Study after study, evidence tells us that adopting a plant-based diet will yield the best results for total health and wellness. Yet, more and more Americans continue to suffer from ‘Western’ diseases including cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. In 1997, the American Institute for Cancer Research issued an international report, “Food, Nutrition, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective”. In conclusion, the American Institute for Cancer reports that “choosing predominately plant-based diets rich in variety of vegetables and fruits, legumes, and mildly processed staple foods” along with physical activity and not smoking can prevent 60-70% of ALL cancers.
None of us like to think that we bring our own misfortunes on ourselves but here are the facts:
- At least 1/3 of annual cancer deaths in the U.S. are due to dietary factors. (The Cancer Project)
- A recent review on diet and cancer estimates that up to 80 percent of cancers of the large bowel, breast, and prostate are due to dietary factors. (The Cancer Project)
- In January 1892, Scientific American printed the observation that “cancer is most frequent among those branches of the human race where carnivorous habits prevail.” (Scientific American)
- According to the American Cancer Society, “African Americans have the highest death rate and shortest survival of any racial and ethnic group in the US for most cancers“.
How does this relate to diet?
HCAs and PAHs (Adopted from the National Cancer Institute)
Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are chemicals formed when muscle meat, including beef, pork, fish, or poultry, is cooked using high-temperature methods, such as pan frying or grilling directly over an open flame (1). In laboratory experiments, HCAs and PAHs have been found to be mutagenic—that is, they cause changes in DNA that may increase the risk of cancer.
HCAs are formed when amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), sugars, and creatine (a substance found in muscle) react at high temperatures. PAHs are formed when fat and juices from meat grilled directly over an open fire drip onto the fire, causing flames. These flames contain PAHs that then adhere to the surface of the meat. PAHs can also be formed during other food preparation processes, such as smoking of meats (1).
Start by incorporating more live foods into your diet (ie. fresh fruits and vegetables) and incorporate more plant-based meals into your daily food routine. If you are interested in adopting a vegetarian diet, check out Healthy Eating for Life, a project of the Food for Life Cancer Project.