DAVID Servan-Schreiber was 31 when he was diagnosed with a walnut-size brain tumour and given six months to live. After surgery and chemotherapy, the young neuro
scientist asked his oncologist if he should change his diet.
"Eat whatever you like," his doctor told him. "It won't make much of a difference."
Servan-Schreiber thought otherwise. For the next 15 years, he threw himself into researching the body's natural defences; today he believes dietary and other lifestyle changes are powerful and underutilised cancer-fighting tools.
"Cancer lies dormant in all of us," he wrote in his new book, Anticancer: A New Way of Life. "But our bodies are also equipped with a number of mechanisms that detect and keep such cells in check."
Cancer rears its ugly head when things get out of balance, Servan-Schreiber said.
That can happen if the bad guys that promote the growth of cancer cells (tobacco, excessive alcohol, excessive sugar, hydrogenated fats, environmental pollutants) outnumber the good guys supporting our natural defences (cancer-fighting phytochemicals found in fruits, vegetables, herbs and teas; physical activity; and stress management techniques). But conventional treatment, while indispensable, focuses on a single target: destroying cancer cells.
Doctors rarely address the other side: teaching patients how to fortify themselves using nutrition, exercise and stress management techniques to create an inhospitable environment for cancer.
"Cancer is all about residual cells left behind in the body," Block Centre for Integrative Cancer Treatment in Evanston, Illinois, medical director, Dr …