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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Book
Having had breast cancer twice and having read virtually every book out there on the subject, I have to say that this book sets the gold standard. For starters it is well wrtten, well organized and well researched which are qualities you rarely find in this type of book. Beyond this, it contains an incredible amount of immediately useful information while maintaining the...
Published on May 7, 2009 by Marcy

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54 of 59 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's OK, but what is the real cost?
Yes, this is a good book with helpful information; however, it is not easy to individualize most of what he's telling you without going to his clinic. Whether that was his intention or not, that is the result. In fact, it's suggested that some supplements may be detrimental to you depending on your individual needs, so how can you know unless you either go to the Block...
Published on January 4, 2010 by George Eliot


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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Book, May 7, 2009
This review is from: Life Over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Treatment (Hardcover)
Having had breast cancer twice and having read virtually every book out there on the subject, I have to say that this book sets the gold standard. For starters it is well wrtten, well organized and well researched which are qualities you rarely find in this type of book. Beyond this, it contains an incredible amount of immediately useful information while maintaining the recognititon that one size does not fit all-a practice that you often find in the medical community. In my own journey through this disease, I have observed that many clinics are attempting to incorporate integrative strategies, and even though they are moving in the right direction, they are missing the whole picture. It is so blatantly clear that Dr. Block has put together all the pieces in a truly comprehensive approach. I was so impressed with this book, I bought a copy for every doctor that I have interacted with in the past few years.
If you or a family member are dealing with cancer- pay attention- this book is the one you will refer to over and over again.
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157 of 176 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost authoritative, not quite, May 2, 2010
By 
This review is from: Life Over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Treatment (Hardcover)
This book is a mixed blessing. Consequently, I have to categorize it as helpful but not authoritative. In fact, some of the recommendations, based on factual errors, should not be followed. I will identify those, in a moment.

On the positive side, the author explains the why and how of going past the allopathic paradigm of mainstream American cancer treatment. The mainstream focus is on reducing the tumor size and then "getting the cancer" through radiation or chemo. This part is more like the tripod of a stool, and Dr. Block explains why.

In many cases, mainstream cancer treatment is essentially assisted suicide (my words, not Dr. Block's). Dr. Block provides some examples proving this, but there are thousands of such examples in the medical literature as well. Dr. Block's approach is to actually engage in health care, not something most medical care providers are willing or able to do. Unfortunately, his formal training is in medical care and he has some errors in his understanding of health care.

Before I explain his errors, let me put things in the proper perspective. I am appalled by what I see in shopping carts at the grocery store. It's as if people are obsessed with getting sick. Only in rare cases do I see a cart (other than my own) that doesn't contain contaminated "food" not fit for human consumption. And here I am talking only about such major contaminants as high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oil.

Give this background, even if you accept the dietary recommendations Dr. Block, even with their flaws, it is nearly certain that your diet will improve dramatically and health benefits will flow from that single decision. His advice is mostly very, very good. But it does have some errors. If you can correct those errors, you can get the full benefits he intends for you to get. I hope in a future revision of this book, the errors are corrected. From reading this, I have the impression that Dr. Block truly cares about people with cancer and thus will make the needed corrections.

Another impression I got is the book is somewhat of an advertorial for the treatment center Dr. Block is part of. Only somewhat, though. Of course, there's the subtitle giving this impression. But, the tone isn't advertorial and the book really isn't about the Block Center. It's about what the Block Center is doing and why it works.

I think, given the complexity of the topic, Dr. Block is trying to speak from experience. As he doesn't work at other centers, that leaves using this one as the basis. He may also feel that it's not his place to tell other cancer care providers how to do their jobs. So, his position is, "Here's what we are doing and you can see it works measurably better than non-integrated approaches. Please consider this."

The errors I can identify are related to either nutrition or exercise. I'm providing a complete list, so you can print out this review and use it as an erratum to the book.

