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Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues Hardcover – 8 Apr 2014

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“The weight of evidence behind Dr. Blaser's cautions about antibiotics is overwhelming.” ―The New York Times

“Unlike some books on medicine and microbes, Dr. Blaser's doesn't stir up fears of exotic diseases or pandemic 'superbugs' resistant to all known drugs. He focuses on a simpler but more profound concern: the damage that modern life inflicts on the vast number of microbes that all of us, even healthy people, carry inside us at all times.” ―The Wall Street Journal

Missing Microbes presents a surprisingly clear perspective on a complex problem.” ―Philadelphia Inquirer

“In Missing Microbes, Martin Blaser sounds [an] alarm. He patiently and thoroughly builds a compelling case that the threat of antibiotic overuse goes far beyond resistant infections.” ―Nature

“Readable and challenging, Missing Microbes provides a stimulus with which to probe existing dogma.” ―Science

“Blaser presents a sensible plan for reclaiming our microbial balance and avoiding calamity both as a society...and on an individual level.” ―Discover

Missing Microbes blazes a new trail.” ―The Huffington Post

“An engrossing examination of the relatively unheralded yet dominant form of life on Earth.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Blaser's Missing Microbes is a masterful work of preventative health and superb science writing.” ―Booklist (starred review)

“Credit Blaser for displaying the wonders and importance of a vast underworld we are jeopardizing but cannot live without.” ―Kirkus

“Missing Microbes adds a new frontier towards understanding vastly underappreciated key contributions of the human microbiome to health and human disease. As a world leader in defining the microbiome, Dr. Blaser explains how disturbing its natural balance is affecting common conditions such as obesity and diabetes, long thought of as primarily nutrition and lifestyle related problems. Blaser's carefully and convincingly written book outlines new dimensions that need to be considered in fighting a number of common diseases and in promoting health and well-being.” ―Richard Deckelbaum, Director, Institute of Human Nutrition, Columbia University

“In a world that turns to antibiotics for every infection of the ear, sinuses, or skin, Dr. Blaser makes even the most nervous parent think twice about giving her child these ubiquitous drugs. Dr. Blaser contends that the excessive use of antibiotics--especially in children--is at the root of our most serious emerging modern maladies, from asthma and food allergies to obesity and certain cancers. He walks us through the science behind his theories and examines the duality of microbes, both as essential agents of good health and perpetrators of sickness. At a time when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is campaigning for more judicious use of antibiotics, Dr. Blaser delivers a thoughtful, well-written and compelling case for why doctors need to be more cautious about prescribing these medications and why consumers should consider alternatives before taking them.” ―Nirav R. Shah, MD, MPH, Commissioner of Health, New York

“Dr. Blaser's credibility as a world class scientist and physician makes this exploration of our body's microbial world particularly provocative. Missing Microbes will make you rethink some fundamental ideas about infection. Blaser's gift is to write clearly and to take the reader on a fascinating journey through the paradoxes and insights about the teeming world within us.” ―Abraham Verghese MD, author of Cutting for Stone

“I have often wondered why kids today seem to have such a high incidence of asthma, ear infections, allergies, reflux esophagitis and so many other conditions that I rarely saw growing up. This mystery has been solved by the pioneering work of Dr. Marty Blaser and is communicated brilliantly in Missing Microbes. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this book to your own health, the health of your children and grandchildren and to the health of our country. Missing Microbes is truly a must read.” ―Arthur Agatston, author of The South Beach Diet

“We live today in a world of modern plagues, defined by the alarming rise of asthma, diabetes, obesity, food allergies, and metabolic disorders. This is no accident, argues Dr. Blaser, the renowned medical researcher: the common link being the destruction of vital bacteria through the overuse of broad-spectrum antibiotics. Missing Microbes is science writing at its very best--crisply argued and beautifully written, with stunning insights about the human microbiome and workable solutions to an urgent global crisis.” ―David M. Oshinsky, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Polio: An American Story

“Why is it that you are fat, your son has asthma, and your 13-year-old daughter is six feet tall? Dr. Blaser says your bodies are missing vital, beneficial bacteria and I guarantee that after reading this book you will agree. Take a pass on the antibiotics and read Missing Microbes.” ―Laurie Garrett, Pulitzer Prize winning writer and Senior Fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations

About the Author

Dr. Martin Blaser has studied the role of bacteria in human disease for over 30 years. He is the director of the Human Microbiome Program at NYU. He founded the Bellevue Literary Review and has been written about in newspapers including The New Yorker, Nature, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. His more than 100 media appearances include The Today Show, GMA, NPR, the BBC, The O'Reilly Factor, and CNN. He lives in New York City.

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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars 238 reviews
98 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Startling New Information About Overuse of Antibiotics 29 January 2014
By Frederick S. Goethel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As most of us know, the medical community has been over prescribing antibiotics for some time now, and there is a call for the practice to end. There is no need for the use of antibiotics in many cases, and the use of them could be curtailed significantly without harm to public health. In addition, the author of this book presents compelling evidence that the overuse of antibiotics is not just causing resistance in microbes, but may also be contributing to the alarming increase in a number of diseases.

