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Food Combining for Prostate Cancer

What would happen if you secretly gave cancer patients four of the healthiest foods?

In my video Pomegranate vs. Placebo for Prostate Cancer, I discussed how pomegranate pills appeared useless in the treatment for prostate cancer, and the same disappointing results were seen with a pomegranate beverage, but that was just a pomegranate extract as well. So, maybe the pomegranate itself “cannot be blamed for the ineffectiveness seen in the study” but rather the low dose of the pomegranate active principles in the extract. But what is the active principle? Extracts will boast about the level of ellagic acid, definitely “one of the most potent of the phytochemicals found in pomegranate. However, it is not as strong as pomegranate” itself.

What researchers mean is that the components may act synergistically: The whole may be greater than the sum of its parts. As you can see at 1:07 in my video Best Supplements for Prostate Cancer, human prostate cancer cells in a petri dish churned away at 100 percent growth, but after dripping on a pomegranate fraction, the cancer growth rate was cut by 30 percent. However, dripping on a different fraction appeared useless. What do you think would happen if you added them both together? 30% suppression + 0% suppression = 70% suppression! That’s synergy, where 1 + 1 is greater than 2. Under a microscope, prostate cancer cells appeared sparser with the combination of fractions. “Any attempt to characterize the phytoceutical power of a medicinal food by standardizing a single chemical is missing the entire point” of plant-based medicine. So, the standardized extracts represent a “cynical, lucre-driven [money-driven] attempt to replace the power of the pomegranate with the power of ellagic acid. The pomegranate needs no such tricks or enhancements.” It’s powerful as is. So, why don’t researchers just try the fruit on cancer patients?

Because you can’t stuff a pomegranate in a pill, so you can’t compare it to an indistinguishable sugar pill placebo. Drugs are easy to study. People don’t know if they are taking the active drug or a placebo, but they tend to notice if they’re eating a pomegranate or not. So, if you gave a bunch of cancer patients some pomegranates to eat and the cancer slowed down, you wouldn’t know if it was the pomegranates or just the placebo effect. Of course, the patients wouldn’t care. They’d just care that they got better. But, to change medical practice, we want to know if the fruit is actually something special. I suppose you could create some kind of pomegranate smoothie versus a fake smoothie, but that sounds logistically difficult. So, researchers tried powdering it. Three times a day, 199 men with prostate cancer got either a placebo or a tablet containing 100 mg of powdered whole pomegranate—the whole fruit with just the water taken out. How much can fit in a tablet? It comes out to be about six pomegranate seeds’ worth a day, about 1/100th of a pomegranate each day. Since so little could fit into a pill, researchers tried to maximize their chances of beating back the cancer using diversity.

As you can see at 4:01 in my video, two groups of people ate approximately the same amount of fruits and vegetables, but one group ate a relatively low biological diversity diet, where they ate tons of really healthy foods but just less variety than did a second group who ate smaller servings of a high diversity diet. Which group do you think would win in terms of protecting their DNA from free radical damage? The high diversity group. This suggests that “smaller amounts of many phytochemicals may have greater potential to exert beneficial effects than larger amounts of fewer phytochemicals.”

Same result for inflammation. Greater variety in fruit and vegetable intake is associated with lower inflammation even if you eat the same number of servings. Same with improving cognitive function, too. Greater variety in fruit and vegetable intake is also associated with a better mental status, executive function, attention, and memory function in some cases, even after adjustment for total quantity. So, if you have two people eating the same number of servings of healthy foods, the one eating a greater variety may do better.

Going back to the study with the 199 prostate cancer patients getting either a placebo or a tablet with 100 mg of powdered whole pomegranate three times daily, the researchers didn’t just put in pomegranate powder. They also added powdered broccoli, powdered turmeric, and powdered green tea concentrate. So, the tablet contained a fruit, a vegetable, a spice, and a leaf in tiny amounts—about one floret of broccoli a day, less than an eighth of a daily teaspoon of turmeric, and about one sixth of a tea bag worth of green tea. All great plants, but could such tiny amounts actually affect the progression of cancer? Yes. As you can see at 5:55 in my video, in the group of men with early stage prostate cancer trying to avoid surgery, the PSA levels in the placebo group rose nearly 50 percent, indicating that the cancer continued to flourish, whereas the PSAs didn’t rise at all in the pomegranate, broccoli, turmeric, and green tea food supplement group. And, in those with more advanced disease—patients who had already had surgery or radiation and were trying to avoid chemo—there was a 70 percent greater rise in PSA levels in the placebo group. This was enough to significantly delay some of these more toxic treatments. Indeed, the study found significant, short-term, favorable effects. However, they only had enough money to run the study for six months, because it was a “non-commercial” endeavor, funded by charities, not some supplement company. In fact, there was no supplement until the investigators dreamed it up from scratch for the study. Of course, now there’s a supplement, given the study’s extraordinary results, but the only reason the researchers put the foods in pill form was to match it with a placebo. In my mind, what this study should tell cancer patients is to eat curried broccoli with fruit for dessert and to sip some green tea. A completely plant-based diet may even shrink the tumor, not just slow it down, but there’s no reason we can’t do both with a plant-based diet chock full of especially powerful plants.

