Which Dietary Factors Affect Breast Cancer Most?


One of my favorite cancer-specific charities, the American Institute for Cancer Research, lauds the China Study and the documentary Forks Over Knives, with which they share the same bottom-line message: The healthiest diets are those that revolve around whole plant foods.

They then translate that advice into their Ten Recommendations for Cancer Prevention, featured in my video Which Dietary Factors Affect Breast Cancer Most? We now have evidence that those who follow such advice are actually protected against cancer. Breast cancer risk was reduced by 60% in women who met at least five recommendations compared with those who met none. The most important dietary advice was to be as lean as possible within the normal range of body weight, eat mostly foods of plant origin, and limit alcoholic drinks.

What about other cancers? Greater adherence to the AICR dietary guidelines was also associated with significantly less endometrial, colorectal, lung, kidney, stomach, oral, liver, and esophageal cancer. In other words, adherence to dietary recommendations for cancer prevention may lower the risk of developing most types of cancer. The drop in bladder cancer did not reach statistical significance, but a larger follow-up study following 469,000 people for 11 years (the largest to date) found that just a 3% increase in the consumption of animal protein calories was associated with a 15% higher risk of bladder cancer, whereas just a 2% increase in plant protein was associated with a 23% lower risk.

AICR recommendation number ten is that cancer survivors should follow the recommendations for cancer prevention. The same diet that can help prevent cancer in the first place can be used to help save our life after diagnosis. Adherence to the guidelines for cancer prevention was found to be associated with lower mortality among older female cancer survivors, or breast cancer and other cancers in general.

A cancer diagnosis is considered a teachable moment to get people eating and living healthier. Oncologists revel at the growth in the number of cancer survivors in this country, now ten million strong and growing. It's great that those with cancer are living longer, but even better to prevent it in the first place so we can all live longer. Not only does adherence to the guidelines lower cancer risk, but extends our lifespan because the guidelines are also significantly associated with a lower hazard of dying from heart disease and respiratory disease, suggesting that following the recommendations could "significantly increase longevity."

Just like eating to prevent cancer helps to prevent heart disease, eating to protect our heart helps prevent cancer. It sounds self-evident, but adherence to a healthy lifestyle is therefore associated with a lower risk of mortality overall. And the more healthy behaviors we have, the longer we get to live. Such factors included not smoking, walking every day, or eating green leafy vegetables almost daily.

To help differentiate the effects of diet from other lifestyle behaviors like smoking and drinking on cancer incidence, Adventists were recently compared to Baptists. Both discourage alcohol and tobacco, but the Adventists go further, encouraging a reduction of meat. In general, the Adventists had lower cancer hazard rates than the Baptists, and within Adventist populations, the vegetarians did even better, and those eating the most plants, did the best.

Why do plant-based diets appear to lower the risk of cancer? A number of fascinating mechanisms:

Specific to breast cancer:

Though plant-based beverages may be harmful: Breast Cancer and Alcohol: How Much Is Safe?

In terms of foods associated with breast cancer survival, see:

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven't yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations--2013: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death, More Than an Apple a Day, 2014: From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food, 2015: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet, and my latest, 2016: How Not To Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers.

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PlantPure Nation Trailer

It doesn’t get more exciting than this…the makers of Forks Over Knives (the film that is responsible for changing the direction of my life) are in final production of their next film, to be released July 4th 2015. Take a look at the trailer and GET EXCITED!

The Easiest Transition to a Whole Foods, Plant Based Lifestyle

The Forks Over Knives Plan Keeps You On Track For Success

What if you are dissatisfied with your health? Maybe you are overweight, low in energy, plagued with headaches or sinusitis or chronic pain, on multiple drugs, or spending way too much money on the medical profession.

Then you find out your suffering and expense aren't necessary. Hope glimmers for a real change. Maybe you saw the movie Forks Over Knives, or observed a friend regain her health on a whole foods, plant based diet, or read a science-based book on plant-based nutrition.

Here's your problem. You are not sure how to get from where you are to where you want to be. The change may seem daunting and the food unfamiliar. You see others reshaping their meals overnight, while you are trying to figure out step FoK matt and alona image (2) smaller.jpgone.

You have as much capability to improve your health and learn to enjoy new foods as anyone else does. Your questions are totally normal.

The book The Forks Over Knives Plan is your hands-on guide to transitioning to a whole foods, plant based lifestyle. The book's authors, doctors Alona Pulde and Matt Lederman, make your journey simple, enjoyable, and paced to meet your needs.

The book has everything you need to be successful:

  • An overview of the benefits of basing your food choices on whole plants
  • A guide to changing breakfast, lunch, and dinner, one week at a time
  • Flexibility in how quickly you transition
  • The calorie density you should aim for to achieve both appetite satiation and an ideal weight
  • Instruction on how to put together and shop for a meal plan for the week
  • Practical tips on stocking your refrigerator, eating out, getting together with friends, and much more
  • Over 100 delicious recipes for healthy, simple-to-prepare versions of some favorite "comfort foods," including pancakes, granola, pizza, burritos, lasagna, spaghetti, mashed potatoes, curries, chili, salads, and even dessert

You can relax and enjoy your food, without concerns for getting "enough" of specific nutrients and without hunger or deprivation.

