breast cancer

Hundreds of thousands women a year are diagnosed with breast cancer. Dr. John McDougall, medical physician and founder of the McDougall Program believes breast cancer is preventable. Dr. McDougall’s approach is a plant-based, low-fat diet including physical activity.

There is research to back up Dr. McDougall’s claim. The American Dietetic Association’s position paper on vegetarian diets reports:

  • regular consumption of fruits and vegetables are strongly associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers
  • regular physical activity is protective against most major cancers
  • some studies show increased risk of breast cancer with meat consumption
  • one study found the risk of breast cancer increased by 50 to 60 percent with every additional 100g/day of meat consumed

A low-fat plant-based diet offers protection from cancer through antioxidants, phytochemicals, flavonoids and carotenoids. A high-fat diet promotes the growth of cancer cells. Fat has immune-suppressing properties and stimulates growth due to its’ high caloric value.

Breast cancer is thought to be a hormone-related cancer.

Consuming hormones through the diet stimulates hormones in the body. Dairy products and beef from dairy cows which is sold as hamburger meat are a source of hormones for two reasons. Pregnant and lactating cows are full of hormones. Cows are milked throughout their pregnancy with hormones increasing more and more as their gestation progresses. A specific hormone, insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) promotes cell growth in calves and the humans who consume their milk. This also includes the growth of cancer cells. On top of these natural hormones cows are injected with synthetic hormones to stimulate milk production. This hormone is called recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH).

Hormones from animal foods also affect the length of a woman’s reproductive years. The China study, a well-known epidemiological study, found prolonged exposure to very high levels of female hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, increases the risk of breast cancer. There is a strong correlation between consuming primarily animal foods and limited amounts of plant-based foods and reaching puberty early and menopause later. This leads to extra years of hormone exposure. High blood cholesterol levels are also a risk factor for breast cancer. Animal products elevate blood cholesterol levels due to their high content of saturated fat and cholesterol.