One Renegade Cell: How Cancer Begins Paperback – Oct 8 1999
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"Cancer wreaks havoc in almost every part of the human body"--Robert Weinberg's opening remark is a chilling reminder of the pervasiveness of an all-too-familiar disease. Cancer touches most families, and if you have ever wondered why, despite so much time, effort, and money, it has proved such a seemingly intractable problem, then read One Renegade Cell, Robert Weinberg's masterful explanation. As director of the Oncology Research Laboratory at the Whitehead Institute and professor of Biology at MIT, Weinberg has been at the forefront of cancer research for well over a decade.
Unlike most diseases, cancerous tumors are not foreign invaders but "take on the appearance of alien life forms, invaders that enter the body through stealth and begin their programs of destruction from within." But as Weinberg shows, these are deceptive appearances. And since he is foremost a scientist, he finds the truth "subtle and endlessly interesting" and manages to convey fascination for something that most of us dread--cancer. Much of the present increase in cancer is due to increased longevity because "given enough time, cancer will strike every human body."
By telling the story of the historical discovery of cancer, Weinberg is able to introduce gradually the intricacies and complications of the genes and proteins involved (oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes, etc.) for the general reader. He characterizes cancer cells as renegade because, unlike normal body cells, they "disregard the needs of the community of cells," they are "selfish and unsociable," and are only interested in "their own proliferative advantage." By comparison, normal cells hold down cell numbers by "inducing them to commit suicide" (apoptosis).
The understanding of cancer has been developed enormously over the last few decades by Weinberg and the worldwide community of researchers. As Weinberg eloquently shows, cancer research and its related disciplines "have moved from substantial ignorance to deep insight." --Douglas Palmer, Amazon.co.uk --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
The last 20 years have brought a revolution in cancer research that will profoundly change diagnosis and treatment of the disease, writes Weinberg in this comprehensive but rigorous introduction to the subject. Weinberg, founder of the Whitehead Institute for Cancer Research and a biology professor at MIT, traces the development of previous theories of cancer, and explains that scientists are now certain that cancer is caused when genes are damaged through a succession of mutations. These can result from damage to a cell's DNA inflicted by mutagens (which can be of foreign origin, such as tobacco smoke, or of internal origin); from normal mistakes made when DNA is copied during cell growth; or from defects in the body's DNA repair machinery. Weinberg discusses the roles of chemical carcinogens, retroviruses and heredity in developing cancer, and explains the body's intricate defenses against tumor growth. Though he argues that cancer will never be fully eradicated because so many mutations occur during long lifetimes ("Given enough time, cancer will strike every human body"), Weinberg is optimistic that increasingly sophisticated understanding of cellular functions will yield more effective treatments for those cancers that cannot be prevented. Though some readers might find the technical sections of the book difficult, it readily conveys the challenge and excitement of scientific discovery. Two illustrations.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I end with an aside for those who are in love with the red herring called "holism", and imagine that "reductionism" is dead and of little or no use in the elucidation of complexity. The entire field of genetic and cancer discoveries, all of microbiology, is nothing but plain ol' reductionism applied to very long molecules, molecules so long and often disordered in shape that new techniques of chemical analysis had to be invented (like PCR). This book and any standard text on molecular biology provides full evidence for the truth of my assertion.
Overall, I feel that this is one of the best books in the Science Masters series, and a must read for anyone interested in cancer. I feel that it would also make valuable reading for anyone whose work relates to the health sciences in any way, since after reading this book, you have a rather thorough understanding of cancer in a general sense, without all of the technical details which would only be of interest to a researcher or doctor specialising in cancer. There is also the possibility that this book would be of value to a cancer sufferer, since understanding an illness can often help a person to better cope with it, and this book would really let the patient understand what was happening in their body, and why, and understand why various treatments work for some types of cancer, but not others.
All of that is fascinating to read, and clearly illustrates the nature of cancer. But there's another reason I really enjoyed this book. It's a brilliant science book. The importance of basic research is clearly stated here. Who would have thought that studying sex amongst tiny worms was worth spending research dollars on? Well, it was because it illustrated some of the crucial mechanisms that underlie cell growth and death. Without that knowledge, a deep understanding of cancer (and its cure) would have been impossible. So this book not only educates about cancer, but about basic science in general.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Having just finished reading this on July 15/03, I found it very informative and enjoyable to read. This is a must read if you really want to understand the mechanisms of cancer! Read morePublished on July 16 2013 by Kim
There are very few books out that give the reader an overview modern cancer biology. This short book gives a clear picture of a complex and current subject. Read morePublished on April 10 2004 by David Fourer
No prior knowledge of cell biology or genetics is required. I have gained an appreciation for the complexity of cancer research thanks to the book. I highly recommend it. Read morePublished on Oct. 16 2002 by Canay
The aspect I liked most about the book is the lucid writing. A vast topic such as cancer has been masterfully explained in simplistic terms. Read morePublished on Aug. 21 2002
It is amazing to find out that we know so much about how cell biology and cancer works. I would have thought that these details would be all that is needed to find a cure for... Read morePublished on Feb. 24 2001 by Albert Vara
this is a great book for people who know nothing about cancer and want to know. I had a chance to meet the author after he gave a lecture about his research and it was really... Read morePublished on Jan. 7 2001
When my mother was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago, I frantically read everything I could lay my hands on to try to understand what was happening to her. Read morePublished on Aug. 25 2000 by Renaaah
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