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Plague Time: How Stealth Infections Cause Cancer, Heart Disease, and Other Deadly Ailments Hardcover – Nov 14 2000

4.2 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (Nov. 14 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684869004
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684869001
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 2.5 x 24.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 567 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #800,599 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Could breast cancer be caused, not by genes, but by a pathogen passed to humans from mice? Very possibly, according to Amherst College biology professor Ewald (Evolution of Infectious Disease) in this controversial page-turner that's certain to garner attention. In a cogent defense of our evolutionarily selected genes, Ewald proposes that the true culprits behind chronic ailments and even mental disorders are pathogens. He propels his argument by noting the "biases of human thought" that inhibited scientific growth in the 19th century (when the notion of microbes was first rejected) and those that are, he believes, stifling the research of infectious diseases today. For example, the infectious origin of peptic ulcers wasn't recognized until the mid-1980s, more than 30 years after physicians demonstrated the effectiveness of antibacterial agents in ulcer patients. The reason for this "scientific paralysis" lies in the prevalent misconception that most infectious diseases are like the common cold, acute yet ephemeral rather than chronic. Challenging this popular mindset, Ewald thoroughly examines the calculated attack strategies of a number of chronic, sexually transmitted diseases (such as herpes, syphilis and AIDS). In contrast to the complex task of determining disease origins, however, Ewald's solutions are surprisingly simple: clean water, safe sex, home care when you're ill, awareness of pathogen evolution and more funding. The world of infectious diseases, Ewald makes clear, continues to thriveAand anyone involved in the study or practice of medicine and any scientifically literate reader curious about the origins of disease will want to read this challenging work. Author tour. (Nov. 14)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

For many years stomach ulcers were thought to be the product of stress, acid, and spicy foods; now we know they are caused by bacteria. Amherst biology professor Ewald (Evolution of Infectious Diseases) suggests that many other chronic diseasesDincluding clogged arteries, diabetes, cancer, and schizophreniaDare at least partially caused by infectious agents, and here he presents research that bolsters his claims. Beyond this, he argues that studying how infectious agents evolve can lead to techniques for more effective control of killer diseases such as malaria and AIDS through decreasing their virulence. He also discusses some ethical issues related to treating diseases. An example is whether it is best to treat an individual with antibiotics when this may cause problems for a whole population if antibiotic resistance in bacteria is a result. Ewald's ideas are controversial but intriguing and have far-reaching implications. His clear, entertaining, and well-documented style makes the book appealing to a wide variety of readers. Highly recommended for all types of libraries.DMarit MacArthur Taylor, Auraria Lib., Denver
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on Nov. 3 2003
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Ewald makes some outstanding points and raises questions that should have been raised 50 years ago. The idea that all (or most) cancers are microbes is old news, however. There was a group of doctors during the 1920's that isolated the virus in a microscope and were able to destroy the microbe using a radio frequency. People with cancer were being cured because these doctors were destroying the microbes with their radio frequency machine. These doctors' findings and the invention of their microscope were common knowledge and their success against the cancer microbe was published. But the growing medical establishment prevented its treatment from becoming mainstream and eventually destroyed their work. I recommend reading "The Cancer Cure That Worked: 50 Years of Suppression" by Barry Lynes to learn the story.
The world needs more insightful doctors like Paul Ewald. I highly recommend this book to learn about how viruses and other pathogens are causing so many of our health problems!
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Format: Hardcover
Plague Time provides important and fascinating information about diseases, how they are acquired, their evolution, and their consequences. Professor Ewald contends that many chronic diseases such as several types of cancer, arteriosclerosis, schizophrenia, several types of arthritis, bipolar disease, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, or even many symptoms of aging are the result of infections. The explanations of how these infections are acquired, and situations where the infectious agents are likely to be especially virulent are of great practical value.
Dr. Ewald's thesis is that infectious agents quickly evolve to maximize their reproductive success. Their virulence and the nature of the acute or chronic symptoms they cause are a function of how they are transmitted. The discussions of microbe evolution deepened my understanding of biology and evolution. There are many examples presented.
Many sections were unnecessarily wordy, with clumsy and overly long sentence constructions and much redundancy. This made parts of the book slow and heavy going. His frequent and often lengthy criticisms of the medical establishment are justified in my view, but sometimes got tiresome. In spite of the effort required, Plague Time is well worth reading.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a great read. Paul Ewald points out quite convincingly that medical professionals neglect the evolutionary side of disease. His theory is that most diseases including chronic diseases like some cancers and heart disease are caused by infections by micro-organisms. This is not to say that his theory is conclusively demonstrated but rather that it rests on principles that are sensible and possibly correct. Another of the important themes talked about in his book is that the virulancy of an infectious agent will evolve depending on how easily it is transmitted. An organism (bacteria or virus) in the human body is always trying to balance its fitness in reproducing in its host versus its fitness in being able to jump into another host. The outcome is decided by natural selection. Whatever evolutionary path results in the most offstring will win out. An organism which reproduces too quicky and imediately kills its host will not be very capable of being transmitted to another host. Take for example the common cold. If the effects of the common cold were much worse then people would stay home from work and the chance of the germs reaching other hosts would be much less. Ewald in fact advocates that people should stay home from work when they get a cold or the flu. This would probably benefit the employer in the long run because the flu would be less prevalent and less workers would contract it. I won't try to argue his points here but I find them quite convincing. On the other hand there are some down sides to the book. As mentioned in some other reviews the title is a bit overstated. Ewald has a theory and not conclusive evidence that things like cancer and heart disease are caused by infectious agents.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Not genes but germs cause most chronic diseases. So argues evolutionary biologist Paul Ewald in his new book, "Plague Time: How Stealth Infections Cause Cancers, Heart Disease, and Other Deadly Ailments," (Free Press, 282 pp, ...).
The Amherst professor is trying to drag the medical establishment into the Darwinian age. While modern research often aims to uncover genetic factors in major diseases, Ewald contends that "human genome mania" often violates the fundamental principle of biology, Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection. Darwin argued that families with harmful hereditary traits will die out over time, asserts Ewald, and would be replaced by lineages whose hereditary constitution better enables them to survive and reproduce.
Ultimate goals aside, Ewald has made sure that lay readers will find his book interesting and intelligible. He believes that patients are often more open-minded than their doctors.
In an interview, Ewald claimed that the health benefits of the Human Genome Project are over hyped because "most diseases aren't genetic." He said research funds dedicated to improve antibiotics would bring greater payoffs than those spent on the glamour field of genetic research.
Ewald, who is not a medical doctor, said, "My goal is to bring into medicine all of biology, especially evolution."
So far, he has had more success persuading other biologists than the medical establishment. The late William D. Hamilton of Oxford University, England -- considered by the likes of Edward O.
Read more ›
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