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Anticancer: A New Way of Life Hardcover – December 31, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

David Servan-Schreiber, M.D., Ph.D, is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and cofounder of the Centre for Integrative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre. He's lectured at leading international academic centres, including Stanford, Columbia, Cornell and Cambridge Universities. His first book The Instinct to Heal was an international bestseller and France's bestselling non-fiction book of the year in 2004, selling over 600,000 copies in the trade edition alone. His latest book is Anticancer (2008).

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Foods That Act Like Medications

From ANTICANCER: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD


Foods That Act Like Medications

If certain foods in our diet can act as fertilizers for tumors, others, to the contrary, harborprecious anticancer molecules. As recent discoveries show, these go far beyond the usual vitamins,minerals, and antioxidants.

In nature, when confronted with aggression, vegetables can neither fight nor flee. To survive,they must be armed with powerful molecules capable of defending them against bacteria,insects, and bad weather. These molecules are phytochemical compounds with antimicrobial,antifungal, and insecticide properties that act on the biological mechanisms of potentialaggressors. They also have antioxidant properties that protect the plant’s cells from dampnessand the sun’s rays (by preventing cellular “rust” from forming when the cell’s fragile mechanismsare exposed to the corrosive effects of oxygen).

Plums, Peaches, and Nectarines: It’s Time for Stone Fruit

Berries have recently found some competition: peaches, plums, nectarines, etc. (collectivelyknown as stone fruit), whose anticancer virtues were previously unknown. According to agroup of researchers in Texas who reviewed more than a hundred species, these fruits—particularlyplums—are at least as rich in anticancer elements as small berries. In this time ofeconomic recession, it’s good to know that a single plum contains as many antioxidants as ahandful of berries and costs far less. In laboratory tests, stone fruits have also demonstratedtheir efficacy against breast cancer cells and cholesterol.

Probiotics

The intestines ordinarily contain “friendly” bacteria, which help digestion and facilitate regularbowel movements. They also play an important stabilizing role for the immune system.Among the most common of these bacteria are Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillusbifidus.

It has been demonstrated that these probiotics inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells.Their effect on the facilitation of bowel movements also lowers the risk of colon cancer by reducingthe time the intestines are exposed to carcinogenic substances in food. Probiotics thusalso play a role in detoxification. In addition, according to a 2006 Korean study, probiotics improvethe performance of the immune system, as well as increasing the number of NK cells.Organic yogurts and kefir are good sources of probiotics. Soy yogurts are usually enrichedwith probiotics. These precious bacteria are also found in sauerkraut and kimchi.Finally, certain foods are prebiotics, which means they contain polymers of fructose, whichstimulate the growth of probiotic bacteria. Examples are garlic, onions, tomatoes, asparagus,bananas, and wheat.

Green Tea

Rich in polyphenols, including catechins (and particularly epigallocatechin gallate-3, orEGCG), which reduce the growth of the new vessels needed for tumor growth and metastases.It is also a powerful antioxidant and detoxifier (activating enzymes in the liver that eliminatetoxins from the body), and it facilitates the death of cancer cells by apoptosis. In the laboratory,it enhances the effects of radiotherapy on cancer cells.

Turmeric and Curry

Turmeric (the yellow powder that is one of the components of yellow curry) is the most powerfulnatural antiinflammatory identified today. It also helps stimulate apoptosis in cancercells and inhibit angiogenesis. In the laboratory, it enhances the effectiveness of chemotherapyand reduces tumor growth.

Take note: To be assimilated by the body, turmeric must be mixed with black pepper(not simply with peppers). Ideally, it must also be dissolved in oil (olive, canola, or linseed oil,preferably). In store-bought curry mixes, turmeric represents only 20 percent of the total. Soit’s better to obtain turmeric powder directly.

Recommendations for use: Mix ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder with ½ tablespoon ofolive oil and a generous pinch of black pepper. Add to vegetables, soups, and salad dressings.A few drops of agave nectar can remove the slightly bitter taste.

Ginger

Ginger root also acts as a powerful antiinflammatory and an antioxidant (more effectivethan vitamin E, for example) and has protective effects. It acts against certain cancer cells.Moreover, it helps reduce the creation of new blood vessels. A ginger infusion tea also helpsalleviate nausea from chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Recommendations for use: Add grated ginger to a vegetable mix while it is cooking in awok or frying pan. Or marinate fruits in lime juice and grated ginger (a touch of agave nectarmay be added for those who prefer more sweetness). Make an infusion by cutting a smallpiece of ginger (about an inch) into slices and steeping in boiling water for ten to fifteenminutes. Can be drunk hot or cold.

Cruciform Vegetables

Cabbages (brussels sprouts, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.) containsulforaphane and indole-3-carbinols (I3Cs), which are powerful anticancer molecules. Sulforaphaneand I3Cs are capable of detoxifying certain carcinogenic substances. They preventprecancerous cells from developing into malignant tumors. They also promote the suicideof cancer cells and block angiogenesis. In 2009, at the Cancer Research Center of the Universityof Pittsburgh, biologist Dr. Shivendra Singh and his team studied the impact of sulforaphane—an antioxidant contained in cruciform vegetables—on prostate cancer in mice.

