The Illusion of Certainty: Health Benefits and Risks

Paperback | September 14, 2007

byErik Rifkin, Edward Bouwer

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This book peels away the "veneer of certainty" which many of us attach to health risk and benefit information given to us in our daily lives. It was written and designed primarily to assist the public in comprehending and interpreting the uncertainty associated with the overwhelming amount of information on medical and environmental health risks. The book uses unique, visual presentations and case studies to explain the benefits of medical screening tests (e.g., mammography, prostate and colorectal cancer screening, cholesterol screening) and drugs (e.g., statins, Vioxx) and the risks associated with exposure to environmental contaminants (e.g., lead, dioxin, radon). This book will help patients and their families get more involved in making medical decisions, and citizens face critical questions about the environment. By putting the complexities of risk analysis in terms the general public can relate to, the authors are empowering people to make well-informed decisions.Erik Rifkin is the president of an environmental consulting firm that specializes in the characterization of ecological and human health risks from exposure to soil, water, air and sediments. His firm provides assistance and guidance to federal and state regulatory agencies and corporations regarding the nature and magnitude of environmental risks and potential remediation strategies. Dr. Rifkin's broad experience includes the communication of health risks and benefits to groups concerned with these issues. Edward J. Bouwer is Professor of Environmental Engineering at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He has extensive experience with water and soil pollution and treatment. His research provides guidance on defining and managing environmental risks and how to interpret human and ecological health risk data. Dr. Bouwer has served on several National Research Council committees that provide guidance on managing human and ecological risks to Congress, regulatory agencies, and the scientific community.Guest Author Bob Sheff, MD, received his medical training as a radiologist at UCLA and Johns Hopkins Medical Center. He spent his career praticing medicine and running one of the largest medical managed-care systems in the U.S. Now semi-retired, he devotes his time to helping non-profit organizations and individual people addess their medical concerns. He lives in Columbia, MD.

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From the Publisher

This book peels away the "veneer of certainty" which many of us attach to health risk and benefit information given to us in our daily lives. It was written and designed primarily to assist the public in comprehending and interpreting the uncertainty associated with the overwhelming amount of information on medical and environmental he...

From the Jacket

The Illusion of Certainty: Health Benefits and Risks peels away the "veneer of certainty" which many of us attach to health risk and benefit information given to us in our daily lives. It was written and designed primarily to assist the public in comprehending and interpreting the uncertainty associated with the overwhelming amount of ...

Erik Rifkin is the president of an environmental consulting firm that specializes in the characterization of ecological and human health risks from exposure to soil, water, air and sediments. His firm provides assistance and guidance to federal and state regulatory agencies and corporations regarding the nature and magnitude of environ...

other books by Erik Rifkin

Format:PaperbackDimensions:264 pages, 9.25 × 6.1 × 0 inPublished:September 14, 2007Publisher:Springer USLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0387751653

ISBN - 13:9780387751658

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Customer Reviews of The Illusion of Certainty: Health Benefits and Risks

Extra Content

Table of Contents

Part I: The Basics.- 1. The Illusion of Certainty.- 2. Cause and Effect vs. Risk Factors.- 3. Reframing the Debate.- 4. Assessing Human Health Risks from Environmental Contaminants.- 5. The Sources of Uncertainty.- Part II: Case Studies.- 6. VioxxTM and Heart Attacks.- 7. Prostate Cancer Screening.- 8. Elevated Cholesterol: A Primary Risk Factor for Heart Disease?.- 9. Statins, Cholesterol, and Coronary Heart Disease.- 10. Colorectal Cancer Screening.- 11. Health Effects of Smoking.- 12. Chlorination of Drinking Water and Health Risks.- 13. Exposure to Residential Radon and the Risk of Lung Cancer.- 14. Ecological Risk Assessment.- 15. Asian Oysters in the Chesapeake Bay.- 16. Chromium and Sediment Toxicity.- Part III: Perspectives.- 17. The Physician's and Patient's Perspective.- 18. Acceptable Health Benefits and Risks.- Appendices.- Appendix A: A Brief Primer on Statistical Approaches for Quantifying Uncertainty.- Appendix B: Two Clinical Studies that Evaluated Blood Serum Cholesterol as a Risk Factor for Coronary Heart Disease (CHD).- Appendix C: Glossary.- References.- About the Authors.

Editorial Reviews

From the reviews:"The aim is principally to assist the public in comprehending and interpreting health benefit and risk information, and provide them with the basic methods that will allow them to make their own judgements. . A significant feature of the book is the introduction of a new way of assisting the reader to conceptualise the absolute risk or benefit to an individual. . It could be used as a reference book by a member of the public . ." (Roy Mooney, SCOPE, June, 2008)