Does Diet Make A Difference?
Is there really such thing as an anti-cancer diet?
Can you eat in such a way as to prevent or even reverse cancer?
Are there miraculous cancer-fighting superfoods that you simply can eat to get better?
Or is it all hype? Find out here.
Cancer. It’s a scary word, and an even scarier statistic. Our second leading cause of death in America, threatening to overtake heart disease in the #1 spot. Billions of dollars spent in research for a cure, yet rates have not significantly dropped in 50 years since the declaration of the so called “war on cancer”.
What’s the deal? Are we helpless victims or do our choices play a part in developing and/or surviving (or not) the dreaded disease?
Cancer – Caused by Genes, Chemicals or Lifestyle?
I recently listened to an impassioned speech, by a concerned and caring woman, about cancer. She had lost a friend to breast cancer and had participated in a race to raise money for cancer research.
She made a statement that I found interesting, and it’s one I believe many people would agree with. She said, “we KNOW what causes cancer – our genes and chemicals” (as she held up a plastic water bottle to make her point).
When she finished the speech, I was left thinking to myself – “wow, according to her, we’re all just victims of our genetics and the polluted world we live in (a world we really cannot escape).”
Is this true? Are genes and chemicals the enemies, leaving us with no hope whatsoever? Is there ANYTHING we can do (or not do) to protect ourselves from cancer?
Do genes and chemical carcinogens cause cancer? Yes. (but genes are only responsible for about 5% of cancer cases)
Is there NO hope? No.
Is there anything we can do or not do to help ourselves? Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, YEEESSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!
Diet and Lifestyle’s Role In Cancer
It is well established and widely accepted that smoking causes cancer. The number of carcinogens present in tobacco smoke is staggering and most people understand that taking up smoking is like playing Russian roulette.
But what about other lifestyle factors? Does one’s diet play a role in developing, preventing or reversing cancer?
Most people you ask would say no. And they would be wrong. While diet may not cause cancer, there’s more to cancer that just cause. Let me see if I can simplify this cancer thing for you.
In order for someone to get sick and die from cancer, the following must happen.
- Genes must mutate leading to damage to the DNA (this stage is called initiation and it happens quickly, like within minutes).
- If the damaged cells divide and create daughter cells, initiation is complete. The process of them dividing until the point they become visably detectable cancer is called promotion. This stage takes a long time, usually many years.
- Progression is when there is accelerated growth and spreading, overtaking the person, typically resulting in death.
Now would an anti-cancer diet help in any of these stages? YES!! We may not be able to do anything about the initiation of cancer with the foods we eat, but we can certainly do something about its promotion, and that, my friends, makes ALL the difference. Cancer that doesn’t grow and spread can’t kill you.
The Anti-Cancer Diet – Promoter and Anti-Promoter Foods
It is well established in the scientific literature that there are foods that promote cancer and foods that are protective against cancer.
And while I think this information is important, there are many websites you can visit to see specific foods to eat (such as berries, mushrooms, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage and so on). The reason I don’t want to focus on lists like these here is – it sends the wrong message.
What is more important is this – there are overall dietary patterns that either make you more susceptible to or less susceptible (protected from) cancer.
I believe the lists of cancer-fighting foods give the impression that merely adding some of these foods, without changing anything else, will protect you from cancer or cure you of it. As a result, you see people eating a typical standard American diet (high fat, high animal protein, high processed foods, oil and dairy products, low in vegetables, fruits, fiber and water) with some blueberries thrown on top, thinking they are doing all they can to avoid or fight cancer. There’s more to an anti-cancer diet that that. Much more.
Evidence from laboratory research as well as nutritional epidemiology indicates that a low fat, whole food, plant based diet is your strongest protection from cancer, and your best bet in fighting it once you have it.
What is it about this particular dietary pattern that makes it such an anti-cancer diet? The same thing that makes it so good at preventing and reversing heart disease, diabetes, auto-immune disorders, obesity, digestive disorders, and all the rest. The whole food plant based diet is protective of all disease because it strengthens immunity and gives the body the raw materials it needs to maintain or reestablish proper health.
The body is self-healing!!! It wants to maintain health!!! It’s doing everything in its power to be healthy but it must be given the proper food, exercise, rest and emotional support.
Fruits, vegetables (including starchy vegetables), legumes (beans and peas), nuts, seeds and whole grains form the basis of an anti-cancer diet. Keeping the diet low in fat by eliminating oils, keeping nuts and seeds to a minimum, and either eliminating meat or only consuming small amounts of organic meats 2 or 3 times a week further protects you from cancer and other degenerative diseases. Dairy should be eliminated completely. This kind of dietary pattern is low in fat(naturally), low in animal protein (for more on animal protein’s direct connection to cancer see The China Study by T. Colin Campbell), high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and water.
The anti-cancer diet is real. We do not have to live in fear of cancer whether we have or have not been diagnosed. We are not powerless victims, we are strong and have to the power to prevent and reverse most diseases, cancer included. Having a particular “cancer gene” or being exposed to carcinogens is not the only, or even the strongest factor in cancer development. There is SO much we can do to protect our health and it’s never too late to start.