Cancer Treatment: Why a Vegetarian Diet Helps

Cancer Treatment: Why a Vegetarian Diet Helps


Hi, I’m Dr. Scholz. Let’s talk about prostate
cancer. In this video, we’re going to cover dietary
practices for prostate cancer patients. I’m not going to try and cover the specifics of
what type of diet. I’m going to talk about a general overriding principle, a fairly simple
concept, and then there’s tons of information you can pursue to learn more about the details. The overriding principle for prostate cancer
patients is vegetarianism, vegan diets, avoidance of animal products in the diet. And I contend
that it’s very hard to change your diet and you’re going to need to have a good strong
basis for why you’re doing this to be able to carry through and be consistent. There’s three broad lines of evidence that
all point towards vegan diets for prostate cancer patients. The first is my own personal
experience with patients in my early practice who would come to me with a passion for going
on a diet to treat their prostate cancer. It’s not at all unusual; what’s unusual is
that prostate cancer can be monitored with PSA testing and you can actually see whether
or not there’s an impact. Men who have rising PSAs after surgery, for example, can have
their PSA levels plotted out in a sequential fashion and you can see the growth rate of
the tumor when it’s untreated. I was rather surprised when men would go on strong vegan
diets or macrobiotic diets and their PSAs, which had previously been rising in a steady
consistent fashion would stop rising—quickly, within a month—and level off and remain
stable as long as they were faithful with their diets. At the same time, these diets
were so stringent that the men would lose weight, and I discovered that people who were
claiming to be on vegetarian diets and weren’t losing weight didn’t see much impact on their
PSA levels. Prior to patients approaching their prostate cancer this way, I was not
a believer, but consistent outcomes like I just described to you changed my thinking
about how diet impacts prostate cancer. The second thing that has reaffirmed this
belief that vegetarianism has an inhibitory effect on prostate cancer growth has to do
with the metabolic nature of prostate cancer, which is rather different from other types
of cancers. Almost everybody’s heard that you’re supposed to avoid sugar when you have
cancer. This is based on some results from what we call PET scans (positron emission
tomography scans) where people with say lung cancer or pancreas cancer or lymphoma get
a radioactive sugar injected into their bloodstream and they’re scanned to where the radioactive
sugar concentrates. Well, it concentrates avidly in the tumors—within minutes—so that
admonition to avoid sugar if you have one of those other cancer types is very reasonable.
Interestingly, with prostate cancer, if you inject radioactive sugar into the system,
the prostate cancer couldn’t care less. It does not concentrate sugar the way other tumors
do. But relatively new technology using radioactive fats (C11 acetate and choline PET scans) or
protein (Axumin PET scans) show that prostate cancer feeds on both fats and amino acids—direct
derivatives of animal products. So, when people go with a vegetarian type diet, they are avoiding
the types of amino acids and proteins that are typical in animal tissue and that’s what
prostate cancer cells are made out of. This is a very good explanation for why these vegan
diets are causing an inhibitory effect on the growth of prostate cancer cells as reflected
in how fast the PSA is rising. There’s a third line of evidence that says
the exact same thing, and this has to do with a book written by Dr. Colin Campbell called
“The China Study.” [It is based on] extensive multi-million dollar research in China looking
at dietary patterns in all cancers including prostate cancer. Dr. Campbell’s studies show
that the regions of China where people were eating very small amounts of animal protein
has much lower cancer rates including prostate cancer. These studies, again, were not designed
to answer this question, they were just looking, generally speaking, at dietary patterns and
this is what they discovered. The lower the amount of animal protein intake, the lower
the incidence of cancers including prostate cancer. So three separate lines of evidence all point
towards avoiding animal protein for patients who have prostate cancer. So is this something
that everyone with prostate cancer has to do? We have to remember that there are many
types of indolent low-grade prostate cancers that don’t even behave like cancers. I think
it’s a little bit overboard to say that someone has to radically alter their lifestyle for
the management of these Gleason 6 tumors for men on active surveillance. But the other,
more advanced—the Royal stage of prostate cancer—when people have metastatic disease,
I think it makes a lot of sense to take diet seriously and do your best to avoid animal
protein intake altogether.