Everyday Cancer Risks & How To Avoid Them


by Mary Kerney Levenstein

Avery Pub. Group, Inc., Garden City Park, NY 1992, paperback, $11.95, 318 pp.

When Mary K. Levenstein was diagnosed with breast cancer, she decided that if some people survived cancer she would find out how they did it, and survive too. Before her surgery she was already researching books and tapes on healing. She had a consultation with Lawrence LeShan, a clinical psychologist, to mobilize all her self-healing powers, went to a workshop given by Bernie Siegel, and learned to use Carl Simonton's visual-imagery techniques. What she didn't do was become a passive patient. With great determination and a positive attitude, Mrs. Levenstein began to heal.

She began to eat differently, installed a water filter, increased her exercise, installed a radiation shield on her computer, had her house tested for radon, and built a compost, reducing the garbage volume by 95%. She gathered data from federal agencies, consumer health and environmental organizations, from medical libraries, and from research institutions. Soon she had amassed a great deal of information on cancer and became a resource for her friends and neighbors. It seemed only natural to share what she had learned in putting it all together in Everyday Cancer Risks and How to Avoid Them.

As there has been no significant progress in the treatment of cancer with very few exceptions (some of the children's cancers), the author rightly places the emphasis on prevention and effective ways to lower the odds of getting cancer. Although we live in a world that is increasingly polluted, are exposed to thousands of chemicals, and suffer the stresses of modern life, there are ways to lessen the impact of these factors, and even eliminate many of the hazards.

The main areas of the book are divided into Food, Home and Environment, and Lifestyle. The author covers, in short chapters, additives in food, dietary fat, irradiation of food, lack of dietary fiber, lack of vitamins and minerals, pesticides in food, and more. There are specific suggestions on how to avoid these harmful effects and a short bibliography at the end of each chapter, for further reading. I was also pleased to see addresses given for agencies like the FDA to facilitate the reader's involvement in consumer affairs, by speaking out for stricter controls of food hazards.

In the section on Home and Environment, not only were major hazards like asbestos, formaldehyde, household products, chemicals used in the yard, and water purity, covered, but the author also includes things like pet products, nuclear waste, lead, radiation in the home, and stoves, heaters, and fireplaces. There are extensive charts giving product, hazards, and the solutions. The solutions, naturally, are often the things our grandparents used, before the age of chemicals. They do the job without endangering our health, and they're usually inexpensive. The author even gives recipes for basic cleaning solutions.

The Lifestyle section starts off with AIDS, and was a bit of a surprise, showing the very toxic chemicals used in cosmetics and personal care products for instance, and noting the links between estrogen and birth control pills, and breast cancer; smoking: active and passive; obesity; lack of exercise; silicone implants; and stress. Noting the rising incidence of illness from workplace hazards, the author again encourages consumer activism by providing an extensive list of agencies and organizations to contact.

This is a self-help book of the first order, making it easier for us to protect our health and empowering us, so that we do not become cancer "victims." It's not complicated, nor generally very costly, although not everyone can afford to move or redo a house full of asbestos, nor install an effective water purifier. Everyday Cancer Risks offers health protective options and solutions that everyone can use, lowering the odds against cancer with this prudent lifestyle strategy.

Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients.


By Irene Alleger

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