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Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick, and A World Without Cancer: The Making of a New Cure and the Real Promise of Preven

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By CHICAGO LIFE MAGAZINE
Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick, (Algonquin Books, $24.95.)
In prose as lyrical as poetry, the author captures life in a small Virginia community after World War II. A stranger, Charlie Beale, shows up and gradually becomes woven into the fabric of small-town life. He works for and is befriended by the owner of the butcher shop, whose five-year-old son becomes almost a surrogate son to Charlie. More importantly, he becomes infatuated with the wife of the wealthiest member of his new community. When he learns that she is unhappily married and returns his feelings, he embarks on an affair that is destined to end badly.
   
Goolrick, who wrote the best-seller A Reliable Wife, explores the ups and downs of living in a community where everyone knows what its members are doing and privacy is an unrealistic luxury. He is an expert at capturing emotion, such as when he writes about his young friends’ love of dogs: “He knew every dog on the street by name, and there was a kind of mournful, tender wonder in his eyes every time he put his hand on a dog’s head to pat it.” While A Reliable Wife was filled with tension resulting from wondering if the main character intended to kill her new husband or not, Goolrick’s second novel considers the tension inherent in living side-by-side with neighbors who may not want you in their community. Goolrick has once again written a touching novel about love surviving where it is not always welcome.—Susan E. Zinner

A World Without Cancer: The Making of a New Cure and the Real Promise of Prevention by Margaret I. Cuomo, MD (Rodale, $15.43)
Many of us have been reading about preventing cancer for decades. For those of us, this book doesn’t cover a lot of new ground. We all have heard that we should buy organic foods and eat tomatoes, berries, cruciferous vegetables, avoid red meat, limit processed foods and drink green tea.
   
Cuomo warns us that tobacco is the cause of one-third of all cancers, according to “Applying What We Know to Accelerate Cancer Prevention” in Science Translational Medicine. Cuomo calls on our federal programs—Medicare and Medicaid—to support smoking cessation programs, and require health insurance companies to pay for the programs, as well. She encourages raising federal tobacco taxes to put the price of tobacco products beyond the reach of children.
  
Cuomo warns of other risks. She writes that radiation from a CT scan is the equivalent of “between 100 and 800 chest xrays.” The number of CT scans has gone from 3.3 million in the 1980s to 80 million in 2010. She says that physicians should agree on guidelines for imaging tests. She cites an Institute of Medicine (IOM) report that “consistent evidence” shows a link between ionizing radiation and breast cancer. She says that 70 million CT scans given in 2007 could cause from 15,000 to 45,000 new cancers and that there is a 13-fold variation between the highest and lowest doses of radiation.
   
Where this book is the most powerful is when the author stresses how important it is to create a sense of urgency in enforcing environmental health regulations. She writes that our current system of regulating contaminants is not updated. She says that there isn’t enough information given to workers about exposure to cancer-causing chemicals in both industrial and agriculture industries. Cuomo stresses that the public is not given enough information on the substances that cause cancer in our environment. She writes that there are alternatives to many of the carcinogenic chemicals that we are currently exposed to. She says that the government must offer incentives for industry to create safer ingredients in their products.
   
This book is also a call-to-action for each of us to take responsibility for protecting ourselves. Cuomo says we must try to avoid BPA in our packaging. She says we should avoid plastic containers labeled #7. Instead, we should use glass and stainless steel containers for storing our food. She also writes that we should each keep a record of any imaging tests we have had, so that we don’t inadvertently repeat the same tests, if not necessary.
  
According to 40 leading vitamin D experts from around the world, writes Cuomo, “calls for people to maintain vitamin D blood levels of between 40 and 60 ng/ml to prevent a host of diseases, including osteoporosis, certain cancers, diabetes, and heart failure. The experts call for a ‘nearly universal oral intake of vitamin D3 of 2,000 IU/day, ’”  Cuomo quotes grassrootshealth.net.
   
Cuomo also writes that the National Cancer Institute-supported funding for clinical trials is flawed, “inefficient and cumbersome,” citing problems in sharing data, funding and conflicts-of-interest. She says that the IOM has urged that there must be public disclosure of any payments made to researchers. She quotes the IOM report, “Patients and the public need to be able to trust that the high costs of health care and health insurance arise from the provision of services that are beneficial, necessary, appropriately priced, and not inappropriately driven by the financial interests of physicians, other health care providers or medical product companies.”—Kari Burns

We welcome your review. If we publish it, we will send you a gift certificate for dinner.

E-mail to editorial@chicagolife.net or mail to Chicago Life Reviews, P.O. Box 11311, Chicago IL 60611-0311.

Published: December 02, 2012
Issue: 2012 Philanthropy Issue