About “The Anti-Cancer Diet”
“The Anti-Cancer Diet” was written by David Khayat, M.D. in 2010 and translated into English in 2015 from the original French. Doctor Khayat was the main architect of France’s national campaign to reduce cancer rates during the last decade and this book represents the culmination of his thirty-plus year career in cancer research. This book is published by W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
In “The Anti-Cancer Diet”, David Khayat brings together everything he has learned about the many causes of cancer and offers his best advice on how best to avoid this dreaded disease. His conclusion is that many cases of cancer can be avoided through a combination of diet and lifestyle choices that all of us can make daily. Acknowledging that heredity(the genes we are born with) also play a part in whether or not cancer shows up in our lives, he makes a strong case that how we live is the largest deciding factor. He has also come to the realization that prevention will ultimately be a much more productive and successful course of action than treatment.
Doctor Khayat makes very clear the advice he offers in this book is based on scientific evidence. Khayat has spent his entire career in the field of medical research, specializing in cancer, what it is, what causes it, what might cure it and what might prevent the disease. He methodically explains throughout “The Anti-Cancer Diet” why certain types of studies are more important than others and distills all of the currently available information on cancer prevention into a small set of guidelines that anyone can implement. His passion to make a “real world” difference in people’s lives by reducing the incidence of cancer is obvious.
“The Anti-Cancer Diet” advice
The advice in this book is three pronged. Most importantly, Khayat stresses the importance of not using tobacco. The importance of regular exercise to overall health and cancer prevention is second. Third is diet, with many specific strategies offered.
Abstinence from tobacco is at the top of the cancer prevention list because of the abundance of evidence showing a direct link between the two. Doctor Khayat firmly believes that use of tobacco products causes more cases of cancer than any other factor. Related to tobacco use is advice to avoid other environmental factors known to increase cancer rates, such as exposure to pesticides and other chemical carcinogens.
Regular exercise is linked to lower cancer incidence. There are many good studies proving this connection. The author reinforces the importance of exercise and gives his opinion on the types and amounts of exercise likely to make the most impact on cancer prevention.
What we eat is important. Kyayat discusses organic versus conventionally grown food and how to make the best of both. The impact of red meat in the diet, its effects on cancer incidence and how to mitigate those effects is covered. Dairy, sugar and different categories of vegetables are examined. Emphasis is placed on the simplest and most practical dietary steps with the greatest impact.
This book was written in 2010 so none of the information is new. The impetus is maximum bang for the effort; on what steps everyone can take in their daily lives to give them the greatest chance of avoiding cancer. David Khayat wants to reduce cancer rates and understands that overly complicated, restrictive, time consuming or costly guidelines will never be followed by the majority of people. At least not for very long.
Instead he aims to convince us all to follow a few simple guidelines that will have the best scientifically proven chance of preventing many from suffering the ravages of cancer. Khayat’s arguments are compelling and well within the reach of most.
My thoughts on “The Anti-Cancer Diet”
“The Anti-Cancer Diet” covers topics that I write about often. I will recap a few of those topics. And I would like to stress that these issues do not just concern cancer but have a wide impact on our overall health and well-being.
Doctor Khayat touches on the importance of variety in our diet and how differently colored fruits and vegetables contain differing amounts of specific nutrients that our bodies need. For maximum health and resistance to all diseases, we cannot fall into the habit of relying only on certain foods. There are still many unknowns in the fields of nutrition, health and metabolism but much of the basic functioning is well understood. Nutrients are synergistic in our bodies: their actions and abilities to function are highly dependent on interactions with other nutrients. Eat an abundance of a single nutrient by fixating on a single fruit or vegetable or taking a supplement often has little effect because that single nutrient needs other compounds available to work its healthy magic. The big picture counts concerning diet.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. It is alright to eat a piece of frosted cake or an order of french fries or white rice with your sushi occasionally. It is not alright to allow eating these foods to become regular habits. There will be health consequences in the long run. So drop all of the anxiety, guilt and feelings of failure when you want to indulge once in a while. Eating something once or twice a month is not nearly as big an issue as constant anxiety and guilt over not constantly adhering to a “plan”.
In the same vein, drop the compulsion to always buy organic foods. There is very little difference in the nutrients and health benefits of many foods between organic and conventionally grown. Exposure to toxins such as pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals can be greatly reduced or eliminated by proper washing before use. This book goes into detail on how to minimize this problem.
I still feel strongly that genetically modified foods should be avoided, at least until they have a much longer and proven track record. Genes generally code for more than one trait in any organism and this is no different for food crops. Changing a single gene to make a food crop more tolerant of salt or more resistant to a certain insect might often also and unexpectedly change the structure of the proteins, fats or other nutrients in that food. My personal advice is to wait and see until there is more long-term evidence one way or the other. Too much is still not properly understood about nutrition and metabolism to make an informed judgement on this issue and too many cases are already on the record of this sort of human meddling in nature having unintended, unforeseen and detrimental health consequences to take current assurances at face value.
Any course of action that helps prevent cancer is probably also good for overall health. This just seems like common sense. It is very difficult for me to believe that a diet or lifestyle that leads to lower cancer rates could promote higher mortality from other causes.
The opening chapters of “The Anti-Cancer Diet” describe exactly what cancer is and how it begins. This reinforced my long-held belief that every one of the billions of cells in our body can become cancerous at any time. Many of them probably do become cancerous every day of our lives but are brought under control through natural mechanisms without our ever being aware of it. The best any of us can do is to give our bodies what they need to keep doing this and deprive ourselves of exposure to as many of the compounds that are known to promote cancer as possible.
Eating a healthy whole food diet is at the core of this book’s recommendations. Whole foods avoid the entire issue of added carcinogens like artificial color, flavors, conditioners, sweeteners and other chemicals. Whole foods also sidestep the many health issues associated with highly processed “foods” such as white flour, crystallized sugar, white rice and others that have come into question.