Recently, Grace Mercado Ouano (Grace O), owner and CEO of three skilled nursing facilities in California and noted wellness and anti-aging cookbook author, hosted over 100 physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals at the third annual New Roads to Health events. The seminars, conducted over three days and culminating at the Education Center at the Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital in Valencia, CA, featured Dr. Keith Block, Medical & Scientific Director at the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment in Skokie, IL. Dr. Block is a medical doctor who during his 30+ year career has treated over 15,000 people with cancer.
Dr. Block explained to the assembled health professionals, “The best cancer care strives not only to increase tumor killing potential with the prudent use of anticancer agents like chemotherapy, but also to prevent damage to healthy tissue through nutritional intervention, mind-body therapies and the use of specific supplements as directed by our physicians and registered dietitians. Cancer is multi-track. Drugs alone are too toxic while purely alternative courses of treatment can be ineffective or hard to measure. Fighting cancer is like being forced to climb Mt. Everest. The trek requires focus on fitness of body and mind. Like any challenge, you have to start with know-how, planning and preparedness. All mountains are scaled one step at a time and all illnesses are conquered one step at a time. Every new health-promoting behavior the patient adopts is a victory. Every improvement in symptoms, no matter how small, is an important step toward the summit of health.”
In his book, Life Over Cancer, Dr. Block lays out ‘spheres’ of treatment:
· Biography, which includes diet and lifestyle
· Biology, which is the biochemical terrain
· Pathology, the area of disease and treatment
The first sphere takes into account nutrition, exercise and mind/spirit care. Dr. Block’s approach is for patients to follow an individualized diet to maintain the energy and stamina to fight cancer. This is very much in line with Grace O’s FoodTrients® style of cooking with rejuvenating nutrients. Her recipes, with their emphasis on anti-inflammatory properties, anti-oxidants, disease prevention, immunity boosting and mind function promote health and well-being. From specific foods to herbs and spices, the FoodTrients brand of essential ingredients helps promote longevity, prevent the diseases of aging, and increase energy and vitality.
At the seminar, Dr. Block pointed out that the Life Over Cancer nutrition program epitomizes the integrative approach. It can both increase the effectiveness and diminish the toxicity of traditional cancer therapies, enabling patients to gain the most benefit. Plus, diet puts the patient in an active role in their own healing. The Block Center encourages more of a plant-based diet that includes cold water fish. They encourage patients to eliminate red meat and pork altogether, and to eat little or no poultry and dairy.
Dr. Block pointed out that the Japanese have a traditional diet high in vegetables and fish but low in meat, refined sugar and fats and experience lower rates of cancer than in the United States where we have a high fat, high sugar diet. American and Japanese men have about equal rates of early stage prostate cancer, but men in the U.S. have considerably higher rates of advanced prostate cancer. This suggests that whatever causes prostate cancer seems to be equally present in both the U.S. and Japan, but something in American men fuels its growth. Block continues, “Similarly, studies found that Japanese women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer survived longer than American women. In both cases, scientists suspect diet makes the difference.”
For many cancer patients, exercise is the last thing on their minds. But Dr. Block lays out the case for creating exercise programs for those fighting cancer. “Conditioning the body with appropriate activity during the day and attaining deep, restorative sleep at night can improve the odds of surviving cancer and reduce suffering from the side effects of treatment. Plus, establishing new, healthier patterns of body alignment and movement can reduce pain and enhance the ability to heal.” At the Block Center physical therapists, exercise equipment, yoga instructors and personal trainers are all part of improving patients’ fitness for fighting the disease. Fifteen minutes of exercise before chemotherapy has been associated with better comfort and outcome for the Center’s cancer patients. The Center is designed as spa-like, encouraging patients to participate in exercise, healthful dining and social opportunities.
Dr. Block’s wife Penny Block, M.A., PhD, is the co-founder and executive director of the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment and also presented at two of the New Roads to Healing seminars. She is responsible for guiding the bio-behavioral or mind/spirit care of patients toward better outcomes. Dr. Penny Block is known for her research and publications on complementary care in oncology, including nutrition, psychological support and stress response strategies, therapeutic exercise and physical care. She provides individual and group patient counseling and education to help patients manage disturbing emotions, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, and gain control of stress hormones that can hinder healing. Mind/spirit techniques are some of the core therapies at the Center and a vital element to patients’ battles against cancer.
Dr. Block summed up his presentation this way, “People don’t die from cancer—they die from its complications. By focusing on overall health, we can improve patients’ ability to fight the effects of the disease and its treatment while maintaining better quality of life. Ideally, an integrative oncology program should help patients not only achieve and sustain remission, but also to heal various aspects of their lives to live in a fully engaged and vital way.”
For more information on Dr. Block and the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment, visit www.blockmd.com