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“Cancer lies dormant in all of us.” This chilling line is the first sentence of David Servan-Schreiber’s new book, Anti Cancer, A New Way of Life (Viking 2008). Schrieber explains that our cells have a margin of error rate that produces defective cells all the time. Our body is constantly tossing the defective cells in the trash bin, but when the error rate gets out of control, tumors develop. Schreiber knows this better than anyone. As physician, researcher and former director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, he understand the mechanisms by which cancer cells invade and take over. He also knows better than anyone because he has cancer.

For fifteen years, Schreiber has lived with brain cancer. Yes, lived. From his unique perceptive as a trained physician, tireless medical researcher and patient, Schreiber examines what is known and unknown about cancer treatment and prevention. He entered his new role as a book author with great trepidation. For years he kept his cancer a secret from his patients and his co-workers for fear of his patients feeling the need to look after him and from his co-workers who might see his research and opinions as the “fruit of my personal experience instead of the scientific approach that has always guided me.”

What changed his perspective? After years of scouring medical databases and speaking with physicians who were working with patients, the evidence was overwhelming that the body’s natural defenses can battle cancer with the right modern medical treatment, diet, exercise and a greater understanding of how the mind affects the biological mechanisms.

While Schreiber in no way ignores the modern advance in surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy for cancer treatment, he explores way in which the Western medical system has largely ignored the body’s own healing power under the right circumstances. In the book he says, “The body is a huge system of equilibrium, where each function interacts with the others. Alter just one of these functions and the whole is inevitably affected. Thus, each of us can choose where we want to start: with diet, physical exercise, psychological work or any other approach that bring more meaning and awareness to our lives…what matters above all is nourishing the desire to live.” Sound advice for all.

Link to Anti Cancer YouTube video

Decades ago, researchers believed that cancer was caused by heredity and that a chance encounter with an environmental pollutant in water, food or air was the trigger. Today researchers believe that family history only accounts for 5%. After examining people across the globe and looking at half a million cancer related studies, researchers from the American Institute of Cancer Research know that lifestyle is the major cause of cancer related illness. Surprisingly tobacco and smoking pose the exact same risk for developing cancer as diet and obesity—30% each. Sixty percent of cancers can be attributed to lifestyle choices of smoking, poor diet and obesity. Sedentary lifestyles add another 5% risk. The remaining 35% can be attributed to dozens of other risks such as occupational hazards, family history, viruses, alcohol and pollutants (see the chart). As you will see throughout this site, diet and physical activity are the keys to reducing your risk of cancer.

Source: World Cancer Research Fund, American Institute for Cancer Research, Food Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective

Health experts have reputation for being dull as ditchwater because of dreary advice like don’t eat this, don’t eat that, don’t sit on that couch, get moving. While they may not seem like the fun police, even the most ardent health experts understand that changing even one bad habit is hard and achieving all their recommendations is downright torture. Even so, small changes are better than nothing at all. Here are some steps in the right direction:

1 10K steps a day. Maintaining a healthy weight and regular physical activity throughout life may be the most important ways to protect against cancer. This will also protect against other common diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Physicians recommend 10,000 steps or 30 minutes of walking per day. For more on this, link to our fitness and vitality page.
2 Real foods for real results. Foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients, particularly highly processed and sugary drinks, increase the risk of certain cancers and of being overweight and obese. Some low-energy foods like non-starchy vegetables, fruits and whole grains may protect against mouth, pharynx, larynx, oespohagus and stomach cancers.
3 Dish the fish. Limit red meat intake to no more than eleven ounces per week and try to avoid processed and nitrate smoked meats. Substitute lean poultry, fish and beans as primary sources of protein.
4 Rethink the drink. Limit alcoholic drinks to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. A single serving is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of spirits.
5 Assault the salt. Limit sodium intake to 2400 mg per day. Read labels carefully and opt for low sodium instead of reduced sodium or ‘healthy’ labeled foods—they can contain as much as 480mg per serving.
6 Reduce the Red. Limit red meat intake to no more than 18 ounces per week. Every ounce and a half over that increases your risk of cancer by 15%. If you are concerned about colorectal cancer and stomach cancer it is best to avoid smoked, cured, salted and processed meats whenever possible—save them for special occasions like holidays or a baseball game.

American Cancer Society is a nationwide, community-based voluntary health organization based in Atlanta and has more than 3,400 local offices. For support, research and news regarding the latest advances in cancer treatments go to www.cancer.org
The American Institute for Cancer Research is a cancer charity that fosters research on diet and cancer prevention, interprets the evidence, and educates the public about the results. For more, www.aicr.org.
Stand Up To Cancer is a new initiative created to accelerate groundbreaking cancer research that will get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives. SU2C's goal is to bring together the best and the brightest in the cancer community, encouraging collaboration instead of competition. SU2C utlitizes the entertainment industry to create awareness and to build broad public support for this effort. For more, www.standup2cancer.org

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