There is good evidence that a whole foods plant based diet will reduce the incidence and slow the progression of the most common cancers, including: bowel, breast and prostate cancers. Increased vegetable intake has also been shown to reduce the risk of skin cancer and lung cancer. This knowledge is intended to help you prevent the growth of cancer and should in no way be used as an explanation as to why you, or anyone else developed cancer. We do not recommend that a plant based diet replace conventional treatment, rather it should be used alongside conventional treatment.
Besides anecdotal reports of individual cancer remissions, there is evidence that lifestyle changes can slow the progression of cancer and increase survival rates. Dr Dean Ornish (2005) showed that intensive lifestyle intervention, including a plant based diet, controlled the progression of low-grade prostate cancer. Dr Michael Greger discusses the study in this video: Cancer Reversal Through Diet? Survival following treatment for breast cancer has been well studied. Higher intakes of saturated fats from animal products are associated with reduced survival whereas high fibre intakes from plant foods are protective.
Animal protein is the elephant in the room in relation to diet and cancer. The evidence linking animal protein to cancer does not sit comfortably with our long-standing paradigm that places high protein meat and dairy foods at the centre of our diet. Dr T. Colin Campbell has been a world-renowned researcher in this area for over forty years. He describes milk protein, casein as the most relevant chemical carcinogen ever identified. See his talk Animal Protein — Meat and Dairy — Cause Cancer (45 mins):
There is a wealth of resources regarding the links between diet and cancer. We have tried to select some of the best and most significant but the list is by no means complete (NB we are still building this list below).
- Barnard, N. D., & Reilly, J. K. (2008). The cancer survivor’s guide: foods that help you fight back. Summertown, TN: Healthy Living Publications. (free online PDF)
- Campbell, T. C., & Jacobson, H. (2013). Whole: rethinking the science of nutrition, Benbella Books (pbk edn released May 2014)
- Campbell, T. M., & Campbell, T. C. (2005). The China study: the most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted and the startling implications for diet, weight loss and long-term health. Dallas, Tex: BenBella Books.
- Dietary Treatment of Cancer – (2 1/2 min) Dr John McDougall
- Diet in the Prevention and Treatment of Common Cancers – Dr John McDougall, presentation at the September 2015 Advanced Study Weekend
- Up The Wrong Butt, Colonoscopy – Guidelines for Colorectal Cancer Prevention – Dr John McDougall presentation at the September 2016 Advanced Study Weekend (36 min.)
- Animal Protein — Meat and Dairy — Cause Cancer – (45 min.) T. Colin Campbell
- Slowing the Growth of Cancer (6 min. video) – Dr Michael Greger. Researchers discovered a dietary intervention that may slow the progression of cancer.
- Dr. John McDougall Discusses Cancer, Webinar 09/15/16 – (1hr 6min video)
PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) have developed a comprehensive list of resources for understanding the link between nutrition and cancer:
- Diet and Cancer – excellent starting point for resources. Includes links to facts about nutrition and cancer and research into different cancer types
- Cancer Resources – includes 6 tips for cancer prevention and recurrence
- The Cancer Survivor’s Guide: Foods That Help you Fight Back – a booklet for cancer survivors which you can download for free
- Meat Consumption and Cancer Risk – provides evidence of the association between meat and cancer
- World Cancer Research Fund Global Network, & American Institute for Cancer Research. (2007). Food, nutrition, physical activity, and the prevention of cancer: a global perspective. (Second Report). Washington, DC: AICR.
- Cancer: Is It Just Bad Luck or Failed Research? – T. Colin Campbell, PhD (2015)
- Are We Eating Too Much Protein? A Scientist Makes the Connection Between Protein and Cancer – (2014) blog post discussing Dr T Colin Campbell’s findings linking animal protein and cancer
- Cancer-Proofing Your Body (blog post) – Dr Michael Greger and this link How Do Plant-Based Diets Fight Cancer?
- American Institute for Cancer Research – AICR, the China Study, and Forks Over Knives
- A Cure For Cancer? Eating A Plant-Based Diet – Kathy Freston interviews T Colin Campbell
- Barnard, R. J., Gonzalez, J. H., Liva, M. E., & Ngo, T. H. (2006). Effects of a low-fat, high-fiber diet and exercise program on breast cancer risk factors in vivo and tumor cell growth and apoptosis in vitro. Nutrition and Cancer, 55(1), 28-34.
- Bodai, B. I., & Tuso, P. (2015). Breast cancer survivorship: a comprehensive review of long-term medical issues and lifestyle recommendations. Permanente Journal, 19(2), 48-79.
- Ornish, D., Weidner, G., Fair, W. R., . . . Carroll, PR (2005), Intensive lifestyle changes may affect the progression of prostate cancer, Journal of Urology, vol. 174, no. 3, pp. 1065-9; discussion 9-70. **RCT**
- Ornish, D., Lin, J., Chan, J. M., . . . Blackburn, E. H. (2013). Effect of comprehensive lifestyle changes on telomerase activity and telomere length in men with biopsy-proven low-risk prostate cancer: 5-year follow-up of a descriptive pilot study. The Lancet Oncology, 14(11), 1112-1120.
- Tantamango-Bartley, Y., Jaceldo-Siegl, K., Fan, J., & Fraser, G. (2013). Vegetarian Diets and the Incidence of Cancer in a Low-risk Population. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, 22(2), 286-294. (open access)
- Breast Cancer
- Colon Cancer (under construction)
- Prostate Cancer (under construction)
- Peggy Fought Ovarian Cancer by Changing to a Starch Based Diet – Peggy (7 min. video)
- Late Stage Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis, Beating the Odds – Sally Lipsky (2016, written story)
- Breast cancer success stories
- PCRM Cancer success stories
Page created 21 January 2013
Last updated 28 November 2016