Errors: Nutrition

Nutrition is a subject that most doctors know very poorly and in which what little they do know is often incorrect. I point that out so the reader understands Dr. Block has actually done a pretty decent job here. Lots of good advice, but some errors.

Fish. He repeatedly recommends eating fish and taking fish oil. Aside from the moral imperative to reduce the demand for human consumption of fish (read about fish depletion, some time), there is the fact that fish flesh contains high concentrations of various toxins. If you're sick, you should avoid fish rather than eat more of it.

Egg yolk. He is under the impression that egg yolks are bad. The opposite is true. Eating the whole egg is much healthier than tossing away half of the egg. Yolks contain some great nutrients, including vitamin D. Read about vitamin D, and you see it reaches into just about every bodily system. It's arguably the most important of the vitamins. Why throw it away?

Dr. Block recommends eggs that come from chickens that have Omega 3 added to their feed. This is also wrong. What you want are eggs that come from chickens that aren't on chicken feed (regardless of what's added). In CAFOs (read about those), chickens are routinely fed pig poop, ground chicken, and chicken poop in addition to the non-natural grains. That is what commercial chicken feed is, and adding Omega 3 to it doesn't make for healthy, good-tasting eggs.

Free range chickens or those raised on smaller farms (e.g., Amish) naturally produce eggs high in Omega 3. To test if you have good eggs, check the shell. A good egg has a tough shell that you must whack hard to crack open. The cheap, mass-produced eggs have thin, fragile shells (the chickens that lay them also have fragile skeletons).

Whey protein. This is a short molecule protein that the gut absorbs rapidly. Bodybuilders consume it right after very hard workouts, and the muscles uptake it quickly. But consume it outside that "depleted muscle window" and most of it just turns to fat. This is why there are protein blends. There are alternative proteins also, such as buckwheat and hemp, that do not come from dairy products. Dr. Block rails against dairy constantly in this book, yet a cornerstone of his dietary advice is whey--a dairy product.

Fruit juice. He actually recommends this, so my recommendation to him is to ask an endocrinologist to explain why fruit juice is not fit for human consumption. Yes, there is some upside to fruit juice consumption. But the downside is comparatively so immense that the question of whether to drink it isn't open for debate. The effects include insulin spiking, and Dr. Block devotes considerable space in this book to the subject of moderating insulin (which he says cancers require for metastasizing). You can't moderate insulin and spike it; these are mutually exclusive.

Kale. If you grow this in soil enriched with crumbled eggshells and coffee grounds, you get a dark, calcium-rich plant that contains all of the nutrients you need for absorbing calcium. The calcium chart Dr. Block includes in the book does not account for bioavailability or other factors that determine how much of the calcium you can use from a given source. On the one hand, Dr. Block advises to reduce calcium intake and on the other he advises to eat more kale. I'm not sure how to resolve this conflict, but I would lean toward the latter.

On page 84, he rates eggplant as "OK for Daily Use" but not "OK for Every Meal." I think he's referring to breaded/fried eggplant. I grow eggplant in rich soil and cut it up into cubes that I add, raw, to my veggies and soups. Eggplant is an anti-oxidant powerhouse, particularly in relation to colon cancer. Eggplant is OK for Every Meal.

Also on page 84, he recommends eating corn. No, no, and no. On page 85, he calls corn a vegetable. It is not. Corn is a grain, and it is the one grain that has been cultivated for over 5,000 years to be high in sugar and less nutrient-dense. Consequently, the typical corn product is not fit for animals (including humans) to eat. That includes sweet corn. Canned corn adds more toxicity to the mix.

The exception with corn is popcorn. Popcorn has a very hard kernel and is low in sugar. You must heat it and burst the kernel to eat it. Popcorn with garlic and cayenne pepper on it is healthy and a good fat loss food (I'm at 6.3% body fat as I write this, and have been eating this almost daily for the past month and a half), provided you have a moderate amount, pop it in olive oil (or some other safe oil, not the microwave stuff), and eat it with beans to get a nearly complete protein profile.

