Association of dietary patterns with cancer recurrence and survival in patients with stage III colon cancer by Jeffery A. Meyerhardt, reported in the August 15, 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association found, “Higher intake of a Western dietary pattern may be associated with a higher risk of recurrence and mortality among patients with stage III colon cancer treated with surgery and adjuvant chemotherapy.”1 Thus, these patients all had late stage (with positive lymph nodes) cancer and had been fully treated when their diets were analyzed. Those on a healthiest “prudent diet” lived, without recurrence of their colon cancer, more than three times longer than those eating the worst Western diets. The Western pattern was characterized by high intakes of meat, fat, refined grains, French fries, and dessert; and the prudent diet was characterized by high intakes of fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, poultry, and fish.
Comment: The Western diet, which flows through the colon and bathes its inner surfaces, is believed to cause colon cancer. Common sense says you should not throw gasoline on a fire. In other words, even after patients develop colon cancer they should change their diets. Based on this study, the result may be that they will more than triple their chances of living without cancer.
There are many mechanisms that could influence the growth and subsequent recurrence of a cancer. Both insulin and insulin-like growth factors enhance tumor growth. Eating the Western diet increases both of these hormones which may “facilitate an environment that allows residual microscopic disease to proliferate and spread.”
I believe that a change in diet after the diagnosis of cancer will cause patients to live much longer, and no doubt healthier. Most doctors and patients think of cancer as a “runaway train—unstoppable.” This is simply not true. The body is always trying to heal itself. A microscopic study of 308 patients (311 breasts) who had undergone breast conservation therapy without chemotherapy showed areas of healing in 7% of the cases.2 (Healing is when the intraductal component of breast cancer disappears and is replaced by fibrous tissue.) Of 17 studies published, 14 show a positive relationship between more plant-foods and better survival.3,4 People should never give up—there have been reported in medical journals 34 cases of women with breast cancer spread all over their bodies who have completely recovered, medically termed a “spontaneous remission.”5 Undoubtedly, a person with a body full of cancer is much more likely to undergo a spontaneous remission when in good health than poor health—and the most powerful action a person can take to improve his or her health is to change the diet. (There have been many more cases, which have not been reported, of spontaneous remissions of women with breast cancer. There have also been many cases, reported and unreported, of people with colon, prostate, lymphomas and other cancers, who have had similar spontaneous remissions.)
1) Meyerhardt JA, Niedzwiecki D, Hollis D, Saltz LB, Hu FB, Mayer RJ, Nelson H, Whittom R, Hantel A, Thomas J, Fuchs CS. Association of dietary patterns with cancer recurrence and survival in patients with stage III colon cancer. JAMA. 2007 Aug 15;298(7):754-64.
2) Horii R, Akiyama F, Kasumi F, Koike M, Sakamoto G. Spontaneous ” healing” of breast cancer. Breast Cancer. 2005;12(2):140-4.
3) McEligot AJ, Largent J, Ziogas A, Peel D, Anton-Culver H. Dietary fat, fiber, vegetable, and micronutrients are associated with overall survival in postmenopausal women diagnosed with breast cancer. Nutr Cancer. 2006;55(2):132-40.
4) Rock CL. Diet and breast cancer: can dietary factors influence survival?
J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2003 Jan;8(1):119-32.
5) Larsen SU, Rose C. Spontaneous remission of breast cancer. A literature review. Ugeskr Laeger. 1999 Jun 28;161(26):4001-4.
About Dr. McDougall
John A. McDougall, M.D.
Physician and nutrition expert who teaches better health through vegetarian cuisine. John A. McDougall, MD. has been studying, writing and “speaking out” about the effects of nutrition on disease for over 30 years.
Dr. McDougall believes that people should look, feel great and enjoy optimal health for a lifetime. Unfortunately, many people compromise their health unknowingly through poor dietary habits.
Dr. McDougall is the founder and medical director of the nationally renowned McDougall Program, a ten-day, residential program located at a luxury resort in Santa Rosa, CA — a place where medical miracles occur through proper diet and lifestyle changes. Dr. McDougall has cared for thousands of patients over almost 3 decades of medical practice and has run a highly successful live-in program for more than 17 years. Dr. McDougall has developed a nourishing , low-fat, starch-based diet that not only promotes a broad range of dramatic and lasting health benefits such as weight (fat) loss, but most importantly can also reverse serious illness, such as heart disease, without drugs.
As with many leaders of public opinion, he often finds it necessary to challenge the accepted wisdom of the time, and was one of the first traditional physicians of the medical “establishment” to assert that adoption of a vegetarian diet can reverse unfavorable medical conditions such as heart disease. Medical research is now confirming this assertion. And slowly but surely, medical practitioners are accepting it.
Dr. McDougall is the author of several national bestsellers including: The McDougall Plan: 12 Days to Dynamic Health, McDougall’s Medicine: A Challenging Second Opinion, The McDougall Program for Maximum Weight Loss, The New McDougall Cookbook, The McDougall Program for Women, and his latest ground breaking book, The McDougall Program for a Healthy Heart.
A graduate of Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine, he performed his internship at Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, and his medical residency at the University of Hawaii. He is certified as an internist by the Board of Internal Medicine and the National Board of Medical Examiners.
To make it easier for people to eat well on the go, Dr. McDougall co-founded Dr. McDougall’s Right Food’s Inc., a producer of high quality vegetarian cuisine. The convenience meals are consistent with his health-supporting guidelines of 10% or less calories from fat, strictly vegetarian so there’s no cholesterol, and no added oils. Dr. McDougall is the Chairman of the Company.