Meat and Cancer. One of my healing protocols to heal from cancer was through a whole-food, plant-based diet. I am a big believer in plants as a healing mechanism for cancer. For me, it was intuitively right. I listened to my body and the plant-based life was one that called to me. And it worked. Now that being said, do I believe a plant-based diet is based for everyone? This answer is not black nor white. I do think everyone needs to eat more plants, but just plants for everyone and every type of cancer? I believe different things will work for different people. I follow science and I listen to other stories and I honor everyone’s individual needs and realize it might not look like mine!
So let’s talk about meat and cancer. I am not anti-meat for everyone. I believe there are some cases with cancer in which animal products really can help someone.
BUT, and this is a big but, I do believe that most cancers will do well with a plant-based diet. So we will talk about that too.
In this article, we are going to go over some interesting points about meat and cancer. Some for it, some against it. The points will be specific and useful.
Processed Meats Will Not Help Cancer
I want to lead with this- processed meats are not cancer’s friend. Processed meats include hot dogs, bacon, and most sausages. Bologna? Processed! What I am not talking about is pure red meat or chicken or fish. However, additives can be added to any meat so choose wisely.
Processed meat manufactures add nitrates and nitrites, a food additive used to stop the growth of bacteria and to enhance the flavor and color of foods. These are usually added to beef, poultry, fish, deli meat, ham, bacon, sausages, hot dogs, etc. These compounds also give processed meats their pink color. Both nitrates and nitrites can form nitrosamines in the body, which can increase your risk of developing cancer. A study suggests that high consumption of processed meat may increase the risk of stomach cancer. Dietary nitrosamines might be responsible for the positive association.
Why A Plant-Based Diet Is Best To Consider First
Now, notice I didn’t say that plant-based is the only diet you should consider if you have cancer. I do think it’s one to look at first, and if there is meat to be added, then you look at… what kind of meat? How often?
Plants create healthy cells, and healthy cells mean a strong immune system. A plant-based diet not only helps you maintain good body weight but it also fuels your body with fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients to arm your immune system to fight off disease. Choose 100% whole wheat pasta and bread (if you ever eat that), and eat brown rice. Stick to fresh, raw veggies and fruits, I personally love fresh green juices and I get creative with colorful rainbow salads to quench my hunger. You’d be surprised how you can make a salad taste delicious!
Fruits and Vegetables are important to those who have cancer because they have essential nutrients that you cannot get from other foods. The vitamins and minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants in plants help keep your body in balance so that your immune system can function at its best. There is much research that suggests that following a plant-based diet can boost your immunity, lower inflammation, help you fight free radicals, and reduce cancer risk.
What Diet Is Best For Breast Cancer? Reviews Are Mixed
Personally, from what I have read and believe in my heart to be true, a vegetarian diet is best for breast cancer. But I am not one to discount other studies out there that might say something different.
There was a recent study done with over 42,000 women and it looked at meat consumption and breast cancer. The finding was that red meat increased the risk of breast cancer, and it’s possible that poultry could help decrease the risk. Here’s an interesting excerpt from the study:
“During follow-up, 1,536 invasive breast cancers were diagnosed. Increasing consumption of red meat was associated with increased risk of invasive breast cancer: women who consumed the highest amount of red meat had a 23% higher risk compared with women who consumed the lowest amount. Conversely, increasing consumption of poultry was associated with decreased invasive breast cancer risk: women with the highest consumption had a 15% lower risk than those with the lowest consumption. Breast cancer was reduced even further for women who substituted poultry for meat.”
I put this out there because it’s good to know what studies are being done, however, no study is perfect! This study doesn’t say how much chicken was eaten, and were these people primarily plant-based? Did this group also get more sleep, and eliminate toxins from their diet, etc.
I do think a more vegetarian diet is best for breast cancer. Those on plant-based diets have a much lower risk of developing breast cancer in the first place.
It is also said that if someone has breast cancer and then goes into remission, and then they adopt a plant-based diet, the likelihood of cancer coming back will decrease.
Red and Processed Meats Are To Be Avoided For Colorectal Cancer
Bowel cancer is something one would not take lightly- and the research is firm that processed meats and red meat will increase your chances of getting this cancer. Or if you keep eating this way while having this cancer, it’s going to be tough to heal.
