Cows’ milk is good for calves – but not for us
This is really amazing and heartwarming story, about the famous professor Jane Plant.Prof. In 1993, the breast cancer that had plagued Jane Plant since 1987 returned for the fifth time. It came in the shape of a secondary tumour – a lump in her neck the size of half a boiled egg. Doctors told her that she had only months to live. Despite the awfulness of her situation, her scientific knowledge and experience clicked in to save her life.
Then a mother of two young children, Prof Plant recalls the shocked discussion she had with her husband, Peter. As scientists – she is a geochemist, he a geologist – they had both worked in China on environmental issues, and knew that Chinese women had historically very low rates of breast cancer: one epidemiological study from the Seventies showed the disease affected one in 100,000 Chinese women, compared with one in 12 in the West.
Jane and her husband Peter (who is a Professor of Geology) had both worked in China on environmental problems in the past. She suddenly remembered that a wonderful epidemiological atlas presented to her by her Chinese colleagues showed a background rate of breast cancer of 1 in 100,000 women., compared to a rate of one in ten in much of the West. Jane had checked that the information was correct with senior academics that she knew well in China and also with some Chinese doctors who told her that they had hardly seen a case of breast cancer in their careers.
Jane then discovered that whatever causes the huge differences in breast cancer rates between oriental and Western countries, it isn’t genetic.
Scientific research showed that when Chinese or Japanese people move to the West, within one or two generations their rates of breast cancer approach those of their host community.
The same thing happens when oriental people adopt a completely Western lifestyle in Hong Kong . In fact, the slang name for breast cancer in China translates as ‘Rich Woman’s Disease’. This is because, in China , only the better off can afford to eat what is termed ‘ Hong Kong food’.
According to figures from the World Health Organization, the number of men contracting prostate cancer in rural China is negligible, only 0.5 men in every 100,000.In England , Scotland and Wales , however, this figure is 70 times higher
Researchers had discovered in the 1980s that only l4% of calories in the average Chinese diet were from fat, compared to almost 36% in the West.
“The Chinese don’t eat dairy products!”
It is hard to explain to a non-scientist the sudden mental and emotional ‘buzz’ you get when you know you have had an important insight. It’s as if you have had a lot of pieces of a jigsaw in your mind, and suddenly, in a few seconds, they all fall into place and the whole picture is clear.
No Chinese people who lived a traditional Chinese life who ever used cow or other dairy food to feed their babies.
Professor Jane Plant claims that milk, in particular, contains growth factors and hormones that can promote cancerand causes common food allergies. She therefore advocates changing from dairy to soya products.”
Over 70% of the world’s population are unable to digest the milk sugar, lactose, which has led nutritionists to believe that this is the normal condition for adults, not some sort of deficiency. Perhaps nature is trying to tell us that we are eating the wrong food.
Feeling she had nothing to lose, Prof Plant switched to a dairy-free, Asian-style diet virtually overnight, while also undergoing chemotherapy. Having already cut down on animal protein such as meat, fish and eggs, she now cut out all milk products, including the live organic yogurt she had religiously eaten for several years.
Within six weeks the lump in her neck had disappeared; within a year, she was in remission and remained cancer-free for the next 18 years. Convinced that her diet had helped, she devised the Plant programme – a dairy-free diet, relying largely on plant proteins such as soy – similar, she says, to the traditional diet in rural China.
She believes new and “wonderful” anti-cancer treatments are vital – but so, she argues, is a dairy-free diet, as well as other diet and lifestyle measures, such as stress reduction.
Much of the advice in the new book, Beat Cancer, chimes with current guidance on how to reduce cancer risk, such as eating more plant food and less red meat, salt, sugar and fat; taking regular exercise and reducing stress.
It is surprising how many products, including commercial soups, biscuits and cakes, contain some form of dairy produce. Even many proprietary brands of margarine marketed as soya, sunflower or olive oil spreads can contain dairy produce.
It is hard to accept that a substance as ‘natural’ as milk might have such ominous health implications.
After all, dairy is a “product of Western culture,” and we’ve been told for decades by the food purists to eradicate everything Western from our diets – sugar, red meat, refined wheat, and yes, of course, dairy too.
“Cows’ milk is good for calves – but not for us,” She adds.
“Cow’s milk [organic or otherwise] has been shown to contain 35 different hormones and 11 growth factors,” says Prof Plant. High circulating levels of one such growth factor in milk, called IGF-1, is now strongly linked to the development of many cancers. Research has also found that “unbound” IGF levels are lower in vegans than in both meat-eaters and other vegetarians.
“This means that a vegan diet is lower in cancer-promoting molecules and higher in the binding proteins that reduce the action of these molecules,” she argues.
Plant69, a Professor of geochemistry at Imperial College London, where she specialises in environmental carcinogens, she is highly regarded in her field, having been awarded a CBE in 1997 for her services to earth science; and her approach to cancer is supported by some eminent scientists. Her latest book, co-written with Mustafa Djamgoz, professor of cancer biology at Imperial, has a foreword from Prof Sir Graeme Catto, president of the College of Medicine, who describes its findings as “illuminating… even, at times, shocking” but all backed up by scientific research.
Although controversial, the method helped Jane survive and she claims that it can help anyone.
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