by Vic Shayne, PhD
Worldwide, more than 7 million people die from cancer every year, and the
numbers increase annually. Generally, high-fat diets are blamed for increasing the
risk, while plant-based diets, high in fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole
grains, and minimally processed starchy foods, are said to help prevent cancer.
we look a little closer, we discover that there are very specific foods and herbs
that are powerful "detoxifiers" and thus play a major role in prevention of cancer
and other diseases. But even as we attempt to control cancer risk by our food choices, we always have to realize
that diet is just one of the lifestyle factors that influence the development of cancer.
With all of the cancer information and disinformation broadcasted continually
through the major news media, rarely do we hear a mention of the greatest threat to
our health and the most prevalent cause of cancer: toxins. Toxins (poisons) are ubiquitous
in our modern world. Although those cancer researchers and foundations making the
news headlines, mostly funded by pharmaceutical corporations and chemical
manufacturers, seem to be obsessed with finding a cancer virus or genetic predispositions to
the disease, as a society we are not being given the whole truth that toxins cause
Independent researchers (e.g., read Cancer-Gate: How to Win the Losing Cancer
War, by Samuel Epstein, MD) understand that toxins cause disruptions in cellular
function, cellular differentiation, cellular protection, and immune system function. Such
poisons also place great stress on the eliminatory system that tries, often in vain,
to rid our bodies of a toxic overload; this includes the kidneys, liver,
cardiovascular system, lungs, bowels and skin. Toxins are known to rob our bodies of oxygen
and cause free radical damage to cellular structures; they also are cumulative,
leading to illness and symptoms now and into the future.
"With all of the cancer information and disinformation
broadcasted continually through the major news media, rarely do we hear
a mention of the greatest threat to our health and the most prevalent cause of cancer: toxins."
The natural question is, where do these toxins come from and how do they get
into our bodies? The answer is that toxins hail from a wide array of sources,
including artificial food ingredients, synthetic vitamins, prescription drugs, topical
ointments, household sprays, fumes, automobile and truck exhaust, incinerators,
factories, plastic off-gassing, construction materials, carpeting, bug sprays, fluoridated water,
hair sprays, fast foods, pesticides, herbicides, chemical spills and dumping, perfumes
and more. You can see how, entering our bodies from so many sources, the toxic
overload is inevitable unless we make a concerted effort to monitor what we eat and how
we live our lives. But if we wander around in a state of paranoia over slanted
media reports about bad genes and invisible viruses, we'll never see the real threat
right before our eyes.
What Are You Eating?
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recommends that people should
eat more plant-based foods and states that as much as 20 percent of lung cancer, 33
percent of breast cancer, and 66 percent of colon cancer could be prevented by
appropriate diet choices, regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy body weight. Add
this to not smoking and moderate consumption of alcohol, and the AICRF believes that
60 percent to 70 percent of all cancers are
preventable.1 Yet, even with this
information, major associations such as cancer and heart institutes, who must ride the
political line in an effort not to alienate the chemical industry, fail to tell us
that organic foods are safer than nonorganic; that prescription medications can be
dangerous; that there are too many chemicals in our lives; and that eating more
plant-based foods is vague advice. As a rather alarming and bothersome side note, it is clear
to anyone who has researched the cancer-toxin connection that some of the largest
companies contributing to cancer rates by manufacturing poisonous chemicals are the
same companies that influence and fund scientific research that ends up on the
nightly news, producing the drugs to "fight" cancer.
Best Foods to Eat
The best foods to eat are clean, pure, fresh, raw (or slightly steamed),
organically grown fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables and nontoxic meats (fish, poultry and
limited amounts of red meat). Although antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and
bioflavonoids grab a lot of attention, there's more to nature's foods than these substances.
