Book News: July/August 2024

Breasts: The Owner’s Manual: Every Woman’s Guide to Reducing Breast Cancer Risk, Making Treatment Choices, and Optimizing Outcomes

by Kristi Funk, M.D.

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lives. Breast cancer is the #1 killer of women ages 20-59. Did you know that only 5 to 10 percent of all breast cancer comes from an inherited gene mutations including BRCA mutations? 90 to 95 percent of all breast cancer DOES NOT come from an inherited genetic mutation. In her immensely informative book, Funk provides women with the most up-to-date tools for prevention and a complete guide to treatment options, including a glossary of related medical terminology and explanations for readers with non-medical backgrounds. Our lifestyle and eating choices as an industrialized nation and those countries that adopt our habits such as Japan, have significantly increased their breast cancer rates. Dr. Funk believes nutrition, alcohol, lack of exercise, obesity, hormone replacement therapy, emotional stress, and environmental toxicities are the primary factors in causing breast cancer. An advocate for eating healthy food, she states powerful plant compounds that block carcinogenic activity (indole-3-carbinol sulforaphane) are in foods such as broccoli, garlic, soy, walnuts, berries, and some others which she mentions. Phytonutrients including green tea, grapes, flaxseeds, avocados, and oranges exert anti-carcinogenic powers by preventing DNA damage, tempering cancer cells growth, stimulating the immune system, and inhibiting the new blood supply to tumor cells, among other incredible activities.

Dr. Funk’s fervent mission is to educate women about what they can do to prevent breast cancer before it starts. Included in her book is a long-term risk reduction plan for every woman based on her needs, as well as the latest information regarding diagnosis and treatment for women living with and surviving breast cancer. She backs everything with meticulously researched studies, cited in the footnotes. In the first part of her book, Funk teaches readers about food (especially foods that “keep estrogen in check, since estrogen fuels 80% of breast cancer”) and lifestyle choices, such as supplements and exercise that can reduce your risk for breast cancer. Four out of five breast cancer cases are fed by estrogen. Certain foods can lower the amount of estrogen produced by the body and subsequently lower the risk of developing breast cancer. They also reduce the risk of recurrence among breast cancer survivors. In the second half of the book, she addresses uncontrollable risk factors and what you can do to reduce your risk factor.

From Dr. Funk’s website:

“Kristi Funk, MD is a board-certified breast cancer surgeon and physician, bestselling author, international keynote speaker and womens health advocate. Dr. Funk practices as a surgical breast specialist at the Pink Lotus Breast Center in Los Angeles, where she excels as an expert in minimally invasive diagnostic and treatment methods for all types of breast disease. She has helped thousands of women through breast cancer treatment, including well-known celebrities, like Angelina Jolie and Sheryl Crow, who have turned to her for her surgical expertise. Dr. Funk has been a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons since 1999 and a member of the American Society of Breast Surgeons since 2002. Dr. Funk resides in Santa Monica, CA with her husband and triplet sons. Writing her book required a deep dive into thousands of clinical studies to back up her findings; Dr. Funks extensive nutritional science research caused her to expand the passion for her medical practice with the life-empowering Cancer-Kicking! program, including the new launched kitchen series. The Cancer-Kicking! program teaches women (and men) how to maximally reduce their chances of facing cancer and other controllable killer diseases.

After graduating with distinction in Psychology from Stanford University in 1991, Dr. Funk received her medical degree from the UC Davis, School of Medicine, in 1996. She then completed her 5-year general surgery residency in Seattle, followed by a surgical breast fellowship at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where she then thrived as a surgeon and Director of their breast center for another 7 years. In 2009, Dr. Funk opened the Pink Lotus Breast Center in Beverly Hills, which at the time became the first breast cancer center of its kind, fusing state-of-the art screening, genetic testing, diagnosis and surgical treatment with preventive strategies and holistic, compassionate care – all under one roof. The goal here being, in Dr. Funks own words, so you dont give cancer a happy home.” 

Dr. Funk also founded the Pink Lotus Foundation. It’s “a nonprofit organization that enables low-income, uninsured and under insured women in the U.S. to receive 100% free breast cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment services.”

It’s such an educational, worthwhile book, I gave copies to my friends and relatives to increase their awareness about this health issue. I apologize for the lengthy book review but, my hope is that as many women as possible read it and share with others.

    Honeybees and Distant Thunder

    by Riku Onda

    In the world renowned Yoshigae competition, ninety international pianists compete for the coveted prize. Thirteen judges consider how each musician’s interpretation of the music by Brahms, Rachmaninoff, and other legendary composers, transform and transport listeners. Technical skill is not enough. Each musician’s interpretation is a result of his or her personality and unique technique. The story focuses on four competitors.

    Akashi, at 28 years old, is older, married with children, and works in a music store. He is known as the “old man” of the competitors, hoping to at least rate high in the competition, since he believes he is too old to begin a career as a pianist. Masaru Carlos Levi Anatole, a Julliard student, lived in Japan as a young child and was a childhood friend of Aya, another competitor, whom he is happily connecting with. Aya was a prodigy as a young girl but sadly quit the piano competition circuit after her mother died. She hopes to make a comeback. Then there is 16-year-old Jin, who hopes to win so his beekeeper father will buy him a piano. Amazingly, he has no piano to play or practice. Jin, with no formal training, is a wildcard – completely unrestrained, unique, and creative. A free spirit, he finds the competition stuffy. The judges are mystified and horrified by his unconventional behavior, yet they are overwhelmed with his spellbinding insight into music.

    As the story unfolds, the struggles and life experiences each competitor has had is reflected in the music they play, along with the specific approach they’ve chosen. Their relationships with each other, friendships, originality versus tradition, and competition are all explored in this engaging novel. Readers don’t need to be knowledgeable about classical music to appreciate this immersive read.

    The Sun Sets in Singapore

    by Kehinde Fadipe

    Not only is this an engrossing and entertaining “beach read” on one level, it also provides much food for thought regarding themes such as relationships, sexism, ambition, betrayal, and racism on another level. Three expat Nigerian women living extravagant lifestyles in Singapore’s competitive business community, meet at a book club and become friends. When Lani, an accomplished and handsome Nigerian-British man relocates to Singapore from Geneva, he affects them in different intriguing ways.

    After following her husband from the U.S. to Singapore, Lillian is still depressed about her parents’ deaths. She’s a former concert pianist and at present, a housewife. Sadly, her emotional health is damaged from several devastating miscarriages. She’s shocked when she meets Lani because enigmatically, he closely resembles her father.

    Amaka, a banker, is in the midst of a family feud and love affair. She is addicted to shopping for designer clothes and accessories which she cannot afford. The purchases only briefly assuage her stress. When she meets Lani, she is attracted to him and eventually becomes obsessed with him. 

    Dara is a dedicated, hardworking attorney, determined to become a partner in her employer’s law firm. When Lani is hired at Dara’s company, Dara believes Lani has been hired by the CEO to become a partner in the law firm. She has worked ceaselessly toachieve her goal of becoming a partner and considers Lani an interloper. He has taken over a case she intended to be her “crowning glory” to secure her law partnership. She also resents the easy camaraderie he enjoys with senior personnel. Coming from wealth, Dara views Lani as privileged and arrogant.

    Fadipe includes a list of superb books at the end of her book, The Singapore Book Club’s Reading List, which include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, and The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen.

    Dear readers, I hope you enjoy widening your horizons and reading books set in locations outside the U.S. and learning about different countries, histories, and cultures. To me, learning is one of the most important parts of reading.

    Adult book reviews are by Susanne Dominguez.