From Publishers Weekly
After undergoing chemotherapy and surgery for brain cancer, Servan-Schreiber, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, asked his oncologist if any lifestyle changes would prevent a relapse; the answer was no. Certain this was wrong, Servan-Schreiber spent months researching a mass of scientific data on natural defenses against cancer. After a lucid introduction to cancer and its causes, he points out studies indicating that a poor diet, unhealthy habits (like smoking), some hormones, and environmental toxins increase risk. But as his advice grows more specific, evidence dwindles that these steps work. Eating organic foods, avoiding red meat and processed food, and eliminating household chemicals seem reasonable, but readers curious about how much turmeric or garlic to consume and how much it lowers their cancer risk will find no answers. Servan-Schreiber also advocates a positive, life-affirming attitude, illustrating with anecdotes of patients whose cancers disappeared when they attained inner peace. Servan-Schreiber underscores that his advice should be an adjunct to, not a replacement for, conventional treatments like surgery and chemotherapy, in this spirited mixture of good medical information, helpful suggestions and alternative medicine. (Sept. 22)
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*Starred Review* If anyone has the cred, professional and street, to discuss cancer prevention and survival, it is Servan-Schreiber, clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, cofounder of Doctors Without Borders, and 15-year brain cancer survivor. That he chooses to talk about, even promote, certain environmental, dietary, and emotional adjustments one can make in one’s life that can mitigate suspected carcinogenic influences makes this a slightly controversial book. Typical of his demeanor, though, as researcher-teacher rather than practitioner, he addresses the controversy head-on, cautioning his critics to note that he does not promote these life adjustments in lieu of conventional medical interventions such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. He promotes them in addition to, as a support for, traditional treatments. He calls them anticancer practices. Stay away from white sugar and flour. Eat more cruciferous vegetables and dark-colored fruits. Get regular exercise, and take up yoga or some other form of meditation. These practices made for him a new way of life that he claims helped him beat cancer twice and, he believes, once and for all. This has been a best-seller in France and may well become a valuable resource about personal wars waged on cancer in this country, as well. --Donna Chavez