Fiber, for instance, can be a major player in cancer prevention. Researcher Joanne
Slavin, PhD, writes:
"Dietary guidance recommends consumption of whole grains for the prevention of
cancer. Epidemiologic studies find that whole grains are protective against cancer,
especially gastrointestinal cancers such as gastric and colonic, and
hormonally-dependent cancers including breast and prostate. Four potential mechanisms for the
protectiveness of whole grains against cancer are described. First, whole grains are
concentrated sources of dietary fiber, resistant starch, and oligosaccharides, fermentable
carbohydrates thought to protect against cancer. Fermentation of carbohydrates in the
colon results in production of short chain fatty acids that lower colonic pH and serve as
an energy source for the colonocytes. Secondly, whole grains are rich in
antioxidants, including trace minerals and phenolic compounds, and antioxidants have been proposed
to be important in cancer prevention. Thirdly, whole grains are significant sources
of phytoestrogens that have hormonal effects related to cancer protection.
Phytoestrogens are thought to be particularly important in the prevention of hormone-dependent
cancers such as breast and prostate. Finally, whole grains mediate glucose response, which
has been proposed to protect against colon and breast
Other health-promoting, protective food substances include phytoestrogens,
chlorophyll, terpenes, carotenoids, pigments, fatty acids and enzymes. Vitamin and
multivitamin pills do not provide these and other important food factors needed for
prevention of cancer, healthy cells and immune system optimization. An organic diet
is ideal because all other foods contain, to varying degrees, pesticide, herbicide
and synthetic fertilizer residues known to negatively impact glands, nerves, organs and all other tissues. In fact, the
only ones telling us that organic foods are not necessarily a healthier choice are
the biased chemical and processed food industries that are a major part of the
problem. According to health consultant Dorrie Kanofsky:
"Evidence of organic food's superiority is confirmed by Consumer Reports, the Soil Association, the Rodale Institute, Pesticide Action Network, and research at
Johns Hopkins and Washington State University, to list a few. If challenged to prove
that organic food is safer, I can present evidence by the Pesticide Action Network,
U.K., that it is safer for children and babies to eat organic foods because 'Latest
pesticide residue results from the European Commission suggest that residue safety
breaches are getting worse.' Those breaches are even worse in our country. In 1997
the Consumer's Union tested conventional foods and their organic counterparts and
found that 'Organic fruits and vegetables have fewer pesticide residues than
non-organic produce; they have lower levels of pesticides, and they have less overall
pesticide toxicity than fruits and vegetables grown with chemicals. If challenged to prove
that organic food is more nutritious, I assert such studies such as 'Nutritional
Quality of Organic Versus Conventional Fruits, Vegetables and Grains' by
Virginia Worthington, doctoral candidate at Johns Hopkins University. Her research found
that 'Organic crops contain significantly more vitamin C, iron, magnesium and
phosphorus and significantly less nitrates than conventional
Kanofsky concludes, "Health and safety considerations are the major reasons why
10 million consumers are buying organic food."
"Potentially carcinogenic foods include artificial
sweeteners and/or ingredients, cured, pickled or salty meats, and
burnt or barbequed foods."
Altered Foods vs. Protective Foods
Some foods (more accurately termed "nonfoods" or altered foods) have been
singled out as potentially carcinogenic (cancer-causing):
- Artificial sweeteners
- Cured, pickled or salty meats. There is no conclusive evidence that meat
causes cancer, yet there is growing evidence that animal fats in several altered forms
may contribute to cancer. However, bacon and other cured or pickled meats contain
nitrate, which has the potential to cause cancer in laboratory animals when eaten
in huge doses. Salt has been associated with an increased risk of stomach cancer
and should be consumed in limited amounts in the form of sea salt.
- Burnt or barbecued foods. A group of carcinogenic substances called
polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can be produced if foods or wood are overheated
or burnt. It's advisable to use relatively low temperature methods of cooking, such
as steaming, boiling, poaching, stewing, casseroling, braising, baking, stir frying
- Non-organically grown foods
- Alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx,
esophagus and liver, with the risk even greater in those people who smoke. Alcohol also
has been associated with the development of colon, breast and rectal cancers.
- All packaged foods that are replete with artificial ingredients, ranging
from preservatives to dyes.
