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Friday 22 February 2019
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Letters to the Editor

Fighting cancer with a plant-based diet

THE EDITOR: I am writing this on February 4, World Cancer Day. My reason for doing so is to share my own personal experiences about this disease that has been a scourge on societies around the world.

Most families have had loved ones who have either contracted this deadly disease or knows someone who has died from it. My family is no exception; two of my sisters have died from cancer, and my mother has successfully been saved from it by medical intervention. However, cancer is not an easy disease to beat.

Doctors often use a combination of chemotherapy radiation and surgery to combat this deadly disease that was once a death-sentence certainty. While there have been many strides by ongoing medical research, and billions of dollars spent into its causes, the search for a cure remains ever elusive.

Cancer can come from either an inherited genetic predisposition or from a lifestyle that gives cancer cells an easy staging ground in which to flourish; sometimes a combination of both.

While cancer research has been ongoing for generations, no one can say with any certainty that it can ever be truly cured. One thing, however, is that we can make a preemptive strike against its emergence by our lifestyle choices. That means maintaining a healthy weight through a combination of exercise and a nutritional diet. That does not mean just eating the right combination of foods, but also the correct quantity and quality of foods.

A plant-based diet has been shown to provide us with all the nutrition we need with none of the inherent problems caused by meat, dairy, and eggs. According to rogelcancercenter.org, “You may be asking, ‘What is a plant-based diet?’ It is a diet that focuses on minimally processed foods of plant origin including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

“For all those meat lovers out there, not to worry. Your diet does not need to be vegetarian or vegan. It’s simply that the majority of your diet comes from these foods.

“Now that you know the definition, why is a plant-based diet important? In terms of cancer prevention, the nutrients found in plant-based foods – including vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber – have been shown to reduce the risk of several types of cancer. In fact, eating six ozs of whole grain foods each day may decrease your colorectal cancer risk by 21 per cent.”

On February 13, 2015, the American Cancer Society published its recommendations that cancer survivors should follow “prudent diets,” plant-based diets that are high in fruits, vegetables, and unrefined grains while at the same time being low in red and processed meats, refined grains, and sugars.

Its report states, “These diets are contrasted to ‘western’ diets,’ which have the opposite pattern and are heavy in meats, sweets, other processed foods, and dietary fat.”

It also recommends weight loss and exercise in order to prolong survival for people with cancer.

REX CHOOKOLINGO via e-mail

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