All of us have cancer cells in our bodies throughout our lives. All of us. But only about 2 to 3 percent of all cancers are purely genetic. What determines whether those cancer cells continue to grow or not has less to do with our genes and more to do with our body’s environment. And what does determine our body’s environment? Primarily, our food choices. Cancer is the result of a faulty replication of our genes, mutating and replicating quickly when fertilized by carcinogens. Much growing evidence shows nutritional factors influence not only cancer onset, but also risk of recurrence and progression. Dr. Andrea Lusser, a Swiss tumor therapy expert, says the correlation between damaged cell membrane function in cancer diseases and the use of unhealthy fats and meat-heavy diets is well established.
The Effects of Animal-based Diets on Cancer Cells
In order to replicate quickly, cancer cells need direct blood flow to feed their division and growth. These cells, like healthy cells, attract and develop new blood vessels with an amino acid protein called methionine. Methionine is so integral to cancer cell growth that drug companies are spending millions of dollars to identify methionine blockers to slow the progression of cancers.
In laboratory studies, dripping methionine onto cancer cells caused them to aggressively multiply. The highest methionine levels are found in egg whites and fish.
Dairy foods also cause abnormal cell growth. Doctors Michael Greger, Amy Lanou, Justine Butler and Samuel Epstein allow that dairy is the perfect food for newborns within their species, but can be disastrous in the human body. Consider the baby calf. Cow’s milk, with just the right amount of protein and fat, nourishes the baby. And the insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), a natural growth hormone found in dairy products, aggressively grows a calf.
IGF-1 is present in all forms of dairy—from a glass of milk to a piece of cheese. Using organic dairy does not keep you from ingesting hormones in your milk. Cow’s milk is rich in hormones intended to stimulate rapid growth in baby calves. Period.
So now consider the adult human. Strong evidence shows that IGF-1 stimulates the growth of both normal and cancer cells. When IGF-1 is dripped onto cancer cells in the lab, it is like fertilizing a lawn. The cancer cells grow much more rapidly.
In addition to the negative effect of hormones, the proteins found in milk are also problematic for humans. Both casein and whey can cause allergies, intestinal bleeding, severe inflammation and a highly acidic blood environment. Simply put, animal protein and hormones can alter our human hormones and cell proliferation, and can provide the ideal environment for cancers to grow.
And dairy is just one of the main culprits. Studies from Harvard, Cornell, and numerous other studies show consumption of dairy products, red meat and white meat have all been associated with increased risk of metastatic (multiplying and spreading) cancer.
One explanation is that meat and dairy both contain arachidonic acid (AA). AA has been shown to stimulate the growth of both hormone-sensitive and hormone-insensitive cell linings and can stimulate cancer cell production.
The Effects of Plant-based Diets on Cancer Cells
And now for the good news. Leading oncologists are providing evidence on how breast, colon, ovarian and cervical cancers can be prevented, as well as slowed and often reversed: Eliminate meat and dairy and other proinflammatory AA sources. Eat healthy, plant-based foods. In contrast with foods of animal origin, plant-based foods are rich in an array of potentially beneficial phytonutrients that appear to be protective.
Dr. Lusser explains that a whole-food, plant-based diet is loaded with cancer-fighting nutrients. Abundant nutrients, such as polyphenols, terpenes, sulfur compounds and saponines, have been empirically demonstrated to be high in cancer-fighting properties. Eat any and all fruits, veggies, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. According to Lusser, the same mechanisms plants developed to fight damage caused by microorganisms, insects, and other parasites also play a role in our own defense mechanisms against cancer.
The strongest protective effects are seen in legumes, nuts, carrots, leafy greens, cruciferous (cabbage family) vegetables and tomatoes. Other promising anti-cancer foods include sea vegetables, allium and brassica vegetables and turmeric.
