Missing Microbes

Missing Microbes

How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues

Book - 2014
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Tracing one scientist's journey toward understanding the crucial importance of the microbiome, this revolutionary book will take readers to the forefront of trail-blazing research while revealing the damage to our health that is caused by overuse of antibiotics, including its contribution to the rise of obesity, asthma, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer.

In Missing Microbes, Dr. Martin Blaser invites us into the wilds of the human microbiome where for hundreds of thousands of years, bacterial and human cells have existed in a peaceful symbiosis that is responsible for the health and equilibrium of our body. Now, this invisible Eden is being irrevocably damaged by one of our most revered medical advances-antibiotics. Antibiotics threaten the extinction of our irreplaceable microbes, which would have terrible health consequences. Taking us into both the lab and the field where these troubling effects can be witnessed firsthand, Dr. Blaser not only provides cutting-edge evidence for the adverse effects of antibiotics, but also tells us what we can do to avoid even more catastrophic health problems in the future.

Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, c2014
Edition: 1st Canadian ed
ISBN: 9781443420235
Branch Call Number: 615 .7922 BLA
Characteristics: 273 p. :,ill. ;,25 cm

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Evelyn57
Nov 22, 2014

This is a most. Thought provoking book. It should be widely read and Dr Blaser's advice considered.

ksoles Sep 04, 2014

A human being consists of a mere 30 trillion cells, trifling when compared to the 100 trillion microbes that have colonized every niche of the body. Unlike some doctors' discussions of microbes, Martin Blaser's doesn't invoke fear of exotic diseases; instead, he focuses on the more profound concern of the damage that modern life inflicts on beneficial bacteria.

Most people picture microbes as parasitic or disease-causing, or at least as having a high "eewww" factor. But Blaser explains that the vast majority of microbes do no harm and many perform vital metabolic functions: digesting carbohydrates, absorbing nutrients, regulating blood sugar and manufacturing vitamin K. Needless to say, we would die without these microbial partners; hence, Blaser compares the "microbiome" to a full-fledged, three pound internal organ.

Blaser bases his thesis on anecdotes involving his daughter, Genia. While an infant, she often suffered ear infections and took many courses of strong antibiotics. She ended up with mild asthma. In her 20s, Genia travelled widely in Latin America, where she constantly battled diarrhea and, again, looked to antibiotics for relief. Several years and more stomach pains later, a specialist finally diagnosed her with celiac disease. Are Genia's asthma and allergies coincidental? Dr. Blaser suspects not. He argues that, while effective in clearing up her infections, the drugs also caused "collateral damage" by wiping out essential microbes.

Some might say that "Missing Microbes" stretches a theory too far, blaming the rise of autism, juvenile diabetes, obesity and Crohn's disease on damage to the microbiome. But research does provide some evidence: mouse studies have linked disruptions to microbe function to a rise in obesity and infants born by Caesarian section lose out on exposure to essential microbes housed in the mother's vagina. Dr. Blaser admits that we don't know whether damaging microbes actually causes ailments or merely combines with genetic and environmental factors in "tipping many people from a clinically silent stage into overt illness." Essentially and frustratingly, we barely know what we don't know.

This fascinating look at what lies under a microscope leaves many questions unanswered but at least proves that microbes do more help than harm.

a
afie1313
Sep 01, 2014

Well written and somewhat easy to read. For those interested in how antibiotics went from being an overprescribed miracle drug to one of the possible causes of many of the epidemics that our society faces today. For example: autism, heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome, Celiac disease, Crohn's disease and others...

l
lilypad_1
Jul 22, 2014

This theory on the overuse of antibiotics does answer some questions on why we are having more health problems seemingly non-related to bacterial infections and antibiotic treatment.
I am going to research probiotics and prebiotics more, seems to be an area that could possibly make a difference.

y
yourcrazydog
Jun 28, 2014

jon stewart

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