I love that study! You and I both know why these types of studies aren’t performed more often. Who would profit? (Other than the millions of people suffering and dying from cancer, of course!)

The note I ended on, the landmark Ornish study, is detailed in Cancer Reversal Through Diet. For those unwilling or unable to make such significant dietary changes, there’s still something you can do. See Prostate Cancer Survival: The A/V Ratio. Changing a Man’s Diet After a Prostate Cancer Diagnosis isn’t easy!

For more on the 2 + 2 > 4 concept, see Food Synergy.

What about preventing prostate cancer in the first place? Check out my videos like Prostate Cancer and Organic Milk vs. Almond Milk and Eggs, Choline, and Cancer to get a sense of what you might want to avoid. But, in terms of what to eat, see The Role of Soy Foods in Prostate Cancer Prevention and Fermented or Unfermented Soy Foods for Prostate Cancer Prevention?.

Also, 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 presentations:


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

38 responses to “Food Combining for Prostate Cancer

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  1. This was one of my favorite studies because of the six pomegranate seeds, one floret of broccoli, less than an eighth of a teaspoon of turmeric, and about one-sixth of a teabag worth of green tea.

    That is so extraordinarily doable.

    Even people who hate vegetables can handle 1 broccoli floret and it is easy to add 1/8 teaspoon of turmeric to a sauce or nutritional yeast. A sixth of a teabag…. so maybe a cup of tea? Even if you hate green tea, it is something you can add to N’ice cream.

    Yesterday, I watched an old Rich Roll video on being vegan on $25 and he went on several shopping trips with a $25 limit each and the first trip, he bought 2 juices and it cost $25. On a later trip, he got 1 bag of Goji berries and that cost $25. He eventually went to some cheaper places and bought things like potatoes and carrots and celery and beans and rice but superfoods cost so much money.

    I am still not buying and cooking yet partly because I am still in learning mode and I find that it is actually cheaper for me to spend $100 at Mamasezz than go to Whole Foods and they do the prep work and clean up for me.

    Trying to figure it out.

    But this blog was perfectly timed for me. Smaller salads with 6 pomegranate seeds per day, rather than 24 would stretch things out.

    For the first 2 years, I did salads with everything in them, but it got expensive and I simplified. Sometimes I just eat the greens without anything else and I am trying to put the rest back in without spending half of my take-home pay on vegetables and fruit.

    1. Lentils (and beans) are very cheap and versatile, Deb, and once soaked/cooked they more than double in weight.

      I blend spinach into liquid and boil my lentils in that. Very easy. Then add 1L soya milk, dried fruits, turmeric, cocoa, ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, and lots of oats. Overnight soak, lasts me all week! :-)

      The same spinach-boiled lentils can easily make dinner, with extras like curry powder, chickpeas, potato, onion, and pumpkin/squash, even some fruit like mango. Served with brown rice boiled in spinach water, cardamom, clove, turmeric.

    2. I am not sure where you live, Deb, but here in Texas there are a lot better choices for grocery shopping than Whole Foods, and prices for both fresh and frozen vegetables, as well as for pantry staples like lentils, brown rice, oatmeal and quinoa are very reasonable. If you are pressed for time, as NutritionChat mentions, you can cook up extra rice and lentils to save in the fridge, so meal preparation should not be complicated. If you don’t already have a rice cooker, you might consider one since those are not expensive and I find them to be a foolproof method of preparing rice. If you don’t have an Instant Pot or pressure cooker, you might consider one for cooking beans, which likewise store well in the fridge. Here in Houston our grocery stores (Kroger and HEB) have a good selection of organics. If your grocery stores lack a good selection, you can order organic pantry items online from Kroger’s for a lot less than you would pay at Whole Foods. Depending on your location, you might try Trader Joe’s, which has better prices than Whole Foods. Sprouts also has much more reasonable prices than Whole Foods if their stores are convenient for you. Since Amazon purchased Whole Foods, the store changed, and I no longer shop there..

      1. I cook up huge batches of beans and whole grains in my instant pot and freeze them in smaller containers. Cook a pot of potatoes once or twice a week so we always have tons of filling starches in the refrigerator. Combine with vegetables in the microwave for a super quick meal that cannot be improved upon for health.

    3. Deb, it is probably not all that complicated to “figure it out,” after all! Look at your family history and gene variants to see where your risk is, and make diet and lifestyle changes on that basis.

      For me, the risk is heart disease, diabetes, cancer, AMD and autoimmune diseases. My father had all of this, including two kinds of cancer, when he died, at approximately my age. For both heart disease and diabetes, follow the very low fat, high fiber, low protein, low glycemic load WFPB Esselstyn or Ornish diets. Those diets plus lifestyle changes (exercise, weight loss and stress reduction) will prevent and even possibly reverse both conditions. For elevated Lp(a), perhaps a raw vegan diet or frequent blood letting might help. For cancer, eliminate meat and dairy, and focus on daily intake of cruciferous veggies; broccoli is an excellent choice, also cabbage and Brussels sprouts. For AMD apparently a supplement to help eyes block blue light, always wearing sunglasses outside, and a low GL diet high in dark, leafy green vegetables and whole grains are helpful measures; eliminate meat, fried food, refined grains, processed foods, and high-fat dairy. The verdict is still out on what triggers autoimmune disease.

