The End of Illness

The End of Illness, a book by David B. Agus, M.D.Buy the Book: AmazonApple BooksBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionIndieBoundGoogle PlayAudibleiTunes
Title: The End of Illness
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: January 17, 2012
Pages: 320
ISBN13: 9781451610178


What if everything you thought about health was wrong?

Can we live robustly until our last breath? Do we have to suffer from debilitating conditions and sickness? Is it possible to add more vibrant years to our lives? And has the time come for us to stop thinking about disease as something the body “gets” or “has” but rather to think of it as something the body does?

In The End of Illness, David B. Agus, MD, one of the world’s leading cancer doctors, researchers, and technology innovators, tackles these fundamental questions, challenging long-held wisdoms and dismantling misperceptions about what “health” means. With a blend of storytelling, landmark research, and provocative ideas, Dr. Agus presents an eye-opening picture of the complex and endlessly enigmatic human body, and all of the ways it works—and fails—ultimately showing us how a new perspective on our individual health will allow each of us to achieve that often elusive but now reachable goal of a long, healthy life.

This indispensable book is not only a manifesto—a call for revising the way we think about health—it’s also filled with practical but impossible-to-ignore suggestions that may surprise readers, including:

  • How taking multivitamins and supplements could significantly increase our risk for diseases like cancer over time.
  • Why sitting down most of the day, despite a strenuous morning workout, can be as bad as or worse than smoking.
  • How sneaky sources of daily inflammation—from high heels to the common cold—can lead to a fatal heart attack, and even rob us of our sanity.
  • How three inexpensive medications—aspirin, statins, and an annual flu vaccine—can substantially change the course of our health for the better.
  • How taking shortcuts to health via blending fruits and vegetables, and sometimes even by purchasing what we think is “fresh,” could be shortchanging our health.
  • How to scrutinize and many times dismiss scare tactics and hype promoted by the media.
  • The single most important thing we can do today to preserve our health and happiness that costs absolutely nothing.

Dr. Agus also offers insights and access to breathtaking and powerful new technologies that promise to transform medicine in our generation. In the course of offering recommendations, he emphasizes his belief that there is no “right” answer, no master guide that’s “one size fits all.” Each one of us must get to know our bodies in uniquely personal ways, and he shows us exactly how to do that so that we can individually create a plan to live longer. This groundbreaking approach will change not only how we care for ourselves but also how we develop the next generation of treatments and cures.

Listen to the audio book excerpt:


Other books by Dr. David Agus, MD



“In this brilliant book, David Agus introduces a whole new way of looking at illness and health. Taking a cue from physics, he views the body as a complex system and helps us see how everything from cancer to nutrition fits into one whole picture. The result is both a useful guide on how to stay healthy and a fascinating analysis of the latest in medical science.”
Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs

“Dr. David Agus has given us a remarkable peek into our health – and the impact will be profound. I’ve made it my mission in life to live strong and help others do the same. The End of Illness is one more empowering piece to the puzzle of knowing how to do just that. This book will prevent illness, revolutionize treatments, and lengthen people’s lives. A tour de force in its delivery and message.”
Lance Armstrong, seven-time Tour de France winner, and founder and chairman of LIVESTRONG

“Dr. Agus, as physician, research scientist, and friendly guide, takes his readers on a fascinating tour of ideas and facts about health and illness. They will find many of those ideas to be unconventional and thought-provoking and many of the facts to be both striking and surprising. Read this book and you will very likely change at least some of your views on health and illness.”
Murray Gell-Mann, PhD, Nobel Laureate in Physics, 1969, and distinguished fellow and cofounder of The Santa Fe Institute

“David Agus is one of America’s great doctors and medical researchers, a man dedicated to improving the health of as many people as he can. Written in a style and format that will truly engage readers, The End of Illness presents a dramatic, new way of thinking about our own health—a way that could lead to greatly improving the quality of life for millions, starting right now.”
Al Gore, 45th Vice President of the United States and Nobel Laureate in Peace, 2007

“David Agus’s The End of Illness is a brilliant blend of enlightening manifesto and practical how-to in the realm of our most important ingredient to a long and happy life: health. Filled with unorthodox ideas backed with hard science, it simplifies for the reader the complexity of vital developments happening in medicine today and teaches us how to make the most of what’s available, as well as what’s soon to come.”
Michael Dell, founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Dell, Inc.

