Plant-Based Prevention

Plant-Based Prevention
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Phytonutrients may, in part, account for the benefits of whole plant foods in cancer prevention.

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The skin cancer we die of at 50 may have been because of a teenage sunburn. And those who eat dairy—milk, cheese, or yogurt—may have two and a half times the risk of certain bad skin cancers.  These researchers did, however, find something so incredibly powerful that it cut skin cancer risk by about 50%—greens. Eating dark green leafy vegetables cuts our risk in half.  Yes, but how many greens did these people have to eat?

Well, here’s the data. These are the people who ate the most greens, and had half the cancer risk—compared to these, who ate the least, averaging only six grams of greens a day. That’s the weight of six paper clips. They must have accidentally eaten the garnish—some sprig of parley next to their steak!

What about the highest tier of greens intake, cutting their squamous cell skin cancer risk in half? Just 31 grams of greens a day; 31 paper clips. That’s the equivalent of just three leaves of spinach. One, two, three leaves a day. Half the risk of this cancer. That’s how powerful greens are. My motto is, eat your greens, every day of your life, until you die. 

Last year, there was even a greens review in American history. General George Washington, in 1777, gave the general order for American troops to go out and pick the wild greens growing around their camps to protect them from “all putrid disorders.” Smart man. 

Just as eating meat increases our risk of cancer, eating plants decreases that risk. This study found that eating a lot of plant foods could cut our risk of getting breast cancer in half—thanks to dietary fiber. Remember, fiber is found only in plant foods. Animals have bones to hold them up; plants have fiber to hold them up. But only whole plant foods are good sources of fiber. Refined foods like white flour, white bread, white rice, and white pasta have much of the fiber and other nutrients stripped from them. Same with endometrial cancer. Lots of animal protein and animal fat, we get nearly twice the risk; lots of plant protein and plant fat, nearly half the risk.

97,000 women studied. Ovarian cancer, another really horrific cancer. Lots of isoflavones cut our risk in half. What’s the top source of isoflavones? Soy foods. Though soy-based meat alternatives often lack the fiber of whole plant foods, compare plant to animal bacon. Same serving size, but Babe over here has four times the calories, 50 times the fat, 40 times the saturated fat, infinitely more cholesterol, and only a quarter of the protein—and increases our cancer risk, while the soy-based bacon may decrease that risk.

It’s simple, right? High fruit, low meat, less tumors. I’m not just being selective with these studies. I have for years challenged anyone to produce a single study showing more cancer on a plant-based diet. Frankly, no such study exists.

Another huge study: Journal of the National Cancer Institute. More plants; less cancer. Why? Dietary lignan intake. Lignans are one class of thousands of compounds called phytonutrients. Phyto- means plant. These are special plant nutrients. Best source of lignans on the planet? Flax seeds.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to Ted Major via Flickr.

The skin cancer we die of at 50 may have been because of a teenage sunburn. And those who eat dairy—milk, cheese, or yogurt—may have two and a half times the risk of certain bad skin cancers.  These researchers did, however, find something so incredibly powerful that it cut skin cancer risk by about 50%—greens. Eating dark green leafy vegetables cuts our risk in half.  Yes, but how many greens did these people have to eat?

Well, here’s the data. These are the people who ate the most greens, and had half the cancer risk—compared to these, who ate the least, averaging only six grams of greens a day. That’s the weight of six paper clips. They must have accidentally eaten the garnish—some sprig of parley next to their steak!

What about the highest tier of greens intake, cutting their squamous cell skin cancer risk in half? Just 31 grams of greens a day; 31 paper clips. That’s the equivalent of just three leaves of spinach. One, two, three leaves a day. Half the risk of this cancer. That’s how powerful greens are. My motto is, eat your greens, every day of your life, until you die. 

Last year, there was even a greens review in American history. General George Washington, in 1777, gave the general order for American troops to go out and pick the wild greens growing around their camps to protect them from “all putrid disorders.” Smart man. 

Just as eating meat increases our risk of cancer, eating plants decreases that risk. This study found that eating a lot of plant foods could cut our risk of getting breast cancer in half—thanks to dietary fiber. Remember, fiber is found only in plant foods. Animals have bones to hold them up; plants have fiber to hold them up. But only whole plant foods are good sources of fiber. Refined foods like white flour, white bread, white rice, and white pasta have much of the fiber and other nutrients stripped from them. Same with endometrial cancer. Lots of animal protein and animal fat, we get nearly twice the risk; lots of plant protein and plant fat, nearly half the risk.

