Back in 2007 I was living in New York City feeling the pain of distance from loved ones as health issues beset them. My Dad’s best friend (who was like a second dad to me) had already survived multiple forms of cancer and was living through round after round of chemo. He was really sick, and for the first time in my life it hit home like a ton of bricks how closely linked diet and disease were. On a mission to learn more I wondered into a Barnes & Noble and bought the book “Nature’s Cancer-Fighting Foods”.

Cancer-fighting foods
Like so many people, I wanted all the answers (as if by magic). My “second dad” was one of the most upbeat, comedic people I’ve ever known but despite that the cancer and treatment sapped everything out of him. When we flew back for a holiday I was shocked to see how grey he looked.

But with day-to-day life in New York pulling in different directions, I only ever skim-read the book. I would cherry-pick chapters that grabbed my interest like “The Healing Power of Acid and Alkaline” and the “Nature’s Cancer-Fighting Food Plan”. At the time I would also devour every article that appeared about cancer research, treatments, alternative treatments, you name it. And boy was there a lot of content…

I remember having conversations with the family about eating more superfoods, taking supplements or trying some powdered substance from the health-food store. But we never once discussed reducing meat or dairy intake.

The book “Nature’s Cancer-Fighting Foods” was published in 2001 and written by Verne Varona and looks at fighting cancer from many angles. Mr Varona is a US health educator, nutritional consultant and Kushi Institute graduate. Amazingly, right under my nose was a chapter called “The Meat and Dairy Issue”. Back then I was still devouring all kinds of meat and dairy so the title of the chapter alone was enough for me to avoid it completely. Until now…

The Meat and Dairy Issue according to “Nature’s Cancer-Fighting Foods”

While the book focuses predominantly on America there are some interesting take aways:

  • The average American adult will consume 15 cows, 211 pigs, 900 chickens, 12 sheep, thousands of eggs, hundreds of litres/grams of dairy in a lifetime
  • Relating cancer to food dates as far back as 1809 when an Englishman, William Lambe, made the association between increased meat consumption and the development of cancer
  • In 1892 an article in Scientific America stated that cancer was “most frequent among those branches of the human race where carnivorous habits prevail”
  • In 1916 Rolo Russell stated that cancer rates were highest “in countries that eat more flesh”
  • World War I cancer rates fell significantly, at a time when meats and fats food production were reduced due to economic belt tightening
  • World War II similar statistics were noticed; the millions of European woman who were forced to eat less meat and dairy had greatly reduced cancer and heart attack rates which lasted for 7 years after the end of the war
  • Factory farming has massively changed how livestock are raised – chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones are all pumped into the animals at alarming rates
  • Dr Hirayama of Japan followed 122,000 people for several years – woman from the group who ate meat 7 or more times a week had nearly 4x the chance of getting breast cancer, even 2-4 meat meals a week had 2.55x the likelihood (the same trends were revealed for dairy and egg consumption)
  • Meat digestion produces strong carcinogenic substances in our intestines (deoxycholic acid)
  • When you compare the fibre, cholesterol, protein, carbohydrate and fat content of dairy milk it reveals a similar profile…in essence dairy milk is like a “liquid meat”

All the studies, not just a few…all of them, have been repeating a similar message since the 1800’s.

We should all be reducing, if not eliminating, our consumption of animal-based proteins for cancer prevention and better health. There’s no doubt about it, our western diets are harming us.

Cancer-fighting foods

How can we keep ignoring the writing on the wall?

When they told us all to quit smoking years back many did, but there are still a billion smokers globally. There will always be people who choose vice over health, and I’m certainly no saint when it comes to a glass of rosé or sugar. But it’s plain to see nature has given us the best chance we’ve got through plants as cancer-fighting foods.

Evolution and Human Design

This is an argument I’ve come across on many occasion. The old “But humans evolved into what they are today eating meat…” Here’s a few interesting facts on our design:

  • Evolutionary history shows that humans developed predominantly eating a plant-based diet, not as meat consumers. While there may be a point about the evolution of a larger brain from eating high-protein meat sources, this was at a time when we didn’t have wide access as we do today to other great plant-based protein sources like seitan or tofu.
  • Humans tooth structure is largely for grinding not tearing. Yes, we have canines, but they’re nothing like true carnivores…look inside your cats mouth sometime, or freeze frame a video when a lion yawns. Now that’s what meat-eaters canines look like…
  • Humans have much longer, deeply pocketed and pouched intestines, making the digestion of meat difficult. Here’s a cute cartoon giving an overview of all the differences with carnivores.

Cancer-fighting foodsDid you know the word vegetarian was first coined in 1842 from the Latin vegetus which means “one who is sound, whole, fresh and lively”.

I implore anyone who can take steps, however small, to a lifestyle more free of animal products, please do. If you’re asking yourself what you’re going to be left with after giving up many of the foods you’ve become used to, don’t. Since going vegan I eat a far more varied diet and even things that I wouldn’t have touched before, like olives, avocados and seaweed. I’d warrant a guess that I’m eating probably twice as many cancer-fighting foods these days!

Why not reduce or eliminate animal products from your diet? Try it for 30 days…you won’t look back!

Simplifying Happy (Cancer-Fighting Foods) Choices

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About Michelle

Michelle grew up in a culture where it was normal to eat meat at every meal. Watching close family suffer multiple health problems drove her to learn more about eating for health. After watching Food Inc Michelle took the plunge into veganism and hasn’t looked back since. She is now on a mission to bring vegan inspiration to everyone!

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