They made two radical new discoveries. First, consumption of sulforaphane three times aweek considerably increases the action of NK cells against tumors (by more than 50 percent).Second, tumor-carrying rats that consumed sulforaphane were shown to have half as muchrisk of developing metastases as those that did not.

Take note: Avoid boiling cabbage and broccoli. Boiling risks destroying sulforaphaneand I3Cs.

Recommendations for use: Cover and steam briefly or stir-fry rapidly in a wok with alittle olive oil.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; New edition (December 31, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670021644
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670021642
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (555 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

790 of 795 people found the following review helpful By Ellen Marsh on February 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
It came as a total shock when I found out I had a brain tumor in October, 2009. I am a non-smoker, a vegetarian, I've always been slim and I exercised 3-4 days a week. I'd seen this book before my diagnosis and thought it looked good, but didn't buy it. I thought I didn't need it.

Once I realized the author also had brain cancer and had been able to keep it in check for over 15 years through diet and other means, I knew this was the book for me. If you want to learn how to do something, go to someone who has done it! So I bought the book. It's an easy read and is backed up by scientific research and 28 pages of footnotes in case you want to learn more. The book is very specific in its recommendations.

I took the plunge around Christmas, 2009 and have been following the diet ever since. I underwent a year of chemotherapy treatments at the same time. During that time I periodically had MRI's that showed the tumor was shrinking. The tumor has continued to shrink even after I finished chemotherapy in January, 2011, so the diet change and supplements are having the intended effect.

Reading this book and changing what I eat has been incredibly empowering for me. I thought I knew a lot about nutrition before, but I learned some important things from Dr. Servan-Schreiber:

- Vegetables to eat daily (broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, all cabbages)
- Good oils to use (olive and canola)
- Spices to add (garlic, ginger, turmeric)

I also learned some sobering facts about sugar (see page 61):

"The German biologist Otto Heinrick Warburg won the Nobel Prize in medicine for his discovery that the metabolism of malignant tumors is largely dependent on glucose consumption. (Glucose is the form of digested sugar in the body.
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304 of 313 people found the following review helpful By CKC on June 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I am a two-time breast cancer survivor of 11 1/2 years with a strong faith in God, but cancer is a scary thing that can just get to you over and over again. Anticancer: A New Way of Life, spoke both to my heart and to my head. I am "in remission" (I strongly prefer a shorter word - cured). However, there's one cancer marker that keeps creeping up ever so slightly and making me lose sleep at night although there is still no clinical sign of cancer 3 years after recurrence. I tell you this not to wear my heart on my sleeve but as evidence that I have more than just a passing experience with the subject matter of this book.

This is the best nutritional resource I have found thusfar on this journey (equally useful for those of you who want to avoid the ride). Dr. Servan-Schreiber has "been there" and brings a perspective to the topic that you can't have unless you have walked the road personally. He has approached the topic of how to best equip your body for maximum health in the face of cancer in a realistic, intelligent and science-based way. The statement by Dr. Mendelsohn, President of MD Anderson, in the introduction about this book filling "an important gap in our knowledge of how patients can contribute to their own care by supplementing conventional medical treatment" really persuaded me to make the purchase.

Most important insights gained: There is something (actually a lot of somethings) that we can do to better equip our bodies to fight cancer - diet, exercise, sleep, stress relief. Finally, I have an outline of food suggestions with footnotes to the research itself and even a shopping list to eat what my body needs - no excuses.
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205 of 214 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Cohan on November 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The shame about David Servan-Schreiber's book "Anticancer" is that if you don't have cancer, you're unlikely to read it.

It's a shame because the book's recommendations for lifestyle changes apply to everyone, whether you're battling cancer or not.

Besides, everyone has cancer cells and everyone is bombarded with carcinogenics, so it behooves us to do all we can to protect our health in the face of these internal and external threats.

Servan-Schreiber covers an enormous amount of ground in 220 pages, dispensing advice in the areas of diet, meditation, spirituality, exercise, and even cell phone use (thank you, Devra Davis).

But only on the topic of diet and nutrition does he really go into depth, and here even people well-read on the topic might learn a thing or two. For instance, did you know that cooked tomatoes offer more lycopene, especially when they're cooked in olive oil?

"Anticancer," though, is mainly a repackaging and compiling of some of the most common-sense ideas out there.

Unfortunately, most people never stop to consider these ideas, which explains why we have epidemics of cancer, diabetes and obesity in our country, not to mention of personal and family dysfunction.
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152 of 166 people found the following review helpful By Hanting Lin on March 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a medical oncologist, I thoroughly enjoy this book! The story is compelling that it comes from a cancer survivor and an outstanding scientist who really put together wonderful information in regard to life style management to fight cancer. The information provided is not from one's wild imagination but with sound scientific data. This is what we were desperately lacking in oncology practice for so long. It is not only a good read for cancer patients and care providers, also a wonderful book for anyone who cares about a healthy life style to prevent diseases in general. I have bought many copies for colleagues and friends. I recommend this book highly to all my patients!
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