Opposing Viewpoints’ Health addresses some of the most controversial issues related to the existing American medical system as a social issue. The book’s presentation of systemic concerns is particularly important given predictions of increasing demand for health care services as the baby boomer population ages. The introduction speculates that the increase in age–related accidents and degenerative diseases will tax the existing health system. The imperative is clear: medical science must look beyond conventional treatment to successfully combat the diseases and disorders resulting from modern industrialized lifestyles.
The first of four sections examines what can be considered the greatest threats to human health, touching upon global warming before addressing cancers, cardiovascular disease, and antibiotic resistance. Cancer is represented as a complex interaction of factors, further muddied as reports of increasing or decreasing incidences often overlook better life expectancy due to early detection and effective treatment. There is a discussion of how more malignancies may be linked to infectious agents, such as those now held to be contributing to cervical cancer. The complexity of parsing out disease from effects of obesity and unhealthy diet is presented as culturally derived and not yet a problem for developing countries. One article, authored by the American Heart Association, describes 66 percent of American adults as overweight. The straightforward presentation of volitional human behaviors and their interrelationship with overall health — with paired articles on obesity, exercise, and tanning — will provide ample fodder for student essays. Another segment takes a critical look at medical technologies, such as accepted and widespread treatments including statin drugs and osteoporosis medications. Another, more general discussion centers on the use of information technologies for streamlining information sharing and treatment, while also weighing the loss of patient privacy entailed by digitizing those records.
The American Health care system is the final of four overarching topics. That segment begins by juxtaposing an article asserting the current American health care system is the best in the world with a more critical view relating sociological data about the actual access to and use of those state–of–the–art medical services. Two more essays that look at the effect of market economics on health care costs, explore if that is a workable model or not. The factual information related to chronic conditions and health care costs presented within is particularly timely, given the scrutiny afforded health care as Congress looks for a workable public health solution.
The volume is well–indexed. As usual, Opposing Viewpoints makes it easy to frame a thesis topic and flesh out a bibliography. Supplementary articles, many of them available online, are provided for each of the four sections. Focusing questions introduce many essays, and there are more holistic questions labelled "For Further Discussion" linked to each section. Additional resources include an organizational clearinghouse with web addresses and an up-to-date general bibliography. Given that health resources are often related to consumer options rather than objective discussions of social implications, this book is recommended for both school and public libraries.