Eating junk food may taste great but it leaves us feeling sluggish afterward. We walk through the aisles at the supermarket and it’s everywhere: chips, candy, frozen dinners, soda, processed meats. Fast food chains are in every town and city in the industrial world.
People are becoming more aware of what they eat and—given the drastic and frightening increases in the rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancers in the countries where these types of food are part of a regular diet—beginning to consider other options.
Research published in 2005 in The Journal of Urology studied the effect of a vegan diet on the progress of prostate cancer. All subjects had biopsy-confirmed cancer and had not undergone any conventional treatment. The test group ate a vegan diet supplemented with fish oil, selenium, and vitamin C. It was further required to engage in at least 30 minutes a day of moderate aerobic exercise (walking), stress management methods (yoga, meditation, and deep breathing), and a one-hour weekly group support session. The control group had no restrictions or requirements.
Baseline measurements of cancer activity (prostate specific antigen, PSA) in the blood of all subjects showed no significant difference. At the end of a year, however, there was a marked difference in blood serum between the two groups:
PSA decreased 4% in the experimental group but increased 6% in the control group. The growth of LNCaP prostate cancer cells (American Type Culture Collection, Manassas, Virginia) was inhibited almost 8 times more by serum from the experimental than from the control group. Changes in serum PSA and also in LNCaP cell growth were significantly associated with the degree of change in diet and lifestyle.
In other words, without any conventional cancer treatment and changes only to diet and lifestyle, there was a significant reduction in cancer activity in the blood of the men on the vegan diet—cancer growth was inhibited 8 TIMES more than in the men who made no such changes.
Other studies support the theory that a vegetarian or vegan diet offers protection from other types of cancer as well.
Scientists at Loma Linda University in California found that vegan diet seems to give lower risk for overall and female-specific cancer than other dietary patterns. The vegetarian diets seem to give protection from cancers of the gastrointestinal tract.
Research links meat, especially red and processed meats, consumption to increased risk of several types of cancer.
Meat (including fish) isn’t what it used to be. Before the arrival of the industrial age, people ate meat that wasn’t processed in a factory or raised on a farm under adverse conditions. Animals were allowed to graze and engage in natural behaviors—they weren’t fed an unnatural diet of cheap, chemical-laden grains to make them bigger.
The meat was preserved and cured with salt and minerals, not injected with dyes and carcinogens. Fish were caught in unpolluted rivers and seas, not kept in underwater pens or processed into products to look like something else.
We often forget that what the animals eat, we eat.
Meat has always been part of the human diet. It offers some nutrients that are difficult to get in plants. But meat isn’t what it used to be and humans are generally eating way too much of it.
Ignoring, for now, the ethical and environmental impacts of eating animals and animal products, the evidence is now undeniable that a diet without them fully supports our capacity to prevent and limit cancers.