      So, the diet suggested for my multiple chronic disease risks is not expensive.

      For most chronic diseases to which one is predisposed, inflammation is a key trigger, according to my endocrinologist. Since diet is key, look at the table of AGE in common foods to see what foods contribute the least to your AGE burden: Table 1 at Here is another good summary:,also%20are%20high%20in%20AGEs.

      Note that in Table 1, sugary foods and refined carbs are shown as relatively harmless. But whether or not they are actually harmless for an individual is a function of energy needs and the dose. So if you are closer to a couch potato than to an elite athlete, and you have a problem with strict portion control of such foods, it is best to add an additional layer of glycemic index and glycemic load to the foods you need to emphasize based on Table 1.

      High consumption of antioxidant rich fruits/veggies will also help to counteract the inflammation caused by a less than optimal diet.

      Superfoods are likely in large part a marketing triumph. Dr. Greger’s recent article suggests that it is wise to function on lifestyle change and diet to increase nitric oxide production. Superfoods are not necessary for that, however.

      So no, it should not be expensive or complicated for people to follow a healthful WFPB diet. If your insurance covers the cost, it is also not expensive to monitor your progress in improving your health through diet. Once a year is often enough for most conditions, every six months for those who are at extremely high risk of developing the condition.

  2. If the males in my life heard this message, they would do it. My older brother counted out pomegranate seeds when I told him that Dr. Li said that immunotherapy doesn’t always work if you don’t have the bacteria associated with pomegranate seeds and cranberries.

    He would seriously eat a floret of broccoli and 6 pomegranate seeds and he actually likes curry, so that part would be easy.

    Males would respond to this message with such joy.

    1. Ditto Tom, and whilst I am at it, most pleased Dr Greger so elegantly covered the issue of synergy. Which is so important. Everything being interconnected:

      Toe bone connected to the foot bone
      Foot bone connected to the heel bone
      Heel bone connected to the ankle bone
      Ankle bone connected to the shin bone
      Shin bone connected to the knee bone
      Knee bone connected to the thigh bone
      Thigh bone connected to the hip bone
      Hip bone connected to the back bone
      Back bone connected to the shoulder bone
      Shoulder bone connected to the neck bone
      Neck bone connected to the head bone

      Whilst on the subject of factuality. A month or so ago we were squabbling over the addition of milk to tea/coffee/cocoa. You claimed (amongst other spurious claims) I had never presented evidence which demonstrated the addition of milk did NOT permanently diminish polyphenol bioavailability. Study by study, I challenged your evidence, and Dr Greger’s (shabby) video ‘evidence’ on this matter, and re-presented 30 studies which demonstrated milk did not permanently diminish polyphenol bioavailability – and in some instances enhanced it. I invited you or Dr Greger to rebut the evidence. Which you have chosen not to do. I therefore rest my case in this matter.

      1. That’s just not true Pete.

        I went through your pile of copy/pasted stuff study by study on various occasions and pointed out how they were either irrelevant to the claims you were making or were carefully designed industry funded studies intended to produce misleading results. However, you just kept repeating them and I saw no point in posting the same detailed response every time (especially since I hadn’t kept a copy of my original responses).

        The most obvious example of this was that Chinese study which you said showed milk in tea didn’t affect absorption when it showed exactly the opposite. In fact the last time you came out with that one, you absolutely refused to provide the link again because you knew that it would allow me to provide chapter and verse to refute your claim once more..

        Asserting over and over again that black is white, and ignoring all evidence to the contrary, does not prove an assertion that black is white.

          1. Thanks Pete. I have to go out now. It’s quarantine pass day today … that’s a pass allowing holders to go out of the house on 3 and a half days a week.

            Will try to read through that exchange and respond tonight.

            1. Pete

              Sorry I couldn’t respond yesterday evening. We had a big electrical storm which knocked out our internet/cable tv connections and caused a brown-out.

              However, I’ve now had a chance to look at those earlier posts you referred to. There was nothing new there except for your long post on endometriosis and soy/dairy which I don’t recall seeing at the time.

              As for tea and milk, I would just repeat

              ‘‘Methods and results: A total of 16 healthy female volunteers consumed either 500 mL of freshly brewed black tea, black tea with 10% skimmed milk, or boiled water as control. Flow-mediated dilation (FMD) was measured by high-resolution vascular ultrasound before and 2 h after consumption. Black tea significantly improved FMD in humans compared with water, whereas addition of milk completely blunted the effects of tea. To support these findings, similar experiments were performed in isolated rat aortic rings and endothelial cells. Tea induced vasorelaxation in rat aortic rings and increased the activity of endothelial nitric oxide synthase by phosphorylation of the enzyme in endothelial cells. All effects were completely inhibited by the addition of milk to tea.’

              Also worth repeating is that studies in Europe show reduced mortality with black tea consumption whereas studies in the UK and Australia where black tea is traditionally drunk with milk, reported adverse effects.

