Vegan Health ArticlesLifestyle Change Slows Breast Cancer Growth Within Days
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From Michael Greger, M.D.

The eagerly awaited proceedings of the latest International Research Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Cancer were finally published in December. Four hundred scientists from dozens of countries converged to share the latest on diet and cancer. UCLA researchers presented some of the most intriguing findings.

Breast cancer is the most common female cancer in the United States. Like all cancer, it starts with one cell, which divides and becomes two cells, then becomes 4, then 8, etc. Every time the cells divide the tiny tumor doubles in size. No thanks to the mathematics of exponential growth, all the tumor has to do is double about 30 times, and we're up to a billion cells, which is a tumor just large enough to be picked up by mammography. All it has to do is double thirty times--but, it takes between 25 days and a thousand days for cancer cells to double once. So that means, from the time that first cell gets mutated, it takes between 2 years and a hundred years before it actually shows up as a little tumor you can see.

The skin cancer we die of at 50, for example, may have been because of a teenage sunburn. Many breast cancers start in the teen years as well. In fact some breast cancer, we think, may actually start in the womb, before you're even born, and depend in part on what your mom ate. By age 40, a third of women have microscopic cancerous breast tumors.

This is what's called the promotion stage of cancer. The cancer has been initiated by exposure to some carcinogen, but if we don't promote it, if we keep it dormant, if we slow it down, we may even be able to reverse its growth.

The way we can slow down the growth rates of cancer cells within us is to lower the levels of growth hormones in our blood. One way (see my cancer DVD for other ways) to decrease our levels of these steroid hormones is to stop eating and drinking them. In the U.S., corporate agribusiness continues to implant growth hormones into livestock, hormones that have been declared illegal in Europe out of fear that the consumption of the resulting milk or meat may promote cancer growth.

Reported at the International Research Conference, UCLA scientists studied what would happen if you placed women on a low-fat plant-based diet (along with daily exercise classes). Not surprisingly, the levels of all measured growth hormones in their blood were dramatically reduced. This kind of research has been done before, though. What made this one of the most exciting papers to come out of the conference is what the researchers did next.

Before and after the dietary change was initiated, researchers drew blood from the women and dripped it on live breast cancer cells growing in a Petri dish. After just two weeks, the blood serum of women placed on the plant-based diet actually reduced the cancer growth rate up to almost 20%.[1] Many of us, right now, have tumors growing inside of us. So we can't wait until later to start eating healthier, we have to start now. Tonight.


[1] Barnard JR, Liva M, and Ngo TH. "Effect of a Low-fat, High-fiber Diet and Exercise Intervention on Breast Cancer Risk Factors and Tumor Cell Growth." Journal of Nutrition. 134(2004):3523S.

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We began this archive as a means of assisting our visitors in answering many of their health and diet questions, and in encouraging them to take a pro-active part in their own health. We believe the articles and information contained herein are true, but are not presenting them as advice. We, personally, have found that a whole food vegan diet has helped our own health, and simply wish to share with others the things we have found. Each of us must make our own decisions, for it's our own body. If you have a health problem, see your own physician.