Jane Plant - Dairy & Breast Cancer




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Rich Murray: Jane Plant: dairy & breast cancer 1.18.01

Forum: sci.environment
Thread: Breast Cancer and Dairy
Message 1 of 1
Subject:  Breast Cancer and Dairy
Date:      01/25/2001
Author:   Environmental Examiner <>

Thursday January 18 06:13 PM EST
Breast Cancer and Dairy     By

Cutting your consumption of milk, ice cream and cheese can help your waistline and one scientist says it could also help in the fight against breast cancer.

"Drink milk-- it will prevent osteoporosis." Women have heard that line for years. But scientist Jane Plant, author of Your Life in Your Hands, says you should put your glass down.

Plant has faced breast cancer five times since 1987. Today her body is cancer-free and she attributes her recovery to a strict dairy-free diet.

Plant claims there's a link between Western diets with high dairy consumption and high rates of breast cancer, though there is no medical proof of this. She joined us in a live chat following her appearance on Good Morning America.
A transcript appears below.

Moderator at 12:00pm ET
We're joined by Jane Plant, a scientist and author of Your Life in Your Hands, a book chronicling her battle with breast cancer and her belief that a dairy-free diet saved her life.

Despite having no family history of breast cancer, Jane had five recurrences of the disease. On her fifth diagnosis, given just three months to live, she turned to her training as a scientist and decided to cut dairy out of her diet. Seven years later, she is cancer-free. Jane, thanks for joining us.

How did you arrive at the conclusion that the dairy products in your diet might be affecting your health?

Jane Plant at 12:03pm ET
Well, I had worked a lot in China on links between the environment and human health-- for example, the relationship between  selenium deficiency and heart disease--and the Chinese had given me, at that time, an atlas of cancer mortality in their country.

Suddenly, when I was given a diagnosis of three months to live, I remembered that the atlas showed an incredibly low rate of breast cancer in China, and I tried to think what was behind that difference between the incidence-- China and the West.

I wondered whether it was the low fat diet, but I'd had a low fat diet. I knew of the theory that the soya was protective, but I'd been having a lot of soya. And, suddenly, I remembered that all the Chinese people I knew wouldn't touch dairy products, because they often lack the enzyme needed to digest it. So I thought that that was worth a try.

Moderator at 12:04pm ET
Martha Waters asks: "Did you give up calcium supplements as well as dairy products?"

Jane Plant at 12:05pm ET
I don't take any calcium supplements, because the diet that I follow has lots of healthy sources of calcium in it. For example, certain vegetables are very rich in calcium and, indeed, some fruits are, too. Also, spreads such as tahini, which is a sesame spread, are very rich in calcium. So I have lived on a dairy-free diet now for seven and a half years, and I have no signs of osteoporosis. I have long, strong nails, and my health is better than it ever was. I believe that "calcium equals dairy" is a myth.

Moderator at 12:05pm ET
Tracey Newhall wonders: "What, specifically, is in dairy foods that contributes to the growth of cancer?"

Jane Plant at 12:08pm ET
Dairy products contain certain hormones, for example, estrogen and prolactin, which are contained in dairy milk, and oxytocin, and, in addition, they contain growth factors. These growth factors are designed to keep young cattle developing once they're out of the mother's womb and they can eat grass.

One of these growth factors, called IGF-1, has been strongly implicated in both breast and prostate cancer by many researchers, and I've given the references to that research in the book. Also, milk can contain concentrations of artificial chemicals which  the body cannot distinguish from hormones such as estrogen and these are thought to disrupt the body's hormone system.

So dairy contains hormones, growth factors, and these stranger estrogens, all implicated in breast cancer.

Chris from at 12:08pm ET
Does it make a difference if the dairy product is organic? Is organic dairy OK to consume?

Jane Plant at 12:09pm ET
No, I don't think it is. It might be marginally safer, but not fundamentally. I only ate organic dairy products before I gave it all up.

Georgina Nash, RN from at 12:09pm ET
Jane, are you familiar with Dr. John McDougal and the "McDougal Plan"? His books have concrete evidence that dairy products are directly linked to breast cancer, and many other cancers!

Jane Plant at 12:10pm ET
That's very interesting, and I'd be very pleased to look at that, but, no, I'm not familiar with his work.

Moderator at 12:11pm ET
Neal writes: "I am a scientist working on cancer. Your theory linking milk and breast cancer is quite interesting. Milk [cow or goat] has been a regular staple of most people's diets for thousands of years. Yet, there has been absolutely no evidence over the  millennia that milk and dairy products cause anything more than a lactose reaction. How do you rule out everything else in your life as the culprit (environmental carcinogens, mutations of cancer regulating genes, etc)?"


Jane Plant at 12:13pm ET
I think there are two types of carcinogens: those that cause cancer, and those that promote it. I believe that dairy promotes cancer, because of the substances in it. The statistics on breast cancer in countries like Thailand, Japan, China, and Korea, which never adopted a dairy diet, contrast very markedly with statistics in the West, where, as you say, people adopted the dairy diet from about eight thousand years ago.

Studies between different populations, migrations studies, show that when Chinese people emigrate and live on a Western diet, their likelihood of developing these cancers increases. Studies done on breast cancer cultures are consistent with dairy products causing both breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.

I've given all the references in my book, including one by three doctors from Princeton University in which they reviewed the findings of 135 research papers, and reached conclusions almost identical to those I've written about.

Moderator at 12:14pm ET
A question from Michael Manchester:
"Dr. Frank Oski, pediatrician, former director of the Children's Center at John Hopkin's University and prolific author and lecturer wrote the book Don't Drink Your Milk in 1983,  in which he questioned the presumed  nutritional benefits of dairy products.