Highly glycemic grains. Millet is highly glycemic. It will spike your insulin. This, and some other grain recommendations from Dr. Block, are to be avoided.

On page 86, Dr. Block advises eating crackers. These are typically made with multiple toxins, including hydrogenated oil, refined wheat flour (which is highly glycemic), and corn syrup. If you choose to buy anything that comes in a box or can, read the label very carefully before putting it in your shopping cart. If you are eating out, just assume the crackers are toxic and don't eat them.

On page 94, he recommends raisins. In other places, he recommends other dried fruits. These are all highly glycemic. You can eat these in tiny amounts with a fat or protein.

On page 94, he recommends pineapple. This particular fruit has been bred to be high in sugar. It's sweet. It's highly glycemic. Canned pineapple adds extra toxicity over fresh. Fresh pineapple may be OK if eaten in small amounts along with something to blunt the glycemic effect, but why take the risk? There are plenty of other fruits to choose from.

On page 99, he recommends decaf coffee and doesn't elaborate on what this means. Typically, decaf coffee can also be called "formaldehyde enriched." Formaldehyde is a potent carcinogen. If you put decaf grounds on garden plants, they usually will die. That said, there is a caffeine-reduction process that doesn't use formaldehyde. The actual plant has been bred to produce less caffeine. As caffeine is normally harmless unless taken in huge quantities and formaldehyde is toxic even in low amounts, I think I'd stick with regular coffee.

On page 354, he recommends canola oil but says to avoid safflower oil. I disagree with this. Canola oil isn't a natural oil, and it has some significant downsides. I use safflower oil regularly.

He disses peanut butter and in one spot mentions commercial peanut butter. Peanut butter is very healthy, but look on the label to ensure it's not commercial peanut butter. That will be true if the ingredients are listed as "Peanuts" or "Peanuts and salt." If there is anything else on that label, don't buy the peanut butter. Also remember that peanut butter is farily calorie dense. A little goes a long way.

Errors: Exercise

On page 169, Dr. Block correctly identifies the need for good posture. Yet, few people have anything remotely close. Bodybuilders, gymnasts, and serious martial artists are among the few who are conscious of their posture all the time. The solution for most people is a chiropractor. Yet, Dr. Block mentions chiropractic only once in passing as a "you might want to" thing. Actually, chiropractic should be a core aspect of your physical fitness program.

Dr. Block discusses working your core. This is correct. The typical gym rat never does this. Properly done front squats work the core very well, which is why they are so exhausting. The core goes beyond what Dr. Block describes. It's not just the abs, but the whole abdominal cavity, including the pelvic floor. There's a whole body of literature about this.

Dr. Block gives a reason that situps are not a good exercise. He's correct that they aren't but the reason is they work mostly the hip flexors and actually work against good posture. A great ab exercise is the properly done front squat. Hanging leg raises are also good. These are my ab exercises, and I have very striking abs (my photo is at supplecity.com).

Dr. Block provides a great tip at the bottom of page 180. He talks about interval training, and he is spot on. So, not an error here. The error is he doesn't carry this through the rest of the book. Interval training is high intensity exercise, and most of his recommendations are for moderate or low intensity exercise--the kind that produces minimal results. There is extensive literature on why high intensity exercise has profound effects and other kinds of exercise have, at best, moderate benefits.

On page 207, he recommends endurance training to "lose weight" (by which he means lose fat). Wrong. This kind of training depresses testosterone (which signals the body to burn fat) and raises cortisol (which signals the body to store fat). There is extensive literature on this. You can also look at sprinters and notice their lean, strong physiques and compare them to marathoners whose layer of body fat deprives them of good muscle definition.

Also, go back to Dr. Block's own discussion of interval training. Endurance training is the opposite. While it will burn calories during the exercise, calorie burning stops shortly after and also the hormonal environment that it leaves is conducive to fat storage rather than fat burning.