              Regarding those studies reporting protective associations between dairy assumption and endometriosis risk, those can simply be explained by those young women eating more dairy in place of (red) meat since there is evidence that there may be an increase in endometriosis risk with red meat consumption.

              As I have noted before, I have no problems accepted that dairy may be protective relative to eg red meat consumption, highly processed foods etc but that’s hardly the same as stating that dairy is protective full stop. It is I think worth repeating that Dr G’s video on such studies bears re-watching

        1. We dont always disagree Tom. But when it comes to the addition of milk to tea, and polyphenol bioavailability you (and Dr Greger) have got it completely wrong.

  3. I guess it was six years ago, I went vegan for the benefit of the dairy cattle and egg hens that were supporting my cheese, milk and egg habit as a South Beach vegetarian. Coïncidentally, my GP found a bulging nodule on my prostate and I was sent off to the tender mercies of a urologist for a prostate biopsy. Although my PSA levels were elevated, my Gleason score came back low enough I didn’t have to be offered a prostate surgery.

    As I wandered the Internets trying to figure out how to deal with having gone vegan cold-turkey, I eventually discovered Dr Greger and adopted a whole-food vegan diet and decided to incorporate information from him that was prostate-friendly. That included a daily bowl of rolled oats with a cinnamon-cardamom-clove-nutmeg-turmeric-black pepper mix added to two Tbsp of ground flax and topped with blueberries, raisins, walnuts and oatmilk.

    To make a long story short, a year later, my GP was fondling my prostate and she exclaimed that the mass was gone and all she was finding was a nice firm prostate and normal PSA levels. My night bathroom visits stopped as well. Except for the nerve damage from the biopsy that still sends pain down my leg as I orgasm (the damn urologist didn’t warn me about that side effect 8^/), I’m none the worse for my brush with prostate cancer.

    I know my “study” had a n = 1, but *I* found the results highly significant. I credit Dr Greger for having likely saved my life from both prostate cancer, cardiovascular disease (and who knows what else) and probably added twenty years to my life expectancy

  4. Fear monger, puhlease! While the COVID-19 is real and serious, the choice between surviving it and living healthful is not an either-or, it’s a both-and.

    I’m with Mr F… go peddle your conspiracy theories elsewhere

  5. Interesting. What one believes about this outbreak (and science in general, as well as politics) depends on where one finds information. There is quite a divide, and some people are not even aware of that fact…The media used to provide both sides of an issue so we could form our own conclusions, but those days are long past.

  6. This blog is exactly why I love nutrition We end up learning a lot about science as we learn a lot about nutrition. Some plants are super healthy. Almost all vegetables are useful.

    On the cost side, that is an issue. If you have a yard, many superfoods are easy to grow. I have many pie cherry trees, blueberries, horseradish, leeks, oregano, mint, as well as more exotic plants like baikal skullcap, houtuynia cordata, and common healthy weeds like dandelion, plantain, and heal all/self heal. You can grow plums, apples, pears and Asian pears here in the PNW without trying.

    Dr. Greger did a great video years ago on superfoods and he found that red cabbage was the best bang for buck on superfood antioxidants. Also very versatile for meals. Autumn olive berries have 17 times the amount of lycopene that tomatoes do and they’re easy to grow. Really hard to find, though. There are many superfoods like that.

    1. John, I was contemplating growing autumn olive (it will grow in most of the eastern US plus the Pacific Northwest) until I read that you need to be careful that birds and wildlife don’t eat the berries. The plant spreads so easily it is considered invasive.

      Elaeagnus umbellata is a deciduous shrub from 3-20 ft. (0.9-6.1 m) in height with thorny branches. It is easily recognized by the silvery, dotted underside of the leaves.
      Leaves are alternate, 2-3 in. (5-8 cm) long and 1 in. (2.5 cm) wide. The margins are entire and undulate. Leaves are bright green to gray green above and silver scaly beneath with short petioles.
      Small, yellowish tubular flowers are abundant and occur in clusters of 5 to 10 near the stems from February to June.
      Fruits are round, red, juicy drupes which are finely dotted with silvery to silvery-brown scales. Each drupe contains one seed. Fruits ripen from August to November.
      Ecological Threat
      Elaeagnus umbellata invades old fields, woodland edges, and other disturbed areas. It can form a dense shrub layer which displaces native species and closes open areas. Elaeagnus umbellata is native to China and Japan and was introduced into North America in 1830. Since then, it has been widely planted for wildlife habitat, mine reclamation, and shelterbelts. It is a non-leguminous nitrogen fixer.

    2. John S,

      I have a backyard, and most produce is fairly easy to grow, as you noted.

      BUT we have had population explosions of squirrels (eat all my tomatoes, destroying the plants in the process of “harvesting” and work on squash), chipmunks (burrow everywhere, and nibble on whatever), rabbits (love not just greens, but also seedlings, including bean and pea seedlings, birds (eat bean flowers and peck out peas and beans from the pods), and insects galore!! So much so that it’s no longer a matter of simply sharing, but rather close to complete devastation. (I have a smallish backyard.) And now we are in the midst of a drought. Even the weeds are wilting and drying up.

