10 Most Important Medical Discoveries

I received a copy of this book for review and had doubts about my ability to get through reading it.  I am not a fan of dry science information, I prefer experiential learning.  I was wrong.  Although this book is full of very interesting science information which could make you snooze, it is written in a wonderful way, part narrative, part informational, and all broken down into easy to digest bites.

When I first opened the cover I was a little confused at how there could be so many chapter titles and subtitles for only 10 discoveries – this is due to the nature of how the book is presented.  Each discovery is broken down into its own outline, similar almost to a timeline, very orderly and easy to read.

I specifically loved the section on alternative medicine, the roots of chiropractic practice and the idea that Western medicine has become to focused on disease and not enough on treating the patient.

This book is perfect for homeschoolers looking to introduce science and history into their day without it being mundane. I absolutely loved this book! Read on to find out more…


Breakthrough! The 10 Most Important Medical Discoveries

New Book from FT Press Science Reveals How Medical Breakthroughs Have Revolutionized Medicine and Changed Our View of the World
New York, NY–– Many parts of everyday healthcare—antibiotics, x-rays, vaccines—you probably take for granted. But these are in fact revolutionary medical breakthroughs that have not only changed the way we treat disease but also how we understand nature and its impact on our lives.

In Breakthrough! How the 10 Greatest Discoveries in Medicine Saved Millions and Changed Our View of the World (FT Press Science, ISBN-13: 9780137137480, $24.99, hardcover, 304 pp., April 2010), noted medical writer Jon Queijo tells the hidden stories behind history’s ten most amazing medical discoveries.  Find out how a deadly disease, cholera, sparked one of the greatest discoveries to save lives: sanitation; why it wasn’t until 50 years after the discovery of anesthesia that anyone thought to use it to help patients; why the discovery of X-rays not only revolutionized medicine, but initially shocked the world, with descriptions of the new rays ranging from “revolting” to “naughty.”


Breakthrough! also captures recent milestones, such as the rediscovery of alternative medicine in the 1990s, and gives readers of all interests and backgrounds something easy to connect with—their health.

In every chapter, Queijo presents the dramatic context and milestones that paved the way to the breakthrough discovery, the mysteries scientists and physicians were struggling with and the all-too-human emotions and frailties they brought to their work.  “One of my main goals was not only to entertain people with the stories behind each breakthrough, but explain in an easy-to-understand way how each discovery ‘works’, what different people were thinking as they progressed from milestone to milestone, and how they arrived at the insights that led to the final breakthrough,” states Queijo.

While the book covers the key milestones behind each breakthrough, each chapter also discusses how medicine has progressed since the original breakthrough —for example, how the discovery of X-rays in 1895 eventually led to CT scans in the 1970s —and how each breakthrough continues to evolve and impact healthcare today, in the 21st century.  “In reading about the history and subsequent development of each breakthrough,” Queijo explains, “you get a better understanding of where medicine stands today and where it’s going.


Whether it’s vaccines, genetics, or drugs for mental health, this understanding can help readers better deal with medical issues they may face in their own day-to-day health.”

Following are a few recent medical issues that have been hot topics in the news of late, also highlighted as “breakthroughs” in the book:
Discovery of Sanitation
•       A recent study found that between 1998 and 2006, as many as 48,000 deaths could have been prevented and $8.1 billion dollars saved if patients hadn’t contracted infections after being admitted to U.S. hospitals. Many of these deaths and costs resulted when basic and well-known measures of sanitation were not followed, including simple hand washing and applying antiseptic to a patient’s skin before a procedure.  Many authorities rank the nineteenth-century discovery of “sanitation” as the greatest breakthrough in the history of medicine.  The key milestones leading to this breakthrough, its profound impact on society and saving lives—and the failures that continue to plague society 150 years later—are all discussed in chapter 2.
Discovery of Vaccines
•       A recent study found that nearly 25% of parents hold the erroneous belief that vaccines cause autism in healthy children.  This, despite the lack of a scientific basis for these concerns and the recent discrediting and retraction by The Lancet of the 1998 study that played a major role in promulgating this false belief.  Chapter 6 reveals the dramatic stories of how vaccines were discovered, how they helped reveal the secrets of the immune system, why many fears about vaccines are unfounded, and how progress continues today with new vaccines and novel ways of making them.
Rediscovery of Alternative Medicine
•       Researchers in Hong Kong recently reported that green tea may protect against eye diseases such as glaucoma, possibly due to the presence of specific antioxidants in green tea, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and other components. Today, similar news stories appear almost daily describing the benefit—or failure—of an alternative treatment.  Chapter 10 describes the recent re-birth of alternative medicine, a remarkable journey that began with traditional medicine thousands of years ago and covers most of human history.  As discussed in the chapter, the good news is that many alternative and conventional health care practitioners are now working together in an “integrative” approach that incorporates the best of both worlds, thus improving and redefining the meaning of “health care”.

The stories behind the milestones will give you a sense of empowerment as the insights you gain into the inner workings of medicine may help you make more informed decisions about your own health care.

Check out the first chapter for the Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/Breakthrough-Chapter-Physician-Hippocrates-ebook/dp/B0037LY7GW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1268773196&sr=1-1

About the Author
Jon Queijo has been writing about science and medicine for more than 25 years, in positions that include senior medical writer in the pharmaceutical industry, staff writer for the New England Journal of Medicine consumer publication Weekly Briefings, and staff writer for Bostonia magazine.  His freelance articles have appeared in various publications, including Brain Work (The Dana Foundation), Psychology and Personal Growth, Environment, and Science Digest.

About FT Press Science
The life sciences revolution is transforming our world as profoundly as the industrial and information revolutions did in the last two centuries.  FT Press Science is committed to publishing scientific and health related books that discuss issues sometimes deemed controversial, ranging from genetics to global warming.  FT Press Science captures the excitement and promise of the new life sciences, bringing breakthrough knowledge to every professional and interested citizen. We publish tomorrow’s indispensable work in genetics, evolution, neuroscience, medicine, biotech, environmental science, and emerging scientific fields. We hope to help you make sense of the future, so you can live it, profit from it, and lead it.

About Pearson
The global leader in education services and technology, Pearson is home to such respected brands as FT Press (www.ftpress.com), Wharton School Publishing, Addison-Wesley Professional, Cisco Press, Exam Cram, IBM Press, Prentice Hall Professional, Que, Sams Publishing, which have as their online publishing arm, InformIT (www.informit.com) -The Trusted Technology Learning Source.   Pearson is also co-founder, with O’Reilly Media Inc., of Safari Books Online (http://safari.informit.com), the premier on-demand technology content library providing thousands of expert reference materials through a single point of contact, including expert technology, creative and design, industry and management resources in video, audio and written formats. Pearson Education is part of Pearson (NYSE: PSO), the international media company. Pearson’s other primary businesses include the Financial Times Group and the Penguin Group.
Breakthrough! How the 10 Greatest Discoveries in Medicine Saved Millions and Changed Our View of the World
Jon Queijo
ISBN-13: 9780137137480
304 pps.
April 2010