Doctor's Note

For more on the connection between diet and cancer, check out these videos:
From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food
Is It the Diet, the Exercise, or Both?
Which Dietary Factors Affect Breast Cancer Most?
Phytates for Rehabilitating Cancer Cells
Improving on the Mediterranean Diet

And be sure to check out my other videos on cancer and diet

For more context, also see my associated blog posts: Breast Cancer Survival and SoyBreast Cancer and DietMushrooms for Breast Cancer Prevention; and Go Nuts for Breast Cancer Prevention.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

To post comments or questions into our discussion board, first log into Disqus with your NutritionFacts.org account or with one of the accepted social media logins. Click on Login to choose a login method. Click here for help.

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check out the other videos on cancer and diet. Also, there are 1,449 subjects covered in my other videos–please feel free to explore them!

  • justava

    Dr. Greger: I think your tag line is very discouraging and should be rephrased. I am a 38-year survivor of Stage 2 infiltrating duct carcinoma. I found my own breast lump, was sent for a mammogram which was negative, but because of my positive maternal history, I persisted and was sent to see a surgeon. I underwent a modified radical mastectomy and fortunately was node-negative; because of my age at the time (<30), I did not receive radiation or chemo but close followup. I do agree with you that breast cancer can indeed take decades to develop, but in conjunction with family history and external input (like the birth control pill can act as "fertilizer" to certain susceptible tumors) can certainly speed up the tumor process. If your followers feel that early detection via a mammogram may be too late, you could be doing the female population a great disservice.

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      Thank you so much for sharing your story, justava. I’m so glad to hear you’re doing well now. But the situation with detection methods is indeed a discouraging one. Mammograms and all other early detection methods are, by definition of course, too late in that they don’t prevent cancer. And in many cases may even be too late to significantly alter the course of the disease. Please see, for example, the latest open access review on the subject, The Benefits and Harms of Screening for Cancer with a Focus on Breast Screening.” As you’ll note even in just the abstract, the regular breast self‐exams do not not appear to reduce breast cancer mortality, the effects of physician breast examination are unknown, and it is not clear that screening for breast cancer with mammography, thermography, ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging does more good than harm on a population level because of the need to balance the cases in which there is benefit with the number of unnecessary biopsies and surgeries. I still encourage women to follow the guidelines of the USPSTF, but in addition want to emphasize prevention so women don’t have to go through what you had to (or worse).

      • luvplants

        Are there any similar studies showing the benefits and harms of colonoscopy? My family practitioner wants me to have this test (I’m 52). I eat only a whole vegan diet, don’t smoke or drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages, and I briskly walk 3.3 miles a day and my BMI is 20. Because I believe my risk for colorectal cancer is low, I’d rather avoid a colonoscopy. If there is a study showing the absolute benefit of colonoscopy, I’d like to know about it.

        • DrDons

          I recommend one flexible sigmoid between ages 55 – 64 and not the colonoscopy. Over the last 30 years the recommendations have changed from checking for blood by occult testing kits to flexible sigmoid to colonoscopy and differs depending on group making recommendations. The best discussion I have seen is in the August 2010 McDougall Newsletter see link at http://drmcdougall.com/misc/2010nl/aug/colon.htm. These recommendations may need to be altered depending on patients own or family history. The science keeps changing so keep tuned to Nutritionfacts.org for updates.

  • Thermography is the new early detection method. Check this out. http://www.breastthermography.com/

  • justava

    If only we could be omniscient, knowing then about prioritizing prevention to what we know now. However, better late than never.

  • HereHere

    Dogs are now being trained (even in my region) to detect cancer. It seems they are more effective at finding cancer from a breath sample than our technology is. While I agree that prevention of cancer through a vegetable-based diet, exercise, and good stress management skills is the best, I could see a role for submitting a much less invasive breath sample every year (or if cost effective, it could be done frequently). The trick will be training the dogs to indicate cancer at very low levels (i.e. early stage), and I don’t know where the dog trainers and science are on this one. By the way, I liked the video that showed that exposure to cats, dogs or pet rodents at any time of our lives, reduce the risk of the blood cancer called hodgkins lymphoma. That is cool! I knew that exposure to cats reduces asthma (and allergies too, I think), but blood cancer too!

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please also check out my associated blog post, Breast Cancer Survival and Soy!

    •  Dr. Greger, these links don’t work. Thanks.

      • Michael Greger M.D.

        So sorry and thanks again for pointing that out Tan- they should be running now!

  • Dr. Greger, I tried writing on your FB wall but for some reason it’s not letting me lol but anyway, as a vegan, I keep hearing how vegans lack iodine. What are some ways vegans can get it? 

  • rawrnr

    thanx for the link but I don’t have cancer… I have a fat mass… benign tumour in the retroperitonuim – free floating,… not attached to anything. Not sure why you linked me to this…. NOT CANCER!

  • Sabrina

    Do you think that people who have the BRCA1 or 2 are most likely going to get breast cancer?

    • The studies on these genes were done in families with high incidences of cancers… http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/BRCA. So it is hard to generalize to entire populations. it is clear that nutrition plays an important role in whether or not you get breast cancer. You can view the many videos that Dr. Greger has done with the cited studies for general information. The best information for patients on screening mammography is the Cochrane Collaboration Pamphlet on Screening Mammography see Dr. McDougall’s May 2012 Newsletter for the link. At this point I can’t recommend mammography as a general population screen regardless of history. As a diagnostic test for abnormalities found by patients or physicians it can be useful.

  • Kaaren

    What do you think of Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy to prevent getting breast cancer? She obviously doesn’t know that breast don’t cause cancer – it’s how we eat.

