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Anticancer: A New Way of Life Hardcover – December 31, 2009
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“A common-sense blueprint for healthy living.”
“Fills an important gap in our knowledge of how patients can contribute to their own care by supplementing conventional medical treatment. I recommend this book to anyone interested in preventive medicine and integrated, complementary approaches to patient care.”
—John Mendelsohn, MD, president, MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas
“Resonating with cancer support communities . . . and recommended nationwide on internet message boards.”
—Los Angeles Times
“Life affirming . . . filled with practical advice that enables cancer patients to overcome their initial feelings of helplessness and to adopt a proactive attitude of survivorship.”
—The Seattle Times
“Servan-Schreiber’s writing offers much more than science. It is full of passion . . . and compassion for his patients dealing with the emotional aspects of serious or terminal illness.”
“Enormously compelling evidence and arguments for participating in our own health by supporting our deep natural capacity for healing. Everybody should read this book and enact its simple but potentially lifesaving recommendations.”
—Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, author of Wherever You Go, There You Are
“Anticancer’s message is optimistic, the advice scientifically sound, and the prose highly readable.”
—Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“Presents a compelling combination of one doctor’s story of his battle with cancer along with his research into how to fight the disease . . . Readable and moving.”
—Body & Soul Magazine
About the Author
David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD, was a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and cofounder of the Center for Integrative Medicine. He codirected an NIH laboratory for the study of cognitive neuroscience and published more than ninety articles in scientific journals. His pioneering book Anticancer: A New Way of Life became an international bestseller and was translated into more than forty languages. He is also the author of The Instinct to Heal and Not the Last Goodbye. Following a yearlong battle with a relapse of brain cancer, Servan-Schreiber died in July 2011.
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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.) In fact the PET scan commonly used to detect cancer simply measures the areas in the body that consume the most glucose. If a particular area stands out because it consumes too much sugar, cancer is very likely the cause."
I never thought I could kick the sugar habit, but after the first two weeks it wasn't hard. I found substitutes to feed my sweet tooth - berries, fruits, cinnamon, stevia, and baker's chocolate (which is unsweetened) with any of the above.
If you have the right motivation I believe you can do just about anything. My plan is to live well and long!
July 4, 2016 - It has been over seven years since my first symptoms of a brain tumor appeared. My latest MRI (in April) showed no tumor growth. I still eat an anticancer diet (very low in sugar, high in green vegetables, garlic, onions). I've changed my lifestyle in other ways too, but diet and supplements are key components for me.
I keep doing this for a few reasons:
1. The diet works.
My MRI images have shown a dramatic decrease in the size of the tumor even after I completed a year of chemotherapy in January, 2011.
2. I needed to do something between MRI appointments to take control of my health. This limits my anxiety to a few days before each MRI rather than thinking about it all the time. I can concentrate on other things besides my health. For this, I am SO grateful.
3. I actually enjoy the food I eat.
It takes some time to learn how to eat healthier, but once you find ways to make healthy food taste really great, why would you want to go back?
My copy is dog-eared and written in. I've got notes on most of the pages and lots of things are highlighted. There's tons of information that your oncologist isn't going to give you, but you need to know. It was a God send for us. Every cancer patient should own a copy.
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. We were pretty healthy eaters to beging with (well, I was more than my hubby), but, after reading this book, I told my husband that I was taking over the cooking (and he's a fabulous cook), throwing out all white flour and sugar products, filling the fridge with colorful fruits and veggies, experimenting with a variety of alternative grains, buying healthy sweetening alternatives and eating less meat and more fish. I have gone from craving chips to craving strawberries, cherries, and even loving brussel sprouts (with lots of garlic, of course).
The key benfit has been the empowerment I have felt from making these changes. When you finish cancer treatment, you ask the Dr what can I do to help myself. The Dr's answer is usually - "go live your life." Your first thought is, "yea, that didn't work out so well the first time (or for me the 2nd either). Dr's can't prescribe food because there is no "double blind randomized human trial" behind it. If they did, they would be open to a lawsuit if things didn't turn out well. Besides that, food people aren't the ones making sales calls on the medical community, because as Dr. Servan-Schreiber says, there's no patent money in raspberries! This book provides concrete information about food science that I have found nowhere else in a single source, coupled with Servan-Schreibers insights as both an MD and a cancer patient.
So, I actually bought multiple copies of this book and gave one to my oncologist and one to my radiation oncologist, told them I was giving this a try and asked them to read it. They can't make recommendations, but they can legally say, "here's a book you might want to buy and read." I have challenged them to do just that.
My husband and I have been "eating new" for a month. I feel fabulous and he has lost 15 lbs. We are also taking more time to do things now rather than being so darn responsible and overworked - we got a new puppy and we are having a ball! Work is still there, but I am learning to "let it go." This may not change the outcome of my journey, but I can tell you that I have used the practical suggestions in this book to make some important changes that are making the journey better, more relaxed and just more fun. The "I shoulds" have become more "I want tos."
Thank you Dr. David, for opening your heart and sharing your insights. I know you say you don't believe in God, but I can see how he has used you in my life just like he did in the young man you mention in the book. You have shown that you are open to change - I think that your journey has a lot more to do with finding faith than you want to admit.