On page 211, he says to get a trainer so you learn how to exercise without injuring your muscles. Very few people injure their muscles in weight training, as they don't train with intensity. The real problem is they don't have a good program in place and end up creating muscle imbalances. For example, they will do leg presses and not hamstring curls. This creates a muscle imbalance that eventually causes back pain and other problems. I don't do leg presses. Front squats done properly will work the entire leg and eliminate muscle imbalances. A qualified trainer can coach you on how to do this exercise properly. It's not intuitive.

Conclusion

With all of the above errors, is the book one to avoid? No. It's a great book. Even if you follow it to the tee and accept the errors as sound advice, you will be far better off than the typical American who has a bad diet, bad posture, and poorly planned fitness program (if any). Further, the book goes beyond these areas to provide what I presume to be excellent advice. But consult an endocrinologist and a fitness trainer who personally does front squats and looks very fit, so you can use what's good in here without using what's bad. Or, just print out this review as an erratum and you're good to go.

What's inside

This book consists of 556 pages. It has 29 chapters and an epilogue. It also has an index and three pages about the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment. Notice, that is only three pages. This is one reason why I say this book really isn't an advertorial for the Block Center.

Unfortunately, this book does not list sources or have a bibliography. There are some references in the text, and the author uses a large number of anecdotes.
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Landmark Book, June 2, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Life Over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Treatment (Hardcover)
Dr. Block is a pioneer of integrative oncology, with about three decades of experience in cancer research and clinical care for thousands of cancer patients. For the past three years, I've followed his work with great interest, and I knew a while back that he was working on this book, so I awaited the book with eager anticipation. I bought the book the day it came out and have just finished reading it in its entirety.

Though the book has a limitation which I'll get to in a moment, it's still overall an outstanding resource. In these 500+ pages, Dr. Block explains the philosophy behind his integrative treatment approach, and he also provides abundant details on how he implements this approach for patients on an individualized basis, addressing the goals of both extending survival and improving quality of life. Because (a) cancer is a huge social problem, (b) an integrative approach makes sense, is supported by evidence, and is (hopefully) the wave of the future, and (c) Dr. Block's credentials are as authoritative as one can find, this book will hopefully have a large influence and thereby offer a major contribution to human welfare.

The limitation of this book is that it simultaneously addresses both patients/caregivers and physicians/researchers, but these are two audiences with very different technical backgrounds. I think two seperate books for these audiences would have been preferable, though this obviously would have required more work on Dr. Block's part.

For patients/caregivers, I think that a more streamlined book would have been preferable, since the current book has the potential to be overwhelming (even with the "quick maps"). However, for patients/caregivers who are sufficiently motivated and have sufficient time, I suggest reading the book through once quickly, then reading it a second time to carefully absorb the details, and then referring to it as needed. That won't be a small effort, but the effort will be worth it, since it could add years to a patient's life if Dr. Block's advice is followed diligently.

And for physicians/researchers, I think that a stronger case for Dr. Block's treatment approach could have been made if the book had been written at a higher technical level, and more details would also have helped physicians in applying this treatment approach. Of course, the Pubmed abstracts available through the website for the book are meant to address this issue, but it still would have been nice to include more technical information in the book itself. (The recent book Integrative Oncology (Weil Integrative Medicine Library) partly fills the need for a more technically advanced book and nicely complements Dr. Block's book, so I recommend it.)

Despite this audience-related limitation, again, I do think this a landmark book which has the potential to make a major contribution, so I very highly recommend it to all cancer patients/caregivers and physicians/researchers, and I wouldn't dream of giving it less than 5 stars. This is the best book on integrative oncology that I know of, and therefore one of the best books on cancer treatment that I know of.

