The Answer to That Question I Asked Myself in My 30s

Several years ago, now, confronted with yet another friend whose spouse was dying of cancer, I asked myself, “Why are our cancer rates so high? Isn’t there anything we can do to stop cancer?”

This wasn’t a hypothetical question. I really wanted to know why we went from a cancer rate of 1 in 100 in 1900 to 1 in 3 women and 1 in 2 men in 2010 (I don’t know now where I got those statistics–I just memorized them for a presentation I was doing at the time).

I never bothered to figure out the answer, until I happened to pick up a book with an intriguing title last week, and had boxes of evidence, and the answer to how to stop cancer, dumped over my head.

But first, a detour. At the beginning of this year, I read another book and changed my habits, as I so often do. I read the book Blue Zones Kitchen by Dan Buettner and was super inspired to eat more vegetarian meals.

We started eating that way at the beginning of the year, but then Covid hit, and we quietly put vegetarian eating aside and went back to our typical fare. No big deal. We eat pretty healthy. Healthy proteins, like eggs and chicken, some sausage and bacon, but not a ton, veggies, like kale, carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, pasta.

Eating vegetarian is good, I vaguely knew, but so much had happened since I read that book, that I just couldn’t remember why it was worth the trouble, especially during a global pandemic.

So when I picked up this latest book, with lots of leafy greens on the cover, provocatively entitled How Not to Die, I didn’t really know what I was getting into. I actually had no idea what the book was about. It was in my Kindle Unlimited picks, so I dived in.

Turns out, the book finally answered the question I’d asked myself back in my 30s. I honestly didn’t think there was a clear answer to why cancer rates had increased so much in this country, just thought it might vaguely have something to do with increased toxins in our groundwater.

But the author, Michael Gregor, MD, has made it his life mission to collect as many double-blind, placebo-controlled (etc.) top-flight studies as possible to figure out how to reduce various types of diseases, including cancer, that kill us.

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