Foods that Fight Cancer

Richard Beliveau Ph.D., and Denis Gingras, Ph.D.
McClelland & Stewart, 2006


Chemistry is dished up with lots of appeal and beautiful photos  communicating a deep passion for food. The reader is taken beyond  the Nutrition Facts Table to the mysteries of nutrition, with  ample scientific facts supporting the connection between making  wise food choices and reducing the risk of cancer. Well over 150,000  copies have been sold and this shows that consumers are hungry  to learn about the foods that will prevent cancer.

The charts,  layout of chapters, and summaries make this book easy to follow.  It’s not often that a book with so much scientific background  can be such a temptation to the senses. Through the use of solid  evidence, the reader is motivated to see that food choices can  make a difference to their health. A powerful chart of the risk  factors for cancer shows that a poor diet is just as detrimental  as smoking.

With a practical  approach, the authors alleviate fears about genetic modification  and the use of pesticides. Readers are given permission to enjoy  produce by understanding that the benefits of eating fruits and  vegetables outweigh any risks.


The use of chemical structures and high level language like “organoleptic”  seems overly complex for average consumers. Even though most of  the book is very practical, there are times when the authors need  to go further with facts to make it more useful, such as specific  ingredients to look for when label reading, and how to incorporate  the recommended foods into daily meals.

A few facts  made us stop and ponder and want to look deeper, for example,  the point about chewing your cruciferous vegetables thoroughly  to fully release the active molecules. Some points are incorrect,  for example, not all margarines have trans fat, as the author states.

Some statements  need further explanation. For example, could a longer life expectancy  among Americans be the reason for the huge disparities in rates  of certain cancers in India versus the US? There also needs to  be a better description of the type of peppers that have more  health benefits. Finally, where guidance is given on how to choose  the best soy beverages, we are left wondering if isolated soy  proteins are a bad choice.

Occasionally  we were skeptical, for example where the authors state that frozen  vegetables are vastly inferior to fresh vegetables.

The Bottom Line

It’s a keeper, a trusted source and a very good  reference for health professionals and consumers. The flare in  which chemistry and food are presented as art and the way that  nutrition is portrayed as a fascinating discovery give this book  strong consumer appeal. Even though the language and scientific  terms are at times too high level, the take home message is as  nutritionally sound as it is loud and clear.

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