Cancer is the abnormal growth of cells that results in tumors that can spread to different areas of the body. Diet and lifestyle play a major role in the prevention and improvement of various cancers, including breast, prostate, colorectal, and skin cancers. A diet focused on immune-boosting foods, especially G-BOMBS (greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries, seeds/nuts) is crucial in the fight against cancer.
Among women, cancer is the second leading cause of death. While genetics play a small role in the development of tumors, the Standard American Diet (SAD), obesity, sedentary lifestyle, tobacco and alcohol use, and environmental exposures fuel the development and growth of cancers. There are four dietary factors working simultaneously that make the SAD so powerful at promoting cancer.
A Nutritarian diet, on the other hand, is designed to be maximally protective against cancer. It is the most important thing people can do to reduce their risk of cancer.
Cancer screening is promoted as preventive health, and while this may detect early forms of cancer so it can be treated earlier, it does not prevent the development of cancer and has minimal effects on reducing cancer deaths. A Nutritarian diet has the power to repair defects that can lead to cancer, detoxify carcinogens, cause cancer cell death, cut off blood supplies to growing tumors , and stimulate the immune system to recognize, repair abnormalities, and even fight and kill cancer cells. The vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants found in a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, and seeds is the key to prevention and even can play an important role in the treatment of various cancers.
My book, Super Immunity, discusses the details and supportive science to embrace an anti-cancer lifestyle.
For supplement recommendations personalized for your health condition and goals, visit the Personalized Vitamin Advisor and answer a few questions.
Regular physical activity is associated with lower risk of cancer. Moderate exercise is helpful, and vigorous exercise provides even more protection.25
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The following are sample questions from the Ask the Doctor Community Platinum and higher members can post their health questions directly to Dr. Fuhrman. (All members can browse questions and answers.)
Do you have a supplement formulated to specifically to enhance protection against cancer?
Dietary supplements by definition do not treat, prevent, or cure a disease and cannot claim to on labels or in advertising. However, plant extracts are continually being studied for their potential to maintain health and affect the disease process. Clinical trials are being conducted, aiming to figure out whether certain plant extracts could affect cancer-related biomarkers, act as beneficial adjunct treatments to be used with chemotherapy, or help to prevent progression of an early stage cancer or pre-cancerous condition. Read more
I was just diagnosed with breast cancer. I follow a vegan diet and I have been using soy milk in place of dairy milk, 1 to 2 cups per day, and use other soy products. Should I avoid soy which increases the estrogen in your body?
The potential problem here stems from your use of the word "vegan" diet and not "vegan-Nutritarian" diet because the anti-cancer power comes from the careful inclusion of the plant foods with the most documented benefits against cancer–G-BOMBS. For example, a very low fat, high carb vegan diet will not expose you to enough phytochemical benefits and will decrease their absorption. So the question is, where do the two cups of soy milk come into play in your diet? It is a processed food with limited antioxidants and phytochemicals, so if you are using it as a drink, it would make more sense to drink a glass of carrot, kale, lemon, tomato, and ginger juice. It is not that unsweetened soy milk is bad, but that it may reflect an overall lack of attention to the optimal choice of foods.
Avoiding all soy has no benefit for breast cancer patients and does not increase estrogen in the body. Unprocessed soy beans and tempeh are excellent foods. You should not eat isolated soy protein or overly processed soy products. Use miso sparingly and only low salt varieties. Tofu and tempeh are fine, and use unsweetened soy milk in limited quantities.
Is there a link between Nutritarian eating and healing skin melanomas or preventing more?
Of course. Melanoma is powerfully related to diet and a major cause is lack of protective antioxidants in the skin, so, this program is essential for recovery after excision as well as future prevention. Of course, sun protection without using chemical sunscreens is also important. Chemical sunscreens may increase the risk of developing melanoma, so look into the sunscreen options we make available here.
Do you think basal cell skin cancer is related to nutrition or purely caused by the sun? I have been diagnosed with basal cell cancer on my upper lip line and just wonder how this could happen to me, as I have been following a Nutritarian diet for the past 3 years or so and before that I followed a plant based mostly vegetarian diet. I am scheduled to have the MOHS surgery and am so worried what I may look like afterwards. I just keep thinking I must have done something wrong in the diet area to get this.
Sorry to hear about your skin cancer. Cancers occur from damage to cells that began 40 60 years ago. A cancer is many, many years in the making before it appears. Certainly burning the skin could be the initiating event and then nutrition does play a role, but sometimes it is hard to know exactly what went wrong to initiate the problem. But, the longer you are eating this way and maintaining excellent nutrient levels and the earlier in life you fix things, the lower and lower your risk will be.