      I’ve learned that there are advantages to larger scale farming; smaller losses on the edges of fields can be more easily tolerated.

      1. I live next to a nature park in suburban Houston, and have the same problem as Dr.J with food thieves! We have lots of critters that apparently prefer to eat vegan, including armadillos, raccoons, squirrels, possums, wild hogs, deer, and the occasional rabbit. It is a challenge to find anything that they don’t like! Last year the squirrels actually picked every single Asian pear, leaving them on the ground for all to feast on. They did the same with the loquats: all gone overnight. I have not tried this, but a friend puts socks over the ripening fruit, and says that deters the marauders. I have had the best luck with herbs and citrus. For some reason my peach tree has been spared from the plunder as well. I lived in CT for five years, and friends had to put a high fence around anything they were growing. Here we have enough critters good at burrowing and jumping that I doubt it would work for me.

  7. I’m surprised that with this topic of food synergism, no one has mentioned the “King” of food synergism, Dr T Colin Campbell! In his book “Whole”, he explains how the reductionist view of nutrition, where foods are broken down into a few chemical ingredients, is an outdated approach.

    “Nutritional science, long stuck in a reductionist mindset, is at the cusp of a revolution. The traditional “gold standard” of nutrition research has been to study one chemical at a time in an attempt to determine its particular impact on the human body. These sorts of studies are helpful to food companies trying to prove there is a chemical in milk or pre-packaged dinners that is “good” for us, but they provide little insight into the complexity of what actually happens in our bodies or how those chemicals contribute to our health.

    In The China Study, T. Colin Campbell (alongside his son, Thomas M. Campbell) revolutionized the way we think about our food with the evidence that a whole food, plant-based diet is the healthiest way to eat. Now, in Whole, he explains the science behind that evidence, the ways our current scientific paradigm ignores the fascinating complexity of the human body, and why, if we have such overwhelming evidence that everything we think we know about nutrition is wrong, our eating habits haven’t changed.”

    And, no, this isn’t a conspiracy theory book ;-)

    1. To be fair Darwin, isn’t that precisely why the current US Dietary Guidelines (2015-2020) now focus on ‘dietary patterns’ rather than simply dealing with issues around specific nutrients?

      Personally, I think we need both approaches to understand the full picture.

      1. Yes, Fumbles. I agree that both approaches are valuable and both are needed.

        Seems to me that it’s sort of like psychology and sociology? One studies individual behavior and the other the behavior of a group of individuals.

        I’m sure Campbell knows this, too, but wanted to emphasize the seemingly total neglect of the synergistic approach.

        1. Completely agree Tom, and Darwin. But despite Campbell advocating synergies, in practice, he did the opposite. He fed rats a high level of a single protein (casein). Their increased risk of cancer formed the basis of his claims that milk, and indeed all proteins contributed to cancer in humans.

          1. They were rats, not humans. There is a difference.
          2. High consumption of any plant or animal protein in isolation from other macronutrients may have untoward effects.
          3. Casein is just one milk protein, and just one of many animal proteins.
          One can’t automatically extrapolate from one to the others.
          4. There is no evidence that milk (as opposed to casein) causes cancer.
          Indeed, whey protein is protective against cancer (Campbell fails to explore this). That is, the synergy between casein and whey proteins appears to mitigate against the development of cancer. As one would fully expect following many thousands of years of evolution. These proteins have separate roles which (when combined) are mutually complementary.

          It appears Campbell correctly theorised about synergies, but only selectively practiced the theory.

          1. I would agree with you in principle on this point Pete. However, Campbell used the casein story merely to illustrate why he went from being a staunch dairy industry defender and promoter to his current beliefs on diet and health

            It is also worth noting that

            ‘…….. Most epidemiologic studies have reported an unfavorable effect of milk on prostate cancer risk [1,2,3,5,8,23].. ……………… ……………………………………..

            Major milk proteins, α-casein and total casein, promoted the proliferation of PC-3 and LNCaP prostate cancer cells’

            As for whey, I haven’t looked into it but my recollection is that milk proteins consist of 80% caseins and only 20% whey, Any touted protective effect is therefore likely to be overwhelmed by negative effects from other components in milk and milk products. Also

            ‘People from ages 50-65 who ate high-protein diets were four times more likely to die of cancer – this is in the ballpark of smoking risk, say the authors – compared to people who ate low-protein diets. Even those who ate moderate-protein diets were three times as likely to die from cancer. And people who ate high-protein diets were 75% more likely to die from any cause, including three times as likely to die from diabetes. The team calculated that reducing protein intake from moderate to low would reduce the risk of death by 21%.

            Interestingly, when the source of the protein was taken into consideration, things changed a bit. When animal-derived sources taken out of the mix, the mortality risk was significantly reduced: In other words, plant-based protein did not seem to present the same kind of problem as protein from animal sources.’

            I therefore have no enthusiasm for consuming dairy proteins of any kind despite eating some ice cream and ‘vegetarian’ pizza every 3 months or so. They are guilty pleasures not nutritional boosts.