I was fortunate to meet with Dr. Pulde and Dr Lederman, who are spouses as well as co-authors, and find out more about the writing of The Forks Over Knives Plan, starting with the idea for the book.

Click here to read what the doctors have to say about the writing of their new book.

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Irresistible Cooking Made Easy

Chef Del Sroufe Leads the Way to Health, One Recipe At a Time

Better Than Vegan, Chef Del Sroufe's second cookbook, is a treasure trove of recipes, a philosophy of eating, and a compelling life story wrapped in with a stunning compilation of vibrant food photos. This book follows the author's New York Times bestselling Forks Over Knives: The Cookbook, yet stands on its own Dels book cover smaller.jpgas a guide to making delicious whole foods, plant-based recipes.

Instructions for recipes are straightforward and simple to follow. Full-color photos of the finished dishes are also useful guides to preparation. The ingredients are familiar and easy to find in any well-stocked grocery story. Many of the recipes have short ingredient lists, and the book gives practical advice on cookware and pantry basics. Chef Del invites you to use his recipes as springboards for your own ideas.

Better Than Vegan is also sprinkled with quiet humor. For example the recipe for Big Fat Breakfast Pizza contains the advice: "Do not share with anyone who criticizes you for making pizza for breakfast." Even newcomers will be inspired to jump into the kitchen and start having fun.

The food spans a varieties of cultures. In each recipe, you can sense Chef Del's determination to prepare great-tasting foods that embody health and are fun to make. He creatively substitutes whole food ingredients for oils, meat, and dairy, using uncomplicated cooking techniques he carefully explains.

Even more, Chef Del tells you why he cooks this way, sharing his battles with obesity, yo-yo dieting, and isolation with unflinching detail. His weight issues started with his parents' divorce when he was age six, and he was on a medically supervised diet by the time he was eight. This escalated to the dangerous weight of 475 pounds when he was in his forties. The interesting thing is that he ate himself to this level on a purely vegan diet of nutritionally-deficient foods dense with oils and concentrated sugars.

Hence Chef Del's new philosophy of eating: a low-fat, whole foods, plant-based diet that brought him down to 230 pounds now. He shares his guidelines with 5 basic rules of nutrition and 10 dietary mistakes of excess and deficiency.

I was fortunate to have the chance to talk with Chef Del about his experience of writing Better Than Vegan. The first question I eagerly posed was about the creative process he uses to come up with recipes.

Click here to read about Chef Del's recipes and successful struggle with overeating


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Running With Dr. Ruth Heidrich

Lifelong Running, Dr. Dr. Ruth's Latest Book, Will Get You Moving

In Lifelong Running, Dr. Ruth Heidrich observes that children begin to run as soon as they learn to walk, and "stop running" is a frequent refrain parents and teachers aim at children. Adults fall into sedentary habits, their nature to run Ruth Heidrich Borobudur Indonesia smaller.jpgstifled by myths about this activity.

Dr. Ruth is a well-known runner who has won numerous gold medals in her 45 years of competing in marathons and triathlons. She aims to reignite your childhood habit of quick movement, and her love of running is infectious. In fact, of the many things to like about this book, Dr. Ruth's positive outlook, encouragement, and shared experiences top my list. You start out the book running across the Sydney Harbour Bridge with her, and the fun never stops.

Lifelong Running systematically busts 11 common myths about this sport, using science, success stories, and the personal experiences of Dr. Ruth and her collaborator, Martin Rowe. Although grounded in science, this is not a technical book. Dr. Ruth really wants you to get started at whatever level you are at. She describes the necessities of running as proper shoes and socks, and clothes that allow free movement and absorb sweat. Everything else is optional. Her common sense advice short circuits excuses to delay.

You can just go out and enjoy the scenery at a fast pace, feeling yourself getting leaner, fitter, more energetic, with a healthy heart and strong bones. In fact, the book advocates starting out with short distances, gradually increasing your running distance and pace, and giving your body time to recuperate if the new exercise is causing pain.

Yet Dr. Ruth, a cancer survivor whose 1982 victory over metastatic breast cancer is part of the documentary Forks Over Knives, is quick to let you know that diet is even more important than running to maintaining health. But, she points out, this is not an either/or choice.

The whole foods, plant-based diet she recommends optimally supports athletic performance. She describes how her athletic accomplishments soared after she went from a routine American diet to one based on a wide variety of whole plant foods, with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables. She thrives on her diet and shares her enjoyable daily food routines with you as well.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to talk with Dr. Ruth and find out more about her ideas and experiences. I wanted to know her opinion of why more people aren't runners.

Click to read the rest of the interview with Dr. Ruth Heidrich


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