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Nutrition and Cancer - State of the Art

Preface | Preface (3rd edition) | Introduction | Review by Beata Bishop | Review by Kate Neil
Preface by Richard A. Passwater
Preface for the third edition by Pat Pilkington MBE
Introduction for the third edition
Book Review by Beata Bishop
Book Review by Kate Neil

Nutrition and Cancer: State of the Art

Let me start by declaring an interest. I did have a particularly virulent form of cancer, and I recovered from it twenty years ago solely on a nutrition-based therapy. Clearly, for that reason alone I would approach this book in a positive spirit. But leaving my personal bias aside, I feel that this third, updated edition of Nutrition and Cancer is even more topical and important than when it first appeared in 1995. Then it sounded a brave, new and to many ears eccentric note in the deadly silence that surrounded the subject. (I recall the kindly patronizing voice of my truly caring and humane oncologist when he told me that diet had nothing to do with cancer...) What that first edition of Sandra Goodman's thoroughly researched book provided was clear evidence, based on the results of international research, that nutrition had a huge role to play in the prevention and treatment of cancer and that the medical profession was studiously ignoring that evidence.

Today, eight years later, the medical profession continues to do so, thus lagging behind the health-conscious part of the public and even behind the Government, which urges us to eat five portions and fruit and veg a day, to help prevent cancer and other degenerative diseases. We have come some way. But there are still many battles ahead. And this is where Sandra Goodman's updated book provides much needed ammunition. Is it significant, I wonder, that while the jacket of the first edition looked restrained in silver and blue, the current one is fiery red?

There is no lack of fire in the contents, either, but the author's passionate beliefs and anger over the financial, political and commercial interests interfering with the medical establishment never affect the detachment and objectivity that is the precondition of good science. Yet both in the introduction and in the first chapter Dr Goodman gives full vent to her frustration, as she contemplates the near-epidemic rise of cancer incidence, the depressing mortality figures, the vast sums invested in conventional oncological equipment, and the medical establishment's rigid refusal to consider alternative methods. The title of Chapter 1, Nutrition and Cancer: Success is a Well-Kept Secret tells it all.

To go through this slim volume is a crash course in all matters nutritional. The author has the gift of taking her readers by the hand, so to speak, and make clear to them material which for the lay person might otherwise appear difficult. She devotes a chapter each to the most important vitamins in the field of prevention and treatment - Vitamins C, A/Beta Carotene, and E are methodically presented, their roles explained, and illustrated with the results of relevant research from the world over. Next, the role of selenium, zinc, folic acid and Vitamin B12 is similarly explained; the function of Essential Fatty Acids concludes the presentation.

Chapter 7 takes a hard look at the methodology of conventional research and finds it inadequate. Randomised Clinical Trials may work for testing a new drug, but they are considered 'too blunt' by some health practitioners, who feel that numbers don't tell the whole story - qualitative data are just as important. Indeed. If doctors refuse to consider any data unless they are based on a trial of minimum 250 participants and reject fully documented remarkable recoveries as anecdotal evidence, how will they ever discover anything new and effective? After all, it's individuals and not statistics that fall ill, suffer and die.

Further chapters describe the best-known alternative dietary regimes, and certain cancer treatment substances used by the alternative-complementary camp, including Iscador, based on mistletoe and widely used in Germany and Switzerland; shark cartilage; antineoplastons, and Laetrile, the controversial remedy made from apricot kernels. CoEnzyme Q10, another innovative substance was actually put on the medical map by two Danish doctors and has accordingly gained more acceptance than the others. Dr Goodman calls these "up-and-coming treatments", and adds a lucid summary of psychoneuroimmunology, the study of the body-mind link in sickness and health, which is bound to grow in importance as time goes by.

And so we reach the final part, entitled 'Update: 1998-2003', another galaxy of research data, dietary studies, guidelines and advice. The material is dazzlingly international. Much of it comes from the USA; the rest is from New Zealand, Norway, France, India, Poland, Italy, Japan, Greece, Chile and Germany. That in itself is hopeful - a sign of many little green shoots appearing worldwide, with scientists questioning the 'received wisdom' of orthodox cancer medicine and urging new approaches. By gathering all this material and presenting it in such a clear and digestible form, Sandra Goodman has been playing an important role in the process ever since 1993, when she set up a pioneering database on cancer and nutrition, for the Bristol Cancer Help Centre. To spread the news about the scientific basis for nutritional approaches, she then wrote the first version of Nutrition and Cancer - State-of-the-Art. The rest is not history, but the continuation of a vital work.

Based on my personal experience and on my work over twenty years with cancer patients, I am convinced that the only truly effective way forward for cancer medicine is the double track of nutritional healing and psychological support, integrated with whatever else individuals may need. Anything else, i.e. nothing but the conventional model with its insistence on 'more of the same' - surgery, radio- and chemotherapy is bound to bring disappointment. This book is a good guide to finding the better path.

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