All My Sisters: Avoiding Breast Cancer

“I can’t help but wonder if I could have avoided breast cancer in the first place if I had grown up knowing how important good nutrition is in preventing this horrendous disease… Most Americans still don’t realize that the right foods can help them prevent breast cancer and its recurrences. They certainly don’t know that dietary choices have more influence over lifetime cancer risk than air or water pollution (35 to 50 percent compared with 5 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute) or even genetics (5 percent).”
– (Ms.) Simon Chaitowitz – communications specialist with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

“If we are going to reduce our nation’s breast cancer risk, we need a much more aggressive nutritional approach. In our advice about reducing dietary fat, we need to encourage a diet based on plant foods.”
T. Colin Campbell, Professor Emeritus of Cornell University and author of The China Study (the most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted)

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, and the second most common cause of cancer death in women. In the United States, one in nine women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer over a lifetime.

As with other forms of cancer, risk factors for breast cancer are numerous, but despite much confusion and controversy around the subject, there is increasing evidence pointing to the importance of diet in preventing the disease.

As explained by Dr. T Colin Campbell,

“On the one hand, extensive research often links high-fat diets to higher rates of breast cancer. On the other hand, several prominent medical studies have shown little or no relationship between fat intake and breast cancer. Lacking conclusive evidence, most nutritional experts play it safe by suggesting that the most effective way to reduce breast cancer is to reduce overall fat intake… What we have found from the China Project is that such advice is not sufficient. The fact that significantly lower breast cancer rates exist throughout China is not simply due to low-fat diets but also because these diets are largely plant-based.”

Foods which are high in fat and animal protein have been shown to increase female hormone levels, which, when out of balance, can cause cells to multiply and fuel tumor growth. Fiber, on the other hand, which is found in fruits, veggies, grains, and beans, but never in meat, helps remove excess hormones from the body.

“We found that girls who consumed diets that were limited in plant foods, yet were high in animal foods, reached menarche (first menstruation) at an early age. When girls are pushed early to menarche by what they eat, their blood levels of estrogen and certain other hormones reach unusually high levels. These levels will then remain high as long as no dietary change is made. What is the problem? Higher levels of female hormones are known to be associated with higher breast cancer risk.”

High-fat diets also contribute to obesity, another primary risk factor for breast cancer. High levels of saturated fat and cholesterol can also impair immune function.

According to the website of the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine,

“Asian countries, such as Japan, have low breast cancer rates, while rates in Western countries are many times higher. When Japanese women westernize their diets, as has been happening since the 1950s, their breast cancer rates climb. Among affluent Japanese women, those who eat meat daily have approximately six times higher risk of breast cancer compared with those who rarely or never eat meat. When Japanese families move to the United States, their daughters acquire the same risk of cancer as the other American women.”

Although meat has long been a known carcinogen, recent developments, particularly in the work of Dr. Campbell, have shown that it is not just meat, but also dairy products, that may be playing an important role in the spread of the cancer epidemic. Putting into place another piece of the puzzle, Campbell’s studies have isolated casein (the protein in milk) as being “the most relevant cancer promoter ever discovered”.

As someone who was raised an ardent feminist, I grew up with a passionate interest in women’s issues. When I became a vegan, however, I found that my obsession with justice became focused on what I now perceive to be a more urgent target – the indescribable horror inflicted on nonhumans for the purpose of fulfilling the human desire for animal products.

Not even under the most oppressive political regime is it perfectly legal for humans to be subjected to a lifetime of sexual slavery, complete with being regularly machine-raped, followed by an endless cycle of being sucked dry of milk intended for babies who have either been born into slavery or sold into certain death. Nowhere are female humans warehoused in prisons for the duration of their lives and enslaved for the purpose of ‘harvesting’ their eggs, after being born in factories where their baby brothers are ground up alive.

As explained by Will Tuttle, Ph.D., author of The World Peace Diet,

“In exploiting dairy cows and hens, we dominate them not just for their flesh, skin, bones, and other body parts that we can use or sell; we specifically exploit their uteruses and mammary glands. This inhumane desecration of the most intimate and life-giving functions of the feminine principle, that of giving birth to new life and of tenderly nourishing that life, harms us perhaps as deeply as it does the cows…  By enslaving and cruelly exploiting cow mothers and babies in dairy operations, we attack and injure the sacred feminine within ourselves… the seat of loving-kindness, receptivity, caring, and the urge to nurture and protect.”

Perhaps the rising breast cancer rates (and the subsequent findings as to the potential significance of diet in causing the disease) offer us an opportunity to look at who we are as women, and who we want to become. Do we want to continue consuming products that not only are killing us and our families, but also require the systematic exploitation of beings who, in their essence, are not that different from us?
“When we feed on other animals’ milk and eggs, we are feeding on their fear and despair, on the violence that a patriarchal mentality systematically enforces on them… When we make the connection between our culturally induced desire to eat dairy and egg products and the cruelty to vulnerable mothers that this will necessarily entail, our intelligence and compassion are nourished, and we naturally begin to make new choices.”

182,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. each year, and 46,000 killed by the disease… Mounting research pointing to the importance of diet in preventing the disease and its recurrence… Billions of nonhuman females suffering in factories and on farms so that we can continue to poison ourselves with the products of their raped and ravaged bodies… Time for a change? I would say so. 









