ANTICANCER: A NEW WAY OF LIFE, by David Servan-Schreiber, Viking, 258 pages, $25.95.

The author is a neuropsychiatrist whose life was changed when he was diagnosed with brain cancer.

Because of his own expertise, he was in a position to question the diagnosis and then to fight for his life while analyzing potential methods of preventing the development of cancer in others.

Over a 15-year period, Dr. Servan-Schreiber successfully fought his own cancer, relapsed, went into remission a second time, then developed a road map for people to follow in a general battle against the development of cancer in their bodies. His initial assumption is that defective cells are being made constantly in all living organisms, but not all of these cells turn into cancer.

So, he asked the question, why not?

His oncologist did not have the answer, but Servan-Schreiber suspected that at least a focus on diet could help defeat cancer. He concluded that if each of us has the potential for cancer in our bodies, we also have the potential ability to "fight the process of tumor development."

He suggests four approaches: "(1) guarding ourselves against the imbalances of our environment, (2) adjusting our diets so as to cut back on cancer promoters and include the greatest number of phytochemical components that actively fight tumors, (3) understanding and healing the psychological wounds that feed the biological mechanisms at work in cancer, and (4) creating a relationship with our bodies that stimulates the immune system and reduces the inflammation that makes tumors grow."

The author provides a wealth of information about diet and exercise resulting from his own studies. He includes a 16-page color insert advising what kinds of food to eat and what kinds to avoid.

The interpretation of the author and the suggestions he makes about diet and exercise fit quite nicely with earlier recommendations from medical experts on how to prevent heart attacks. The most impressive portion of his argument is his emphasis on "the effects of awareness" that each of us ought to have to take care of our own bodies.

"Above all, we must be conscious of the value and beauty of the life in us. We must pay attention to it and look after it as we would care for a child entrusted to us. This awareness helps us avoid damaging our physiology and encouraging cancer," writes the author.

Perhaps most interesting, Servan-Schreiber often buttresses his case with solid literary examples that add flavor to the book and reveal him to be a balanced, educated man.

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