Curing cancer?


Micaela Karlsen, MSPH


With all the research showing that cancer progression can be reversed in rats by switching to a low-protein diet, can I expect to cure my stage 2 or 3 tumor by eating plant-based foods? Should I not do chemo and radiation?


Cancer is a complex disease, much more so than heart disease or type 2 diabetes, because the cancer process gains its own momentum as it progresses and the tumors grow. The results from the decades of work that Dr. T. Colin Campbell performed on rats showed a remarkable and unmatched ability for simple nutritional adjustments (20% animal protein vs. 5% animal protein) to prevent and actually reverse the progression of precancerous lesions. These kinds of results are unparalleled by modern cancer drugs.

However, everyone with a diagnosis of cancer needs to make their own choice about their course of treatment. The type of cancer, and type of treatments available, vary quite a lot and the success rates vary a lot too. There are many anecdotal stories of people who have done nothing but change their diets to a whole food, plant-based diet, and they have seen advanced stage cancer reverse. At the same time, there are individuals who tried that course of action and it wasn't enough, and unfortunately they did not survive their illness. Research using diet as the primary means of treatment for cancer has yet to be performed - in the current medical climate, that would be seen as no treatment, so we must look to animal studies and epidemiological studies to estimate the potential effectiveness of dietary interventions on cancer reversal.

Being an empowered cancer patient starts by being informed about your situation and the absolute (not relative) risk reduction of any cancer treatment that is being proposed to you. Find out what the side effects are, find out what is likely to happen to you if you do nothing, and find out what is likely to happen to you if you take the treatment. You can appreciate the concern of your physician, but try to protect yourself from the fear and urgency of physicians who may pressure you to make a decision very quickly before you are ready. It can help to take an advocate with you to medical appointments to help you remember all the information presented and to help you wait until you feel ready to make a decision.

At the same time, whether you choose to pursue standard treatment or not, eating a whole food, plant-based diet that offers the best odds for dietary protection or potential reversal that we have evidence for. Without knowing whether diet alone would be enough to reverse someone's disease, we do have evidence that eating this way will help both healthy people and patients. In the end, some people may try standard medical treatment, some may try a dietary approach, some may try a combination, and some may choose to do nothing. Your choices are your own, but the more information you have, the more informed are the decisions you can make.

If you are interested in learning more about the evidence linking diet and cancer, try reading the research papers in the Cancer category on this website, as well as reading The China Study by Drs. T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell.