Part 2 of a series on health

This is the second in a series from an article in the AARP magazine March/April 2009 in which David Servan-Schreiber, M.D summarizes his book, Anti-cancer: a New Way of Life.  He tells of his medical research which he undertook to extend his life; he learned new strategies for avoiding a killer disease—or keeping it from coming back. More than one in three people in America will have cancer; it seems important to share this information.  In this segment, he shares the cancer-fighting behaviors which he learned.  In his words:

“Choose Health---So what are these cancer-fighting behaviors?  Some you already know are good for you, such as exercise.  But others are surprisingly simple habits that could make all the difference for you—as I believe they have for me (He is healthy 16 years after diagnosis with brain cancer when he wrote the article).  1. Sweet Surrender—Sugar fuels cancer growth and triggers inflammation.  Avoid refined sugar wherever it lurks, including sodas and ketchup.  Also avoid white flour, which quickly turns into sugar in the body.  2. Mighty Meals—Adding known cancer fighters such as the spice tumeric will go a long way toward building up your body’s defenses.  3. Wellness Walk-Regular physical activity has been shown to improve survival rates for many types of cancer.  Just walking briskly for 30 minutes, six times a week, dramatically reduces the chances of a relapse after breast cancer treatment, for example.  4. Now and Zen—Stress causes inflammation and weakens your immune system, two disadvantages in the fight against cancer.  Though we can’t avoid stress in our lives, we can learn to respond to it differently and reduce our level of stress hormones.  Practices such as yoga, qigong, and mindfulness meditation can transform our response to stress and strengthen our resistance to disease.  5. Clean Sweep—Though they can’t be avoided completely, common household toxins should be minimized.  Substances that can impair your body’s cancer-fighting system include certain preservatives in cosmetics (called parabens and phthalates).  Teflon released from scratched pans; percholorethylene used in standard dry cleaning; gases given off by new polyvinyl chloride objects such as those used in plumbing pipes; and bisphenol as from water heated in hard plastics.

He continues, “As a physician who has now been living with cancer for 16 years, I’ve discovered we can all make our bodies tougher targets for cancer through the choices we make in our lives.  Indeed, as strange as it may seem, I’m in better health and happier today than before I became ill.  I feel more at peace, lighter, with more energy, drive and passion for life.

Most people who start on this health journey notice a difference within a few weeks.  Recent studies suggest that healthy habits start improving mood and well-being after two to four months, and can have an impact on cancer statistics within a year or two.  What I’ve learned in my own journey is that the best way to go on living is to nourish life at all levels of my being through my meals, through my walks in nature, through the purpose in my work, through the flow of love in my relationships, and through the protection of our environment.  Science told me that this slows down cancer, and perhaps even more important, it brings to my life, every day, a new light and a new meaning.”

Schreiber lists what he calls “FIERCE FOODS” and he says we need to add these cancer fighters to our daily diet.  Herbs and spices: thyme, rosemary, mint, basil, sage, turmeric, ginger.  Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids: salmon, sardines, mackerel, walnuts, green vegetables.  Cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage.  Garlic, onions, leeks, raspberries, blueberries blackberries, dark chocolate (in moderation at least 70 percent cocoa and very low sugar content)  Beverages: green tea, pomegranate juice, red wine in moderation. 

A personal experience convinced me that this article contains the truth about how the body can heal itself when given what it needs.  A friend of mine used natural treatments to heal after ovarian cancer surgery (she refused chemotherapy).  She was diligent in following much of the advice contained in this article.  She gives that and the direction of a medical doctor who specializes in treating cancer with alternative methods, credit for her healing over twenty years ago.  She gave up her job, took her life savings (insurance didn’t cover alternative treatments), and went to New York to Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez (author of the book, What Went Wrong) who guided her through healing.  Today she is in her seventies and looks about fifty. 

I hope you will share this information with everyone you know and we can all start implementing it into our lives.  On Monday, May 5, I will be demonstrating ways to incorporate foods recommended for helping you stay cancer free or preventing a recurrence.  Class will start at 6 pm at the Health Food store, Bound by Nature, on the bypass in Heber Springs.  Space will be limited so call 501-362-6111 if you want to attend.  There will be no charge for this class; the only requirement is an eagerness to learn.

If you are interested in obtaining a plot in the community garden in Heber Springs, email me and I will put you in touch with those who are making plans.  Gardening is a step in the right direction.

Next week this column will offer practical ways to put to use what is recommended for cancer prevention. 


(Janice Norris lives in Heber Springs, has a B.S. in home economics from Murray State University, owned and operated health food stores in Illinois and Heber Springs, and wrote a weekly column in Illinois for 15 years. She can be reached at