David Servan-Schreiber narrates his personal battle with cancer and how he has held it at bay for more than seven years.
In "Anticancer," Servan-Schreiber provides the details of his diet, exercise and lifestyle that have helped him battle this horrible disease.
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Cancer lies dormant in all of us. Like all living organisms, our bodies are making defective cells all the time. That's how tumors are born. But our bodies are also equipped with a number of mechanisms that detect and keep such cells in check. In the West, one person in four will die of cancer, but three in four will not. Their defense mechanisms will hold out, and they will die of other causes.
I have cancer. I was diagnosed for the first time fifteen years ago. I received conventional treatment and the cancer went into remission, but I relapsed after that. Then I decided to learn everything I could to help my body defend itself against the illness. As a physicians, established researcher, and former director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, I had access to invaluable information about natural approaches to prevent or help treat cancer. I've kept cancer at bay for seven years now. In this book, I'd like to tell you the stories—scientific and personal—behind what I learned.
After surgery and chemotherapy for cancer, I asked my oncologist for advice. What should I do to lead a healthy life and what precautions could I take to avoid a relapse? "There is nothing special to do. Lead your life normally. We'll do MRI scans at regular intervals and if your tumor comes back, we'll detect it early," replied this leading light of modern medicine.
"But aren't there exercises I could do, a diet to follow or to avoid? Shouldn't I be working on my mental outlook?" I asked. My colleague's answer bewildered me: "In this domain, do what you like. It can't do you any harm. But we don't have any scientific evidence that any of these approaches can prevent a relapse."
In reality, what my doctor meant was the oncology is an extraordinarily complex field that is changing at breakneck speed. He was already hard pressed to keep up with the most recent diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. We had used all the drugs and all recognized medical practices relevant to my case. In our present state of knowledge, we had reached limits. As for more theoretical mind-body or nutritional approaches, he clearly lacked the time or interest to explore these avenues.
I know this problem as an academic physician myself. Each in our own specialty, we are rarely aware of fundamental discoveries recently published in prestigious journals such as Science or Nature. Not until they have been the subject of large-scale human studies do we take note. Still, these major breakthroughs may sometimes enable us to protect ourselves long before they have led to new drugs or protocols that will become the mainstream treatments of tomorrow.