Gerontologist offers longevity prescription; ‘Disease Maps’ traces epidemics

July 4, 2011
Staying alive
Tips for a long life
“The Longevity Prescription” (Avery, $16)

Gerontologist and psychiatrist Robert N. Butler walked his talk. In “The Longevity Prescription,” newly issued in paperback, the first of his eight recommendations for a long, healthy life is to “maintain mental vitality.” Butler worked as a Mount Sinai Medical Center professor and as the president and chief executive of the International Longevity Center-USA until three days before his death from leukemia last year at the age of 83. Butler’s prescription is pretty predictable: exercise, nutrition, mental vitality, sleep, relaxation, love and intimacy, social connections and medical care. But there are some surprising tidbits in this book, such as recent research showing that our genes do not play as large a role as once thought in determining how long we’ll live.

Epidemics
The atlas of disease past and present
“Disease Maps” (University of Chicago Press, $45)

Map geeks, get excited. Tom Koch, a medical geographer in British Columbia, traces the history and contemporary applications of epidemic mapping. In the 19th century, maps of cholera suggested that the disease was spread through contaminated water. More recently, news maps of the H1N1 outbreak showed the extent of the pandemic and contributed to global hysteria. The book contains maps of an 1819 yellow fever outbreak in New York, the spread of HIV across America in the 1980s, West Nile virus during the 2000s and dozens more.

Rachel Saslow

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