The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Treatment. Keith Block has been at the forefront of what is now termed ‘integrative’ cancer care since the 1980s. In his recent book ‘Life Over Cancer’ he shares his wealth of experience in a very accessible manner, providing people with an enormous variety of approaches to treating themselves and augmenting their orthodox treatment. More than thirty years after Dr Block began establishing the foundations of his hugely successful Life Over Cancer programme, and the best part of a century after Max Gerson’s groundbreaking nutritional work with cancer, the majority of oncologists and dietitians in the UK still tell their patients that it doesn’t matter what they eat once they have cancer.
In fact they generally advise them to eat piles of junk food high in calories so as not to lose weight through wasting (cachexia). Fortunately a fair proportion of the public don’t believe them. It is not even common sense to say that a healthy diet can prevent cancer but has nothing to do with its treatment or preventing a recurrence. This is the direct equivalent of telling a lung cancer patient that they might as well go on smoking once they have cancer. All the evidence now shows that a poor diet directly fuels cancer growth, whereas a carefully targetted healthy diet can work to directly attack and contain malignancy.The scope of advice is both broad and detailed, and, as well as dietary strategies, covers supplementation, exercise, stress management techniques, psycho-spiritual support and group work, amongst others.
The strength of the book lies in the authoritative nature of its contents, which are grounded in sound evidence and direct clinical experience. Extremely specific advice is offered on all the difficulties people with a range of cancers are likely to face on their journey, whether a factor of the disease or of the treatment.
The book is illustrated throughout by stories of patients that are at times inspirational, but which are also used to provide warnings regarding mistaken choices based on misunderstandings of the nature of cancer.
Life Over Cancer is not only an enormously welcome handbook to help people navigate their own path through the many and intense challenges presented by a cancer diagnosis, but also holds the potential to make an impact on the tunnel vision approach still absolutely prevalent in the UK of treating cancer solely by attacking the symptoms. The poor success rates with all major cancers and with all secondary cancers speak eloquently of the urgent need for the integrative approach outlined so authoritatively by Keith Block.