Helping Patients Navigate the complex maze of claims of dietary cures for cancer

Whether or not you have cancer and searching for the diet that promises cure or if you are trying to be healthy and avoid cancer; there is one question that needs to be asked: Are You confused?

FAdDiet-BAd-DietWhether or not you have cancer and searching for the diet that promises cure or if you are trying to be healthy and avoid cancer;  there is one question that needs to be asked: Are You confused?

If you have answered YES – then you may be on the road to discovery by reassessing the loads of misinformation written and spoken about diet and cancer cures. Over 40 years in cancer medicine – I have seen most fads and “cancer cure diets”. Longevity in the field is a wonderful teacher as you have the luxury of seeing repetition over the years. What works and what doesn’t work!

I see “cancer cure diets” recycled each decade to a new group of enthusiasts who promote the very things that did not work back then but, they don’t know that and so they regurgitate the information to a new group of desperate patients seeking a cure. The newbie enthusiasts believe the old and tired hype and try to make it new and sexy. But as they say You can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear!

So, if you are confused, I encourage you to develop your critical thinking skills and question the different ways that are promoted to help you beat cancer and especially to beat cancer naturally with diet and without the help of modern medicine. Most cancer patients believe that with a diet change you can do no harm; but they could not be more wrong!

All things in Balance - So important when dealing with cancer
All things in Balance – So important when dealing with cancer

 The list of “healthy diet health issues” is long…but perhaps the most recent destructive dietary change for cancer patients is the Vegan diet. Regularly in my practice I see patients who have lost 10-20 kg plus following a vegan diet because they went to a workshop program, read it in a book or found it on Dr Google. They have applied a one size fits all approach to their diet, not personalized. When we measure their blood – we find severe deficiencies in critical areas including immunity and vitamin B12 to name a few – the complete opposite of their goal- but often we also find dangerous levels of selenium, zinc, Vit D & A as they have tried to use supplements to adjust for dietary lack. Faecal retention and constipation is common on low fibre diets.

The natural therapies movement has convinced patients that their bodies can no longer be trusted to function and that they are toxic and must detox from very pore and orifice. As well they must do the same with their “emotional baggage”if they want to recover from cancer! This is a sad indictment of a supposedly health promoting profession.

Apart from diets where Juicing reigns supreme with 8- 10 juices a day; vegan and raw vegan seem to create the most most destructive side effects for cancer patients. Many patients who have written blogs and books on the subject have sadly died following the wrong dietary advice. Yes – patients die from cancer too….but in my experience those who engage in the fad cancer cure diets do far worse than those who just have medical treatment.

I was in a local Homestyle-Kitchen store recently and on the shelf I discovered several new copies of Jess Ainscough’s (Wellness Warrior’s) book – “Make Peace with your Plate”.  It is well documented – Jess and her mother both died by adhering to their singular dietary cure for cancer. The store concerned was not interested to know that Jess had died as a result of her choices.

If patients have delayed treatment or delayed seeking a proper diagnosis – the consequences can be horrendous. SEE Delayed treatment World Journal of Psycho warning graphic image in this Journal article.

One question to ask yourself is “Do I have time to experiment with this one one precious life?” All that myself and my colleagues can do is keep on educating cancer patients – but sadly by the time some patients visit – there is little than can be achieved.

A recent paper published in the MJA by Professor Ian Haines takes a look at this issue from the perspective of the oncologist. The paper is written to assist oncologists to develop better communication with patients who take the this  alt-med-dietary path to cancer recovery.

Resources – please pass on:

  1. See Prof Haines’ paper at: https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2015/203/4/negotiating-complex-maze-claims-dietary-cures-cancer   Also download the PDF version: ian haines mja aug 2015
  2. Visit my podcast website to hear my interview on BBC Bristol UK: http://www.navigatingthecancermazeaustralia.org/grace-gawler-bbc-interview-the-role-of-mind-body-medicine-in-recovery/
  3. http://www.gracegawlerinstitute.com/alternative-medicine-rescue/

Cancer Patients: If you need assistance with personalizing your diet or if you help due to delayed diagnosis – please contact me via the Contact page

Raw Versus Cooked for Cancer Patients with Gastrointestinal Cancer| Grace Gawler

It is not only what you eat; but what you can absorb. Is raw food better than cooked food? Is vegan better for cancer patients than fish and meat? What about raw vegan? Extreme diets often pair with extreme supplementation to make up for what’s missing…so how safe is that approach? What about juices and their value? What is the truth about diet and Cancer?

Navigating the Cancer Diet Maze Special needs for Colon and Liver Cancer

Listen on Voice America Health & Wellness Channel – free to download or available on streaming

It is not only what you eat; but what you can absorb. Is raw food better than cooked food? Is vegan better for cancer patients than fish and vegraw veganvegetarian? What about raw vegan? Extreme diets often pair with extreme supplementation to make up for what’s missing…so how safe is that approach? What about juices and their value?

Having gained a distinction in nutrition plus assisting cancer patients for 40 years has given me great insights….there is not much I haven’t seen cancer patients try with regards to dietary regimens and alternative medicine during those decades. Most often, the outcomes have been far from ideal. Maybe short term dietary experiments are OK if you are not ‘relying’ on the diet for curing cancer – but the main issue goes way beyond symptoms, such as rapid weight loss, because the most important thing is that cancer is time sensitive – you don’t have time to wait and see if the diet works in 3 or 6 months. The wait and see mentality is heavily criticized in conventional medical systems – but clearly it exists on both sides of the healing divide.

