… test us on ten days of a diet of vegetables and water, then see how we look compared to the other young men…(From the biblical book of Daniel, chapter 1, verse 12)
It’s the “c” word… not the vulgar one, but the scary one. Cancer. The diagnosis no one ever wants to hear (among so many others). According to the Canadian Cancer Society, 40% of Canadian women and 45% of men will develop cancer during their lifetimes. An estimated 1 out of every 4 Canadians are expected to die from cancer and cancer is the leading cause of premature death in Canada.
Cancer seems to have a smorgasbord of choices - appearing in the lungs, breast, prostate, ovary, pancreas, colon, uterus, thyroid, kidney, brain, lymph and skin, among still others.
With statistics like that, it puts an even greater responsibility on society to practice prevention. While genetics play a certain role in cancer – somatic cancers (acquired during life) are on the rise. Statistically, the message of prevention is dwarfed behind the push for a cure. We run, bike, skip, sail, jump, dance and bake for “the cure” but what are we doing to prevent cancer? This is not to say that major advances have not been made in cancer research, or to imply that miracles have not happened with modern medical treatments – but what part of cancer is the researchers role and what part is society’s?
While doctors are studying the petri dish, we can study our diet. Today’s diet is, well… highly acidic and cancer promoting. Most of our diet today leans toward the acidic side – heavy in meat, dairy, starchy and processed, sugary foods.
Cancers love acid
Their cells thrive and survive in an acidic environment. According to Dr. Susan Lark, MD, “The simplest and most dramatic thing you can do for your body is to balance the levels of acid vs. alkaline.” Cancer cells will actually die in an alkaline environment because an alkaline state is oxygen rich and cancer cells cannot survive high levels of oxygenation. Vegetarian and plant-based protein diets, as well as diets rich in antioxidants from fruits and veggies have been shown to help prevent cancer as well as slow the rate of cancer cell growth.
A study by J.H. Cummings, and S.A.Bingham entitled Diet and the prevention of Cancer (BMJ 1998;317:1636-1640) concludes that: “...diet contributes to varying extent to the risk of many other cancers, including cancers of the lung, prostate, stomach, oesophagus, and pancreas... Generally, fruit, vegetables, and fiber have a protective effect, whereas red and processed meat increase the risk of developing cancer."
Cancer has and continues to have devastating effects on families and society. We can no longer afford to leave prevention on the sidelines. Food is medicine and medicine is food – whether we believe ol’ Socrates or not. By the way, Daniel mentioned above, well… after ten days, he and his friends looked healthier and better nourished than the kings men who ate rich foods and meat. Seems we’ve known a thing or two about diet for a long, long time. Don’t live to eat, eat to live!