What allows these foods to prevent and attack abnormal cells? Two population-based studies on cruciferous foods suggest their cancer-fighting power comes from indole-3-carbinol. Carotenoids, also found primarily in vegetables and fruits, may impact cancer risk through antioxidant protection against free radical damage to DNA.
Cohort and case-control studies show that lycopene, too, has inhibitory and protective effects on cancer. Huge lycopene quantities are found in all tomatoes, lower amounts in watermelon, papaya and grapefruit, guava, red bell peppers, persimmon, asparagus, red cabbage and mangoes.
A plant-based diet is also high in chlorophyll and offers large amounts of alkalinizing phytochemicals and enzymes. Why is this important? Cancer cells develop in acidic conditions, and restoring the acid-alkaline equilibrium is instrumental in reducing the divisions and growth of their cells.
To those who are concerned that we can’t live without animal protein, take heart. According to Dr. Jacqueline Maier, all proteins are made up of 20 different amino acids. The exact same amino acids make up animal and plant proteins. By eating a varied plant-based diet, one can get all the essential and non-essential amino acids necessary for proper growth, development and maintenance. Even naturally-born carnivores can survive on a completely plant-based diet.
Armed with this knowledge, it’s time to eat for the cure.
In the United States, one in eight women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer—the most common cancer in women, except for skin cancer, which attacks men and women. Compare this statistic with the rate of breast cancer in Kenya, where the population has a vegetable and rice-based diet: one in every 82 women. Or consider populations such as the Hunza in the Middle East and the Okinawans in Japan—populations who eat little or no meat, dairy and fish—who have no cancer.
What do these healthy populations have in common? They ingest copious amounts of phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens, found only in plants, play a key role in helping to protect the breasts against tumor growth.
Noted oncologists attest that we have dietary cures for as many as 90 percent of breast cancer cases. Imagine how many mothers’ and daughters’ lives could be saved by the adoption of a plant-based diet.
In the United States, one in nine men will be stricken with prostate cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. It doesn’t have to be that way. Dr. Ron Allison, an expert in prostate cancer, says diet is at the forefront, both in the creation and control of prostate cancer. According to Dr. Allison, most men do not think about their prostate in terms of health until they have a problem. They see a doctor when they experience prostate growth and pressure on the urethra or rectum. There is a connection, he says, between what is stimulating the prostate to grow and stimulating cancer cells to grow: Hormones—hormones from fats, meat-based diets and dairy products. For men with advanced prostate cancer, he promotes the adoption of plant-based diets to help prolong survival and increase chances of remission.
Colorectal cancer is the second-most common cancer diagnosed in men and women in the United States. Only 40 percent of those diagnosed with colon cancer survive after five years. Studies from Harvard University show that your risk of colon cancer drops by two-thirds if you stop eating meat and dairy products. This is primarily due to the high fiber content of a plant-based diet. Why? Meat and cow’s milk contain a heavy protein load and no fiber. Because of our long intestinal tracks and our relatively low amount of stomach acid, the undigested protein turns into carcinogens and toxins in our bodies. The lack of fiber in meat contributes to constipation, which allows carcinogens time to affect the surrounding tissue.
Fiber from plants, on the other hand, has anti-carcinogenic mechanisms and plays a major role in regulating intestinal function. It also fights cancer by forming short-chain fatty acids from fermentation by bacteria, and it tends to reduce bile acids, thereby reducing chances of cancer-producing bacteria. What you eat makes a major difference.
Thrive Magazine, October/November 2019, vol. 24, “Eat for the Cure,” Shushana Castle, Co-Executive Producer of What the Health & Eating Our Way to Extinction, Co-Author, Rethink Food & The Meaty Truth, 16, 17.
In 1896, Ellen White counseled, “Cancer, tumors, and all inflammatory diseases are largely caused by meat-eating. From the light which God has given me, the prevalence of cancers, and tumors is due to gross living on dead flesh.” Spalding and Magan Collection, 48. “Grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables constitute the diet chosen for us by our Creator.” Child Guidance, 380.