            The fact that a minority of the total human population can tolerate milk consumption in adulthood doesn’t prove that milk protects against cancer or promotes healthy longevity. Evolution just doesn’t work that way

    2. To be frank, I dont wish to have a deep debate on this subject. However, it should be understood T.Colin Campbell’s China study should not be taken as gospel.

      1. As we are in the middle of discussing synergies, people don’t consume casein. They consume milk.

      2. I cant find one reputable, impartial scientist who supports T.Colin Campbell’s claim that milk causes cancer.

      3.The Red Pen review of the Campbell’s China Study finds:

      *‘The China Study* also spends a fair amount of time discussing real and perceived bias and conflicts of interest in academia, medicine, and government dietary guidelines. We evaluated three of the book’s key scientific claims and found that they were not very well supported overall.
      After consulting the original data and having it analyzed by a professional statistician, we conclude that a large study in China that *The China Study* is named after does not support the book’s claims’.

      4. Denise Minger has deconstructed and debunked Campbell’s China study. If you are interested in all the detail, you can wade through it all at: It’s a very big read, but very informative.

      5. University of Washington Statistician Karl Kaiyala, PhD did the same analysis as Minger, and came to the same conclusion”

      *‘In particular, the large observational study in China the book is named after does not support the central claims of the book. We confirmed this by consulting the original data at the University of Washington medical library and analyzing it with the help of a professional statistician, Karl Kaiyala, PhD. In addition, The China Study omits important evidence that undermines its claim that animal protein but not plant protein increases cancer risk in rodents.* *And: * *However, as Campbell has pointed out, these figures are “unadjusted”, meaning they are simple analyses that don’t control for potential confounding factors. To address these concerns, we digitized data from the China Study on the total cancer mortality rate in people younger than 65, plant protein intake, animal protein intake (total protein minus plant protein), smoking rate, latitude, agricultural and industrial output (a marker of wealth), literacy (a marker of education), and age. We gave the data to a professional statistician, Karl Kaiyala, PhD. He analyzed the data in multiple ways (multivariate regression), none of which supported the book’s claim that people who ate more animal protein died of cancer more often.*

      *On this point, Kaiyala’s findings reach the same conclusion as those of Denise Minger, who extensively analyzed China Study data beginning in 2010.
      Academic researchers have come to similar conclusions regarding the China Study data.*

      *Kaiyala did find in his multivariate models that higher cardiovascular mortality was independently associated with higher Apolipoprotein B, latitude, and plant protein intake. The first two of these were expected, while the third was not’.*

      Note: plant protein was independently associated with increased cardiovascular mortality (I mention this only to demonstrate the huge gulf between Campbell’s claims, and what his own statistics are indicating).

      7. If milk caused cancer, why does drinking milk dramatically decrease the risk of colorectal cancer:

      *Colorectal Cancer* – ‘*high dietary intake of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) from full-fat dairy foods has been associated with a reduction of colorectal cancer by up to 39% in women’*


      *‘Women eating at least four servings of high fat dairy foods/day had a 41% lower risk of bowel (colorectal) cancer, than those who ate less than one portion of high-fat dairy a day’. *

      American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (vol 82, no 4, pp894-900),

      8. It was always a completely ridiculous notion that mother’s milk (human or cows) causes cancer:

      ‘*Twenty years ago, Svanborg et al discovered that two components of breast milk, alpha-lactalbumin and oleic acid combined in a selective, tumour-killing protein-lipid complex during digestion’.*

      Svanbourg has isolated these compounds and is synthesising them as a therapeutic cancer treatment.

      *During digestion, peptides appear to be transiently formed that have antibacterial and immunostimulatory properties, thereby possibly aiding in the protection against infection. A novel folding variant (“molten globule state”) of multimeric alpha-lactalbumin has recently been discovered that has anti-infective activity and enhances apoptosis, thus possibly affecting mucosal cell turnover and proliferation. * 9. I will spare you all the studies which demonstrate milk decreases cardiovascular disease, but happy to oblige if requested.

      1. ” I cant find one reputable, impartial scientist who supports T.Colin Campbell’s claim that milk causes cancer.” Well, it boosts IGF-1, just as meat does. Ask any power lifter, or an Asian immigrant whose children grew much faster than in the old country. I am not sure what the consensus is among power lifters (they eat plenty of both meat and dairy to boost IGF-1), but my Asian friends thought that milk works better than meat. Power lifters also say that high glycemic carbs work well. Increasing IGF-1 might be an acceptable goal for small children and power lifters, but it should not be for the rest of us.

        1. Hi Caroline,

          T.Colin Campbell was a victim of his own conscious or unconscious bias. His statistical interpretation of his own study clearly reflect this bias.
          Making it mostly worthless.
          His attack on casein was flawed (see my previous post on this). Casein’s carcinogenic potential fed in isolation, and at high levels in rats, bears no resemblance to the consumption of milk within a food matrix in humans.
          It completely disregards the mitigating effects of whey (including its anabolic and immunomodulatory properties), and also the positive aspects of casein – which include its very important ability to increase absorption of minerals like calcium and phosphorus, and promote lower blood pressure.

          Whilst milk has an anabolic effect, this is far more positive than negative. It increases height in children, which is one of the principle reasons why milk consumption in China (speak of the devil) is increasing so dramatically. It allows them to get closer to their genetic potential.

