The Barnes & Noble Review
When The Breast Cancer Prevention Diet by Dr. Bob Arnot, the chief medical correspondent for NBC, came out, it was met with both controversy and eager acceptance, and it hit the No. 1 slot on both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. Even though subsequent research did not exactly prove that proper nutrition can prevent or cure cancer, there is good evidence to suggest that it plays a role, evidence the public is obviously eager to embrace. Now Arnot takes that same research, as well as the personal experiences of himself and other men, and applies it to the prevention, control, and cure of prostate cancer.
One of the key findings that Arnot uses to suggest that nutrition can help prevent prostate cancer is the incidence of the disease among certain ethnic groups. China and other Asian countries have the lowest rate of incidence; African Americans have the highest rate of anyone in the world. Although there are other factors that may play into these incident rates, nutrition is certainly high on the list, and Arnot devotes the first section of the book to reviewing this evidence in an effort to support his theory that prostate cancer is largely a nutritional disease.
The second section deals with the nutritional recommendations that Arnot feels will enhance one's ability to avoid prostate cancer or, if the disease has already struck, help contain it. Chief among the nutritional wonders in Arnot's diet is soy: soy beans, soy nuts, soy milk, tofu, tempeh...if it's made from soy, Arnot has it in this book. According to Arnot, the key to soy's importance is a high concentration of genistein, a plant hormone that appears to inhibit the growth of new blood vessels (which are necessary for tumor growth) and slow the cycle of prostate cancer cells. As a side benefit, soy also contains tyrosine, an amino acid that enhances one's alertness.
Arnot also looks into other dietary factors that play a role, promoting antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits, explaining how different types of fats factor into the equation, mentioning the exciting new findings surrounding lycopene, and discussing the problems related to foods with a high glycemic index, which can cause insulin resistance and weight problems. He provides sample diets, a number of recipes, and guidelines for selecting foods when eating out. There are also several charts that list various values for foods.
The third section of the book deals with lifestyle changes, such as adopting a long-term diet, dealing with stress using relaxation and meditation techniques, and implementing an exercise regimen. There are certain correlations between heart disease and prostate cancer, and Arnot's diet and lifestyle changes will aid in the prevention of both. And because the diet is essentially the same as the one Arnot advocates for preventing breast cancer (the one exception being the amount of calcium recommended) there is added incentive for couples to adopt these lifestyle changes together, which may make compliance a little easier.
In the final sections of the book, Arnot provides an overview of the preventive, diagnostic, and treatment tools available for prostate cancer. Chief among these is the PSA test, a relatively simple blood test that can indicate the presence of prostate cancer even before any physical signs appear. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgical interventions are all reviewed, and the pros and cons of each are weighed. Several men, all of whom have been diagnosed with prostate cancer -- a few of them with cases so severe they were given only months to live -- provide their stories. They review their diagnoses, the dietary and other lifestyle changes they made as a result, and the successes they have achieved since. Although there is no way to know how many men have taken the same steps and made the same changes with little or no success, these anecdotes serve their purpose -- they are very encouraging and appear, at least on the surface, to support Arnot's ideas.
Arnot is careful to point out that although the research in this area is strongly suggestive, it is still inconclusive. Readers are provided the facts in a fair and relatively unbiased manner, for the most part, and can draw whatever conclusions they like. Arnot has certainly provided compelling evidence to support his theories, and the information on prostate cancer alone is worth the price of the book. No doubt, this book will take its place on the shelf in many homes, right beside The Breast Cancer Prevention Diet. (Beth Amos)