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Warren Buffett’s Prostate Cancer May Be Reversible With Diet

Billionaire business magnate and philanthropist Warren Buffett is planning to start radiation treatments this summer for early stage prostate cancer. Pioneering new research suggests that such cancers can be treated and even reversed with a plant-based diet and other healthy lifestyle changes.

Everyone reading this, right now, has mutated cells within them with the potential to progress to cancer, but one cancer cell never hurt anyone. Two cancer cells never hurt anyone. A billion cancer cells? Well, then you start getting into trouble. So we have to slow down and reverse the replication and growth of cancer cells. We all have cells that could grow into tumors. We have to slow these cells down, so that our immune systems can clean them up before they spell trouble.

Take breast cancer, for example. Like all cancer, it starts with one cell, which divides and becomes two cells, then becomes 4, then 8. Every time the cells divide, the tiny tumor doubles in size. Thanks to the mathematics of exponential growth, all it has to do is double about 30 times and we’re up to a billion cells. 2, 4, 8, 16–do that 30 times and you’re up to a billion, which is a tumor just large enough to be picked up by mammography. All it has to do is double thirty times–but it takes between 25 days and a thousand days for cancer cells to double once. So from the time that first cell gets mutated, it takes between 2 years and 100 years before it actually shows up as a little tumor you can see or feel.

The skin cancer we die of at 50 may have well been because of a teenage sunburn. Many breast cancers start in the teen years as well. In fact, some breast cancer may actually start in utero, before you’re even born, and depend in part on what your mom ate! The shortest known interval between the initial mutation and a cancer diagnosis is 18 months, which is when the first leukemia cases started showing up after Hiroshima. But for most solid tumors (meaning non-blood cancers), cancer takes decades to develop. So we may have time to stop and reverse it. This is what’s called the promotion stage of cancer. The cancer has been initiated (typically by a DNA mutation), but if we don’t promote it, if we keep it dormant, if we slow it down, we may even be able to reverse its growth.

As I lay out in my video Slowing the Growth of Cancer, autopsy studies in Japan show that they have just as much prostate cancer as Americans do. But death from prostate cancer is only about a fifth what it is here (until they emigrate and start eating like us). Japan has the #1 longest life expectancy of any nation (the U.S. falls around 19th). When Japanese men finally do die, though, many have tiny prostate tumors. In Japan, most men die with their tumors instead of from their tumors.

Dr. Dean Ornish, best known for his pioneering work into reversing heart disease with a plant-based diet, tried to see what a healthy diet and lifestyle could do for prostate cancer, as laid out in today’s NutritionFacts.org video pick featured above.

By age 80, the majority of men everywhere have tiny cancerous prostate tumors. By age 40, a third of women have microscopic cancerous breast tumors (see my Care2 post on improving breast cancer survival). It’s like atherosclerosis. About half of American young adults in their 20s already have some hardening of the arteries. Many of us, right now, have tumors growing inside of us. So we can’t wait until we’re older to start eating healthier, we have to start now. Tonight.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: And then Dr. Ornish tried to see if a plant-based diet could help reverse the aging process! See my 4-minute video Research Into Reversing Aging.

Image credit: www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca / Flickr

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Read more: Cancer, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Health, Healthy Aging, Men's Health, Videos, Videos, Women's Health, , , ,

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Dr. Michael Greger

A founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues. Currently Dr. Greger serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at The Humane Society of the United States. Hundreds of his nutrition videos are freely available at NutritionFacts.org.

39 comments

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12:55PM PST on Dec 11, 2013

I've never heard a more convincing argument for expectant mothers to eat as healthy a diet as possible.

12:51PM PST on Dec 11, 2013

Ty

12:50PM PST on Dec 11, 2013

Ty

5:56AM PDT on May 2, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

9:32AM PDT on May 1, 2012

MY DAD BEAT THIS!

9:32AM PDT on May 1, 2012

MY DAD BEAT THIS!

1:54PM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

that's good..I hope he doesn't die from it

12:50PM PDT on Apr 28, 2012

thanks for the info!

10:55AM PDT on Apr 28, 2012

to Janet F, who expressed concern about advocating diet as an intervention for Mr. Buffett's condition: please note that he's been diagnosed with *early stage* prostate cancer.

Someone else expressed similar concern over at Dr. Greger's Facebook page, and I'm quoting Dr. Greger's reply here for you:

...[for] early stage prostate cancer..."watch and wait" is considered a completely reasonable option by mainstream medicine and oncology. So if a mainstream standard of treatment is to do absolutely nothing, then advocating people eat a healthier diet should not be much of a stretch. Note that's how this research was able to be carried out by Ornish. It would be unethical to keep people from standard treatments to test out diet, but when a standard treatment is nothing, then we can test out exciting new therapies like plant-based diets.

6:09PM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

Cindy W, I am very happy to hear that you are apparently cured of your cancer and that you tolerated your treatment so well--yes, being healthy prior to chemo/radiation really does help. But cancer is not one disease, it is hundreds of diseases. Even breast cancer is not one disease. The causes of cancer are a mix of genetic mutations, personal genetic make up and environmental input (including toxins, food, exercise, etc). This is the reason for seeming conundrums. Like smoking is a primary cause of lung cancer, but most smokers will never get lung cancer. Or why you hear stories of great aunt Annie who smoked, ate bacon every day, weighed 300 pounds, stayed up all night playing poker, and lived to be 110--and only died because she was hit by a truck.

For many cancer patients, chemo and radiation are not effective, and do not extend life to any real degree. Instead, pts just have a poor quality of life. In your case, and for others, they can be lifesaving. A healthy diet, removing toxins from your life as best you can, reducing stress (yes, it can affect your immune system), and enjoying your life can help prevent cancer and other diseases. There are no guarantees, but we can take proactive steps to stay healthy. And likewise, even during cancer tx, eating as healthy as you can, getting exercise, reducing stress, etc, will likely lead to better outcomes and make the tx more tolerable and effective.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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