I have recently suffered some harassment and questioning over whether my statements on health had enough backing and support from the Medical community. I have decided to remedy this by posting a research heavy entry on the effects of a plant-based diet for cancer prevention. I will try my best to keep the language and information accessible and not get too technical, while briefly providing as many statements from unbiased and legitimate sources as possible.
Ready? Let’s do this.
Cancer cells grow in the body when it is exposed to carcinogens. These are toxic substances that can come into contact with the body in a few ways, mainly from environmental triggers and food intake. The immune system is designed to kill off as many cancer cells as possible on it’s own, but because the average American diet and lifestyle largely reduces the effectiveness of our immune systems, more and more of these cells are surviving in the body and developing into the debilitating and often fatal disease that we know as cancer.
The Nathan Pritikin Research Foundation was the first to question diet’s role in the developing of cancers, heart disease, and other serious illnesses. The Pritikin Foundation has developed a diet and lifestyle plan based on studies in over 100 leading medical journals over the last thirty years. Health conferences all over the world, and researchers at UCLA, MIT, Stanford, and Harvard applaud the Pritikin plan for it’s ability to prevent many diseases including and especially, cancer.
Founded in 1977, The Pritikin Research Foundation has funded over 110 studies on the role of a plant-based diet and exercise in disease prevention. It is now considered to be the most effective and scientifically documented health and weight loss program in the world. It has been so widely successful that US Congress recently passed legislation allowing Medicare to cover participation in the program. The World Heath Organization, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and the United States Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services have all recently determined that the healthiest and most effective diet for fighting obesity and building long term health most closely resembled the Pritikin program.
The idea behind the Pritikin program is a simple one; eating a diet that is free of animal fats and high in fiber-rich grains, fruits and vegetables. Combine that with moderate but regular exercise and you should be able to not only prevent many diseases and ailments, but actually reverse a number of them. Don’t take my word for it, let’s take a look at what the research has to say;
Adopting the Pritikin Program retarded the growth of breast cancer and prostate cancer cells, and induced tumor cells to self-destruct. (Cancer Causes and Control, 13: 929, 2002; Nutrition and Cancer, 55 (1): 28, 2006)
On eliminating the need for Angioplasty and coronary bypass surgery, A five-year follow-up of 64 men who chose Pritikin instead of the recommended bypass surgery found that 80% never needed the surgery. Of those taking drugs for angina (chest) pain, 62% left the Center pain-free and drug-free. (Journal of Cardiac Rehabilitation, 3: 183, 1983.)
74% of 864 diabetics on oral drugs left Pritikin drug-free; 44% on insulin left insulin-free. Those who continued the Pritikin Program stayed off the medications. (Journal of Applied Physiology, 98: 3, 2005. See also Diabetes Care, 17: 1469, 1994.)
The Pritikin Program of diet and exercise can reduce prostate cancer cell growth by as much as 45%. This should drastically reduce the risk for clinical cancer. (J. Urol. 2001, Nutrition and Cancer 2002, Cancer Causes and Control 2002, Prostate 2003, Endocrinology 2003, J. Appl. Physiol 2004 and, five invited reviews (Obesity Rev 2002, eCAM Jol 2004, Nova Science 2004, Springer 2005, Recent Results in Cancer Research (Controversies in Tumor Prevention and Genetics III). H-J. Senn and R. Morant, eds. Springer 2005, 166:47-62, Eur J Cancer Prev. 16:415-421, 2007).
Several studies have found that adopting the Pritikin Program reduced key risk factors for breast, colon, and prostate cancer. (Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 86: 1419, 1994; Nutrition and Cancer, 31: 127,1998; Nutrition and Cancer, 38: 158, 2000; The Journal of Urology, 166: 1185, 2001.)
"This is the first study to my knowledge to show that lifestyle changes can induce apoptosis, or cell death, in breast cancer cells… Overall, these results suggest that exercise combined with a Pritikin-type diet can result in a significant reduction in the risk for breast cancer." (James Barnard, Ph.D., professor of physiological science at UCLA)
Studying the effect of dietary fat on prostate cancer development, UCLA researchers found that animals on a low-fat diet (12% calories from fat) were significantly less likely to develop invasive prostate cancer compared to animals on a high-fat diet. (42% calories from fat). (Kobayashi, N., R.J. Barnard, J. Said, J. Hong-Gonzales, D.M. Corman, M. Ku, N.B. Doan, D. Elashoff, P. Cohen, W.J. Aronson. Effect of low fat diet on development of prostate cancer and the Akt pathway. Cancer Res. 68:3066-3073,2008)
"Several large population studies have found that countries with the lowest intake of dietary fats have the lowest incidences of breast cancer, as well as colon and prostate cancer…Conversely, women raised in affluent cultures like the United States, full of high-fat fare like french fries and cheeseburgers, suffer the highest rates of breast cancer in the world - an 80% increase compared to cultures like Okinawa, Japan, where dietary fat intake is low, about 20% of total calories, and intake of fresh, fiber-filled foods like fruits and vegetables is high…Studies have found, too, that when women from low-breast-cancer-risk countries like Japan and China leave their traditional diets and migrate to countries like the U.S., their rates of breast cancer rise to the same high levels of their Western neighbors, and within just two generations.” (James Barnard, Ph.D., professor of physiological science at UCLA)
“In serum samples we demonstrated that the Pritikin Program reduced estradiol, insulin and IGF-I while increasing IGFBP-1. These changes in serum resulted in reduced growth and increased apoptosis (cell death) in three different serum-stimulated, estrogen receptor positive breast cancer cell lines.” (Nutrition and Cancer 55:28-34,2006)
The latest research provides groundbreaking data showing that the Pritikin Program induced prostate cancer cells to die. (Prostate, 56: 201, 2003.)