“Dr. David Agus is surfing the crest of two great waves of innovation — in information technology and the life sciences. His End of Illness uses Big Data to decode the personal and molecular basis of disease. And, more important, advance a new model for health where prevention is key.
John Doerr, partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers

“In this seminal book, Dr. David Agus presents a brilliant new model of health based on the body as a complex system with an emphasis on prevention. The End of Illness may reframe everything you thought you knew about health. It is both provocative and inspiring. Highly recommended.”
Dean Ornish, MD, founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, and Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco

“Dr. David Agus has been disrupting medicine as we know it for his entire career. Now, he brings his ideas out of the lab and exam room and into the lives of everyone—showing us how to live long, healthy, disease-free lives. Reading this book is the best thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones. A monumental work that will change your life.”
Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of

“David Agus is one of the great medical thinkers of our age. The End of Illness reframes the entire discussion of sickness and health. Instead of thinking about disease Agus thinks about the system that is the human body, and what we need to do to guide it toward health. Before you take your next vitamin, read this book.”
Danny Hillis, PhD, co-founder of Applied Proteomics and Thinking Machines, and Widney Professor at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine

“David Agus, one of the nation’s most innovative cancer doctors, shatters the myths about health and wellness and provides us with a handbook for living a long, healthy life.”
Steve Case, chairman of Revolution and The Case Foundation, and co-founder of America Online


The following is a partial list of books and scientific papers that you might find helpful in learning more about some of the ideas and concepts expressed in the book. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it will get you started in embracing a new perspective and living up to the principles of The End of Illness. These materials can also open other doors for further research and inquiry. This list is constantly being updated; for corrections and additional notes of reference to the current edition of the book, please refer to the last section of this listing.

Agus, D.B. et al. Vitamin C crosses the blood-brain barrier in the oxidized form through the glucose transporters. Journal of Clinical Investigation 100, no. 11 (1997): 2842–48.

Agus, D.B., J. Vera, and D. Golde. Stromal cell oxidation: A mechanism by which tumors obtain vitamin C. Cancer Research 59, no. 18 (1999): 4555–58. Armstrong, L. It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life. New York: Berkley, 2001.

Atkinson, G., and L. Speirs. Diurnal variation in tennis service. Perceptual & Motor Skills 86, no. 3 pt. 2 (June 1998): 1335–38.

Baxter, C., and T. Reilly. Influence of time of day on all-out swimming. British Journal of Sports Medicine 17, no. 2 (June 1983): 122–27. 

Bishop, D. The effects of travel on team performance in the Australian national netball competition. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine 7, no. 1 (March 2004): 118–22.

Bjelakovic, G., D. Nikolova, L.L. Gluud, R.G. Simonetti, and C. Gluud. Mortality in randomized trials of antioxidant supplements for primary and secondary prevention: systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of the American Medical Association 297, no. 8 (February 28, 2007): 842–57.

Blair, S.N. Physical inactivity: the biggest public health problem of the 21st century. British Journal of Sports Medicine 43, no. 1 (January 2009): 1–2.

Blair, S.N., et al. A tribute to Professor Jeremiah Morris: the man who invented the field of physical activity epidemiology. Annals of Epidemiology 20, no. 9 (September 2010): 651–60.

Breus, M. Good Night: The Sleep Doctor’s 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health. New York: Dutton, 2006.

Breus, M. The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan: Lose Weight through Better Sleep. Emmaus: Rodale, 2011.

Carney, C.E., J.D. Edinger, B. Meyer, L. Lindman, and T. Istre. Daily activities and sleep quality in college students. Chronobiology International 23, no. 3: 623–37.

Center, J.R., D. Bliuc, N.D. Nguyen, T.V. Nguyen, and J.A. Eisman. Osteoporosis medication and reduced mortality risk in elderly women and men. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 96, no. 4 (April 2011): 1006–14. Epub February 2, 2011.