  • We live in an age where fashion fads and dietary fads change like the wind. With lifestyle medicine a cultural trend; a lot of long term dietary experimentation is going on at the cost of lives. Cancer patients often get swept up in the winds of dietary fads and before they know it, they are inside a culinary tornado that offers more stress; less peace of mind, confusion, social isolation, unnecessary weight loss and nutritional deficiencies…all from a so called nutrient dense diet that many cannot absorb.
    This I know from experience; in fact from 3 different roles in my life.:
    as carer of a cancer patient
    a qualified health professional
    and then as a patient
    Many others have experienced this – this website is a fascinating read!
    Resource # 1:  http://www.beyondveg.com/

So where does the truth lie for people just want to eat well? I think it lies in the middle of the road approach!

Cancer patients need to be careful that they are not buying in to an someone else’s ideological dietary regimens.

There is no cure cancer diet that I know of….and there is no one size fits all in the world of diet! But if you are a cancer patient and particularly if you have  colorectal or a gastrointestinal cancer – you need to be even more cautious.
What is the best way of eating for this specialised group?
The only way is to access a health practitioner who can help you with a personalised diet  based on results of functional pathology stool tests. Yes – your own stools hold the secret answer as to what you should eat and what you can absorb! Makes sense doesn’t it!

The best type of tests are those that require a stool sample collected over a 3 day period…
Why a 3 day period? As well as examining all the digestive functions and our end products…the 3 day test is far more accurate for detecting any parasite eggs from unwelcome intestinal hosts…this problem is more common that most people believe.

Some cancers such as cancer of the bile duct  (called cholangiocarcinoma)  is one example of a cancer known to be caused by a parasite – in this case – Chinese Liver fluke.
Resource # 2: Chart and references:  Parasites and Pathogens associated with cancer

Resource # 3: In Australia – to source a test ask your health practitioner to organize a Healthscope functional pathology test for digestion including a 3-day parasitology test. They have an excellent series of different tests – your practitioner can advise which one is best for you..

For stool testing in the USA & internationally – CONTACT
http://www.metametrix.com/test-menu/profiles/gastrointestinal-function/dna-stool-analysis-gi-effects

It is almost a given that patients with colorectal cancer will have had surgery to remove a segment or segments of colon affected by cancer. Depending on the length of the segment removed  –  type of diet and quantity of food should be adjusted accordingly.

Excess fibre and raw seeds and nuts and even raw foods  can become indigestible irritants causing inflammation and bloating to the patient who has had colorectal surgery….it can especially be a problem for the patient who loses a  significant portion of small intestine. Yours truly in one of those people!

Prior to my own surgery losing 5 ft of large colon and the same amount of small intestine; I was a prolific salad & raw food consumer – but I also ate a great deal of cooked vegetables and seafood – I think you would call me a Pescetarian…I had a diet that contained a good deal of dietary fibre- a good balance of cooked and raw foods. However after my surgeries– my gastro – intestinal tract was clearly traumatised and it took years to recover to a satisfactory degree.

Remember the saying………… it is not only what you eat – but what you can absorb…..this statement becomes a simple rule to live by and is especially important for those dealing with or those who have had colorectal cancer.

Now back to diet….. cooked vs raw…

Now I am interested in the work of primatologist Richard Wrangham…. his research claims that learning to cook food was the hinge Catching_Fire_-_How_Cooking_Made_Us_Human_(Profile_books)on which human evolution turned. Eating cooked food, he argues, enabled us to evolve our large brains, and cooking itself became a primary focus of human social activity — in short, cooking made us the social, intelligent, and sexual species we are today.

His book –  Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human is available on Amazon..

From the book’s promo:
Contrary to the dogmas of raw-foods enthusiasts, cooked cuisine was central to the biological and social evolution of humanity, argues this fascinating study. Harvard biological anthropologist Wrangham dates the breakthrough in human evolution to a moment 1.8 million years ago, when, he conjectures, our forebears tamed fire and began cooking.

Starting with Homo erectus—who should perhaps be renamed Homo gastronomicus—these innovations drove anatomical and physiological changes that make us adapted to eating cooked food the way cows are adapted to eating grass. By making food more digestible and easier to extract energy from, Wrangham reasons, cooking enabled hominids’ jaws, teeth and guts to shrink, freeing up calories to fuel their expanding brains. It also gave rise to pair bonding and table manners, and liberated mankind from the drudgery of excessive chewing (while chaining womankind to the stove). Wrangham’s lucid, accessible treatise ranges across nutritional science, palaeontology and studies of ape behaviour and hunter-gatherer societies; the result is a tour de force of natural history and a profound analysis of cooking’s role in daily life. More than that, Wrangham offers a provocative take on evolution—suggesting that, rather than humans creating civilized technology, civilized technology created us.
http://www.amazon.com/Catching-Fire-Cooking-Made-Human/dp/1469298708

Listen on Voice America Health & Wellness Channel – free to download or available on streaming
http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/75179/navigating-the-cancer-diet-maze-special-needs-for-colon-and-liver-cancer

Thanks for visiting…..More on this thought provoking topic in next blog-soon: Enjoy!  Grace