"Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything"

Oct 2, 2018

On this edition of ST Medical Monday, our guest is Randi Hutter Epstein, M.D., M.P.H., who is an adjunct professor at Columbia University and a lecturer at Yale University. She joins us to discuss her new book, "Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything." Per a critic writing for Publishers Weekly: "Science writer Epstein gives readers a lucid and entertaining look at the social and scientific history of endocrinology. Epstein roots her history in people, such as 19th-century 'rooster-testicle-swapping' German researcher, Arnold Berthold (1803–1861), who showed that glands released hormones into the blood rather than into the nervous system, and Park Avenue doctor Louis Berman (1893–1946) who, when he wasn't treating celebrities, wrote popular books offering hormone remedies and predicting that once Western medicine learned how to exploit the endocrine system, Earth would be full of superhumans. From using growth hormone to make children taller to in vitro fertilization and exploring what sex hormones have to do with gender identification and aging, Epstein frames science in human terms, delving into such topics as eugenics, medical errors, and scams like vasectomy as a way to boost sex drive. The author's beguiling prose ('the preservatives had evaporated through tiny cracks, so bits and bobs of brain were puckered and withered') makes for a lively and accessible introduction to hormones and the important work they do in the lives of humans."