Copinschi, G. Metabolic and endocrine effects of sleep deprivation. Essential Psychopharmacology 6, no. 6 (2005): 341–47.

de Lorgeril, M., et al. Cholesterol lowering, cardiovascular diseases, and the rosuvastatin-JUPITER controversy: a critical reappraisal. Archives of Internal Medicine 170, no. 12 (June 28, 2010): 1032–36.

Dreyfuss, J.H. Oral bisphosphonate use associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer. CA—A Cancer Journal for Clinicians 60, no. 6 (November-December 2010): 343–44. Epub October 19, 2010.

Edwards, B.J., W. Edwards, J. Waterhouse, G. Atkinson, and T. Reilly. Can cycling performance in an early morning, laboratory-based cycle time-trial be improved by morning exercise the day before? International Journal of Sports Medicine 26, no. 8 (October 2005): 651–6. Erratum in: Journal of the American College of Cardiology 57, no.16 (April 19, 2011): 1717.

FDA website: tion/seafood/foodbornepathogenscontaminants/methylmercury/ucm115644.htm.

Forrester, D.P. Consider: Harnessing the Power of Reflective Thinking in Your Organization. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

Freedman, D.M., A.C. Looker, C.C. Abnet, M.S. Linet, and B.I. Graubard. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and cancer mortality in the NHANES III study (1988–2006). Cancer Research 70, no. 21 (November 1, 2010): 8587–97. Epub September 16, 2010.

Garry, A., D.H. Edwards, I.F. Fallis, R.L. Jenkins, and T.M. Griffith. Ascorbic acid and tetrahydrobiopterin potentiate the EDHF phenomenon by generating hydrogen peroxide. Cardiovascular Research 84, no. 2 (November 1, 2009): 218–26. Epub July 10, 2009.

Gershon, M. The Second Brain: The Scientific Basis of Gut Instinct and a Groundbreaking New Understanding of Nervous Disorders of the Stomach and Intestines. New York: HarperCollins, 1998.

Ginsberg, J., et al. Detecting influenza epidemics using search engine query data. Nature 457, no. 7232 (February 2009): 1012–14.

Gnant, M., et al. Endocrine therapy plus zoledronic acid in premenopausal breast cancer. New England Journal of Medicine 360, no. 7 (2009): 679–91.

Green, R.C., et al. Disclosure of APOE genotype for risk of Alzheimer’s disease. New England Journal of Medicine 361, no. 3 (July 16, 2009): 245–54.

Guevara-Aguirre, J., et al. Growth hormone receptor deficiency is associated with a major reduction in pro-aging signaling, cancer, and diabetes in humans. Science Translational Medicine 3, no. 70 (February 16, 2011): 70ra13.

Haldane, J.B.S. Daedalus, or Science and the Future. A paper read to the Heretics, Cambridge, UK, February 4, 1923. Transcribed by CR Shalizi, April 10, 1993, Berkeley, CA. Source:

Hillis, D. TED talk, 2010. Understanding Cancer through Proteomics. Accessed on October 18, 2011.

Jablonski, N.G., and G. Chaplin. Colloquium Paper: Human skin pigmentation as an adaptation to UV radiation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107, Suppl. 2 (May 11, 2010): 8962–68.

Jehue, R., D. Street, and R. Huizenga. Effect of time zone and game time changes on team performance: National Football League. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 25, no. 1 (January 1993): 127–31.

Kirsh, V.A., et al. Supplemental and dietary vitamin E, beta-carotene, and vitamin C intakes and prostate cancer risk. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 98, no. 4 (February 15, 2006): 245–54.

Klein, E.A., et al. Vitamin E and the risk of prostate cancer: the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT). Journal of the American Medical Association 306, no. 14 (October 12, 2011): 1549–56.

Levitt, S.D., and S.L. Dubner. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. New York: William Morrow, 2006.

Lind, J. A Treatise on the Scurvy. Nabu Press, 2011; originally published in 1753.

Manber, R., R.R. Bootzin, C. Acebo, M.A. Carskadon. The effects of regularizing sleep-wake schedules on daytime sleepiness. Sleep 19, no. 5 (June 1996): 432–41.

Martí, O., and A. Armario. Influence of regularity of exposure to chronic stress on the pattern of habituation of pituitary-adrenal hormones, prolactin and glucose. Stress 1, no. 3 (May 1997): 179–89.