Carole R.
Carole R3 years ago

Thanks for the post.

johan l.
paul l6 years ago

Apropos Will Tuttle, I think it is utter nonsense to play on people's feelings and trying to make them feel guilty when eating meat or chicken.
Not everyone likes veggies!
Of course there should be more humane ways of treating farm animals, but I rather stick to women's rights than animal rights!
People have souls, animals do not!

Dan C.
Dan C6 years ago


Finally, I’ll repeat that I think the NBCC probably funds and supports at least some good *clinical* research in breast cancer *drug treatment* studies, so I think much of their work is probably very worthwhile. (They may also fund some horrific and useless drug treatment studies on nonhuman animals, but I don’t know that, so I won’t claim it.) From what I’ve read, my strong complaint against NBCC is their dubious claims that doubt the very strong evidence supporting significant causal links between animal product consumption and other environmental factors (smoking and too much alcohol) and breast cancer.

So, there is nothing ironic or disingenuous about my support of PCRM and *specific* criticism of NBCC in the prevention arena (which is what Angel's article is about -- prevention and risk reduction).

Dan C.
Dan C6 years ago

To clarify:

I’m no more of a fan of PETA than you are, PaH (and I’ve repeatedly stated my dislike of PETA on Care2 in the past), but the two of us probably dislike PETA for very different reasons. PETA has absolutely no credibility with me and I see them as a big obstacle to public education on veganism and animal ethics. I think the best thing that could happen to veganism and animal rights is for PETA to dissolve, and I am not exaggerating.

PCRM, on the other hand, is a different organization and does drastically different and better things with their time and money. While I have some complaints about PCRM, they do hold immense credibility with me in their research on health and preventative medicine and their efforts at nonviolent education. Further, PCRM is not funded at all by Big Pharma or any other dubious sources. They are funded by disinterested (i.e. without ulterior motives) individuals and foundations who simply care about improving the health and ethics of our eating and research choices.


Pa H.
P H6 years ago

The PCRM is opposed to the consumption of animal products and shares much of the same philosophy of PETA. They began the cancer project. I find it more than ironic that you malign the NBCC while touting the Cancer Project of PCRM. Disingenuous.

Dan C.
Dan C6 years ago



The Cancer Project research is not limited to PCRM’s research. PCRM gathers research from scientific studies from many sources unrelated to animal protection interests. While it is true that PCRM and The Cancer Project are funded in part by “members” (read donors), the research and educational managers and employees are made up of several MDs and professional dieticians and nutritionists. They are as science-based as any health organization in the world. Further, their donors, probably without exception, are people and organizations who are compassionate toward both people and sentient nonhumans. There is nothing to be ashamed of here at all.

On the NBCC:

If the NBCC were interested in prevention, they would be far more open and supportive of the strong evidence that a diet without animal products and other unhealthy habits significantly reduce the environmental risk of breast cancer.

As for “the evidence”, you should read the links to The Cancer Project I noted earlier in the thread. They provide overwhelming evidence.

Anyway, PaH, I doubt anyone but two or three people aside from you and I are reading our comments. As such, continuing this “discussion” with you is certainly a waste of my time, so I’m not going to write much after this unless something new comes up.

Dan C.
Dan C6 years ago

The Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is behind The Cancer Project. PCRM’s mission is to promote preventative medicine, conduct clinical research, and encourage higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research. Part of their higher standard of ethics is refusing to use animals in testing due both to the fact that it is ineffective and unethical (ineffective because humans and nonhumans are dangerously different at the level of microbiology and bodily chemistry; things that test well on nonhumans kill humans and vice versus, and this is so frequent that today’s animal testing is like flipping a coin).

While they research and promote the health and prevention benefits of diets without animal products, and research and educate about the health risks of animal product consumption, they do not hide the fact that they believe animal product consumption is unethical (due to the fact that it is unnecessary and harmful to human health and therefore causes unnecessary suffering and death on nonhumans.


Pa H.
P H6 years ago

PaH wrote: “Where is the evidence, Dan??”

Ha! It’s been staring you in the face like the sun in Arizona, but you are so locked into your own myopic tunnel vision that you can’t see it. Have you read what I’ve written and the major donors list?

Dan you really need to improve your reading comprehension skills. Where is the evidence that not eating meat is preventative for breast cancer, That is what you were referring to is it not? I have already stated that there is NO conclusive evidence on environmental factors effect on the incidence of developing breast cancer. Period. Diet is considered an environmental factor. Therefore there is no information to withhold because there is no conclusive evidence.

Pa H.
P H6 years ago

"I do not deny that NBCC achieves some progress, especially in treatment drugs, but they clearly have no interest in prevention. "

How would you know this? Have you ever talked to anyone associated with NBCC? I know first hand they are interested in prevention because I know someone that works for them. The only difference is they are interested in prevention that has SCIENTIFICALLY been proven to be effective

You post and then you back track. I suggest you stop maligning institutions that have women's best interests at heart and spend your time doing something that actually contributes positively to the world.

Pa H.
P H6 years ago

The cancer project is funded by the PCRM which is an animal rights organization masquerading as a medical group. Less than 5% of the PCRM's members are physicians. In addition Neil Barnard has ties to PETA.