Why Meditation and Green Tea Can Help You Beat or Avoid Cancer

Via Alden Wicker
on Feb 23, 2011
get elephant's newsletter

You know meditation has many benefits. It helps you get a handle on your emotions, fight stress, and get in touch with yourself. But did you know that it can help you fight through or even avoid cancer all together?

That is the message in Anti-Cancer: A New Way Of Life by David Servan-Schreiber.

I am grateful I have never had cancer, and no one close to me has. Not yet. I’m not even sure why I picked up this book. I guess I just had been reading so much about all the things around us that cause cancer: BPA, pesticides, beauty products, and even the very air we breathe. (I live in New York, so air quality is a worry.) I thought perhaps this book would give me some new insights.

Turns out my hunch was right. This book is such a perfect addition to everything I’ve learned over the past couple of years about not only what we eat and drink, but what role stress plays in our life. If you don’t believe, maybe you will believe the 210 out of 239 people on Amazon who gave it five stars.

David Servan-Schreiber is extremely knowledgeable and a good writer. He never makes a claim without backing it up with numerous studies. But not only that, he brings his own experience with brain cancer to the book. Among the studies with which he peppers his account are anecdotes of his own personal struggle and emotional trials, and the experiences of his patients. When he explains how extreme stress and depression often precipitate cancer, he talks about his own emotional divorce. When he talks about using meditation to tame emotions of fear, he tells the story of a stressed producer who found peace and beat his cancer in part by learning to sit for forty minutes a day, just being with himself.

You probably already knew the benefits of meditation and eating right. But there is something powerful about connecting your lifestyle decisions with cancer. After all, cancer is the scariest disease to hear about. It seems mysterious and arbitrary in where it strikes.

But it turns out that isn’t true.

Here is Servan-Schrieber’s advice in a nutshell: if you eat right, if you are careful about avoiding carcinogens in your products and food, and if you meditate every day, you will greatly increase your chances of beating cancer, or never having to face it at all.

Study after study Servan-Schreiber cites shows the benefits of three cups of green tea a day, basing your meals around organic fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, limiting your meat consumption to a few meals a week, and meditating every day.

I can’t adequately explain how the author so eloquently convinced me that eating right is simply not an option, it’s an imperative. So I hope you will read the book yourself. Whether you are battling cancer, are in remission, or just want to learn more about being healthy, I suggest you put this book on your bookshelf, right next to The Omnivore’s Dilemma and The Art of Happiness.

It’s the most powerful argument I’ve ever heard for treating my body with respect.


About Alden Wicker

Alden Wicker is a freelance journalist and founder of EcoCult.com, a blog about all things sustainable in New York City and beyond. She also writes about electronic music, personal finance, and yoga for publications such as Well + Good, Refinery29, LearnVest, Huffington Post and Narratively.


9 Responses to “Why Meditation and Green Tea Can Help You Beat or Avoid Cancer”

  1. Jeannine Walston says:

    Alden, I appreciate the intentions of your article. Dr. Servan-Schreiber's book Anticancer is truly informative. I'm glad that it inspired you to treat your body with respect. But, the title of your article and some of the content is misleading and even false. Any cancer information on the Internet or anywhere else needs to be accurate. Certainly, green tea and meditation cannot help anyone actually treat or avoid cancer. That is not Dr. Servan-Schreiber's message. Instead, he advocates for many healthy strategies to reduce cancer risk and support cancer treatments toward improved quality of life and survival.

    A helpful resource on these topics includes my Elephant Journal article Five Strategies for Cancer Prevention at http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/02/five-strat…. Also, a truly supportive and empowering educational non-profit website is called EmbodiWorks at http://embodiworks.org/ with information about integrative cancer care, including for people interested in cancer prevention.

  2. Alden says:


    In his book, Dr. Servan-Shrieber specifically cite meditation and green tea as two elements of a healthy lifestyle that have been proven to – in the former – have a negative correlation with the risk of cancer in woman and – in the latter – improve the likelihood of beating cancer. Perhaps your umbrage is because I was too specific?

    I used "can help" in the title specifically to communicate that these were just two things he talks about in the book, and they are not foolproof, but a healthy option that has some scientific backing. In the article you sent me as reference, several things are mirrored in my own post: healthy eating, inflammation elimination through body-mind balance and stress relief (both achievable through meditation) and avoiding toxins in the environment.

    This post is not meant to be a guideline, but a review of a book in hopes that other people will pick it up and give it a read. If this article leads people to that book, or even to green tea and meditation, I don't consider that "misleading" at all.

  3. Alden, one additional point in response to your comment. Inflammation elimination is much more complex than "body-mind balance and stress relief" and "both achievable through meditation," as you wrote. Inflammatory offenders are very complex and include smoking, alcohol, indoor and outdoor pollution, sleep deficit, extreme exercise, unhealthy dietary fats such as excess omega-6, saturated, and trans fats, unhealthy carbohydrates such as excess high-glycemic index foods, unhealthy cooking methods such as high-flame or high-heat methods, including charcoal grilling and deep frying, being overweight and especially with excess abdominal fat, blood sugar imbalances, high levels of stress, ongoing emotional toxicity, as well as other factors. Therefore, approaches beyond meditation are typically necessary to address inflammation. Reliable information about inflammation and cancer with some details from Dr. Servan-Schreiber's book Anticancer is available at http://embodiworks.org/cancertreatments/bodyminds….

  4. […] today are actually causing long term effects, like premature aging, skin thinning and of course, cancer. All for six hours of reduced fine lines and […]

  5. […] when I visit Satchidananda Ashram to assist my teacher, Jnani, with a training in which we teach yoga to people who have cancer. The ashram is quiet, the food is healthy and the sounds of civilization are minimal. Based on the […]

  6. […] the power of media. Maybe if you hadn’t seen your favorite star smoking Marlboro when you were 16, you wouldn’t have started with the cancer sticks in the first place, because it would have never occurred to you that in order to be a man, in order to denote your […]