Sunday, November 13, 2011

Feeding Cancer

The author of the book “The China Study” did not start out trying to convince people to cut back or eliminate animal-based protein from their diets - his work initially focused on finding a way to alleviate child malnutrition in third-world countries. His focus on peanuts as a source of protein led to a study of the liver cancer caused by a fungus (aflatoxin) that grows on peanuts. His research showed that Philippine children who ate peanuts were at risk of liver cancer, but that the children from the most affluent families, who ate most meat, had the highest incidence of liver cancer.

His later research demonstrated in animal studies that increasing meat consumption increased cancer growth. Switching to plant-based protein shrank tumors, and then switching back to animal-based protein caused the tumors to grow again.

For many years body-builders and others have talked of “High Quality Protein”. This is the stuff that will result in the greatest muscle growth. What better to grow muscles than the proteins of other animals? They are very similar to our proteins because they mostly have the right amounts of each of the needed amino acids. These proteins can be used very efficiently by our bodies. In fact, milk and eggs are considered the Highest Quality Proteins.

With me so far - if you want to grow more muscle, eat meat and eggs and drink milk. Or, drink whey-protein shakes, whey being a milk-based protein extract.

But, isn’t growing muscles a lot like growing cancer? If animal-based protein is good for growing muscles, wouldn’t it also be good for growing cancer cells?

Let’s go one step farther - if we eat more “high quality protein” than our bodies need for cell regeneration - isn't this extra protein available to feed tumors?

When I look at the plot shown above I see a small increase - from 4 to 8 - in cancer precursor cell development as we increase the animal-based protein from 5 to 10%. In this range our body is competing with cancer for the "High Quality Protein" - and it looks like the body is using most of the animal-based protein for cell regeneration. Even in this range I really believe we should eat as little animal-based protein as we can - even that one chicken-breast we talked about a couple of days ago. But, if we consume more animal-based protein, the precursor-cell development skyrockets, increasing from 8 to 65 as we add just 5% more animal-based protein to our diet.

The China Study documents the fact that eating plant-based proteins does not increase the incidence of cancer. Only animal-based proteins.

So, what does one eat to get enough protein without meat and eggs and milk? We’ll discuss this tomorrow.


  1. Hi Steve
    what's the source of this chart? Is it The China Study?

    John Dawson

  2. Yes - the chart comes from the China Study - see text for page reference.