“American Medical Association Complete Guide to Prevention and Wellness: What You Need to Know About Preventing Illness, Staying Healthy, and Living Longer”
Reviewed by Stephen Causey, Community Health Education Center Medical Student
Community Health Education Ctr RA776 .A435 2008 Non-circulating
Are you afraid of, one day, being told that you have cancer? Or maybe of having to live with dementia in an unfamiliar world full of strangers? Have you ever had that dream in which your teeth suddenly crumbled into loose shards, leaving you toothless? Well, this book is your solution to finding comfort in life.
The American Medical Association (AMA) is an organization whose mission is to “promote the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health.” Their usual focus is on helping physicians help patients. But, with the organization’s stance on prevention and wellness, with this book they have bypassed the middle man (a.k.a. physicians) to educate the public directly on a plethora of health issues. Your concerns undoubtedly will be addressed within this text.
This book is divided into three parts. The first part covers the basics of prevention and wellness, like nutrition, exercise and flexibility, stress reduction, sleep, and relaxation. This brief explosion of topics I offer, however, in no way does this section justice. It also covers, for example, how to perform breast and testicular self-exams, with pictorials! Along those lines, it discusses the importance of, and describes the process of, the many different screening tools that become necessary in life, such as mammograms, colonoscopies, PSA, and pelvic exams. One of my favorites within this section, too, walks the reader through the multitude of medical issues that result from alcohol or tobacco use and even has many helpful tips on breaking the addiction. The AMA even goes so far as to offer advice on “how to control your weight when you quit smoking” which can often be a deterrent to smoking cessation. This is to imply that the thoroughness of this text in carrying readers through the lifelong process of prevention and wellness will not go unnoticed within any sub-section.
You don’t smoke or drink? Then use that advice to talk to your family/friends! They don’t smoke or drink either? OK, I bet you sleep! This section addresses many sleep hygiene tips and has tips on stress reduction (including motivators on the health effects of stress!). What is HPV, should I get the vaccine? What kind of shoes should I wear for my
exercises? Why do I even need vitamin D (and how do I get it?!)? These questions and millions more are satisfied within this text.
The rest of the book walks the reader through the various organ systems. Each chapter starts with a lay discussion of each system (e.g. ears/nose/throat, bones, digestive system, etc.), then moves on to the many different common medical conditions that affect each system. Each condition is briefly described, followed by clear bullet-point risk factors with short but helpful elaborations, and is then concluded with systematic ways to prevent said condition. You will also find sporadic educational blurbs, like “don’t mix alcohol and acetaminophen,” “proper lifting technique,” and “avoiding infections when you swim.” Aside from the organ system division, the AMA does not fail to address cancer, diabetes, and aging, in thoroughness. You will know how to prevent hearing loss, macular degeneration, dementia, diabetes, and any cancer you can think of (from skin to lung to bone to colon, you name it). Miraculously, you will also learn how to care for your teeth, beyond the simple details we’ve been taught since childhood.
The value of this material, ultimately, is in its ability to succinctly explain health issues. It offers readers the important points of a health issue and then proceeds to offer the best advice on how to reduce their risk of having that health issue. And, if you were wondering if book title length is ever an indication of thoroughness of content, then let this book be your verification of this theory. Despite its thickness and the classy silver AMA emblem, this book is entirely appropriate for the lay person, especially one looking to do anything and everything to become a celebrated super-centenarian.
To view this title, or other health-related books, visit the Community Health Education Center (CHEC). CHEC is located on the ground floor of the VCUHS Gateway Building on the MCV Campus.