          In the aged there is a serious progressive loss of musculature. Milk’s anabolic nature mitigates against age-related anabolic resistance and muscle loss:

          *‘Milk appears to provide a beneficial anabolic effect that compensates for muscle loss due to exercise or (more importantly) advancing age’*

          *‘The work by Gorissen et al. adds weight to a growing body of evidence supporting the anabolic efficacy of intact whole food protein sources such as milk’.*

          An Australian study of middle-aged men with metabolic syndrome demonstrates their muscle protein synthesis is impaired. Because of its higher leucine content, dairy protein appears more effective than soy protein in activating protein synthesis in these individuals.

          *‘All meats provide complete protein, providing all the amino acids needed for making muscle and in good balance, although some, such as fish, are more healthful than others, such as red meat, due to the type of fat they contain. Plant-based foods can also provide protein and build muscle, although, individually, they may not provide the optimal ratio of amino acids’. *

          As for cancer, a 2020 American study (Fraser et al, 2020) from a 7th Day Adventist (already a bias) university suggests milk or some other factor related to drinking milk increases the risk of breast cancer in women. However, a meta-analysis by Godos et al covering 686,000 individuals found that *‘no study **showed a significant association of vegetarian diet and a lower risk of either breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer compared to a non-vegetarian diet’.*

          *‘A total of nine studies were included in the meta-analysis. Studies were conducted on six cohorts accounting for 686 629 individuals, and 3441, 4062 and 1935 cases of breast, colorectal and prostate cancer, respectively.
          None of the analyses showed a significant association of vegetarian diet and a lower risk of either breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer compared to a non-vegetarian diet. By contrast, a lower risk of colorectal cancer was associated with a semi-vegetarian diet (RR = 0.86, 95% confidence interval = 0.79-0.94; I2 = 0%, Pheterogeneity = 0.82) and a pesco-vegetarian diet (RR = 0.67, 95% confidence interval = 0.53, 0.83; I2 = 0%, Pheterogeneity = 0.46) compared to a non-vegetarian diet. The subgroup analysis by cancer localisation showed no differences in summary risk estimates between colon and rectal cancer. *

          *Conclusions: A summary of the existing evidence from cohort studies on vegetarian diets showed that complete exclusion of any source of protein from the diet is not associated with further benefits for human health. *

 Gathani et al (2017) also found vegetarianism did not reduce the risk of breast cancer:

          *‘The study included 2101 cases and 2255 controls. The mean age at recruitment was similar in cases (49.7 years (SE 9.7)) and controls (49.8 years (SE 9.1)). About a quarter of the population were lifelong vegetarians and the rates varied significantly by region. On multivariate analysis, with adjustment for known risk factors for the disease, the risk of breast cancer was not decreased in lifelong vegetarians (OR 1.09 (95% CI 0.93-1.29)).’* *Conclusions*

          *‘Lifelong exposure to a vegetarian diet appears to have little, if any effect on the risk of breast cancer’.*

          Wu et al (2017) conducted a meta-analysis of 47 prospective studies.

          ‘There was a null association between poultry, fish, egg, nuts, total milk, and whole milk intake and breast cancer risk’.

          ‘Higher total red meat, fresh red meat, and processed meat intake may be risk factors for breast cancer, whereas higher soy food and skim milk intake may reduce the risk of breast cancer’.

          Wu’s meta-analysis demonstrates skim milk (casein/whey) REDUCES the risk of breast cancer. These studies further demonstrate Campbell’s China study was complete fiction. Not that this inconvenient truth will preclude it being quoted by his adherents from here to eternity.

          1. Since ‘vegetarian’ diets usually include substantial amounts of dairy foods I am not sure where you are trying to go with this.

            Also this site does not promote so-called vegetarian and vegan diets, it promotes whole food plant based diets which may or may not include small amounts of animal foods (although Dr Greger himself seems to favour a diet that consists entirely of whole plant foods).

            Let us also remember that Dr Greger has long been on record as stating that most ‘vegetarian’ and ‘vegan’ diets are unhealthy

            So criticisms of ‘vegetarian’ diets are largely straw man arguments if your intention is to defend dairy consumption.

          2. ‘Wu’s meta-analysis demonstrates skim milk (casein/whey) REDUCES the risk of breast cancer. These studies further demonstrate Campbell’s China study was complete fiction’

            That’s a very misleading interpretation … and a totally biased not to say absurd conclusion.

            Reducing the .risk of breast cancer by drinking skim milk instead of full fat milk or other high fat foods is precisely what one would expect since high fat diets are recognised as a risk factor for breast cancer. Simply reducing fat intake would be expected to reduce BC risk

      2. I don’t particularly want to defend Campbell but since you once again tirelessly present the dairy industry’s incorrect claims, it is worth repeating that

        ‘…….. Most epidemiologic studies have reported an unfavorable effect of milk on prostate cancer risk [1,2,3,5,8,23].. ……………… ……………………………………..’

