Seeking “common ground” with Dr. David Agus


A more difficult task than I envisioned

His new book, The End of Illness (Free Press, 1-17-12) is off to a good start, currently selling in Amazon’s top fifty. I haven’t read the book yet, but I did watch a 17-minute video (see link below) of Dr. Agus lecturing about his premise for eliminating disease—and he’s not talking about a healthy diet.

In fact, he thinks that the word “health” in the title of a book is a turn-off to readers because it somehow implies that you will have to eat food like Brussels sprouts to be healthy. From Amazon:

In “The End of Illness,” David B. Agus, MD, one of the world’s leading cancer doctors, researchers, and technology innovators, tackles fundamental questions, challenging long-held wisdoms and dismantling misperceptions about what “health” means.

Finding common ground. Dr. Agus strongly advocates an active lifestyle and presents data proving that a body in motion is much more likely to be healthier than the sedentary one. Unfortunately that’s the only common ground that I have found so far. On the contrary, I have discovered why this book has become so controversial; here are two other points in the book’s description on Amazon:

      • How three inexpensive medications—aspirin, statins, and an annual flu vaccine—can substantially change the course of our health for the better.
      • How taking shortcuts to health via blending fruits and vegetables, and sometimes even by purchasing what we think is “fresh,” could be shortchanging our health.

Dr. David Agus

What I find most troubling about his message is that it encourages the reader to seek the magic bullet instead of taking the more difficult (and sustainable) route of nourishing our complex bodies with the simple, natural diet for our species. There is overwhelming evidence in both science and medicine proving that our top diseases (heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes) would hardly ever occur if we ate a whole foods, plant-based diet for our entire lives.

But, like so many in the health care field, Dr. Agus tells people what they want to hear; that you can eat whatever you want as long as you exercise and take the “right drugs for you”—for your entire life. With no apparent training in nutrition, he’s making a great many bold statements about how our bodies operate.

We didn’t ignore the “harmony” issues in our book—in fact, promoting health, hope and harmony is the overall theme.

Then, there are a great number of critical issues (driven by our food choices) that Dr. Agus is completely ignoring. He is not considering the overall “big picture” when he ignores facts like these:

    • Our Western diet requires at least ten times as much land to feed the same number of people when compared to the plant-based diet.
    • We’re running out of land and are now burning trees in the Amazon to provide land to grow soybeans that are then shipped to China to feed pigs—Talking about not living “green.”
    • Available land for food is getting scarce; our population grows by 200,000 people every single day while, at the same time, we’re losing a chunk of arable land the size of South Carolina every year.
    • And to further exacerbate the problem, millions of people in China and India are moving up the food chain (adopting Western diet) every month.
    • Livestock is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gases; at least 40% more than ALL of transportation combined.

Like so many well-educated professionals, Dr. Agus ignores the fact that humans are just one of millions of species—yet we’re the only species in the history of the world that is not living in harmony with Nature. Like so many others, he forgets that everything is connected in this world and that we humans have greatly disrupted that fragile harmony that is essential for the longterm survival of the entire system, including us humans.

Although 15 reviewers gave him 5 stars, several gave him 1 star out of 5 on Amazon. One wrote:

My congratulations to the brilliant marketer from Dr. Agus’ companies, Proteomics and Navigenics. What a marvelous way to sell genetic testing. I would imagine Dr. Agus has a wonderful reputation in the medical arena but his self serving pontificating and self congratulating book does nothing to “end illness”. Just what the US needs, another rich doctor becoming even wealthier feeding off disease and fear.

Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of “The China Study”

So what would Dr. Campbell say about this book? As a new member of his foundation’s board of directors, I reached out to him before this blog. I won’t quote him directly, but suffice it to say that he was okay with what I am writing today.

I am often reminded of two quotes from this great man of integrity—both appearing early in our book, and both are relevant here:

In the Introduction. “It turns out that if we eat the way that promotes the best health for ourselves, we also promote the best health for the planet.”

In Chapter One. “When a whole foods, plant-based diet is demonstrably beneficial for such a wide variety of diseases, is it possible that humans were meant to consume any other diet? I say no, and I think you’ll agree.”

Six from Hicks —for your health, your planet & the future of our species

  1. The movie that’s changing the lives of millions: Forks Over Knives DVD 
  2. Healthy Eating, Healthy World, The “big picture” about food (our book)
  3. An essential scientific resource: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell
  4. Dr. McDougall’s latest book, The Starch Solution, with lots of great recipes
  5. Dr. Campbell’s new book: WHOLE, Rethinking the Science of Nutrition
  6. ENVIRONMENTAL Bonus. Comfortably Unaware by Richard Oppenlander. Eating for your own health is also best for the sustainability of our ecosystem.

Why should we be eating mostly plants? The “big picture” in 4 minutes.

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Survey. It takes 2 or 3 minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to jmorrishicks@me.com

International. We’re now reaching people in over 100 countries. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter or get daily blog notices by “following” us in the top of the right-hand column. For occasional updates, join our periodic mailing list.

J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

To order more of my favorite books—visit our online BookStore now

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, visit our 4Leaf page and also enjoy some great recipes from Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

Got a question? Let me hear from you at jmorrishicks@me.com. Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

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—J. Morris Hicks, board member since 2012; click banner for more info:

Nutrition Certificate

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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10 Responses to Seeking “common ground” with Dr. David Agus

  1. rob dainow says:

    This review starts with the statement “I haven’t read the book yet” – not a promising start for a book review!! I strongly suggest that you read the book before launching your analysis and critique of that book.

  2. wileyswisdom says:

    Dr. Agus does provide interesting info that we should consider as he advocates plant based foods but informs us that we might lose some of the value when blasted in a blender. There are many plant based foods that have a different nutritional value depending on status as cooked, raw, peeled, blended, or whole, and it varies by vegetable or fruit. If interested, search the data of power of citrus whole vs. juiced. Meanwhile frozen produce generally maintains vitamin value over “fresh” (pseudo fresh), while we must also consider where and how the produce was grown in the first place. So some people are criticizing Dr.Agus’ points, as if he was not interested in plant based foods, and unfortunately might steer readers away from his correct points that many health fads are overlooking.

    Nonetheless,The major error is lack of update on scientific research re: Cancer and statins. He might lead some uninformed folks toward increased liver problems, diabetes, etc, rather than a cure for cancer. Still worth further investigation, but the research he quoted in favor of statins has since been proven faulty. I recently found this report “On first glance, those individuals who had been using statins appeared to have a 45% reduced risk of developing lung cancer compared to those who were not using statins. Yet when “time windows” were considered, it was found that the “windows” were of different lengths in the two groups. When the study corrected for this, no difference was found between the groups. In other words, statins did not appear to have a protective effect against the development of lung cancer.”

    As a cancer survivor, I want corrected scientific info from those that are profession of “First Do No Harm”. They have a duty to search and report changes in misinfo marketed immediately.

  3. Sasha says:

    I read the book and highly recommend doing that before making critiques not based in facts. In his book he strongly urged a healthy diet full of fresh produce and healthy fish (and suggests the website for finding safe healthy sustainable fish). I think sometimes in our quick to react and judge society people need to listen more to what someone is saying before judging what they are about. I don’t think it is fair to just put Dr. Agus in a category and write him off. I think that the statin issue for sure is concerning and puzzling why he would advocate that. However i think that fact that he is saying that there is info out there that vitamins may actually damage our health and not to just believe everything that every natural health person says as gospel is important. Just as big pharma can be dangerous so can the natual health industry which is a big multibillion dollar industry where people are just looking for a magic bullet cure. In the end he is saying the simple common sense, exercise, eat healthy, and then suggesting when safe to take baby aspirin….I do not agree with statin drugs…..and lots of things must reduce inflamation rather than those. In the end simplicity is the key to health. I thought his book was great and very interesting and important to stimulate thought and discussion.

  4. Miss says:

    My father has brain damage from taking a statin drug (Mevacor) and this guy is pushing them just like my dad’s doctor pushed it in spite of side effects for 2 years!! and then they diagnosed him as “Statin-induced Perinial Myopathy”. We now need 24/7 care and my active young dad has lost his life to the disease of pharma-induced doctors (bad) advice. This doctor should lose his license. Anyone buying his book should return it. SAD!

  5. This is so disappointing…yet inspiring in that it makes me want to work EVEN HARDER to spread the word about the health benefits of a plant-based lifestyle!

  6. huracan says:

    Dr. J. Rubinstein, et al, from the Cardiology Division, Department of Medicine, Michigan State University reported in a recent study, and I quote:
    “CONCLUSION:Statin therapy is associated with decreased myocardial function as evaluated with SI.” SI stands for strain imaging. So you get your cholesterol down and, oops, there goes your heart! These drugs are deadly…….

  7. barbaraH says:

    What a frustrating 17 minutes to watch. He uses his statistics the way a magician uses a deck of cards.

    My “favorite” is the final conclusion he reaches about why Chinese men and women start developing prostate and breast cancers within ten years of moving here. I’m quoting loosely, but he says something like “We always thought it was the diet; Burger King and so forth. Now we know that that was wrong. It’s not what you eat. It’s how you metabolize it.” Duh, yeah – so how about eating what gets metabolized in a way that doesn’t cause cancer?

    Two asides: Dr. Agus’ field, the field of genomics, has mostly led to a lot of dead ends. This is from an article in the NY Times: … assertions have turned out to be unfounded. While researchers agree there is great promise in this science, it has yet to yield many reliable methods for diagnosing cancer or identifying the best treatment. Instead, as patients and their doctors try to make critical decisions about serious illnesses, they may be getting worthless information that is based on bad science.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/08/health/research/08genes.html?_r=2&ref=ginakolata

    Second aside: I looked him up on Wikipedia. His father-in-law is Maury Povich. Ah hah. I knew I smelled a media rat.

    Barbara

  8. Thanks for critiquing Dr. Agus. I watched his video. His pushing statins — bad advice! Go to http://www.spacedoc.com to learn more about the harms (though Dr. Graveline – SpaceDoc – has bad nutrition advice).

    Did you put a comment on Agus’s book on Amazon’s reviews? Link to your post today!

  9. Bill K. says:

    J.

    These types of books are all over the place and it is part of the reason that health care has become so confusing to most people. You really have to dig deep to get to the real truth and I am afraid that most people are not willing to get up out of their “lazy Boy” chair and do a little research. As a result they will be taken off to market (To use a little farming term).

    I once had a discussion that lasted for over an hour with the owner of a local fitness training center that felt that low carb high meat was the only correct diet and stated that you could not build muscle on a plant based diet. I let him talk for quite a while until he seemed done and then I asked him: How does a gorilla or horse build their muscle since they eat a plant based diet? He never really replied to that. Turns out he was somewhat brainwashed by the Weston Price group. If you want to win a horse-race you need to make sure you are betting on the right horse. My fitness friends horse is headed for the Glue factory!

    One of the main problems I have in talking with people who advocate either drugs or animal foods is that they have never really felt what true health feels like so they think that the enervated way they currently feel is as good as it gets. If only you could give them a flash of how true health feels they might better see the error of these incorrect diets. It is something that you have to experience to really appreciate.

    Bill

  10. Dr Agus, another huckster just like Dr Mercola.

    High tech and drugs…still the same magic bullets the world is looking for.

    Eat more broccoli!

    Sal Liggieri

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