Miller, E.R., 3rd, et al. Meta-analysis: high-dosage vitamin E supplementation may increase all-cause mortality. Annals of Internal Medicine 142, no. 1 (January 4, 2005): 37–46. Epub November 10, 2004.

Morris, J.N., and M.D. Crawford. Coronary heart disease and physical activity of work: evidence of a national necropsy survey. BMJ 2 (December 20, 1958): 1485–96.

Morris, J.N., J.A. Heady, P.A.B. Raffle, C.G. Roberts, and J.W. Parks. Coronary heart-disease and physical activity of work. Lancet 265, no. 6795 (November 21, 1953): 1053–57.

Morris, J.N., J.A. Heady, P.A.B. Raffle, C.G. Roberts, and J.W. Parks. Coronary heart-disease and physical activity of work. Lancet 262 (November 28, 1953): 1111–20.

Mukherjee, S. The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. New York: Scribner, 2010.

Neuhouser, M.L., et al. Multivitamin use and risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease in the Women’s Health Initiative cohorts. Archives of Internal Medicine 169, no. 3 (February 9, 2009): 294–304.

Pollan, M. In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. New York: Penguin, 2009.

Rahman, A.A., et al. Hand pattern indicates prostate cancer risk. British Journal of Cancer 104, no. 1 (January 4, 2011): 175–77. Epub November 30, 2010.

Reardon, D.A., et al. A review of VEGF/VEGFR-targeted therapeutics for recurrent glioblastoma. Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network 9, no. 4 (April 2011): 414–27.

Rennert, G., et al. Rosuvastatin to prevent vascular events in men and women with elevated C-reactive protein. New England Journal of Medicine 359, no. 21 (November 20, 2008): 2195–207. Epub November 9, 2008.

Ridker, P.M.; JUPITER Study Group. Rosuvastatin in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease among patients with low levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and elevated high-sensitivity C-reactive protein: rationale and design of the JUPITER trial. Circulation 108, no. 19 (November 11, 2003): 2292–97.

Rothwell, P.M., et al. Effect of daily aspirin on long-term risk of death due to cancer: analysis of individual patient data from randomised trials. Lancet 377, no. 9759 (January 1, 2011): 31–41. Epub December 6, 2010.

Sanders, K.M., et al. Annual high-dose oral vitamin D and falls and fractures in older women: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Medical Association 303, no. 18 (2010): 1815–22. doi: 10.1001/jama.2010.594.

Schrödinger, E. What Is Life? The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1944.

Schürks, M., R.J. Glynn, P.M. Rist, C. Tzourio, and T. Kurth. Effects of vitamin E on stroke subtypes: meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. BMJ 341 (November 4, 2010): c5702. doi: 10.1136/bmj.c5702.

Sedliak, M., T. Finni, S. Cheng, W.J. Kraemer, and K. Häkkinen. Effect of time-of-day-specific strength training on serum hormone concentrations and isometric strength in men. Chronobiology International 24, no. 6 (2007): 1159–77.

Snowdon, D. Aging with Grace: What the Nun Study Teaches Us About Leading Longer, Healthier, and More Meaningful Lives. New York: Bantam, 2001.

Spiegel, K., et al. Leptin levels are dependent on sleep duration: relationships with sympathovagal balance, carbohydrate regulation, cortisol, and thyrotropin. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 89, no. 11 (November 2004): 5762–71.

Stamatakis, E., M. Hamer, and D.W. Dunstan. Screen-based entertainment time, all-cause mortality, and cardiovascular events: population-based study with ongoing mortality and hospital events follow-up. Journal of the American College of Cardiology 57, no. 3 (January 18, 2011): 292–99.

Taheri, S., L. Lin, D. Austin, T. Young, and E. Mignot. Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin, and increased body mass index. PLoS Medicine 1, no. 3 (December 2004): e62. Epub December 7, 2004.

Thomas, L. The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher. New York: Penguin, 1978.

Virtamo, J., et al. Incidence of cancer and mortality following alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene supplementation: a postintervention follow-up. Journal of the American Medical Association 290, no. 4 (July 23, 2003): 476–85.