Also, for those dealing with malignant brain tumors, please note that you're welcome to join the Yahoo! Brain-Research Group which I founded and co-moderate. The aim of the group is to identify and discuss treatments for malignant brain tumors, including promising ways to use and combine treatments, and the majority of the group members favor an integrative approach similar to what Dr. Block describes. In fact, I've referred many patients to Dr. Block's treatment center.
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54 of 59 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's OK, but what is the real cost?, January 4, 2010
By 
This review is from: Life Over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Treatment (Hardcover)
Yes, this is a good book with helpful information; however, it is not easy to individualize most of what he's telling you without going to his clinic. Whether that was his intention or not, that is the result. In fact, it's suggested that some supplements may be detrimental to you depending on your individual needs, so how can you know unless you either go to the Block Center or find a doctor willing to go to these lengths? I guess I have to agree that it feels a bit like an advertisement in the end.

I realize it's not possible to individualize to a great degree in a book, and that there could be legal issues in trying to say you have specific answers for treatment, etc. So why did he go as far as he did only to then make your getting ALL the information dependent on going to his Center? I think it's a shame to lead people on that way. Maybe they could afford the book but can't afford more health-care or to travel. The supplements aren't covered by most insurance, so then what? That's if you're lucky enough to have insurance.

I did go, and I think anyone who is thinking of going should know that the supplements they sell are extremely expensive. It was disheartening, especially when you're so afraid that if you don't do everything they ask your chances of staying cancer-free aren't as good. Expect to pay hundreds of dollars a month. Who can afford that? For how long? It's a sad state of affairs and points again to the notion that only those who "have" are able to get the best health-care available. I also felt that the way he talks about the Block Center is not exactly how it is when you get there. It feels very much like a business, which didn't exactly scream "healing" to me.

Once again, the book has good general information, but so do several other books. No one doctor has all the answers, so learn to trust your gut and try not to act from a place of fear. I know it's hard to do that at a time like this, but it is possible. There's no one that knows your body as well as you do. He may be a wonderful man and doctor, but if he's managing your care by selling you something (his own supplements), it raises all sorts of red flags for me.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fundamental for all who are touched by cancer, May 10, 2009
This review is from: Life Over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Treatment (Hardcover)
This book is a visionary book, that explains the way cancer should be viewed and treated. As a cancer survivor, I have been frustrated and disappointed in oncologists and cancer specialists who view me as a disease, or as a survivor of a disease, instead of a whole person with judgement and feeling. In addition, I have found that most oncologists spend more time focused on the medical cures (chemotherapy, radiation) instead of the areas I can focus on - what I eat, how I live, what I think and how I feel.

This book answers those questions for me, and even if I am a survivor, its information is critically important if I am to continue being a survivor. It doesn't talk down to me, and its examples and anecdotes feel "real" and believable. I'm anxious to put my reading into action in terms of mindset and diet.

All this said, I do have one small criticism. I called the Block Clinic repeatedly over the last week to make an appointment, and could not connect to a live person. I am sure the staff is very busy since the book is a very recent publication, but I did expect better follow through. Interestingly enough, the book highights the need for personal care and attention, but when I called the clinic, all I got was an answering machine. I may be overly critical, but that seems ironic. Beyond this, the book was rational and solid.