  • Kathy

    Dr. Greger,
    One article posted showed a reduction in cancer growth after consuming lemons and cranberries I have Bronchoalveolar Carcinoma. It is my understanding that cancer likes an acidic environment. Years ago I had occasional kidney or bladder infection. When I thought one was coming on I consumed cranberry juice and it disappeared. I was told the reason was because cranberry was the only fruit which was able to remain acidic in your system and that is what would combat the infection. Is this true? Do cranberries and lemons create an acidic environment and if this is true why does it have an adverse effect on cancer cells? Also, it is my understanding that this study states that lung cancer is adversely affected by the consumption of cranberries and lemons. I can buy unfiltered !00% cranberry juice from Trader Joe’s, but regarding the lemon, should the whole fruit be consumed, skin and all?

  • Jean

    Dr. Greger: To begin, I would like to acknowledge you for your willingness and interest in sharing new research information learned as well as the knowledge you possess for the greater health and well being of others.
    I am a 55 year old women who has been physically fit all my life. Overall my health is good, weight at 110, five feet tall, and am in the process of giving up meat.
    A year ago, while in a yoga class I discover a mass in the back of my hamstring. It was tested and was at grade 3 malignant soft tissue sarcoma.
    I received six months of radiation followed by surgery.
    My six month follow up is at the end of this month. I’m beginning to get very anxious and am hopeful to hear good news that it is completely gone and did not move to my lungs.
    What I have learned is that this is not a genetic type of cancer. It is caused by environmental pollutants.
    I’m being as proactive as possible to understand & learn what it is that I can do to help eliminate cancer from existing in my body. Like you and many other human beings, I want to live a life of balance….(Balance between work, rest, play & leisure), to live healthy!, to have a life of quality which we are all deserving of.
    Could you provide me with the environmental pollutants names, and where they come from that cause soft tissue sarcoma? As well as what research has discovered to prevent soft tissue sarcoma from returning or forming in the body.
    Thank you so much for your being the selfless caring human being that is making a difference in the world, as well as being a positive influence on those individuals that are proactive enough to help themselves.
    Sincerely,
    Jean

  • andy

    Hello
    I need to ask you something. Avocado Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASU) are commonly used as a treatment for Osteoarthritis. Do you know if this product is safe for estrogen positive breast cancer survivors? (also for those not positive estrogen cancer, please)
    I have osteoarthritis in my hands and usually take Avocado Soybean Unsaponifiables and also glucosamine & condroitin sulfate as a treatment. Besides, I was diagnosed with LCIS in 2011 and I had gone under a conservative surgery. My Lcis was very little (2mm) in 0 level and it resulted negative to E-caderina.
    I need to know if my taking of Soybean Unsaponifiables & Glusamine/coindritin supplements are safe for me, since I know some supplements used for osteoarthritis can diminish the inmune system response (thus opening the door to cancer).
    Thanks a lot
    Andy

  • andy

    Hello
    I need to ask you something. Avocado Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASU) are commonly used as a treatment for Osteoarthritis. Do you know if this product is safe for estrogen positive breast cancer survivors? (also for those not positive estrogen cancer, please)
    I have osteoarthritis in my hands and usually take Avocado Soybean Unsaponifiables and also glucosamine & condroitin sulfate as a treatment. Besides, I was diagnosed with LCIS in 2011 and I had gone under a conservative surgery. My Lcis was very little (2mm) in 0 level and it resulted negative to E-caderina.

    I need to know if my taking of Soybean Unsaponifiables & Glusamine/coindritin supplements are safe for me, since I know some supplements used for osteoarthritis can diminish the inmune system response (thus opening the door to cancer). The problem is that I have read in several medicine webpages that these medicines are effective for arthrosis by decreasing the immune system response because it is said that immune system attacks the joint cartilage. So my fear is: if the immune system is decreased by these medicines… Does it open the door to a recurrence of my old LCIS or something worse? Please, I need advice and none of my doctors knows answer my question. Thanks

  • PaulKR

    Hi Dr Greger and team. My wife (33 yrs old), was diagnosed with cancer last August 2015 at 16 weeks pregnant (Ewings Sarcoma). First came spinal surgery then the discovery of the malignancy and sub-optimal treatment until our third son was born at 32 weeks. No metastasis found. The radiation schedule has been completed and chemotherapy will continue until May 2016 at this stage.

    We are wondering if there are any whole food plant based treatment centres or regimes available in the US or gobally? More down the path of Pitkin/Esselstyn/Mcdougall with heart disease. We have watched a lot of the videos, including the Gerson style therapy. From the videos it appears that a whole food plant based diet may be complementary with Chemotherapy.

    Can you make any suggestions? Obviously we will need to do our own research and any suggestions provided will not be taken has medical advice.

    • DrAlex_NF_Moderator

      Paul, sorry it has taken some time for someone to respond. We have a new team of moderators and we are working hard to come up with faster ways to answer questions. I completely agree with your statement that a whole food, plant based diet would work complementary with treatment your wife is receiving. I am personally not aware of a specific treatment center that is “plant based” when it comes to cancer treatment, and I would think in your wife’s case, it may be hard to find actual research in terms of diet and its association with Ewings sarcoma given how rare it is. That being said, I would whole-heartedly agree with pursuing a whole food, plant based diet in conjunction with the medical treatment recommend by the oncologists you are working with. Hope this helps and my best to your family.

    • DrAlex

      Might I also recommend reading this article related to The China Study: Doctor Inspired by The China Study for His Cancer Patients