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Life is too precious to worry about death

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Natural Causes. By Barbara Ehrenreich. Twelve; 210 pages; $27. Granta; £16.99.

A FEW years ago Barbara Ehrenreich stopped going for check-ups. The decision to forgo cancer screenings and physical exams has set her apart from her friends, whose calendars are full of doctors’ appointments and whose cupboards are crammed with supplements and medicines. But as the American writer, who is 76, explains in “Natural Causes”, once she realised she was “old enough to die”, there was no good reason to live a “medicalised life”. Her remaining time is “too precious to spend in windowless waiting rooms”.

Ms Ehrenreich is no anti-science hippy. She will go to the doctor in an emergency. The author of over 20 books of social commentary, including “Nickel and Dimed”, an acclaimed account of poverty in America, she has a PhD in cellular immunology.

What angers her is the “illusion of control” sold by the “medical-industrial…Continue reading

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