You’ve likely heard of patients with cancer sometimes say that they were ‘healed’ using plant-based lifestyles. There is plenty of evidence that a diet low in animal fats and oils and refined sugars is good to prevent and heal some types of cancer, but we do have to be careful here not to go overboard, and give false hope or make unsubstantial claims. There are a lot of ‘snake oil’ salespeople out there, who prey on the vulnerable, charging thousands to do complicated and expensive juice fasts and the like, often without proof. One person who claimed to ‘heal cancer’ it was found had not properly diagnosed the patients as having had cancer in the first place. Although leafy greens are good, check medication as some mean you should not take too many (or grapefruit), mostly for blood-thinners like Warfarin. You can eat them – but just don’t chug down 10 green juices a day!
So this post will look at any evidence and direct you to responsible and knowledgable people, who can possibly help. But still know that ultimately we all ‘push up daisies’, and the real point of life is to enjoy the time we have, rather than spend all our time looking for false hope, in the case of say, terminal and aggressive cancers. The disease is a huge collection of immune disorders, and way too complicated to cover in one post, so instead let’s find those who specialise and know more than we do.
On a footnote, never donate to medical charities that test on animals, as not only is this cruel, but also way out-of-date and not even good science. Most cancers need prevention and Cancer Research UK (a charity that does mass animal testing) spends just 4% of its income on prevention, ignoring important issues like environmental and stress factors. See the post on why to only give to humane medical research.
Nella Nuspec is a a new medical device for cervical checks that is made from medical-grade polymer. It’s angled handle makes it more comfortable to use and avoids the ‘dreaded cold feeling’ for patients, to keep women comfortable during exam checks. 99% of women say they prefer it and it also offers improved visibillity for medics.
What is Cancer?
We hear about ‘the big C’ all the time, but what exactly is cancer? In a nutshell, it’s a group of diseases, where cells in the body spread faster than normal, and begin to attack the immune system. Most cells in our body eventually die, but with cancer they divide out of control, and clump to form tumours (you can get benign tumours too – a good example is a common wart). If the tumour starts to damage tissues, this is when things get serious, especially if the tumour breaks off and spreads throughout the body (metastasis).
We don’t know all the causes yet, but the obvious ones (obesity, drinking, smoking, sunburn, air pollution) are accompanied by other theories like stress (not proven but it can dampen your immune system) and some medicines (like HRT). It’s not contagious, but people living in certain areas of contamination may be vulnerable. American poet and and ecologist Sandra Steingraber famously wrote a book on how her diagnosis of bladder cancer came after her mother had it (the belief was that it was genetic – but she was adopted).
Conventional cancer treatment is through a combination of chemotherapy drugs and radiation, and usually surgery. These can cause side effects but in most cases these days, are very effective. But there is also a lot people can do to try to recover to wellness, which include:
- Following a healthy whole foods, plant-based diet
- Avoid smoking or passive smoking
- Avoid alcohol as much as possible (a little wine won’t harm, but it’s not ‘good for you’ as sometimes reported). Your body thinks alcohol is poison the moment it enters your bloodstream and tries to eliminate it, so keep drinking to a minimum, if at all.
- Use a natural sunscreen (don’t use zinc oxide near pets as it’s toxic to them- shower off skin before they give you a lick!)
- Get regular exercise to maintain good weight and circulation
- Avoid unnecessary radiation (only get x-rays etc when needed)
- Avoid environmental toxins (asbestos etc)
- Get enough sleep!
- Stay as safe as possible to avoid risk of infections that may cause cancer (hepatitis and HIV and papillomavirus can all – thought not always – be transmitted via contaminated needles or sexually).
- Get enough vitamin D. Vegans can get this from plant-based supplements (most ones are made lanolin from sheep fat).
More Help to Prevent/Treat Cancer
- Vegan Morning, Noon & Night is a nice little book of wholesome plant-based recipes. Becky has all the tips to create crowd-pleasing appetizers, night on the BBQ and salads to please. Plus you’ll find comfort food classics and desserts that you will question ‘is this really vegan?’After losing her first child and then giving birth to another child, Becky was then (already having type-1 diabetes) given a diagnosis of stage 3 melanoma cancer. After a lot of research, she cut out animal products overnight, and now is healed. One of the recipe is her own vegan cheese, which helped to go vegan without any issues. Other recipes include Mac & Cheese, Vegan Pizza, Vegan Nachos, ‘Chicken Nuggets’, Ice-Cream & Cookies and Brownies.
Beat Cancer Kitchen is an inspiring collection of over 125 healthy, plant-based recipes to help you take control of your health, and support cancer healing and prevention. Chris shares delicious and easy-to-make recipes in collaboration with Justin, to support you on your healing journey. Using whole and plant-based foods, these meals, bowls, smoothies and juices will energise both body and soul, and provide the comfort that good food should. Complete with colour photos of each reciep and suggestions for common diet modifications, this book will help you get in the Beat Cancer Mindset and guide you on the road to wellness.
Beautiful singer/actress Olivia Newton-John has had one hell of a battle with breast cancer over the years. She has recently gone vegan after battling the disease since 1992, and it returning after a long remission. She recently launched (with her husband) the Olivia Newton-John Foundation to promote plant foods as a way to stay healthy, through cancer treatment.
- Forks Over Knives has a good post on what you should know about the benefits of plant foods to prevent or treat cancer. These medics and dietary experts are not fans of animal foods, nor of refined sugar, processed foods or over-cooked fried and burned foods either, all of which increase the risk of cancer. Toasting your bread is fine, but don’t cremate it! They also soaking raw potato slices in water for 15 minutes before dabbing dry, rather than storing them in the fridge.
- The Cancer Survivor’s Guide is by Dr Neal Barnard MD (founder of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) and includes lots of good advice and simple recipes. The organisation runs Food for Life, where instructors can teac cancer patients in the community how to cook immune-boosting meals.
- Animal welfare charity Viva! employs dietary experts and has some great factsheets on plant diets and cancer including by type (prostate, breast, cervix etc).
Holistic Cancer Care is a responsibly-written guide for patients facing a cancer diagnosis, on how to thrive during treatment, and lessen chance of re-occurence. Patients often feel at the mercy of an illness they don’t understand, and in the hands of doctors who focus on the cancer, rather than the patient. In this book, a consulting medical herbalist (with over 20 years of experience in holistic oncology) provides an in-depth guide to therapies that (with your doctor’s permission) can be used alongside conventional treatments.
Holistic therapies can boost the immune system, which can slow the spread of certain cancers. And in some cases, even enhance the cancer-killing effects of chemotherapy. Herbal medicine and other therapies can also help to deal with the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. Drawing from decades of clinical experience to help patients recover, the author provides a wealth of safe, well-researched information including specific herbal formulas, important tips on dosing and safety, simple recipes for nourishing meals, and patient case histories that show the power of the methods she recommends.
Chanchal Cabrera is a medical herbalist who specialises in collaborative oncology. She is a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists and holds faculty chair position in Botanical Medicine at Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in British Columbia. She has an MSc in herbal medicine from University of Wales, and publishes widely in professional journals and lectures on medical herbalism. She lives in British Columbia, Canada.