Anticancer Living is authored by the husband and wife team of Lorenzo Cohen, PhD, and Alison Jefferies, MEd who lead the integrative medicine program at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX. The scientific basis of all their information and recommendations is deep and sound.
In many ways, this book is a sequel to Anticancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD (Penguin Books, 2007). Dr. Servan-Schreiber survived a highly lethal glioblastoma of his brain for 19 years following an anticancer lifestyle. At the time of his death, Dr. Servan-Schreiber, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, was teamed with Dr. Cohen for a clinical trial in the methods of anticancer living and their impact on cancer survival and longevity. This trial is ongoing and the results to date are very promising.
Part One of this book describes the history of what Cohen and Jefferies call the “Anticancer Revolution.” Most cancers are much better understood by including the lifestyle insults that lead to the disease. Cancer is about to overtake heart disease as the leading cause of death in the industrialized world. Yet, cancer patients are not helpless and should not simply become passive recipients of cancer treatment. There is much a person can do to improve their chances of a cancer remission and longer survival. The authors discuss in detail their “mix of six” interventions for which many personal examples are given.
Start with psychosocial factors. Contrary to the usual method of first addressing nutrition, Cohen and Jefferies reverse the order and begin with the psychosocial factors that are so important. This begins by relying on or creating a foundation of love and support. Cancer patients who remain well connected to others do much better than those who isolate themselves.
Stress management and resilience. The second intervention is stress management and developing resilience. Every cancer patient is under great stress and managing that is key to better health. Cancer patients usually become stronger in character which leads to greater resilience in handling what comes. Controlling stress and developing greater resilience have biological effects that help reduce cancer growth.
Rest and recovery. A diagnosis of cancer is a wakeup call that your life may be out of balance. The body heals during rest; so, develop a daily schedule that avoids wasting energy and allows ample time for physical and mental restoration.
Add physical activity. Exercise has tremendous healing powers and it does not have to be vigorous or stressful to be effective. Long walks, hikes and swimming are good examples of enjoyable and soothing exercise; work on preserving and enhancing muscle strength.
Now let’s focus on nutrition. It’s been said for centuries that food is medicine. Those who follow a plant-based diet have the lowest cancer rates and the greatest chance of remission. Superfoods for cancer are nuts, seeds and vegetables of a variety of colors. If animal products are consumed, they should be a small part of the diet and the healthiest possible options such as grass-fed meat, pasture-raised chicken and eggs and wild-caught fish.
Lower your toxic exposure. Finally, a low toxic environment is critical to anticancer living. Rid your house of toxic chemicals and limit toxins on and in your body. This chapter is a guide to doing just that.
Take responsibility for your health. Appendix materials provide additional guidance and resources for anticancer living. All cancer patients should take responsibility for their optimal health and select an “anticancer living life plan.” Patients should work with their cancer care providers around treatment, but remember, most do not have a background in the lifestyle factors described here. It is up to you.
Dr. Scherger is an Eisenhower Health Primary Care 365 physician, a core faculty member of the Eisenhower Family Medicine Residency Program, and a team physician for Reliance Hospice. He is also an author and his third edition book Lean and Fit: A Doctor’s Journey to Healthy Nutrition and Greater Wellness is available at www.Amazon.com.