        It seems to me that the only ‘reputable impartial scientists’ who would deny that dairy could possibly affect cancer risk would be those with links to the dairy industry. Admittedly, there is no shortage of such people but it is utterly false to claim that reputable impartial scientists have not found associations between milk consumption and cancer risk.

        Also, the fact the dairy industry has to rely on ‘ketoscience’ websites to defend dairy consumption and attack Campbell is telling. More accurately perhaps, it is embarrassing. Denise Minger was I think an English Lit major who dropped out of college without completing her degree. If this is the type of ‘expert’, you are reduced to citing, it tells us something about the weakness of your accusations. Ms Minger now makes her living as a professional; anti-vegetarian pandering to the low carb/keto/Atkins/paleo crowd.

        She may well also have been able to dig up a random statistician to back up her claims. However, simplistic statistical analyses are often misleading and biostatistics is a highly specialised field which some common-or-garden stats Ph.D may not be across. The fact is that Campbell was director of the China study, a joint project between Cornell University, Oxford University and at least one Chinese National Academy of Science. The China Cancer Institute was also involved The statistical analyses were a done by an expert team at Oxford University led by the world famous Richard Peto of the University of Oxford—Professor of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology. Peto is particularly famous for his work on tobacco and cancer.

        None of the experts at Cornell, Oxford or the Chinese National Academies of Science have ever disputed Campbell’s report of the statistical findings of the China Study. Yet the dairy industry wants us to believe that some unqualified low carb blogger and some Random Rob with a PhD in stats understand that data better than they do?

        As for dairy and cardiovascular disease, yes I am sure that you can come up studies by people linked with the industry that may show that dairy is protective against cardiovascular disease. Indeed it might be – compared to red meat, or to diets high in trans fats, refined carbs and other highly processed foods. But that is deliberately missing the point isn’t it? Dr Greger has a good video on this

        As Harvard has pointed out

        ‘full-fat dairy milk, yogurt, butter, cheeses, and cream were not found to increase heart disease risk (compared to a background diet that typically contains high amounts of refined carbohydrates and sugars). However, it is important to note that these foods were not found to decrease risk either.

        What did predict risk of cardiovascular disease was “fat swapping.” When dairy fat was replaced with the same number of calories from vegetable fat or polyunsaturated fat, the risk of cardiovascular disease dropped by 10% and 24%, respectively. Furthermore, replacing the same number of calories from dairy fat with healthful carbohydrates from whole grains was associated with a 28% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

        Replacing dairy fat with other types of animal fat, such as from red meat, predicted a modest 6% higher risk of cardiovascular disease.’

        So yes, dairy might be protective relative to other animal fats/red meat. Most rational people, however, would opt for healthful carbohydrates rather than dairy foods or meat.

  8. Pete, here is the IGF-1 Topic Summary from

    Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) is a natural human growth hormone that assists the body’s transition from childhood into healthy adulthood. Once the body completes this natural growth period, high levels of IGF-1 are no longer necessary and over-production may become detrimental to health. Uncontrolled cellular growth and proliferation (which may be the result of too much IGF-1) may lead to cancer growth. Having low levels of IGF-1 as an adult may improve the chances of a cancer-free life.

    As noted above, if you want high IGF-1 levels, consume plenty of dairy products, animal protein, and high glycemic index refined carbohydrates.

    1. Thanks Caroline,

      The amount of circulating IGF-1 is low as a result of consuming milk, and it reduces (not increases) the risk of cancer

      Ma et al conducted a case control study of 14, 916 men, aged 40–84 years,

      *Conclusion:* Intake of dairy products was associated with a modest increase in circulating IGF-I levels, but intake of low-fat milk was associated with lower risk of colorectal cancer, particularly among individuals with high IGF-I/IGFBP-3.

      Ma et al, 2001

      I also refer you to my previous reply.

      1. So low fat milk delivers lower risk – relative to what? Full fat milk I presume.

        Hardly a good reason to start consuming dairy I would think.

  9. The BIG lie, “Prostate cancer screening and early detection saves men’s lives”. Let’s do the math: Per the USPSTF (a US government health agency): “A small benefit and known harms from prostate cancer screening” and “Only one man in 1,000 could possibly have a life saving benefit from screening”. However about 1.3 to 3.5 deaths per 1,000 from prostate blind biopsies. Also 5 men in 1000 died and 20.4% had one or more complications within 30 days of a prostatectomy. This does not include deaths and injuries from other procedures, medical mistakes, increased suicide rate, ADT therapy complications, heart attracts, etc, caused by screening and treatments. Does prostate cancer screening put men’s health and lives in danger? YES! Early detection and treatment has killed or destroyed millions of men’s lives worldwide from understated or undisclosed side effects. The man that invented the PSA test, Dr. Richard Ablin now calls it: The Great Prostate Mistake, Hoax and A Profit Driven Public Health Disaster.

  10. Re: Food Combining For Prostate Cancer, Dr Greger says…
    >>>Of course, now there’s a supplement, given the study’s extraordinary results, but the only reason the researchers put the foods in pill form was to match it with a placebo.<<<
    That sentence begs the question: Is this a commercially-available supplement? If so, I'm not asking whether you endorse such a product. I just want to know whether it exists for the general public. Thank you.

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