by Paul W. Ewald
Acclaimed biologist Ewald challenges the longstanding notion that infections play significant roles only in acute diseases, arguing that stealthy germs are also responsible for a host of devastating chronic ills. A compelling look at disease from an evolutionary perspective, the book describes germs' emergence, spread, and life cycle and draws on medicine and evolutionary biology to explain why chronic infections can lurk in the body for decades. In an area of medicine where debates tend to pit genes against behavior, Ewald makes a convincing case for a closer look at infectious factors. By identifying this underestimated menace, Ewald's controversial theory urges conventional medicine to reassess its approach to ailments including cancer and degenerative disease.
--from Science News
According to conventional wisdom, our genes and lifestyles are the most important causes of cancer, heart disease, and other killer ailments today. Conventional wisdom is wrong. In this bold, visionary book, biologist Paul W. Ewald argues that these serious illnesses are caused by a virtual plague of chronic infections. Acute infections give the sufferer symptoms almost immediately; the flu, cholera, even Ebola are well-known and easy-to-identify examples of acute illnesses. Chronic infections, however, are stealthy predators that may not produce any symptoms for decades, and so remain almost undetectable, but eventually they ruin the sufferer's life. The netherworld of stealth infections is now opening before us.
In Plague Time, Ewald puts forth an astonishing and profound argument that challenges our modern beliefs about disease: it is germs-not genes-that mold our lives and cause our deaths. Acclaimed for years as one of the most important thinkers alive today on the genesis of disease, Ewald now explodes conventional medical thinking with a new comprehensive view of what germs do. Some people worry about dangerous germs "going global." In most cases it is already too late. The most dangerous germs among us have already been disseminated globally. Ewald explains how evolution in this worldwide environment makes some germs turn nasty while some become harmless. Most importantly, he shows how we can work together to master our modern infectious plagues by controlling disease evolution.
Plague Time confirms that conventional medicine is facing a revolution. Addressing the frightening reality of the pathogens in human society today, Ewald's urgent, firm message is that the plague time is now.
--from Free Press
Free Pr, 2000, 282 p., 6 1/4" x 9 1/2" hardcover
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