Three new studies published in the journal of the American Medical Association are proving the benefit of a plant-based diet in greatly reducing the risk of cancer. The studies show that high consumption of fruits and vegetables wards off a variety of cancers. (They also show that consuming red meat multiplies the risk of colon cancer.) Another study in the same issue shows that consuming olive oil reduces the risk of breast cancer.
So here we’re talking about a wide variety of cancers: prostate cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, even leukemia and multiple myeloma. And across the board, we’re seeing that consuming a plant-based diet is what prevents cancer and enhances health at many different levels, including cardiovascular health.
But here’s what’s fascinating about this study that you probably haven’t heard in the mainstream press: it was conducted on regular, everyday people that are generally consuming unhealthy diets to begin with. Let me explain further: if you select 1000 people out of the population and examine their diets in terms of cancer prevention, the vast majority of those 1000 people are consuming a lot of cancer-causing ingredients in packaged meats (the sodium nitrite ingredient), they’re consuming artificial coloring, and they’re eating monosodium glutamate and other ingredients that actually promote cancer. And yet, we see that the small amount of fruits and vegetables these people consume actually protects them from the dangerous effects of those ingredients.
Now, if you were to repeat this study and look at the anti-cancer benefit in holistic nutritionists, or people who consume vegetarian organic diets, you would see a much stronger protective effect. The cancer rates in that group would plummet. Because, let’s face it, even in the published studies when people talk about eating fruits and vegetables, a lot of the data come from self-reported surveys. And the things that people consider to be fruits are not necessarily healthy fruits. For example, eating apple pie is counted as a fruit in clinical trials. Personally, I wouldn’t count that as a fruit. It’s a cooked, sugary apple pie made with hydrogenated oils, refined white flour and refined sugar in the crust. To me, that’s not fruit. That’s junk food. But medical studies call that “fruit.”
The same is true with vegetables: a lot of people might think spinach lasagna counts as a vegetable serving. And, again, I consider that to be junk food. It’s loaded up with cheese, it probably has some sort of chemical taste enhancer if it’s been purchased at the store, it has refined carbohydrates in the crust, and it probably has refined sugar in the tomato sauce. And yes, there’s a little bit of spinach in there too, but that’s not a vegetable serving. That’s just junk food with a bit of spinach filler.
To me, eating spinach means buying raw spinach and having a nice spinach salad, or giving it a Chinese-style stir fry with nothing but garlic and a little bit of soy sauce. That’s a real vegetable serving. So if you look across the population at what people consider to be fruits and vegetables, to me it’s amazing that there’s any health benefit coming out of these studies at all. Because people have distorted definitions of what fruits and vegetables really are. (Some people consider strawberry ice cream to be a serving of fruits!)
As a result, if you observed a group of people in a study and you made sure they ate raw fruits and vegetables and avoided all of the refined, manufactured food products, you would see phenomenal results. If you had people eating raw blueberries, nuts, green leafy vegetables, salads, and consuming whole drinks made from vegetable concentrates, then the results would be vastly different from what you’re seeing in these published studies. You’d see diseases like cancer literally vanishing in the group.
And yet even these mainstream studies using unhealthy people on minimal plant diets are showing positive results. It goes to show you that even people who have poor dietary habits can dramatically reduce their risk of cancer by consuming a few fruits and vegetables along with their unhealthy foods.
There’s an important side note in all of this too: the common fault of all clinical trials. The population at large is so unbelievably unhealthy that clinical trials using everyday people lose relevance to the nature of healthy human physiology. Because, let’s face it, when you’re conducting trials on the existing population, you’re really only asking the question, “What will be the effect of this treatment or drug or supplement on diseased people?” That’s the question you’re asking.
So you get all of these study results about prescription drugs or olive oil or nutritional supplements, and really these results only tell you how they operate on unhealthy people. We don’t really have any clinical trials being conducted on strictly healthy individuals, because where do you round up 1,000 healthy people who follow an organic, plant-based diet, who engage in regular physical exercise, and who avoid all the metabolic disrupting ingredients that I commonly write about here? Where do you find people like that? Maybe only at a natural health convention, but certainly not in the population at large. Look around: the population is heavily diseased. Why are we basing all modern medical studies on the physiology of diseased people?
(Some medical researchers might answer by saying, “Because that’s who we need to treat with the drugs!” And I say, sure, but if you only study unhealthy people, how do you expect to learn anything about the causes of health? You see, modern medicine really only studies disease. That’s why med school graduates are generally clueless about nutrition (see related ebook on nutrition) and disease prevention.)
All this leads us to a startling realization, which is that we now have a system of medicine based on a collection of clinical evidence that was derived from studying how unhealthy, chronically diseased, malfunctioning human bodies respond to certain chemicals. That’s what we have today. So when people call it evidence based medicine, it’s actually not based on any realistic evidence of how healthy bodies might respond. It’s all based on running clinical trials with diseased individuals.
That’s how conventional medicine smeared the reputation of vitamin E, by the way. Some vitamin E haters rounded up a bunch of people dying from advanced stage heart disease, then they gave them synthetic vitamin E (i.e. a non-natural chemical) in very low doses. When the people started dying off from their heart disease, the researchers put the blame squarely on vitamin E. Hence the bizarre news headlines in late 2004 proclaiming, “Vitamin E will kill you!” It’s all nonsense. The people were dying of heart disease in the first place, and the statistics were not adequately adjusted to take expected mortality rates into account.
But getting back to the JAMA studies, we at least now know that eating more plants — even small portions of those plants — will vastly improve the health of most people (even diseased people). That much is clear. And if you actually eat real fruits and vegetables instead of processed ones, you’ll benefit even more.