Unravel the Mystery – Foreword by Neal Barnard, M.D.

This book presents vital information that can help you stay healthy—or help you regain health if it has slipped away. Of all the areas of health, perhaps the most important is tackling cancer.

Many of us live in fear of cancer. We view it as something that is completely out of our control. Thankfully, however, we have more control than we often think. As you read through this book, you will find an abundance of detailed information about the many toxins that can potentially play into cancer growth, and, more importantly, how to prevent exposure to these chemicals and environmental factors.

According to the National Cancer Institute, 80 percent of cancers are due attributable to factors that have been identified and can potentially be controlled. And not only can we potentially prevent most cancers; those who already have cancer have the ability to improve their survival rates. Evidence is strongest for cancers of the breast, prostate, and colon, where the most research has been done, but many of the same principles apply to other numerous forms of cancer as well.

For example, it has become common knowledge that tobacco contains dangerous carcinogens. Thirty percent of cancers are caused by tobacco. And while lung cancer is the most obvious example, tobacco can also cause cancers of the mouth, throat, kidney, and bladder.

What most people don’t know is how significantly diet affects cancer risk. By scientific estimates, at least one-third of annual cancer deaths in the United States are caused by dietary factors, and most likely the number is even higher than this. A review from the American Cancer Society on diet and cancer estimates that up to 80 percent of cancers of the large bowel, breast, and prostate are due to dietary factors—and studies indicate that the foods we eat have a substantial effect on other cancers as well.

The link between diet and cancer has been known—at least by some—for over a century. In January 1892, Scientific American printed the observation that “cancer is most frequent among those branches of the human race where carnivorous habits prevail.” A decade later, the New York Times published an article entitled “Cancer Increasing among Meat Eaters,” which described a seven-year epidemiological study showing that meat-eaters were at high cancer risk, compared with those choosing other staples. Since then, numerous research studies have shown the same thing: Cancer is much more common in populations consuming diets heavy in animal-based foods and much less common in countries where diets consist primarily of grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits.

But why does this happen? One reason is that foods affect the action of hormones in the body. In particular, dietary fat consumption drives the hormone production, which, in turn, promotes cancer cell growth in hormone-sensitive organs such as the breast and prostate. Major sources of unhealthy dietary fats in many people’s diets are meat and dairy products. By cutting these out, we are reducing our chances of promoting cancer cell growth. Foods also affect the strength of the immune system. Fruits and vegetables contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals to protect the body. In contrast, recent research shows that animal products contain potentially carcinogenic compounds that may contribute to increased cancer risk 

Furthermore, fiber, which has protective effects against cancer—namely colon cancer—is found exclusively in plant-based foods. Fiber greatly speeds the passage of food through the colon, which effectively removes carcinogens. Fiber also changes the type of bacteria that is present in our intestines, reducing the production of harmful carcinogenic acids. Plant-based foods are also completely cholesterol-free, which aids in keeping our bodies in a healthy state.

In our research studies at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, my colleagues and I have examined the effects of dietary interventions on a number of conditions. Whether we are looking to lower cholesterol or blood pressure levels, treat diabetes or migraines, or even simply trim waistlines, our studies have shown that a low-fat, vegan diet is a powerful way to promote health. The same goes for cancer—plants prevent and protect.

Unraveling the Mystery is full of valuable information to help you do just that—prevent and protect against cancer.

We are surrounded everyday by forces we cannot control. Diet is not one of them. Follow the guidelines outlined in this book, and you will be on the road to a long, fulfilling, healthy future.

Unravel the mystery. Live a health-promoting lifestyle. Take this knowledge that Ann presents to you, and take control.