Anticancer: A New Way of Life
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Anticancer: A New Way of Life

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by David Servan-Schreiber

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When David Servan-Schreiber, a scientist and doctor, was diagnosed with brain cancer, it changed his life. Confronting what medicine knows about the illness, the workings of the body's natural cancer-fighting capacities, and his own will to live, the author found himself on a journey from disease and relapse into scientific exploration, and finally to health.


When David Servan-Schreiber, a scientist and doctor, was diagnosed with brain cancer, it changed his life. Confronting what medicine knows about the illness, the workings of the body's natural cancer-fighting capacities, and his own will to live, the author found himself on a journey from disease and relapse into scientific exploration, and finally to health. Anticancer is radical in its discussion of the environment, lifestyle, and trauma; and inspiring and cautionary in its certainty that cancer cells lie dormant in all of us-and we all must care for the "terrain" in which they exist.

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Foods That Act Like Medications

From ANTICANCER: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD

Foods That Act Like Medications

If certain foods in our diet can act as fertilizers for tumors, others, to the contrary, harbor precious anticancer molecules. As recent discoveries show, these go far beyond the usual vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

In nature, when confronted with aggression, vegetables can neither fight nor flee. To survive, they must be armed with powerful molecules capable of defending them against bacteria, insects, and bad weather. These molecules are phytochemical compounds with antimicrobial, antifungal, and insecticide properties that act on the biological mechanisms of potential aggressors. They also have antioxidant properties that protect the plant’s cells from dampness and the sun’s rays (by preventing cellular “rust” from forming when the cell’s fragile mechanisms are exposed to the corrosive effects of oxygen).

Plums, Peaches, and Nectarines: It’s Time for Stone Fruit

Berries have recently found some competition: peaches, plums, nectarines, etc. (collectively known as stone fruit), whose anticancer virtues were previously unknown. According to a group of researchers in Texas who reviewed more than a hundred species, these fruits—particularly plums—are at least as rich in anticancer elements as small berries. In this time of economic recession, it’s good to know that a single plum contains as many antioxidants as a handful of berries and costs far less. In laboratory tests, stone fruits have also demonstrated their efficacy against breast cancer cells and cholesterol.


The intestines ordinarily contain “friendly” bacteria, which help digestion and facilitate regular bowel movements. They also play an important stabilizing role for the immune system. Among the most common of these bacteria are Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus bifidus.

It has been demonstrated that these probiotics inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells. Their effect on the facilitation of bowel movements also lowers the risk of colon cancer by reducing the time the intestines are exposed to carcinogenic substances in food. Probiotics thus also play a role in detoxification. In addition, according to a 2006 Korean study, probiotics improve the performance of the immune system, as well as increasing the number of NK cells. Organic yogurts and kefir are good sources of probiotics. Soy yogurts are usually enriched with probiotics. These precious bacteria are also found in sauerkraut and kimchi. Finally, certain foods are prebiotics, which means they contain polymers of fructose, which stimulate the growth of probiotic bacteria. Examples are garlic, onions, tomatoes, asparagus, bananas, and wheat.

Green Tea

Rich in polyphenols, including catechins (and particularly epigallocatechin gallate-3, or EGCG), which reduce the growth of the new vessels needed for tumor growth and metastases. It is also a powerful antioxidant and detoxifier (activating enzymes in the liver that eliminate toxins from the body), and it facilitates the death of cancer cells by apoptosis. In the laboratory, it enhances the effects of radiotherapy on cancer cells.

Turmeric and Curry

Turmeric (the yellow powder that is one of the components of yellow curry) is the most powerful natural antiinflammatory identified today. It also helps stimulate apoptosis in cancer cells and inhibit angiogenesis. In the laboratory, it enhances the effectiveness of chemotherapy and reduces tumor growth.

Take note: To be assimilated by the body, turmeric must be mixed with black pepper (not simply with peppers). Ideally, it must also be dissolved in oil (olive, canola, or linseed oil, preferably). In store-bought curry mixes, turmeric represents only 20 percent of the total. So it’s better to obtain turmeric powder directly.

Recommendations for use: Mix ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder with ½ tablespoon of olive oil and a generous pinch of black pepper. Add to vegetables, soups, and salad dressings. A few drops of agave nectar can remove the slightly bitter taste.


Ginger root also acts as a powerful antiinflammatory and an antioxidant (more effective than vitamin E, for example) and has protective effects. It acts against certain cancer cells. Moreover, it helps reduce the creation of new blood vessels. A ginger infusion tea also helps alleviate nausea from chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Recommendations for use: Add grated ginger to a vegetable mix while it is cooking in a wok or frying pan. Or marinate fruits in lime juice and grated ginger (a touch of agave nectar may be added for those who prefer more sweetness). Make an infusion by cutting a small piece of ginger (about an inch) into slices and steeping in boiling water for ten to fifteen minutes. Can be drunk hot or cold.

Cruciform Vegetables

Cabbages (brussels sprouts, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.) contain sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinols (I3Cs), which are powerful anticancer molecules. Sulforaphane and I3Cs are capable of detoxifying certain carcinogenic substances. They prevent precancerous cells from developing into malignant tumors. They also promote the suicide of cancer cells and block angiogenesis. In 2009, at the Cancer Research Center of the University of Pittsburgh, biologist Dr. Shivendra Singh and his team studied the impact of sulforaphane— an antioxidant contained in cruciform vegetables—on prostate cancer in mice.

They made two radical new discoveries. First, consumption of sulforaphane three times a week considerably increases the action of NK cells against tumors (by more than 50 percent). Second, tumor-carrying rats that consumed sulforaphane were shown to have half as much risk of developing metastases as those that did not.

