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Eat vegetables to prevent, survive cancer


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Eat vegetables to prevent, survive cancer

In June I wrote about how my husband and I gave up eating animal and dairy products to become vegans when my brother was diagnosed with non-smoker's lung cancer. I reported about The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, professor emeritus of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University, and his son, Thomas Campbell, that a vegan diet protects one from cancer, heart disease, diabetes and some degenerative diseases.

I have recently learned that I have ovarian cancer, which has moved me to learn more about preventing and surviving cancer. Cancer is caused by damage to cells' DNA that makes them reproduce rapidly and recklessly, invading the body's tissue. Everybody has cells that suffer damage, but usually our immune system gobbles them up before they can cause cancer.

My search for why some people get cancer produced two key factors: diet and response to stress. The number of Americans getting cancer can be cut in half by people eating more vegetables and fruits, eliminating animal and dairy products, getting regular exercise, and maintaining normal body weight. In addition, if people avoided tobacco products, 70 percent of cancer cases would be prevented.

I wondered why my vegan diet had not protected me. I learned that conditions that promote cancer begin many months, perhaps years, before a tumor is diagnosed. Preventing cancer is a long-term project. Before we became vegan in February 2006, we relished traditional foods that could have been detrimental - ribs, steaks, fried catfish and oysters and barbecued chicken.

A vegan diet prevents cancer and increases survival through the following processes:

1. Vegans have stronger immune systems because of vegetables' powerful antioxidants. Supplements do not provide the same protection.

2. Vegetables contain protective fiber, whereas animal products contain none. Fiber sops up toxins.

3. Proteins found in meat and dairy can promote tumor growth.

4. Cooking meat can produce cancer-forming compounds.

5. Eating fats increases the body's estrogen, which encourages breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer.

5. Attaining normal body weight on a low-fat vegan diet reduces cancer risk and increases survival. For more information about diet and cancer prevention as well as tips and recipes, see http://www.cancerproject.org/ sponsored by Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

In addition to a vegan diet to prevent cancer, I learned that managing life's stresses is important. The best reference is the classic, Getting Well Again by O. Carl Simonton, M.D., Stephanie Matthews-Simonton, and James L. Creighton. Dr. Simonton is internationally acclaimed for describing how the mind can direct the body to heal. Dr. Simonton's patients are in the final stage of cancer. He describes in detail how many of his patients have fully recovered and most have extended the quality and length of their lives beyond expectation through visualization and exercise to reduce stress and mobilize their immune systems. His book describes stress-reducing methods for patients to follow.

Looking back at the past two years, I have had many stresses - retirement and relocating, renovating our house, the death of my father, the death of my dog and renovating again after the hurricane. Typical for cancer patients, I was the energizer bunny that kept on going when I should have taken time for my own grief and nurture. I am learning to stop and smell the roses now.

People with cancer should follow medical advice for treatment and, additionally, consider making dietary, exercise and stress management changes. I am blessed by several miracles. I was diagnosed early, because of my family doctor's wisdom to scan me stem to stern looking for the cause of my indigestion. It was removed by surgery and chemotherapy will give it good riddance. I was already on a vegan diet at the time of diagnosis, which has been shown to decrease the chance of recurrence. At the time of diagnosis, my brother started a low-fat vegan diet along with chemotherapy and strong religious and family support. He continues to inspire me with steady progress.

Sandra Bender is a Petal resident and guest columnist for the Hattiesburg American.

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