The following definition is from the American Cancer Society:

“Cancer is a group of diseases characterized by the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells. If the spread is not controlled, it can result in death. Cancer is caused by both external factors (tobacco, infectious organisms, chemicals, and radiation) and internal factors (inherited mutations, hormones, immune conditions, and mutations that occur from metabolism). These causal factors may act together or in sequence to initiate or promote the development of cancer. Ten or more years often pass between exposure to external factors and detectable cancer. Cancer is treated with surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, immune therapy, and targeted therapy.”

Traditional medicine’s approach to chronic diseases (and cancer is one of them), is to focus on diagnosis and treatment. Prevention is less discussed.

Making behavioral changes

Initiation of cancer is where traditional prevention is focused – i.e. don’t smoke, don’t drink to excess, avoid high intensity sun, etc. But even if a person avoids all the “carcinogenic” behaviors that one can, cancer can still occur. What is not discussed in the mainstream is that a whole foods plant based lifestyle can have a measurable impact on the promotion (growth of the cancer cells) and progression (movement of the cancer to other areas of the body).

New Cancer Cases

In the United States about 1,665,540 new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2014. About 585,720 Americans are expected to die of cancer, almost 1,600 people per day. Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the US, exceeded only by heart disease, accounting for nearly 1 of every 4 deaths.

Based on 2010 data the top four cancer killers in the US (men and women) are prostate, female breast, lung/bronchus and colon/rectum. Most of us know someone who has one of these cancers or has been diagnosed with these cancer and has undergone (or is undergoing) treatment. There are many “survivors” who are fearful of a re-occurrence at the next checkup.

Cancer and Traditional Medicine

Traditional medicine has made incredible strides with treatment and diagnosis resulting in less death. Although the incidence of cancer has dropped it still is a very common disease. If you add up the cost of diagnosing and treating cancer the number are incredibly high.

The financial costs of cancer are high for both the person with cancer and for society as a whole. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimated the 2009 overall annual costs of cancer were as follows:

Direct medical costs (total of all health expenditures): $86.6 billion
Indirect mortality costs (cost of lost productivity due to premature death): $130 billion
Total cost: $216.6 billion

Treating Cancer with Diet

There is more and more emphasis on diet in the treatment of cancer but the message of the incredible benefits of a whole foods plant based diet (WFPBD) are not being promoted by the medical profession. The reason doctors focus on prevention rather than treatment are complex and I cannot begin to explain.

Some of my patients are frustrated when I go on and on about how eating a WFPBD is so important. They tell me “you make it sound like life and death”. In truth it is about life and death and I focus on the life part – i.e. how are you going to live the last decades your life.

Paradigm Shift for Health combines a clear presentation of the evidence and works with other health professionals who provide specific suggestions and help to get people to make the changes that will “save their lives”.

To learn more about preventable diseases and what you can do to prevent them use our online class calendar to sign up for the classes that interest you. If you’d like more information about the Paradigm Shift for Health program call (970) 221-5858.

Collin Campbell, PhD:, “The China Study”, “Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition”