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Anticancer is a book by David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD. In the book, David describes his personal battle with brain cancer, and the research he did to understand why we get cancer. The book presents a grim warning of the cancer epidemic that is occurring in the western world, with age-adjusted cancer rates steadily rising since the 1940s. However, the book also offers hope, as there are useful, viable steps we can take to fight cancer. Anticancer is an approach that can be used to limit our chances of getting cancer, and for those with the disease, it is can supplement surgery, chemotherapy and radiation as treatment. Genes only comprise 15% of our risk for cancer, with smoking and diet contributing 30% each.

The Anticancer Approach

One of the keys to the anticancer approach is based on the fact that our immune systems form a primary defense against cancer. If our immune system is compromised, then cancer can grow. There are several parts to the anticancer approach:

  1. Avoid high Glycemic Index foods. Having continuously elevated blood sugar and insulin levels causes chronic inflammation that compromises the immune system and provides growth hormones the fuel cancerous growth. High Glycemic Index foods are also linked to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
  2. Eat foods with anticancer properties, such as curry, green tea, soy, garlic. The book contains a longer list, and there is another book Foods to Fight Cancer with more information.
  3. Boost Omega 3 intake, which should ideally be 1:1 with Omega-6. This ratio is found in grass fed animal products, or it can be achieved through foods rich in Omega-3 such as fatty fish or Flax. All Trans Fats should be avoided (look for "partially hydrogenated” in the ingredients to identify trans fats).
  4. Detoxify by not consuming poisons. This primarily means eating more organic food, especially animal products such as meat or dairy. For non-animal products, some are worth getting organic, whereas others pose a more limited risk. There is a list of the 12 least contaminated and 12 most contaminated foods at The Dirty Dozen.
  5. Exercise for at least 20 to 30 minutes per day. The book notes that different types of cancers require different levels of exercise to achieve a comparable effect; for instance, colon cancer requires twice as much as breast cancer.
  6. Feelings of helplessness (External Locus Of Control) and past emotional traumas compromise our bodies ability to fight cancer. For some, exercise can restore our feeling of control over our lives, but counseling may also be needed.
  7. Meditation, including yoga, tai chi, etc., helps strengthen our defenses by reducing stress.