Cancer-protective substances in foods include:
- allyl sulfide: onions, garlic, chives, leeks
- carotenoids: yellow-orange vegetables and fruits; green, leafy vegetables; red fruits
- curcumins: turmeric
- flavonoids: in most fruit, vegetables, grains and nuts
- gingerols: ginger
- Indoles and isothiocyanates: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts
- Isoflavones: soybeans, tofu
- Lignans: soybeans, flax seed
- Liminoids: citrus
- Phenolic acids: berries, grapes, nuts, whole grains
- Phthalides and polyacetylenes: carrots, parsnips, parsley, coriander, cilantro
- Phytates: grains, legumes
- Saponins: beans, herbs
- Terpenes: cherries, citrus, herbs
Looking at the brief list above, the reader can understand how consuming
vitamin and multivitamin pills fails to meet the needs of the body, as such products do
not contain a host of important components and complexes available only from whole,
natural, raw, pure foods.
How Nature's Foods Can Prevent Cancer
There are a number of ways that foods can prevent cancer, yet most significant
is by means of biochemical transformation. Essentially, foods such as those in the
cruciferous family (e.g., kale, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, etc.)
contain sulfur compounds that are known to convert fat-soluble toxins into
water-soluble complexes, which can then be eliminated from the body via the kidneys. An
excellent discussion of this can be found in Clinical
Purification by Gina Nick, ND. Other foodfactors are known to act as antioxidants, keeping cells from being
overrun by free radicals. Some foods and herbs bolster the immune system, enabling
toxins to be engulfed and flushed from the body. And still other foods and
herbs such as cilantro can chelate heavy, toxic metals such as mercury. Other
detoxifying foods and herbs include red clover blossoms, burdock root, licorice,
Oregon grape root, cat's claw and kelp.
"The best foods to eat are clean, pure, fresh, raw (or
slightly steamed), organically grown fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables
and nontoxic meats (fish, poultry and limited amounts of red meat)."
Why Is Cancer Winning the Battle?
Thanks to the power and greed of industry, the public is kept in the dark about
many of the causes of cancer. Instead we are fed news reports about genetic
connections, viruses and early screenings. Biologically speaking, as human beings, our bodies
are not equipped to handle the onslaught (or combinations) of toxic overload that
exists in our modern world. Until we realize that synthetic chemicals are causing most
cancers, we cannot begin to stem the tide of disease and suffering.
"Most epidemiologists and cancer researchers would agree that the relative
contribution from the environment toward cancer risk is about 80-90 percent," said
Aaron Blair, PhD, chief of the Occupational Epidemiology Branch in the National
Cancer Institute's Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics. "There is very solid
evidence that environmental factors are the major cause of
- Axmaker L. Eat Right to Prevent Cancer. Vanderbilt Faculty & Staff Wellness Program,
Vanderbilt University Web site, November 2005. Click to view it online.
- Slavin J. Mechanisms for the impact of whole grain foods on cancer risk. Journal of the American College of
- Kanofsky DL. The case for organic produce. Daytona Beach News-Journal 2005.
- Environmental Factors the Major Cause of Cancer. Environment News Service, 2004.
- The Diet & Cancer Link. American Institute for Cancer Research, 2000. www.aicr.org.
- Potter J. Leading Scientist Hails Progress Made To Date in Field of Diet and Cancer Research.
Press Release from American Institute for Cancer Research, 2000. www.aicr.org.
- Mediterranean Diet May Lower Cancer Risk. American Cancer Society, 2000.
Click to view it online.
|Vic Shayne, PhD, a 1978 graduate of the University of Florida, is a food science researcher and writer. His books include Illness Isn't Caused by a Drug Deficiency!, Man Cannot Live on Vitamins Alone, and Evil Genius in the Garden of Eden (a study on food-borne and environmental toxins and their toll on human health). Dr. Shayne's work stresses the value of whole-food nutrition over vitamins and other isolated supplements. He is a key contributor of the research Web site healthscienceupdate.com.