Scientific Analysis and studies have said that eating 2 ounces (or 50 grams) of processed meat a day can increase your risk of colorectal cancer by almost 20%.
These same studies claimed eating foods higher in fiber will help colorectal cancer. Stating, “The report concluded that eating approximately three servings (90 grams) of whole grains daily reduces the risk of colorectal cancer by 17 percent. It adds to previous evidence showing that foods containing fiber decreases the risk of this cancer… The research continues to emerge for these factors, but it all points to the power of a plant-based diet.”
Studies like this, reconfirm my intuition as to “Why I Choose A Plant-Based Diet to Reduce Cancer Risk”
Decreasing Vegetables And Fruits For Skin Cancer
There are some cancers where experts claim a red meat-based diet is actually what is best. Take Melanoma, for example, red meat can actually help this kind of cancer.
Famed Cancer Doctor and crusader, Dr. Nick Gonzales, said this about the diet for someone with melanoma (skin cancer.) “For our melanoma patients, we always prescribe a diet that emphasizes red meat, with the fat, preferably more than once a day. We forbid certain commonly enjoyed vegetables, such as leafy greens, and allow fruit only once a day, and never citrus.
The Leukemia and Lymphoma society, when they have patients with Melanoma, advocate for them going on a protein-rich diet, and this includes lean meats. Again, not processed meats but lean meats with no hormones or antibiotics added. What’s interesting is they don’t mention using many vegetables or fruits to heal. It’s all dairy, meat, and grains!
Appropriate Animal Products For Pancreatic Cancer
What is so interesting is that Dr. Nick Gonzales, who advocated for red meat when it came to skin cancer, advocates for no red meat at all, in fact, is it forbidden, for pancreatic cancer.
This leads me to believe that it is worth it to find a doctor that leads with individuality in mind and that there is no one-diet-fits-all for cancer.
Here is what Dr. Nick Gonzales thought about red meat and his protocol for healing pancreatic cancer: “This program emphasizes and allows all plant foods, including unlimited vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and whole grains. We usually recommend at least a quart of freshly made vegetable juice a day, a good source of concentrated nutrients and enzymes in their raw, undamaged form. This particular diet does include animal protein in limited amounts, specifically eggs and organic whole milk yogurt daily, as well as lean fish such as sole twice a week but no more. We forbid entirely red meat and poultry, which would too strongly stimulate their already hyperactive SNS.”
Also, notice how he is fine with some animal products here, but not red meat or poultry!
Eating For Your Metabolic Type To Avoid Cancer
One thing that Dr. Gonzales often stressed, was eating for your metabolic type. He would say that if we did this, we are more likely to bypass getting cancer in our lives. Metabolic types include: ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph but it goes beyond that. To find out what metabolic type we are, a metabolic test must be performed to estimate one’s BMR/basal metabolic rate. And yes, this can determine if meat would fit into your diet or not.
Dr. Gonzales says this on his blog, “As long as we put the right fuel into our bodies by eating the right food for our metabolic type, the autonomic system will be in balance, both branches and the associated organs and glands will function efficiently, the body will work beautifully, and our health will be ideal. However, with the wrong fuel, the autonomic system will go out of balance, it will function less efficiently, the organs and glands will not work well together and disease follows.”
If we consume foods suitable for another metabolic type not our own, we can get sick. For example, if a sympathetic dominant eats red meat two or three times a day or a parasympathetic dominant becomes a vegetarian, then autonomic imbalance will only worsen. Our bodies will have excess amounts of those nutrients that support the strong system and further suppress the weaker system.”
As you can see, I may advocate for a plant-based lifestyle when it comes to cancer (because most research is in favor) however I do not completely discount meat and animal products and I do see that it can have a place in specific cancer diets.
If your doctor has a diet protocol that they use for every single patient- that is a red flag. They may have some great things to say and you can pick what works for you but every person has different needs! Consider plant-based first but then do your own research to see if some experts have ever recommended animal products for your specific type of cancer.
I firmly believe that knowledge is power and every cancer patient needs all the confidence and self-esteem that they can get! Knowing how to heal, that makes a difference!
Here’s to your healing, however it may look!