97,000 women studied. Ovarian cancer, another really horrific cancer. Lots of isoflavones cut our risk in half. What’s the top source of isoflavones? Soy foods. Though soy-based meat alternatives often lack the fiber of whole plant foods, compare plant to animal bacon. Same serving size, but Babe over here has four times the calories, 50 times the fat, 40 times the saturated fat, infinitely more cholesterol, and only a quarter of the protein—and increases our cancer risk, while the soy-based bacon may decrease that risk.

It’s simple, right? High fruit, low meat, less tumors. I’m not just being selective with these studies. I have for years challenged anyone to produce a single study showing more cancer on a plant-based diet. Frankly, no such study exists.

Another huge study: Journal of the National Cancer Institute. More plants; less cancer. Why? Dietary lignan intake. Lignans are one class of thousands of compounds called phytonutrients. Phyto- means plant. These are special plant nutrients. Best source of lignans on the planet? Flax seeds.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to Ted Major via Flickr.

Doctor's Note

Learn more about the cancer-fighting power of phytonutrients:

For more on phytonutrients and melanoma:

Soy isoflavones are a particularly powerful phytonutrient. Learn more about their breast cancer-fighting possibilities:

And for more on lignans and cancer:

And see my other videos on cancer.

Also check out my associated blog posts: Stool Size and Breast Cancer Risk and Breast Cancer and Diet.

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

22 responses to “Plant-Based Prevention

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  1. Why did the Veggie bacon in the diagram show to have saturated fat? Although it was only 0.2g, I thought that saturated fat only comes from animal based products?




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  2. I eat a LOT of spinach. But, I use those pre washed, ready-to-eat bags. Now I hear that these could have no antioxidants left due to the pre-wash solution??? Devastating, as I am so lazy and hate washing spinach [always end up crunching grit!]. Whatdya think doc?




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  3. Four years ago I had a small skin cancer (basal cell) removed and was told to use a lot of suntan lotion and that I would possible have a reoccurrence within five years. I have been avoiding the sun ever since, trying to never spend more than a few minutes in the sun without lotion on. Fifteen months ago we switched to a plant-based, no added fat diet and I have been wondering about lack of sun exposure and Vitamin D3. Does the plant based diet give me a “get out of jail free card” so that I don’t need to worry about a few minutes of sun exposure each day? Any studies on vegans and skin cancer?




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    1. I am sorry that you had this experience. I am sure that whole-food, plant-based diet and a healthy lifestyle are keeping
      your immune system strong! Perhaps you would benefit more from vitamin D supplements, than seeking sun exposure? I also hope that you are not using tanning beds for vitamin D, as they are the highest skin cancer contributors, http://nutritionfacts.org/video/vitamin-d-pills-vs-tanning-beds/ The information here can also be helpful, http://nutritionfacts.org/2011/09/12/dr-gregers-2011-optimum-nutrition-recommendations/ see section on daily vitamin D recommendations for those in the Northern Hemisphere.

      You can also help your skin topically with turmeric in an ointment against cancer: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/topical-application-of-turmeric-curcumin-for-cancer/

      When it comes to your last question, I think everyone should be cautious. It is proven that vegans have less cancers of all types, but it is unclear whether WFPB eaters or anyone in this day and age can have that “free” card. Even if it was proven that most WFPB eaters never develop skin cancer, these numbers are almost never 100%. I would not take any risk and would still avoid prolonged sun exposure. I would also recommend a good sunblock free of chemicals. 100% plant based, paraben free, non-nano Zinc Oxide: http://devitaskincare.com/store/solar-protective-moisturizer-spf-30-25-oz75ml-p-17534.html




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  4. Please help, please.  My son, 14.5 yrs old has Crohn’s.  I am trying to slowly fade out of the SAD, Standard Amer. Diet, and introduce a semi-vegan.  Everytime I research it, I get bits and pieces of the info. and then a lot of tapes and books to buy.  Our budget doesn’t allow for me to indulge much, if at all.  How do ,I not only learn quickly, but teach two teenagers how to eat healthy when they are literally hungry all of the time?  I grew up on the SAD, so I am a bit behind the 8 ball on this one.  With that being said, I’m eager to learn for the sake of my boys.   My biggest dilemna is they both go to boarding school and are literally living on processed food 4 days out of the week.  I have resolved to supply them with their food for the week with homemade whole food.  Where and how do I begin?




