Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Autoimmune Epidemic

Journalist and advocate Donna Jackson Nakazawa wrote this book after she experienced two bouts of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a severe autoimmune disease. She discusses statistics, possible causes, and the medical research into autoimmune diseases. I had an interest in the topic and this is the only one my library had. Unfortunately, I didn't think the book lived up to its potential.

The book is heavily researched, judging by the notes section in the back. Unfortunately, reading the book is like watching an expose on Dateline. The author lumps every possible environmental cause, suspect chemical, and lifestyle into one big soup to make it appear that autoimmune diseases are a plague on society. Reading between the lines, I have no doubt that there are connections between an environmental toxic overload, genetic pre-disposition and lifestyle that contribute to the likelihood of developing one of these diseases. I think she speaks some truth. But it was hard to read between the hyperbole and statistical spinning to decipher the actual medical history and research on the diseases. I was more interested in how scientists and doctors learned to recognize the problem and treat it. Instead she glosses over it and delves into politics - the usual mantra of not enough government funded research, autoimmune clusters, and environmental regulations. I think the book lost complete credibility when she pulled out Al Gore and his scientifically poor documentary as proof of the spread of autoimmune diseases.

As far as this kind of book goes, probably worth skipping. No Amazon linkage on this one. I do have sympathy for the author and her personal experiences though.

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