"If you want to understand the strange workings of the human body, and the future of medicine, you must read this illuminating, engaging book." —Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Gene
In 2014, James Hamblin launched a series of videos for The Atlantic called "If Our Bodies Could Talk." With it, the doctor-turned-journalist established himself as a seriously entertaining authority in the field of health. Now, in illuminating and genuinely funny prose, Hamblin explores the human stories behind health questions that never seem to go away—and which tend to be mischaracterized and oversimplified by marketing and news media. He covers topics such as sleep, aging, diet, and much more:
• Can I “boost” my immune system?
• Does caffeine make me live longer?
• Do we still not know if cell phones cause cancer?
• How much sleep do I actually need?
• Is there any harm in taking a multivitamin?
• Is life long enough?
In considering these questions, Hamblin draws from his own medical training as well from hundreds of interviews with distinguished scientists and medical practitioners. He translates the (traditionally boring) textbook of human anatomy and physiology into accessible, engaging, socially contextualized, up-to-the-moment answers. They offer clarity, examine the limits of our certainty, and ultimately help readers worry less about things that don’t really matter.
If Our Bodies Could Talk is a comprehensive, illustrated guide that entertains and educates in equal doses.
In this fascinating book, Hamblin, a medical doctor and senior editor at the Atlantic, discusses why stomachs rumble, how much sleep we need, what causes cancer, and many more questions about the plethora of human bodily functions. Drawing on his experiences creating a video series (with the same title) for the Atlantic, he combines his own medical knowledge with consultations with scientists and doctors in different fields. Each chapter focuses on a category of "body usage," starting with the body's "superficial" parts such as skin and eyes, then moving into feeling, eating, drinking, relating, and finally dying. His explanations are thoughtful and interesting and often framed by a specific story or research study that provides context and clarifies why the answers are not always cut-and-dried. He delves into the many ways technology is driving medicine, touching on topics such as epigenetics (the role environment plays in gene expression), dysbiosis (disruption of the microbial system), and hormone therapy to support a person's sense of gender identity. Challenging what one interviewee calls the "scientific misinformation and marketing-based facts' " we are bombarded with daily, this book will be a useful tool for helping people get in touch with their own bodies.