One of my pet peeves is listening to people or reading articles that claim that getting a chronic disease is a natural part of ageing. Even doctors tell us that. If we believe that statement, then we are convincing ourselves that getting a chronic disease is inevitable and there´s not much we can do to prevent it. After all, we have to die of something, right? Unfortunately, it abdicates us from the responsibility of finding out how to best take care of ourselves. It leaves us off the hook. To me that´s very sad because I´ve learned that there are indeed things we can do, not only to help us to recover from chronic diseases but how to actually avoid them in the first place.
For young people it´s critical to understand that chronic diseases don´t just appear out of nowhere. We don´t just get hardening of the arteries or breast or prostate cancer or type 2 diabetes. As I mentioned in my article on breast cancer, you don´t all of a sudden get breast cancer. It´s a process that normally develops over a period of decades. The question is, what started the process in the first place? Once we know that then the second question is…What can we could do to prevent the process from beginning in the first place? Although the cause – effect information does show the connection between environmental factors and cancer, there is extensive research based evidence showing that certain components of the Standard American Diet (aka the western diet), such as animal fat, animal protein and cholesterol are believed to initiate and promote cancer.
WHAT ABOUT HORMONES?
Years ago, my wife underwent hormone “replacement” therapy for menopausal symptoms and I remember the doctor´s warning that 5 years of this therapy should be the limit, since there was already a connection between the therapy and cancer. I even checked out the manufacturer´s website, where I found a long list of warnings about breast cancer, uterine cancer, heart attacks, etc.
Dr. T. Colin Campbell´s “CHINA STUDY” was the culmination of a 20 year partnership between Cornell University, Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine. It has sold over 2 million copies and is considered the most comprehensive study of health and nutrition ever conducted. The study resulted in more than 8,000 statistically significant associations between lifestyle, diet and disease.
One of the findings from the study linked estrogen hormone levels with breast cancer rates. Dr. Campbell states:
“This idea that breast cancer is centered on estrogen hormone exposure is profound because diet plays an important role in establishing estrogen exposure. This suggests that the risk of breast cancer is preventable if we eat foods that will keep estrogen levels under control. The sad truth is that most women simply are not aware of this evidence. If this information were properly reported by responsible and credible public health agencies, I suspect that many more young women might be taking very real, very effective steps to avoid this awful disease.”
Research shows that eating lots of fiber rich foods (only found in plants) helps to eliminate excess estrogen from the body.
To support this, Dr. Neal Barnard, President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine writes:
“Every minute of every day, your liver filters your blood, removing toxins and anything else that your body needs to get rid of. That includes excess hormones. The liver sends these unwanted compounds through a narrow tube called the bile duct into your intestinal tract. There, fiber (plant roughage) soaks them up and carries them out of the body with the wastes.”
HORMONES, COW´S MILK and CANCER
A hormone is a natural chemical that our body produces that has specific functions. They are chemical messengers that tell the cells and organs what to do. ( i.e., the Insulin hormone from the pancreas regulates blood sugar while adrenaline, produced by the adrenal glands, can regulate heart rate, give is extra strength, etc.). The body produces hormones according to it´s needs. Estrogen is a hormone that is produced within a woman´s body and is responsible for breast development among other bodily functions. The body normally produces the amount it needs.
According to Dr. Michael Greger, author of the NY Times Best Seller “HOW NOT TO DIE”:
“Mother nature designed cow´s milk to put a few hundred pounds on a baby calf within a few months. A lifetime of human exposure to these growth factors in milk may help explain the connections found between dairy consumption and certain cancers. Leading Harvard University nutrition experts have expressed concern that the hormones in dairy products and other growth factors could stimulate the growth of hormone sensitive tumors.”
Cow´s produce enough estrogen to meet their own needs and the level increases when they are pregnant. When we consume milk and dairy products we are consuming a cow´s estrogens among the other hormones that a cow naturally produces. Dairy and cheesemakers don´t do anything to remove the hormones. In fact, farmers often inject extra hormones into cows to fatten them and to increase milk production. One example is Bovine Growth Hormone which is a GMO created in 1994 by Monsanto. It has resulted in so many health problems among cows, especially infections, that antibiotics are necessary to counter the problem (we consume those too). As a result, bovine growth hormone is now banned in Canada, the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Israel. Unfortunately, it´s still being used on many U.S. dairy farms.
Since prostate cancer is considered the male equivalent of breast cancer the connection between milk and dairy and prostate cancer is similar…as revealed in many studies. Yet, for me the studies of populations of people worldwide are some of the most convincing. Prostate cancer is rare in parts of the world where people eat a low-fat, nearly-vegetarian diet. For example, there is 120 times less incidence of prostate cancer in China compared to men in the United States. However, as these populations of Chinese people change to the Western diet, their risk increases proportionally.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post it´s very important for both men and women, of all ages, to grasp the significance of the fact that the journey of chronic diseases often begins at an early age…even in childhood. So, if living healthy and to a ripe old age is important to us, we should consider substituting a lot more healthy plant based foods into our diet in place of meat and dairy.