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    1. I’m so sorry to hear about your son’s diagnosis!  You are in a great place to get help.  I’d highly suggest hunkering down and watching all of these videos and read the blogs.  You will educate yourself and learn how to care for your son quickly. When you’re in a crisis, nothing is too difficult.  I’d highly suggest cutting out ALL fast food with no exceptions.  If it does not grow in the ground, don’t eat it.

      Another resource that will help you in your quest to heal your son of Crohn’s is   http://www.drfuhrman.com  He has some specific protocols for Crohn’s patients.  It’s tricky.  

      The inflamed bowel desperately needs the phytonutrients to heal from the very thing that causes them to react.  BUT….it will work.  Join his member board and ask him directly AFTER you read his book, Eat to Live.

      There is much hope. 

      Keep your head down and move forward!  What seems so foreign now will be second nature soon, and your son will be living a thriving, healthy life!

      Blessings.




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      1. WC, it was very kind of you to take the time and share your knowledge and this info.  Can’t thank you enough or tell you how much I appreciate it, but I really do. 
        Thank you for the blessings.  I’ll make sure I pass it on  : )




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        1. Hi Traportka – The China Study is a great start in undertanding what our bodies, organs and cells go through each time we consume anything made from an animal.  If man made it, or it grew not attached to the earth don’t eat it.  I am pretty sure Crohns is linked to dairy and animal product consumption.  Also watch: A River of Waste; the truth on factory farming; free on youtube.   Food Inc and Fast Food Nation are also great. This site is my number one choice to learn and educate yourself. One think you should change yesterday, is all dairy products. Don’t bring them into the house at all. Three months after my family and I went cold turkey vegan; my personal achievements are these 1) no more migranes (used to get one every 3 weeks) 2) no more seasonal allergies (had spring fever for 17yrs!!) 3) no more dandruff (20+yrs of this) 4) reducing my weight by as much as 15lbs, and not reducing my caloric intake, in fact i think i consume over 4000 plant based calories.  My colleagues and friends see the improvements in my skin. The skin is the teller of what we put into our bodies.  Best of Health!




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  5. I blend & drink many green veggies & fruits daily. Can you please recommend the best way to ensure the greens are free of harmful bacteria (just read that raw greens are responsible for half the cases of food borne illness-can’t imagine rinsing is effective on bacteria hiding in the nooks & crannies of curly kale) and advise as to the possibility of thyroid damage from too many oxalates. How much is too much kale/spinach/chard?
    Also–is the blackberry gel used in oral cancer studies available or purchase? Thank you.




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    1. Most of those bacteria come from the and processed-in-the-field, packaged raw greens. Although there may be some slight risk to all things these days, opt for the greens pulled from the ground and brought to market with a tie around them. They are safer.




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    1. It has been several years since I did an educational presentation involving nutrition and PCOS so I did a brief pub med search. It is a complex and fairly common syndrome. Not much has changed. Insulin resistance is an important aspect of PCOS and the best approach is a low fat diet… eliminate animal products because that is where patients typically get 80% of their fats but also plant fats such as processed oils. It is the fats that interfere with the insulins ability to get glucose into the cells and also down regulate genes interfering with the mitochondria’s ability to metabolize glucose. Low fat diets also increase steroid binding globulin in the blood thus lowering free hormones. High fiber diet also helps remove steroids from the gut so they are not reabsorbed into the body. Phytosterols and fiber seem to be a helpful factor as well. I would suggest you review the four videos on fiber and phytosterols beginning on August 13 with http://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-fiber-lowers-cholesterol/. Higher body fat is associated with worsening of PCOS. Fat loss is best accomplished by reducing your diets Calorie Density. For fat loss I recommend two resources. The DVD by Jeff Novick called Calorie Density: How to Eat More, Weigh Less and Live Longer and the presentation by Dr. Doug Lisle, How to Lose Weight without Losing you Mind, can view for free on internet, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAdqLB6bTuQ. I would emphasize a sound nutritional approach before using medications. I am not aware of any herbal remedies which are supported by sound peer reviewed scientific articles.




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  6. Hey! Just finished reading your new book and been eating good! Kinda a silly question but, is it normal for your poop to be green? Other than that, I’m doing great after just 2 weeks my blood pressure is way down I feel great and I got lots of enegry. Thanks for all you do. You saved my life. I didn’t realize how bad meat was for you. It’s too bad but it’s reality!




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