the most dreadful disease never fails to arouse
fear, apprehension and anxiety in those who are
associated with it especially those who are
affected by itthe patients and their near
ones. Cancer has been the subject of much
research, and every year new discoveries are
being made which go to contribute to the
patients' treatment. Newer drugs, newer
investigations, newer procedures for treatment
have changed the outlook of the disease today.
However, thousands of people are still suffering
and thousands are dying painful deaths every
Research has been focussed on
many aspects of this disease and one of the
aspects has been nutrition.
Diet is one
of the vital factors essential for sustenance of
life. However in as much as food is vital for
maintenance of various biological processes
within our body, it is even more vital to know
that the type of food we select as a diet can
turn out to be the cause of our death.
exert its effect on human cancers in a number of
carcinogens produced by food processing
carcinogens in the body produced during
digestion, especially in the stomach,
small or large intestines
food constituents itself
the indirect effects of undernutrition,
malnutrition and overnutrition and
the protective effects of certain dietary
relationship of cancer with nutrition is one of
the oldest known, but, perhaps one of the most
study the relationship of cancer of various
organs and diet.
collected from 24 countries has concluded that
the best correlation between the diet and cancer
is in the case of the breast. Several other
international correlation studies have been
conducted with similar conclusions.
international incidence have shown that Asians
and Africans have much lower incidence than
Europeans and North Americans. Thus it is much
more common in countries with a high level of
affluence. It has been suggested that the over
stimulation of the hormonal system by an
'affluent' diet might lead to growth of hormone
dependent cancers such as carcinoma breast.
dietary fat has increased from per capita
consumption of 23 to 52 gm per day between 1957
and 1973. In this period of time the annual
breast cancer mortality rate increased from 1572
to 3262. In the U.S. where already there is a
high incidence of cancer of the breast, the
incidence has further increased because the per
capita dietary consumption of fat per day has
risen from 125 gms in 1909 to 186 gms in 1972.
relationship with high fat diet, mainly animal
fat, breast cancer has also been associated with
protein intake. Actually there has been a much
stronger relationship between animal protein,
rather than total protein and breast cancer.
In fact it
has been shown that cancer patients on high fat
diet have a poorer prognosis than low fat diet
patients. This all probably explains the high
incidence of breast cancer in U.S. women.
breast cancer has also been associated with
nonvegetarian diets and obesity. These
associations have been seen in several
epidemiological surveys and has also been our
experience at the Bombay Hospital.
the incidence of gastro-intestinal cancers
suggest that as total per capita food intake
(i.e. caloric intake) increases, the incidence of
colorectal cancer increases.
further found that colorectal cancer has been
frequently associated with the intake of animal
protein. High intake of animal protein,
particularly beef in Hawaii and pork in Japan
have been clearly shown to be associated with a
high incidence of cancer of the bowel.
data has shown that this cancer is very common
amongst several fish eating communities
particularly Japan, Iceland, Finland, Soviet
Union (along the Baltic Sea) and South African
Coast. Japan has a higher consumption of fish
than that of the U. S. and has a five times
higher incidence of the cancer of the stomach.
association between dietary fat and prostatic
carcinoma is seen in international comparison.
Surveys conducted in U. S. by Blair and Fraumany
identified the midwest and north central areas of
the U. S. as those with the highest rate of
prostatic carcinoma and this was related to the
greatest consumption of beef.
cancers in the body, like testes and corpus uteri
have all shown a relationship with dietary
factors which point mainly to the animal
component of diet as carcinogens.
