I have spent much of the weekend reading Anticancer by David Servan-Schreiber. David is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburg. His book, recently released in the US and already a best-seller in his native France, is about his own experience with cancer of the brain and how his understanding of the disease and how to treat and prevent it went beyond conventional western medicine.

One of the urban myths he explodes early on in the book is the theory that the huge increase in the incidences of cancer in recent decades is because we are all living older. Not true. Cancer is on the rise and increasingly so amongst young people. David was in his 30s when his cancer was diagnosed. I myself was 31 when found to have a level three cancer that elevated me to a cause celebre at the hospital in London because I was so young; the form of pre-cancer that I had was typically a virus that infected 50-year old women. In his book, David also points out that Asians have an awful lot of micro-tumors that don't develop into cancer.

Why younger and why more typically western has a lot to do with our diets (the increased levels of trans fats and sugar), the diets of the animals we eat (corn rather than grass-fed, they have an imbalance of omega 6 to omega-3), sedentary lifestyles and environmental chemicals.

Of the environmental chemicals singled out, there are several that are typically found in cosmetics and David urges us to avoid them. These include parabens (because of their ability to mimic the human hormone estrogen), phthalates (most typically found in nail polish and perfume) and aluminum. Truth In Aging has been researching these ingredients for several months now and we always highlight when they turn up in cosmetic products. Wherever possible, we review products that do not contain them.

Anticancer is well-written and informative. It is also packed with practical information about what we can all do to improve our chances of living cancer-free by changing our diets, excercising and, as much as possible, avoiding environmental chemicals.