Take note: Avoid boiling cabbage and broccoli. Boiling risks destroying sulforaphane and I3Cs.

Recommendations for use: Cover and steam briefly or stir-fry rapidly in a wok with a little olive oil.

Meet the Author

David Servan-Schreiber, M.D., Ph.D, is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and cofounder of the Centre for Integrative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre. He's lectured at leading international academic centres, including Stanford, Columbia, Cornell and Cambridge Universities. His first book The Instinct to Heal was an international bestseller and France's bestselling non-fiction book of the year in 2004, selling over 600,000 copies in the trade edition alone. His latest book is Anticancer (2008).

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Anticancer 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 36 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Being I lived what most would consider a pretty healthy life style and still to have gotten breast cancer, I wanted answers to the many questions I had about changes I could make to increase my chances of no reoccurance. It seemed very difficult to get straight answers from my oncologist. This book provided that for me, backed and footnoted for my fairly cynical mind. This Book is full of useful informations about diet, environment and lifestyle in an easy to read format. Plus it tells the journey of the author a doctor and a survivor himself. It works. It empowered me to feel I can make a difference in my future. I love this book.
Pat-RN More than 1 year ago
I am an RN, and I know the information in this book is physiologically accurate. We have too many people developing cancer, and other diseases at younger, and younger ages. We need to take responsibility for what we put into our bodies. This author shows you why, what we need, and how much. He spent 15 years doing research to examine (among other things) how cancer cells use our poor diet to grow and spread, and how we can prevent many threats to our health. The information is easy to understand the way it is written. I highly recommend this book.
Celeste51 More than 1 year ago
I truly liked this book. I am interested in maintaining good health and helping my family do the same. If you are ready for a change or at the very least - looking in a new direction for health tips - then this book is for you.
KathleenCA More than 1 year ago
I assigned this book as part of a health credit for my 13 and 15 yo homeschooled highschoolers after I read it. Great charts/graphs/diagrams and a heartfelt biography by the author/Dr. who encourages us to have hope instead of fear. This is a book that anyone can read to better equip themselves with the knowledge of how cancer starts and grows and what you can do (diet/exercise/meditation) to lower your risk of developing cancer. I highly recommend this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Working with cancer patients for 18 years this book was an absolute page turner. What an absolute factual, heartwarming and sad at times, this book is number one. I will be sharing this one!
JLM53 More than 1 year ago
This is a very readable book written by a psychiatrist who twice developed brain cancer. He was dissatisfied with the lack of information he received on how to avoid future cancer episodes so he started researching cancer. He discovered that even in populations with low incidence of cancer (oriental groups, etc.), people who died from other causes were often found to have microtumors in their bodies and he wondered why they remained small. He searched out information on what limits and what stimulates cancer growth and presents that information in this book. He also discusses why cancer is prevalent (epidemic) and concludes it is due to 3 factors: environmental (pollution & chemicals in our food); the type of food that we eat and the stressful and also sedentary nature of our lives. He gives specific suggestions for lifestyle changes that people can take to improve all 3 of these areas and feels that there are no harmful side effects from his suggestions, only the possibility of improved health. After reading it, I am buying 2 copies of this book -- one for me to keep for reference and lifestyle change and one for a friend who is going through chemotherapy.
Zeke48 More than 1 year ago
This book does a good job of blending Western and Eastern medical approaches to something that scares most people -- cancer. With language that is readable, the author maps out a way of living that helps a body fight off cancer cells. I appreciate the way this book does more than name things that are healthy, such as Omega-3s; it explains why these things are healthy. That gives the book more scientific credibility than any 30 second sound bite you might run across on the TV newscast. This books is well-worth reading for both cancer patients and those who want to support them, but also for all those who want to avoid getting the dreaded disease.
pshealth52 More than 1 year ago
My husband was recently diagnosed with cancer and at one of our appointsments with our hemotology oncologist he mentioned that he was reading this book. I drove straight to the bookstore after the appointment to buy this book. It is MUST reading for everybody. Cancer is not going away.... it is getting stronger. They predict one out of four will be diagnosed with cancer. I saw that U.S. News and World Report also plugged this book in their recent Feb. '09 issue.
livoniagal More than 1 year ago
Every person should read this book and pass the knowledge onto others. This is one of the best researched, well written books detailing causes of cancer and the environments which create it. We can protect ourselves and make significant changes AND CHOICES in our lives and others. Cancer is not a mystery disease and people need to know how they contribute to their health -or not. We are not powerless or at the mercy of disease. We CAN make better choices. The information in this book is not new - what it does is validate with research what we've suspected about the causes of this disease and how we can combat it.
crescentcutie More than 1 year ago
This book should be on every high school reading list. It has a wealth of information about what everyone should consume and not consume to be healthy. The author comments in detail about how profit drives the food industry, regardless of the effect of unhealthy production practices such as corn fed cattle. You might have to wade through the first few chapters, but after that it is hard to put the book down. The title doesn't do the book justice, because the information applies to much more than just avoiding cancer.
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I would recommend this book to anyone who is a survivor and wants to do everything in their power to prevent its return. Easy to read, motivating, and applicable.
ZanneL More than 1 year ago
If you are looking for a book to start or continue your study of food as cancer therapy, I highly recommend this book. I used it as the basis for my physiology presentation because of the accuracy and ease to read. All of the primary research I did pointed back to the same conclusions in this book. Excellent reference!
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crimekitty763 More than 1 year ago
This book was sent to me by mistake. I had ordered A DAWN LIKE THUNDER Barnes & Nobel sent me this anti cancer book by mistake. When I returned it to the B&N store, I had to pay $2.00 extra for your mistake.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago