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NONFICTION : OMNI'S FUTURE MEDICAL ALMANAC, edited by Dick Teresi and Patrice G. Adcroft (McGraw-Hill: $17.95; 354 pp.).

April 05, 1987|Robert Steinbrook

The staff and editors of the science magazine Omni have compiled an eclectic catalogue of recent medical advances and possible future developments on topics ranging from pain control, obesity and longevity to childbirth, organ transplants and sports medicine. Their book is designed to serve as a reference for people who suffer from various illnesses and for others curious about experimental treatments. Each of the 14 chapters includes brief descriptions of a variety of topics--for example, infertility, sex selection, cloning and fetal surgery in the section on childbirth, followed by a list of organizations and researchers for readers to contact to obtain further information.

The authors carefully point out in the introduction that many of the therapies they describe do not exist yet and that others remain highly experimental. In the text, they boldly forecast the future of medicine through the year 2100. The reader should approach these predictions cautiously, keeping in mind that the history of medical progress is littered with many discarded "breakthroughs," as well as therapies whose side-effects negate their potential benefits. It would be prudent to seek guidance from a physician about the relevance to personal health problems of such current medical exotica as brain mapping, artificial Fallopian tubes and African aphrodisiacs. Nevertheless, this cornucopia of medical tidbits is well written, provocative and informative.

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