What is your opinion of other books on nutrition and cancer?
am frequently asked what I think about the validity and effectiveness
of many other books that cover the topic of nutrition and cancer.
I will answer this question in a generic way, rather than commenting
on any specific book.
Validity and effectiveness are very hard to document. However, anecdotal success reports certainly abound with many different approaches to treating cancer with nutrition. That shows the both the lack of data in this area of study and the difficulty with studying this aspect of cancer care in a scientific maner. Generally, I look for books that promote ultrahealthy diet suggestions that are similar to mine: plant-based diets that are low in fat, refined sugars and processed foods, diets that contain healthy fats, do not categorically eliminate any specific foods such as dairy or certain vegetables, and include a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, and nuts and seeds, along with fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, and finally, organic foods as are reasonably available and affordable.
There are many books available that recommend nutritional regimes similar to what I have described. The larger difficulty comes with the dietary supplements recommended in many books. I find it very difficult to guide people with *where to start, where to end* with this aspect of a nutritional approach to treating or preventing cancer! A very frustrating aspect is the relative lack of data relating nutrition, dietary supplements, and cancer survival. This area of study is woefully neglected and underfunded by our conventional grant-funding agencies and institutions. Almost all research has been focused on primary prevention. In addition, finances are also a real consideration here for the patient since dietary supplements are rarely covered by insurance reimbursement. Along with the willingness of a person to consume *tons* of pills everyday! Finally there is the perennial and vexing question of the pros and cons of supplementing with antioxidants during chemotherapy and XRT.
In my book I do share what I take for dietary supplements but I deliberately do not promote *my way or the highway*. I know that the answers are complex and not completely known yet. Instead, I try to motivate people to become responsible for this aspect of their health and cancer recovery by teaching them a *process* for goal-setting and then researching their options. I give them a list of the questions I made myself answer before I jumped into this supplement world. I have found that people spend more time researching buying a new car than they do with what they put into their body!
The best advice I can give is to READ, READ, READ, be the patient with 10,000 questions, and NEVER use just one book or source as *gospel* (especially if that author or speaker has a financial interest in the sale of products being discussed).
I am very open and interested in everything various *alternative* practitioners has to say. Hopefully, in the future, there will not be conventional and alternative medicine, only one medicine, encompassing the best from both areas that is based on solid research and outcome data, with the ultimate goal very simply being improved patient care.
I will strongly go on record here and say that, in general, cancer centers need to be much more proactive with providing in-depth and individualized nutrition information to patients than they are doing now. (Various nutrition and cancer books and the health food stores fill a huge gap that the conventional cancer system continues to leaves wide open!) My dream is to see cancer centers change their paradigm to become *healing centers* instead of just *treatment centers.* They cannot do that without incorporating nutrition services in a meaningful way for all patients who want the information. The lack of individualized, indepth, and proactive nutrition information - not *Just eat whatever you can/want* that is still too commonly heard at cancer centers - was the number one comment/complaint I heard from the more than 1500 cancer survivors from around the country who called me after reading a newspaper article in 1997 about my cancer recoveries. As a patient and consumer of health care, you have the opportunity to be an advocate for these services and information in your cancer center. Very often, in today's competitive health care environment, *what the patient wants, the patient gets*. Don't be afraid to speak up and ask (insist) to see a Registered Dietitian at your cancer center. Do not wait until you have lost or gained 30#!!
I will repeat here that a very frustrating fact for both patients and health care professionals alike is the relative lack of data relating specific aspects of nutrition and cancer survival. To help rectify that, proceeds from my book's sales are being donated to a recently established endowment at The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) in Washingon, DC. It is called The Diana Dyer Cancer Survivors' Nutrition and Cancer Research Endowment, which will exclusively fund research projects focusing on nutrition strategies once a cancer diagnosis is made, either during treatment or recovery, to optimize long-term survival. Additional donations are always welcomed which will speed up the future research. Further info on this endowment can by obtained by calling AICR at 1-800-843-8114, and ask to speak to the director of development. Thank you very much. You and I will have helped make the cancer recovery journey easier and more effective for those that follow us.
faq posted 4/00
These questions and answers are intended to be of a general informative nature. Please consult with the Registered Dietitian in your cancer center or your health care provider for nutritional advice that can be individualized to your specific medical condition.
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