Is Eating a Plant-Based Diet a Cure for Cancer?
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KF: What exactly is so bad about animal protein?
TCC: I don't choose the word "exactly" because it suggests something very specific. Rather, casein causes a broad spectrum of adverse effects.
Among other fundamental effects, it makes the body more acidic, alters the mix of hormones and modifies important enzyme activities, each of which can cause a broad array of more specific effects. One of these effects is its ability to promote cancer growth (by operating on key enzyme systems, by increasing hormone growth factors and by modifying the tissue acidity). Another is its ability to increase blood cholesterol (by modifying enzyme activities) and to enhance atherogenesis, which is the early stage of cardiovascular disease.
And finally, although these are casein-specific effects, it should be noted that other animal-based proteins are likely to have the same effect as casein.
KF: Ok, so I am clear that it's wise to avoid casein, which is intrinsic in dairy (milk and cheese), but how is other animal protein, such as chicken, steak, or pork, implicated in the cause and growth of cancer?
TCC: I would first say that casein is not just "intrinsic" but is the main protein of cow milk, representing about 87 percent of the milk protein.
The biochemical systems which underlie the adverse effects of casein are also common to other animal-based proteins. Also, the amino acid composition of casein, which is the characteristic primarily responsible for its property, is similar to most other animal-based proteins. They all have what we call high 'biological value', in comparison, for example, with plant-based proteins, which is why animal protein promotes cancer growth and plant protein doesn't.
KF: Isn't anything in moderation ok, as long as we don't overdo it?
TCC: I rather like the expression told by my friend, Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., MD, the Cleveland Clinic surgeon who reversed heart disease and who says, "Moderation kills!" I prefer to go the whole way, not because we have fool-proof evidence showing that 100% is better than, say, 95% for every single person for every single condition but that it is easier to avoid straying off on an excursion that too often becomes a slippery slope back to our old ways. Moreover, going the whole way allows us to adapt to new unrealized tastes and to rid ourselves of some old addictions. And finally, moderation often means very different things for different people.
KF: Are you saying that if one changes their diet from animal based protein to plant-based protein that the disease process of cancer can be halted and reversed?
TCC: Yes, this is what our experimental research shows. I also have become aware of many anecdotal claims by people who have said that their switch to a plant-based diet stopped even reversed (cured?) their disease. One study on melanoma has been published in the peer-reviewed literature that shows convincing evidence that cancer progression is substantially halted with this diet.
KF: How long does it take to see changes?
TCC: It is not clear because carefully designed research in humans has not been done. However, we demonstrated and published findings showing that experimental progression of disease is at least suspended, even reversed, when tumors are clearly present.
KF: Consider a person who has been eating poorly his whole life; is there still hope that a dietary change can make a big difference? Or is everything already in motion?
TCC: Yes, a variety of evidence shows that cancers and non-cancers alike can be stopped even after consuming a poor diet earlier in life. This effect is equivalent to treatment, a very exciting concept.