The book begins with several chapters that explain microbiology and how microbes are aligned with the human body. For instance, there are millions of microbes living in your intestinal tract, but they are not harmful; in fact they may be very beneficial. Early and frequent use of antibiotics can disrupt this natural ecosystem causing a myriad of problems.

There is also information on how we obtain our microbiological flora. For instance, microbes are passed from a mother to a baby during birth. As the baby exits the birth canal, it is coated in the naturally occurring bacteria that is found there normally. In addition, the newborn will pick up bacteria from nursing and from being handled by the mother. All of this is normal, and healthy, but overuse of antibiotics maybe causing disruption of the normal process.

In information presented that was startling, the author has linked a bacteria found in the stomach, and thought to cause ulcers, to an increase in the number of cases of gastrointestinal esophageal reflux disease. When it was first proven that the bacteria in question was responsible for ulcers, doctors went on a spree to eradicate it from adults. What followed was a large increase in the number of cases of GERD, in which gastric acid backs up into the esophagus and thereby damages it. In addition, the eradication of that bacteria may lead to it being eradicated from infants, which is a possible cause for the increase in asthma cases being seen in children.

The author also presents evidence of obesity being linked, quite significantly, to the use of antibiotics in the food supply and in early childhood. It is an interesting correlation, and may provide the answer to why there has been such a large increase in the number of obese children.

These are only some of the evidence presented and I am oversimplifying the information because of the brevity of a review. The information is fascinating, and may unlock the secrets to a number of "new plagues" as the author describes these diseases.

The book is very well written and is written with the lay person in mind. I had no problem following the science presented in the book and found the reading to be interesting and compelling. This is a must read for anyone concerned about health and the path we need to be on to correct our problems. Highly recommended!
48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful (and slightly scary) Ideas 20 February 2014
By Burgundy Damsel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Antibiotics changed the face of medicine and have been responsible for saving untold lives. It's never been a secret that they tend to indiscriminately wipe out bacteria in our bodies, killing the good with the bad, or that antibiotic use has been rising dramatically for decades. Yet only recently that scientists have begun to piece together a real understanding of the grave, long term consequences that has on our bodies.

Scientist and author Martin Blaser does an excellent job of helping readers navigate the complex world of genomes, biomes, bacteria, viruses, and their complicated interactions and impacts on human health. He simplifies the material enough that it can be easily followed by a lay person while keeping it firmly rooted in solid science, research, and medicine. Shocking facts are sprinkled throughout (your average American gets more than 17 courses of antibiotics by age 20), but they are never used for shock value - merely reported in an honest, factual nature that keeps with the serious, professional tone of the book.

Blaser explores the long term consequences of heavy antibiotic use on individuals and society, and draws clear (and disturbing) links between overuse of antibiotics and modern plagues including diabetes, obesity, IBS/ulcerative colitis, asthma, and escalating food allergies. Using decades of sound scientific research and examples from both modern life and the history of medicine, he offers a slightly frightening but completely realistic picture of where we are headed as a planet if we don't change our ways. The book outlines key problems, offers viable (but not easy) solutions, and calls on all of us as a society to make better choices while we still can.

The book was a little on the dry side, but clearly written by a man passionate about his subject and it provides significant food for thought. An excellent read, and one we all do well to pay attention to!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A laid back, informative MUST READ for everybody!! 7 June 2016
By Sara - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just closed this book and I felt the need to immediately review it. As a student microbiologist, chemist, and current medical worker, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Dr. Blaser lays out the complexity and wonder of the microscopic world in a way that's fathomable to a general audience. He approaches the dense subject matter of the (human) microbiome in a gentle, laid back yet informative manner, making this book a relatively simple read for even those with little to no scientific background. I will be recommending this book to everyone I know, especially those working in the medical, or any science driven, field (as well as any politician I may come across, ha!) Even if you know nothing about microbiology, and your last science class was in high school, I urge you to read this informative masterpiece. I cannot overstate the urgency of this topic, and I believe this book can provide anyone with a perfect segue into the crisis of the overuse of antibiotics (or the rise of "superbugs", if that catches your attention more.)

This is now one of my favorite books! Give it a try!
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing adventure 25 July 2016
By KorinRex - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Absolutely one of the most interesting books I have ever read. Would highly recommend to someone looking for a gift for a person with a budding interest in microbiology. Although the core concepts are about a technical subject, the book is written in a way that would be easy for most readers to process with little to no background knowledge of microbiology. Each bit of new information is preceded by, and then told in conjunction with, an anecdotal story by the author, which helps to give context to each new idea. I really enjoyed and admired how he was able to include scientific information with interesting storytelling in a very cohesive manner.
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind blown at intricacies of the wee animalcules inside of us. 3 June 2016
By Harlan Kanoa Sheppard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Like most well-read denizens of the internet's scientific literature, I was aware that there was something going on with the microbes that live in our gut. I couldn't have fathomed the associations that actually exist, or the depth of them. To the credit of the author, Dr. Blaser doesn't make concrete claims in the absence of evidence, but doesn't mince words about links that warrant further investigation.

As a study of microbiology, I would suggest this book to any first or second year students going into medical laboratory science as inspiring and eye-opening toward the next decade in medicine.

This was an enlightening view