While writing about cancer and diet yesterday, I was reminded of Apple Inc.’s co-founder Steve Jobs. Despite being well known for following a mostly plant-based diet, he succumbed to pancreatic cancer at age 56 on October 5, 2011.
Some have speculated that if he’d chosen surgical intervention shortly after being diagnosed instead of relying on integrative medicine, Jobs could have beaten his disease.
Although no scientific evidence supports this idea, the same is true for the belief that plant-based eating eliminates cancer. It’s important to maintain the perspective that diet can only reduce the risk of getting it.
Most of the studies listed below show a 50% reduction in risk, not 100%!
In Plant-Based Prevention, Dr. Michael Greger points to three specific nutrients proven to cut our chances of cancer.
He opens with a look at research showing that dark green leafy vegetables “… the equivalent of “three leaves of spinach” per day decreases our odds of developing certain squamous cell skin cancers by half. Eating animal protein and fat, on the other hand, more than doubles them!
A second study found that “eating a lot of plant foods could cut our risk of getting breast cancer in half thanks to dietary fiber. Remember, fiber is found only in plant foods! Same with endometrial cancer.”
A third study, Diet and Risk of Ovarian Cancer in the California Teachers Study Cohort, tracked the incidence of ovarian cancer, “…another really horrific cancer,” in 97 thousand. It found that those who consumed the most isoflavones cut their risk of the disease by half.
“What’s the top source of isoflavones? Soy foods.”
Finally, a huge study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute also bolstered the more plants/less cancer connection. Why?
“Dietary lignan intake. Lignans are one class of thousands of compounds called phytonutrients. Phyto- means plant. These are special plant nutrients. Best source of lignans on the planet? Flax seeds.”
Dr. Greger asserts that even when this video was produced in 2007, he’d long challenged anyone to produce a single study linking more cancer to a plant-based diet. But he’d had no takers, because “Frankly, no such study exists.”
The bottom line, meat has been found to promote cancer growth, while plants have been shown to prevent cancer growth.