Nevertheless, looking back and trying to align causation is not always the best exercise. I hope the surgery goes well, and they can make you look as good as you do now. It is amazing what a great plastic surgeon can do these days.
Since healthy people have carotenemia, a slightly orange hue to their skin, does this correlate and/or cause a decrease in skin cancer?
Absolutely, a Nutritarian diet colors the skin with protective phytochemicals. The carotene coloration parallels the heightened concentration of other important phytonutrients, so the real protection comes from the synergistic effects of all the healthy foods, which is not the same as taking carotene from a supplement.
Eating vegetables colors the skin and decreases risk of skin cancer.
My mom has had many cases of basal cell carcinoma that have been removed. I just had an irregular mole removed that I’m waiting to hear the results on, so, needless to say, skin cancer has been on my mind. I have been making the case for a Nutritarian lifestyle with her for years but was wondering if there are any specific things that can be done to decrease the risk of getting skin cancer.
We do know about the link between high levels of exposure to UV rays (sunlight) and risk of skin cancers, so it is still important to minimize this exposure, but there are significant chemo-protective effects of plant food nutrients, such as carotenoids and flavonoids, that have been identified in research studies. The Nutritarian diet is ideally designed to decrease the risk of cancers, including skin cancers. The general advice for preventing cancer applies here: eat more cruciferous greens, onions, garlic, leeks, all type of mushrooms (cooked) and a variety of colorful fruits and other vegetables (high amounts of flavonoids) every single day. If you make this effort it will translate into decreased risk over the years.
I’ve had at least 15 skin cancers, likely from a childhood in the sun. I’m careful these days and use sun block, but I was wondering if your Immunotect supplement might help? I already follow a Nutritarian diet and am using your Woman’s Formula, LDL Protect, and DHA/EPA Purity.
The mushroom extracts in Immunotect have skin cancer benefits, however, heed my advice on sunscreens, because most commercial sunscreens do not protect melanocytes from damage and can give a false sense of protection, increasing risk of melanoma. Read more about the non-chemical sunscreens, without nanoparticles that we make available here.
Recently, after taking a routine blood test, my doctor informed me that my PSA was 13.4. Does this high PSA mean that I have prostate cancer? If so, does PSA determine what stage I am at? I went to see the urologist who informed me that I should do a biopsy and ultrasound. What would you advise as my next course of action?
On a global scale, testing and treating men with a PSA level like yours has not been shown to extend lifespan. There is no convincing evidence in the scientific literature that evaluating and treating prostate cancer is extending the healthy life expectancy of men. In other words, all the tests and treatments may be a big money-generating medical industry, but they do not prolong lifespan in men.
On an individual level, if I were you, I would follow a Nutritarian diet strictly (with a glass of green juice once a day) and follow up my PSA levels in 6 months to see how low I can get it to go. If it improves and does not keep rising, I would continue to only treat it nutritionally. The standard of care, however, is to get tested and treated if cancer is found, but I am less concerned with whether the biopsy shows prostate cancer or not, as I have even seen those reverse (as has Dr. Ornish). So, you have all the options, but it is still your decision. The option I am recommending here is often called "watchful waiting" by physicians.
I had my first colonoscopy at age 50, which was fine. Now, 10 years later, the office has called telling me to schedule another one. Since the first one, I have lived a Nutritarian lifestyle (with few exceptions) and have no family history that I’m aware of. Is it necessary to repeat a colonoscopy every 10 years while maintaining a Nutritarian lifestyle?
While I can’t give you specific recommendations, we know that people who are at optimal weight, who are not insulin resistant, who eat a nutrient, fiber rich diet with limited animal protein, and who are active and exercise have reduced risk of colon cancer. Though I strongly believe a Nutritarian diet offers dramatic protection from cancer, the diet in your childhood and the earlier part of your adult life plays a role in this risk. So, since you only started the Nutritarian diet 10 years ago and had only one negative colonoscopy, I would have just one more and then never again after that if staying with dietary excellence, however, this is just an educated guess. Again, I have no specific recommendations based on scientific studies, so I cannot give definitive guidelines here; it still is personal decision after a discussion with your primary physician. If there is a family history, every 5 years may be recommended.
I have colon cancer and am curious how many ounces of animal products a week you recommend and which kind?
In the context of this post, the answer would be no animal products. Animal products promote anabolic hormones (especially IGF-1) that can induce cell proliferation increasing the risk or growth of the cancer. A vegan Nutritarian diet (with green juices) is more appropriate for a person with cancer.
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