I look forward to reading more from this author.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read, May 28, 2009
This review is from: Life Over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Treatment (Hardcover)
This is honestly the best book on integrative cancer treatment on the market right now. My best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer 2 years ago. I was floored when she started getting her chemo from the Block Clinic (in Chicago). There are several university based cancer clinics within 10 miles of where she lives, but she racks up those frequent flier miles to fly for her treatment. Her cancer is now in remission. To make a long story short, my mother was also diagnosed with the same disease six months ago. Since then, I've made it my mission in life to learn all I can about it. Nobody wants to read a book about cancer, but I had to, so I've read nearly 50 books. Many of them are depressing and have the same information that you can find on line (although I recommend Anti-Cancer by David Servan and Susan Love's Breast Book). My friend (who is now in remission) gave me this book, and I was really impressed with it. I read it cover to cover in 2 days, and bought copies for my mother, her doctors, and our family to read. Basically the book discusses 3 main areas to focus on: "improving your lifestyle," "boosting your biology" and "enhancing your treatment". You don't need to have cancer to appreciate this book, in fact, I believe it should help cut the risk of getting this terrible disease. PS I read the reviewer who said he had a hard time contacting the clinic, and I had to laugh. My friend was supposed to fly in for a check up and she (who is a loyal patient couldn't get through either!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting News, May 9, 2009
This review is from: Life Over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Treatment (Hardcover)
I have watched members of my family deal with cancer and because of this I am always researching new ideas and trends. After reading this book, I was most impressed with the comprehensiveness of it and its message of hopefulness. This book presents a new paradigm which incorporates the best of both traditional and integrative medicine. It is the first book I've seen which respects the traditional methology and at the same time opens up a whole new vision of possibilities that are logical, realistic and accessible to everyone-....A terrific reference book.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lifeline for anyone with cancer, May 6, 2009
By 
Bill Gottlieb (Cobb, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Life Over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Treatment (Hardcover)
As a journalist and book author specializing in natural healing, I write and read widely in the field of health, including cancer. In my opinion, there is no other book on the market that so comprehensively, compassionately and expertly addresses the many needs of someone with cancer. Most importantly, it speaks with great practicality to their urgent intention to live, offering a paradigm of hope and healing. I unequivocally recommend this book to anyone with the difficult diagnosis of cancer, and to their caregivers. Dr. Block has written a medical masterpiece.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book I've read on integrative cancer treatment, May 25, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Life Over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Treatment (Hardcover)
I've read a lot of books on cancer since two family members have become cancer survivors. This one is, without question, the best. When someone is diagnosed with cancer, your everyday life turns into a world of surgeries, tests, chemotherapy, and possibly radiation therapy. The process of determining the stage of the disease, finding a surgeon and understanding what kind of treatments are necessary can be overwhelming. Side effects and stress can make you feel like you're running fast on a treadmill that you can't turn off. Keith Block does a wonderful job of explaining the disease, the treatment process and how to get through it all much better than any of the medical professionals that we've dealt with on this journey that we didn't ask to be on to begin with.

When an oncologist told us, "Eat whatever you want" when a family member was undergoing chemotherapy, I just had to question this thinking. How could eating a diet high in sugar, red meats, fat and nitrates be a good thing when those are the things that guidelines for preventing cancer say to avoid? Is a person supposed to just give up and do all the things one isn't supposed to do to prevent the disease once he has it? The Block Center Program for integrative cancer treatment doesn't just deal with conventional medicine like surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, but with scientifically supported complementary therapies. These include diet, supplements, exercise and fitness and mind and spirit care. In short, they treat the whole person rather than just the diseased part. Rather than just treating the symptoms of the disease and the tumor, they do everything they can do attack what could be the cause of the cancer to try to prevent a recurrence or to at least allow the person to live the best life they can with the diagnosis they are handed.

I found the book to be a book of hope, not just hype, but therapies based on science and emerging science, treating the whole person. For a diagnosis that can be so devastating, this book lays out some positive things that the patient and caregivers can do for a better outcome. I would recommend this book for anyone who is interested in integrative cancer care.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars this book provides hope, May 17, 2009
By 
Camilla A. Kelly (Plainfield, Vermont) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Life Over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Treatment (Hardcover)
I am a primary care physician, and my partner has lung cancer. I have seen many people go through the "standard" American cancer treatment protocols, and have been discouraged by the lack of a holistic approach. The body is such a complex organism, and cancer must be treated with a complex approach, i.e., treating all aspects of our interacting systems. It makes so much sense! Dr. Block's approach is a breath of fresh air, and most importantly, it gives us HOPE that we can beat cancer. His book provides an excellent overview and explanations of his methodology. I highly recommend this book to anyone touched by cancer (including oncologists and primary care physicians), and I hope that integrative oncology clinics increase in number in this country.
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