant in the 70s. Doctors wonder why people are not trusting of all they do. The author suggests we shouldn't just have superstitious faith in these modern shaman as if they are infallible and beyond our ken.

Jul 20, 2018

The author doesn’t believe in preventative health care, doesn’t seem to like doctors and their advise, doesn’t agree with exercising or eating well...basically, just do nothing healthy and let your body kill you.

Jul 03, 2018

I expected a much deeper dive into the ways we are "killing ourselves to live longer" as promised in the title. And I expected a much deeper dive into the treatment of aging as a medical condition. Ehrenreich's book reads like a collection of essays related to aging in no particular, coherent order. A good flight or beach read.

Jun 06, 2018

Big fan of Barbara Ehrenreich! This book continues her critical thinking and scientific grounding of our medical system. Her focus this time: the medicalization of getting old. Her thesis includes a challenge of medicine's dominance when history shows medicine itself often operates for profit instead of for patients. She's a rare breed: a readable and funny academic.

DCLadults May 05, 2018

I found this to be an interesting and thought provoking premise that did get a little dry in some chapters.

Apr 23, 2018

One of the best books I've read this year. Highly recommended for people who question conventional wisdom and have concerns with the cult of fitness. I thought I was unique in questioning how I wish to interact with the medical community and my desire to quit demonizing natural human tendencies and people who fail to live up to the current standard of beauty. So glad to find a book that gives weight and support for my questioning and my values.

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