Then, he discovered in one of his own brain scanner experiments that he -- had brain cancer.
"I felt scared, overwhelmed, confused. I felt betrayed by God," Servan-Schreiber told CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook.
He has penned the best-selling book, "Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life," about his past and on-going battle, and offers suggestions to fellow cancer patients. To read an excerpt, click here.
A conventionally trained physician, Servan-Schreiber says surgery and chemotherapy saved his life, but when he asked how he could change his lifestyle to help beat the cancer for good, he came up empty.
"As soon as you stop the chemo, you feel stripped, and you think, 'Wow, what do I do now?' And then everybody asks their doctor ... and this is when 99 percent of us get the standard answer, which is, 'Nothing in particular. Live your life like you always did.' "
Servan-Schreiber did what he knew best -- he hit the books, and was surprised to find studies on how nutrition and exercise might help the body fight cancer -- information doctors never told him.
"There's tremendous evidence that physical exercise helps prevent cancer, and also helps people who already have cancer prevent a recurrence," he says.
According to Servan-Schreiber, herbs and spices such as garlic, turmeric, rosemary, thyme, mint, and green tea help make the body less fertile for cancer. For instance, "When you put a little bit of garlic extract on cancer cells, they die."
He says vegetables and fruits such as brussel sprouts, asparagus and raspberries can target specific cancers, at least in test tubes.
"Your body knows how to fight cancer," Servan-Schreiber observed to LaPook. "Help it with the right nutrition, with physical exercise, with managing stress better, and avoiding contaminants that feed cancer. And if you do these things, which are very simple, you're greatly increasing your chance of beating the odds."
Servan-Schreiber offered more words of wisdom to LaPook -- words he says doctors rarely impart to their patients -- and LaPook discussed with co-anchor Harry Smith on The Early Show Friday why he thinks it is that cancer survivors aren't offered more guidance by the medical establishment:
Servan-Schreiber appears in the joint CBS, NBC, ABC special "Standing Up To Cancer" Friday night.
In addition, LaPook spoke with several other cancer patients who told him they're left in the dark, too, about how exercise and eating the right foods might help them in their battles against the disease: