I finished Anticancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD in about two days. I found it fascinating: what it did cover, and what it didn’t even mention.

First, it didn’t mention any specific alternative cancer treatments, such as the Macrobiotic diet or the Budwig diet. On the other hand, what it did cover was extensive: summaries of research studies, information about nutrition and cancer, mind/body research and the resistance of Western doctors to any cancer treatment beyond chemotherapy, radiation and pharmaceuticals.

If you want to read about Dr. Servan-Schreiber’s careful summaries of recent research and how they provide new hope for cancer patients, I recommend you read the book. He does give an analogy to the World War II battle of Stalingrad as a way to understand new approaches to cancer treatment. At Stalingrad, instead of attacking the powerful German army directly, the Russian army attacked the German supply lines, thus enabling the beginning of the retreat of the Nazi cancer. A Navy surgeon named Dr. Judah Folkman paved the way for attacking the supply lines of cancer in the human body.

One of the best parts of the books is Dr. Servan-Schreiber’s commentary on why so many oncologists are reluctant to refer to nutrition or diet as part of their practice. Here are a few of his notes:

  • Western doctors receive little or no training in nutrition.
  • Evidence-based medicine: “If it were true, we’d know about it.”
  • “If there’s a problem, there’s a drug.”
  • “People don’t want to change. It’s useless to tell them that.”

About doctors needing evidence-based medicine and why the nutrition studies don’t exist:

It is not financially feasible to invest such sums [as do the pharmaceuticals in drug research] in demonstrating the usefulness of broccoli, raspberries or green tea, because they can’t be patented and their sale will never cover the cost of the original investment… I am convinced there is no need to wait for such large-scale results before beginning to include anticancer foods in one’s diet.

As some of the best parts of the book are some nutritional and other anticancer suggestions, I’ll save those for later posts. Stay tuned.

Other books I would like to read:
 The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted
by T. Colin Campbell (recommended by my friend H.)
 Foods to Fight Cancer: Essential foods to help prevent cancer
by Dr. Richard Beliveau (discussed in the Anticancer book)

A book I previously reviewed that is mentioned in the Anticancer book:
 A Secret History of the War on Cancer by Devra Davis

6 thoughts on “Anticancer

  • I agree!
    And I think there’s too much money involved in the pharmaceutical industry in the battle against cancer. It should not be happening, but it explains the Western reluctancy to promote a healthy diet as a cure against cancer!

  • Ilana-Davita, I have a post scheduled for tomorrow morning on this topic that I think you will like.

    Jientje, one of the points in his book is that it is not easy to eat a healthy diet, in part because we live on a polluted planet. As the research seems to go forward in the pharmaceutical world, I will be happy if they find a pill to cure all, but in the mean time, I’m pleased to know I can use diet as a prevention method against cancer. Thanks for adding to the discussion!

  • Your post reminded me of a documentary on Chinese medecine where they explained that too often traditioanal medecine is abandoned in favor of drugs produced by the pharmaceutical industry because it brings better profit (at least financially).
    It seemed that what is best for the patient is not what these people have in mind, at least most of the time.

  • You really need to educate yourself on all aspects of an illness and possible treatments or supplements. You can’t just depend on a medical doc to have all the answers…good review

  • Michelle, although doctors do set themselves up as people you can depend upon for all health issues. So it doesn’t feel good to go “against” them. In the case of diet, it’s just a supplement, but I had a case where I wanted to avoid antibiotics, and the pediatrician was not pleased. We chose a local, excellent chiropractor to treat our daughter instead, and she really hasn’t gotten sick since then (two years ago).

    I appreciate your comment, Michelle. I can tell it comes from experience.

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