Vivekananthan, D.P., M.S. Penn, S.K. Sapp, A. Hsu, and E.J. Topol. Use of antioxidant vitamins for the prevention of cardiovascular disease: metaanalysis of randomised trials. Lancet 361, no. 9374 (June 14, 2003): 2017–23.

Wang, T.J., et al. Common genetic determinants of vitamin D insufficiency: a genome-wide association study. Lancet 376, no. 9736 (July 17, 2010): 180–88. Epub June 10, 2010.

Zhang, W., et al. Index to ring finger length ratio and the risk of osteoarthritis. Arthritis & Rheumatism 58, no. 1 (January 2008): 137–44.


Additional Notes:

  1. Page 48: Growth hormone treatments text adopted and quoted from:
  2. Page 59: Hemoglobin A1C text adopted and quoted from:
  3. Page 63: Hippocrates & willow bark text adopted and quoted from:
  4.  Page 67: Osteoporosis text adopted and quoted from: and
  5.  Page 70: Explanation of a genome text adopted and quoted from:
  6.  Page 86: Bones and toxic heavy metals text adopted and quoted from:
  7. Page 88: Dr. Stark-Vance and Avastin text adopted and quoted from:
  8. Page 96: Human genes and cells text adopted and quoted from:
  9. Pages 118-119: Precision medicine & mental illness text adopted and quoted from:
  10.  Page 127: Vitamin D as a miracle worker text adopted and quoted from:
  11. Page 129: Vitamin D trends text adopted and quoted from:
  12.  Page 134: Vitamin D study by Intermountain Medical Center text adopted and quoted from:
  13.  Page 134: Vitamin D facts adopted and quoted from: The Vitamin D Solution: A 3-Step Strategy to Cure our Most Common Health Problems by Michael F. Hokick, PhD, MD
  14. Page 140: Vitamin D and dark skin text adopted and quoted from:
  15. Page 151: Scurvy text adopted and quoted from:
  16.  Page 162: Multivitamins text adopted and quoted from: and  
  17.  Page 163: I owe calling vitamins C a molecule that has an “alter ego” to Sam Wong of the British Heart Foundation who wrote a marvelous piece in an article for The Guardian following the 2009 Cardiff study published in Cardiovascular Research, which proved how vitamin C can have a split personality—acting as both an antioxidant and a pro-oxidant. For a vitamin that’s famous for its antioxidant qualities, there’s no better term than “alter ego” if it can also produce free radicals. Wong perfectly described how vitamin C—and perhaps other pro-oxidant molecules such as tetrahydrobiopterin, which was also studied by the Cardiff researchers—might one day help treat patients with cardiovascular disease.
  18.  Page 167: Clinical trial about vitamin supplements text adopted and quoted from:
  19.  Page 166: Brigham & Women’s Hospital study text adopted and quoted from:
  20.  Page 151: Scurvy text adopted and quoted from:
  21.  Page 171: Antioxidant vitamin pills text adopted and quoted from:
  22.  Page 177: Sept 2007 study done by University of Oxford on prostate cancer text adopted and quoted from:
  23. Page 180: Being overweight text adopted and quoted from:
  24. Page 196: Outside and inside aging text adopted and quoted from: Mom Energy: A Simple Plan to Live Fully Charged by Ashley Koff, RD, and Kathy Kaehler
  25. Page 198: Scripps Howard study on football players text adopted and quoted from:
  26. Pages 202-203: Thomas’ brain story text adopted and quoted from: and
  27. Page 203: CTE text adopted and quoted from:
  28. Pages 205-206: Rush University study text adopted and quoted from:
  29.  Page 215: Athletic performance and fitness training text adopted and quoted from:
  30.  Page 217: Coronary heart disease after WW2 text adopted and quoted from:
  31. Page 244: Obesity text adopted and quoted from:
  32.  Page 252: Benefits of sleep text adopted and quoted from:
  33. Page 255: Univ of California, San Francisco study about rats and brain activity text adopted and quoted from:
  34.  Page 275: Searching for health information online adopted and quoted from:
  35. Page 276: Flu related internet searches text adopted and quoted from:
  36. Page 298: Antibiotics text adopted and quoted from: