The Limits of Medicine:: How Science Shapes Our Hope for the Cure

Edward S. Golub, Author
Edward S. Golub, Author Crown Publishing Group (NY) $23 (258p) ISBN 978-0-8129-2141-0
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-226-30207-2
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This consistently engaging, nontechnical history of medicine traces the growing scientific basis of the discipline that made possible the achievements of such giants as Jenner, Pasteur, Koch, Fleming, Salk and Sabin. Their successful conquest of infectious diseases greatly increased life expectancy. But Golub reminds us that only in recent times have we expected medicine to provide us with long lives, and that for most of human history, ``nothing changed in the way we either conceived of health or treated disease.'' But the author, who heads the Pacific Center for Ethics and Applied Biology, contends that chronic and degenerative diseases like cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer's call for a new approach to medicine that recognizes its limits. Rather than further extending life, argues Golub, medical science should focus on improving the remaining years and ``make a comfortable place for death at the end of our lives.'' Illustrations not seen by PW. (Nov.)
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