In the war against cancer, diet may be the best arsenal, according to a research scientist and lecturer in environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Chemoprevention -- a new approach to eliminating cancer before it ever begins -- is the subject of the path-breaking new book, Eat to Beat Cancer, by J. Robert Hatherill, published this month by Renaissance Books.
If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, then Hatherill's book weighs heavily indeed; it's filled with cancer prevention tips about what to eat and what he says may be more important -- what not to eat. His approach amounts to what reviewers are calling a "life insurance policy against cancer," and an inexpensive one at that.
While chemotherapy can be an important medical prescription for patients who already have cancer, chemoprevention is an anti-cancer diet that Hatherill says most everyone should follow to stop cancer before it ever takes hold. The book describes what Hatherill has dubbed the "Super Eight Food Groups" for cancer prevention, along with tips on how best to prepare and eat these foods -- including a chapter filled with recipes.
Hatherill, eminently qualified to address cancer prevention, has specialized in the study of toxic assaults on the body for over 20 years. He earned his Ph.D. in environmental toxicology from the University of Michigan, completed a post-doctoral fellowship in molecular toxicology at Stanford University Medical Center, and has worked in pharmaceuticals for CIBA-GEIGY, risk assessment for Radian Corporation, toxicology for the World Health Organization and risk assessment for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, among others.
He reminds us that cancer detection is not prevention. In an editorial in the Santa Barbara News Press he states, "A cancer diagnosis is actually quite misleading. It does not arise overnight, rather with a slow, sputtering and steady progress. Cancer can take 20, 30 or even 40 years to reveal itself. Cancer is the harsh and final step in a lengthy process requiring decades to result in a tumor that is often barely detectable to the touch. The most current methods of cancer detection make it possible to search and destroy tumors sooner, but do absolutely nothing to prevent them in the first place."
Eat to Beat Cancer challenges us: "If changing what you eat could keep you from getting cancer, wouldn't you do it? Shouldn't you at least think about it for your children?"
Hatherill's preventive approach provides an opportunity to be proactive in the fight against cancer. He explains how the simple act of altering one's diet can be a way to attack cancer if it is already present or prevent it before it starts. The "Super Eight Food Groups" plan is a strategy that spells out in detail which foods to include and which to avoid to create a cancer-busting diet.
He explains how the use of preventive dietary compounds -- whole foods -- has emerged as a separate science called chemoprevention. Whole foods such as garlic, tomatoes, cauliflower and citrus fruits contain natural cancer-fighting agents, while processed foods are full of chemicals and preservatives, which are detrimental to any cancer-busting diet.
Eat to Beat Cancer presents the facts which corroborate that diet is the essential component in combating cancer. It outlines how the non-industrialized countries of the world have, comparatively, avoided heart disease, cancer, and stroke -- the so-called "diseases of affluence" and that Japan has one of the highest per capita cigarette consumption rates, yet it is a country with one of the lowest lung cancer rates in the world.
He even outlines strategies for high-risk individuals like smokers and drinkers, telling them how to continue to smoke and drink and yet avoid the
cancers associated with those activities. More surprising news is that he finds that even chocolate and red wine can be part of a healthful diet.
Finally, Hatherill laments the fact that it has taken more than 2,000 years to learn a lesson that Hippocrates, "a Greek physician known as the Father of Medicine," understood so long ago. He quotes the good doctor as saying, "Your food shall be your remedy. Let food be your medicine and let medicine be your food."