Okay, so it’s clear at this point that a plant-based (vegan) diet can help to kill cancer cells and keep the disease from developing in the body, but what proof is there that the wrong diet can lead to cancer cells forming in the body?
Environmental factors that contribute to cancer include, but are not limited to, exposure to radiation, pesticides, and xenoestrogens (synthetic chemicals which block or mimic estrogen in the human body). The main cause of the damage is ‘persistent organic pollutants’ (POP’s), which are a group of highly toxic, bio-accumulative and long lived chemicals. The effects of these toxic chemicals have only been discovered in recent years due to the ability of POP’s to emerge years and sometime generations after exposure to them.
“People receive about 90% of their total intake of these compounds from foods of animal origin. Something as common as a McDonald’s Big Mac carries 30% of the World Health Organization’s recommendation for daily dioxin intake.” (Worldwatch Institute, 2000).
Dioxin is an incredibly carcinogenic substance and a very serious threat to the health of human beings and the environment. It has been deemed the most dangerous chemical known to science. Dr. Diane Courtney, head of the Toxic Effects Branch of the EPA’s National Environmental Research Center, said in a statement to Congress that,
“Dioxin is by far the most toxic chemical known to mankind.”
It has been concluded that dioxin alone may be responsible for 12% of human cancers in industrialized societies.(“Quantative Cancer Risk Assesment for Dioxins Using an Occasional Cohort.” Environmental Health Perspectives 106. 1998.)
The EPA states that up to 95% of dioxin exposure comes from red meat, fish, and dairy products.
Let’s say that one more time just so I can feel sure that you all read that part:
The EPA states that up to 95% of dioxin exposure comes from red meat, fish, and dairy products.
Dioxin is absolutely known to cause cancer, genetic and reproductive defects and learning disabilities, and the only safe level of dioxin exposure is no exposure AT ALL.
Despite the obvious health hazards of the chemical dioxin, dairy, meat and fish products are crammed full of it. In November of 1999, a level of dioxin 200 times greater that the “virtually safe daily dose” determined by the EPA was found in Ben and Jerry’s Vanilla Ice Cream.
“Levels of dioxin in a sample serving of Ben and Jerry’s brand ice cream are approximately 2,200 times greater than the level of dioxin allowed in a ‘serving’ of wastewater discharged into San Francisco Bay from the Tosco Refinery.” (Study presented at the “Dioxins 2000” conference in August 2000. According to independent laboratory tests cited by Michael Gough, chairman of the US Department of Health and Human Services advisory panel.)
At this point, I’m sure some of you are thinking, if these chemicals found in animal products are so dangerous and so pervasive to causing cancer in humans, why haven’t I heard of it before?
Another great question.
There is a lot of money to be made in the meat and dairy industries. The heads of these corporations spend literally billions of dollars spewing out false information to the public in the form of commercials, PSAs, doctored studies, and “educational materials” to keep everyone as misinformed about their health as possible so they can see more profits. These evil and slimy practices have been going on in this country since the early 1900’s, when the National Dairy Council and the National Livestock and Meat Board were founded. These industries have relied upon the public’s general lack of education on health and nutrition for so many decades that it has become a part of our society. Americans generally believe animal products are healthy and necessary for a complete and balanced diet. Although this couldn’t possibly be further from the truth, slow indoctrination processes for over a century has made us not only believe it, but defend it with gusto and force. I’m telling you right now, as a fellow human being that wants to heal the environment, the economy, and save everyone from fatal disease, don’t automatically believe whatever you hear. Question everything! Do your own research, know the stone cold facts instead of believing what you’ve been spoon-fed by giant corporations for your entire life. You can greatly reduce the risk of developing cancer, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, osteoporosis, and transferring learning disabilities and birth defects to the next generation all by adopting a vegan diet and lifestyle. Go veg.