Rationale of Vegetarianism
As has been
discussed in various chapters throughout this
book, vegetarian diet seems to be the diet more
suited to man. Hence when a person is on a
vegetarian diet he receives most of his nutrition
in the optimal form and hence keeps the body
going without imposing a load on the elimination
of a vegetarian diet particularly in the fresh
and uncooked form supplies the body with all the
carbohydrates, proteins, fats and especially the
trace elements, vitamins, minerals, and other
micronutrients. These go to enrich the internal
environment and enhance the functioning of all
the organs of the body wherein the body is able
to cope with any kind of foreign invasion or any
kind of derangement like malignant disease.
patient suffers a malignant disease he has
probably no vitality or resistance to foreign
invasion. A normal person is able to keep healthy
inspite of such a diverse array of influences
acting upon him because his immune system is
competent and can quell any foreign invasion. In
a patient suffering from cancer, the immune
system is very weak due to chronic influences
like poor nutrition, nutritional deficiencies
(especially of micro nutrients), cigarette
smoking, alcohol and tobacco abuse and mental
stress, altogether or individually. This is the
reason why the malignancy can flourish unchecked.
However, if the patient is given nutrition which
is natural to his system then gradually the
deficiencies get corrected and the immune system
gets rejuvenated. This assists in the fight
against the disease process. And, it appears,
that it is one of the causes of some patients
responding very well to therapy and some not
responding at all.
nutrition definitely imposes a smaller load on
the elimination systems, it also contains all the
nutrients in their natural concentrations and
combinations whereby digestion, absorption and
assimilation are done easily. Due to the high
fibre content, poisonous waste matter is
propelled rapidly down the colon and egested
intermittentlyhence it serves a cleansing
function. Vegetarian foodparticularly in
its natural, uncooked form possesses all these
properties of nourishing and cleansing the
It has also
been established that eating of hypoealoric diets
inhibit many tumours e.g. breast carcinoma, lung
carcinoma, hepatoma, leukaemia, skin turnouts and
sarcoma. This is possibly true due to the
inhibition of mitotic activity due to limited
carbohydrate and carbohydrate intermediates
available for energy.
given are suggestions which may help to reduce
your chances of getting cancer.
smoke-curing, nitrate curing and frying
or boiled meat products should be
avoided. (These preservative or cooking
procedures are mainly used for animal
food) Said Dr. William Lifinsky, a cancer
researcher at Oak Ridge National
Laboratory in Tennessee, "I wouldn't
even feed nitrate laden foods to my
intake of fat to be reduced. A solution
offered by simple vegetable food.
consumption in the form of non-veg. food
should be substituted by vegetable
protein. Nutritional experts say that a
combination of pulses in the diet
provides adequate proteins of high
biological value with all essential
aminoacids and in a much more assimilable
form. Thus the common excuse for
consuming non-veg. diet as a rich source
of protein is a myth, not backed up by
any scientific observation.
flavours and colouring agents e.g. nitric
acid in red meat can be hazardous. In
general, it is best to forego a
preference for these.
of fibre diet should be increased e.g.
the present U.S. diet fibre intake
averages to 20 gm per day. However the
recommended is average 60 gms per day for
vegetables have a protective action
against cancer, quite separate from their
fibre and vitamin content. These are
cruciferous vegetables mainly cabbages,
cauliflower, brocoli, brussel sprouts,
kohlrabi etc. They should be eaten
green and yellow leafy vegetables and
fruits have protective value and should
resnl rlv fissure in the diet. Besides
dietary habits, alcohol, smoking, tea and
coffee should be avoided.
depicts a list of mutagens present in food, both
vegetarian and non-vegetarian. The elimination of
non-vegetarian food from the diet reduces the
load of mutagens significantly hence placing the
consumer at a lower risk level.
Containing the Mutagen
Charred Protein Food
or smoked fish, meats or poultry
cured by nitrates
Present in hard water and in vegetables
grown in nitrate fertilizers (inorganic
meats, milk, eggs, fruits and root
vegetables are poor sources of folicin
Presently it is established
that simply by applying the knowledge we have
now, we could reduce the occurrence of new cancer
cases by upto 40% but we are kept from realising
this potential because of certain deficiencies,
at the level of the individual and the society.
It is clear
that diet acts as a double edged razor. While
right selection can promote health and well being
a faulty choice of our diet can jeopardise our
health. Unfortunately, there is a lack of
organised and systematically collected data to
show us the true status of cancer in our country.
It may not te very long judging by the present
rate of adopting the westernised life style,
before India lands up high on the list of
countries with major cancer deaths.
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