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.
ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING EARTH DAY:
- Come Celebrate Earth Day with Care2! — Nicole Nuss
- Seven Ways to Get Involved for Earth Day – Beth Buczynski
- Get Out! For a Free Book Giveaway! – Judy Molland
- Now is the Time – Angel Flinn
- Don’t Toss that Plastic Bottle – Jennifer Mueller
HOW ARE ANIMALS AFFECTED?
- Top Ten Endangered Species – Sharon Seltzer
- A Review of Disneynature’s Oceans – Beth Buczynski
- Eating as if the Earth Matters – Heather Moore
THINGS TO PONDER
- Four Rules To Save The Planet – Nancy Roberts
- Earth…Gay? Coming Out for Sustainability – Steve Williams
- Family Planning and Earth Day – JamieAlexis Fowler
- All My Sisters: Avoiding Breast Cancer – Angel Flinn
- Humans are the Earth’s Problem AND its Solution – Beth Buczynski
THOSE MAKING A DIFFERENCE
- 2010 Goldman Environmental Awards – Nancy Roberts
- Climate Champion Dr. James Hansen – Nicole Nuss
- Boyd Cohen’s Quest to Offset Carbon – Suzi Parrasch