Book Review

Natural Compounds in Cancer Therapy, Oregon Medical Press, 2001.

This book is chock full of information on both the mechanisms of cancer and the use of natural compounds in treating it. It is a serious, scientific work, the result of much painstaking study and literature research.

The first part of the book covers cancer at the cellular level and at the level of the organism. These chapters on cancer cell basics were an educational experience for me. Boik writes about the cancer cell from a slightly different angle than that with which I am familiar, and by reading carefully through his approach, I found I learned more about the cancer cell than I knew before. He explains the concepts well. To check his facts, I pulled out a molecular biology text that I own and they correlated well.

Boik goes into so much detail in the first part of the book because he is very interested in how and why the natural compounds work. The second half of the book covers the different types of natural compounds, each in turn. He states that most of the evidence for the anti-cancer affect of natural compounds is from preclinical (test tube and animal) studies; very few human studies have been conducted. He summarizes and references these preclinical studies and discusses how the compounds inhibit cancer by interfering with one or more of cancer's mechanisms. He talks about synergism, estimating effective and safe doses, available formulations, and combination design. The following classes of compounds are discussed in detail: trace metals, antioxidants, polysaccharides, lipids, amino acids, flavonoids, nonflavonoid phenolic compounds, terpenes, and lipid-soluble vitamins.

A chapter which is potentially helpful to a lot of people on conventional treatment is Chapter 23: Natural Compounds, Chemotherapy, and Radiotherapy.

I must admit, I did not read every word of Natural Compounds in Cancer Therapy. This book is not light reading - instead, it is an excellent but technical reference text which (in my opinion) should be on the shelf of every serious practitioner or researcher of alternative therapies. It is a also great reference for cancer patients who are thinking of using an alternative or complementary treatment, or for people who do not have cancer and want to prevent it.

In my opinion, Natural Compounds in Cancer Therapy is a much-needed addition to the field of alternative cancer treatments. It is a big step in the right direction for serious practitioners of alternative therapies.

Note: My own background is in biochemistry (M.S. Biochemistry, CU Boulder, 1976) with a strong recent experience in organic chemistry (Coordinator for the teaching labs at CU Boulder, 1985-present).

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last updated 10/01

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