Worldwide almost 1 in 6 deaths are due to cancer, according to the World Health Organization. In 2015 there were 8,8 million deaths due to cancer. That makes it the second leading cause of death in the world, while Heart Disease is the number 1 cause of death.
We all have family members or friends who have died from cancer or who have cancer. It is a disease that rips families apart.
Chemotherapy or surgery can sometimes offer some solace and even healing. Still, we haven’t found the magic bullet surgery or medicine that can truly treat cancer effectively and without adverse side effects.
Neither have we been successful in preventing new cancer cases. Cancer is still on the rise. There were 14,1 million new cases of cancer in 2012. This number is estimated to rise to 23,6 million new cancer cases by 2030 (an estimated rise of 70%).
Recent statistics show that:
- Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer among men
- Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women
The Development of Harmful Cancer Cells and Formation of Tumors
There are many types of cancers, each with its risks, implications, and prospects. Common cancers include lung, breast, colon, prostate, skin, liver, kidney, and pancreatic cancer. What each of these has in common is abnormal cell behavior.
Our body consists of trillions of cells. There is a constant activity of new cells, growing cells, and dying cells. This is a natural process. This process gets disrupted when cells start to grow bigger than they should or remain alive when it’s their time to die.
Thus, the programmed cell death does not occur.
Instead, the cancer cells start to grow and divide and can go to other parts of the body. These abnormal (cancer) cells can then form tumors and spread to various parts of the body, which eventually may result in death.
Said differently, using Dr. Greger’s words:
Cancer develops in three major stages: 1) initiation, the irreversible DNA damage that starts the process; 2) promotion, the growth and division of the initiated cell into a tumor; and 3) progression, which can involve the invasion of the tumor into surrounding tissue and metastasis (spread) to other areas of the body.
—Dr Greger (How Not To Die, page 186)
Cancer Prevention and Treatment
The World Health Organization says that 30-50% of all cancers are preventable by making lifestyle changes. It mentions smoking, alcohol, dietary factors, and physical inactivity as critical risk factors.
While most of us are aware of the dangers of smoking, alcohol, and a lack of activity, it is the dietary aspect that is often ignored or not well understood.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that diet plays a huge role in cancer initiation and development. Research has shown that there is an increased risk of cancer by consuming meat, milk, eggs, cheese, fish, and chicken.
Research studies found that many kinds of whole plant foods have anti-cancer properties. Examples include apples, beans, berries, black pepper, broccoli, cocoa, flax seeds, garlic, green tea, green leafy vegetables, mushrooms, nuts, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and more.
Turmeric is one of the most promising plant foods when it comes to cancer prevention and treatment. Curcumin, the yellow pigment in turmeric, appears to have the ability to stimulate self-destruction of dangerous cancer cells.
As mentioned earlier, the normal programmed cell death gets disrupted when cancer cells start to grow and divide abnormally. But turmeric appears to help regulate programmed cell death.
The China Study
Dr Campbell’s work has contributed significantly to our understanding of cancer development and treatment. In lab experiments with cancer in rats, Dr. Campbell found that cancer could be turned on and off simply by adjusting the level of protein given to rats.
Besides that, there was also a different response depending on the type of protein. The protein that consistently promoted cancer was casein, found in cow’s milk. In contrast, protein from plant sources (even at high levels of intake) did not promote cancer.
One of the reasons why these studies are relevant to humans is because rats and humans have similar protein needs.
The key to cancer prevention and treatment is to keep tumor cells from multiplying out of control while allowing healthy cells to grow normally. Chemotherapy and radiation can do a great job of wiping out cancer cells, but healthy cells can get caught in the crossfire. Some compounds in plants, though, may be more discriminating.
—Dr. Greger (How Not To Die, page 157-159)
A pattern was beginning to emerge: nutrients from animal-based foods increased tumor development while nutrients from plant-based foods decreased tumor development.
—Dr. Campbell (The China Study, page 66)
Dr. Campbell’s work didn’t stop there. He went on to become part of one of the biggest lifestyle and population studies ever, called the China–Cornell–Oxford Project. Also known as The China Study. There were significant differences in disease and death rates across China. In some counties, certain types of cancer were 100 times more common than in other counties.
The China Study gave insight into the dietary and lifestyle role of diet and disease. In rural China, where people consume a mostly plant-based diet, cancer, and other chronic diseases were almost non-existent!
American men have a seventeen times higher risk of death due to coronary heart disease than men living in rural China.
— Dr Campbell (The China Study, page 78-79)
When you transition to a Whole Food Plant Based lifestyle, all sorts of challenges appear on the path. If you are really serious about this, you may need to give up some of your favorite foods and flavors and try to replace them for new ones. You may feel limited at first, but you’ll be surprised by the variety of new foods and flavors. To help you get started, we’ve put together a list of 5 simple food tips.