Wednesday, January 16, 2008

You: Staying Young: The Owner's Manual for Extending Your Warranty (You) (Hardcover) by Michael F. Roizen

I like these authors and I think on the whole they provide an excellent public service by motivating people to make healthy lifestyle choices and providing much useful information. My problem with this book is that it makes numerous claims about the health benefits of various supplements and even medications which are much more controversial than the authors acknowledge. To compound the problem, the authors don't cite ANY of the scientific studies which form the basis for their claims, so if a reader is inclined to follow their advice but wants to know more about the issue, they have no reference for further research. One very significant example is the authors' advice, on page 123, to take a daily aspirin because it cuts the risk of breast cancer and other cancers by 40%. Even though the end of the section contains a short sentence suggesting that people discuss this advice with their doctors, it is certainly predictable that many readers seeing this dramatic claim for aspirin will simply start taking it without obtaining medical clearance. This could potentially result in life-threatening complications for certain patients, and even if it is generally safe, it is a very serious claim to be making considering that the medical community has not yet embraced daily aspirin therapy for the prevention of breast and other cancers. I researched this issue to the best of my ability and, while there was a study in 2004 which tends to support the authors' claim, there was another study in 2005 which found the opposite. So, it would have been really useful if the authors had included footnotes informing readers of which studies they are relying upon instead of making all of these claims in a vacuum. That is why I really like Jean Carper's old but still very useful book, "The Food Pharmacy" -- every nutritional claim she makes is rigorously described in terms of what the actual studies showed and it is copiously annotated with footnotes to these studies. I would love to see the authors of "You Staying Young" take a page from Jean Carper and consider providing the sources for their claims.


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