Yet Dr. Oski also died of prostate cancer. Having not read this book, can you comment as to whether cancer issues are raised in it, and how it would be that an opponent of dairy would die of cancer. Would dairy contribute to breast cancer in a way that it wouldn't influence prostate cancer?"

Jane Plant at 12:15pm ET
I haven't read his book. I think dairy is associated with prostate cancer, but one of the problems with dairy is that it is hidden in other foods, and you don't always know when you're consuming dairy products.

Meat can also contain levels of chemicals like IGF-1 and so I've described in the book how to cook meat safely to cut down the risk of IGF-1 and other hormones from meat getting into your diet.

Mary pf. from at 12:15pm ET
Could goat's milk [and derivative products] be any safer?

Jane Plant at 12:16pm ET
I don't know. But I decided to cut out all dairy products, because I just don't think they're necessary, and I don't want to take any risks.

Kay Sanders at 12:16pm ET
I am allergic to milk and milk products. I am a breast cancer survivor since 1985. Do you think stress or diet has the bigger impact on cancer patients?

Jane Plant at 12:20pm ET
I think it's diet, mainly, but, as I said, some other animal products have levels of IGF-1 in them, and it's important to check that you're not inadvertently consuming dairy. Sometimes you think you're buying a spread that has olive oil and it contains significant quantities of dairy. In the U.K., many prescription drugs are in a lactose matrix, and whey from milk can be the basis of many commercial soups, so people may be unaware that they're actually having dairy products.

I would also like to add that the diet isn't just simply "cut out dairy."  There are several food factors discussed in it. The book recommends changing from dairy to soya, provides information on which fruits and vegetables are protective against breast cancer, gives advice on getting your fat profile right, and it tells you which drinks are best to drink, and how to deal with recycled water that can contain hormones.

So it isn't just as simple as cutting out dairy foods; it's a whole integrated program for tackling breast and prostate cancer.

Moderator at 12:20pm ET
Maria Aebi writes: "I am a one-year survivor or breast cancer. Previously, cheese played heavily in my diet. I wondered about its effect, but on the other hand, have you researched countries like Switzerland, for example, whose consumption of cheese per capita is high?"

Jane Plant at 12:21pm ET
Yes, and their breast cancer rates are very high. Most countries that follow a Western diet have very high rates of breast cancer, but the East coast of the USA. is actually the highest I've found.

Gary from at 12:21pm ET
Do you find the highest incidence of breast cancer in those countries consuming greater amounts of dairy products such as the Netherlands, or does the U.S. lead in this disease?

Jane Plant at 12:22pm ET
As far as I can see, the U.S. leads in these diseases, and the U.S. has one of the highest consumptions of dairy products in the world. According to the U.S. statistical department, about 40 percent of the American diet can be made of dairy products. Think of all the dips, ice creams, yogurts, milk, cheese, spreads, and all the hidden dairy ingredients and you can see how this is possible.

Moderator at 12:23pm ET
Leslyn writes: "How can one eliminate dairy products from their diet and not risk osteoporosis?"

Jane Plant at 12:24pm ET
This comes up many times, but calcium is available in lots of other foods, especially vegetables and some fruits, and there are many other rich sources, such as tahini. I've been totally dairy-free for seven and a half years, I take no calcium supplements. I follow the diet in my book, and I've got very good bone density, very long, strong, fingernails, and no health problems. I have never felt better in my life!

Fred Falkson from at 12:24pm ET
Countries like China, Korea, and Thailand also have less red meat and animal fat consumption than the U.S. Do you think this is a factor in the cancer rates?

Jane Plant at 12:26pm ET
Yes, I think it could be, because they have a much higher proportion of their calories from vegetable sources, particularly vegetables and fruits, and that could be an important factor.

The book isn't simply cut out dairy; it's a whole integrated lifestyle program designed to eliminate everything that's been implicated in causing breast cancer and increasing everything that has been shown to be protective against breast cancer.

In the case of China, they have meat cut into tiny little portions, and cooked through very thoroughly. They don't tend to eat big slabs of meat, as we do in the West.

Julie from at 12:31pm ET
Do you avoid other food items such as gluten (wheat products)?

Jane Plant at 12:31pm ET
I don't avoid wheat products. I've explained why not in the book. I don't think it's a factor in breast cancer.

Marilyn from at 12:32pm ET
I was wondering of you had Type A or Type O blood? Because, according to the work of Dr. Peter D'Adamo, dairy is basically bad for those blood types.

Jane Plant at 12:33pm ET
I have type AB blood, and I'm aware of the idea that dairy can be eaten by only one blood group, but I'm not sure whether the breast cancer statistics are such that it relates to blood type.

Moderator at 12:34pm ET
Chris asks: "What kind of medical therapies did you use in the way of chemotherapy and radiation? Do you agree with conventional medicine along with alternative medicine?"

Jane Plant at 12:35pm ET
Yes, I agree-- it is essential to have your conventional medical treatment, and the diet and lifestyle book I've put together is aimed at complementing traditional medicine, not replacing it.

In my own case, I had a radical mastectomy, three further operations, thirty five radiotherapy treatments to the chest wall, I had my ovaries irradiated to induce menopause, and the cancer just kept coming back.

I was into my chemotherapy treatment, which was having no measurable effect on the tumor in my neck, when I decided to try to live like a Chinese person, and it was at that point that my cancer started to go. It disappeared in five weeks.

I had helped 63 other women by the time I wrote the book. They followed my diet, which is no dairy, but as I said, it's more complicated than that.

Moderator at 12:36pm ET
Carol Rowzie asks: "How do we get the food industry to understand the damage that over- consumption of dairy products does to our bodies? Dairy products are in almost all pre-packaged foods and in most fresh prepared recipes. We need to be "over-whelmed" with good alternatives, i.e., soy/other plant based foods.

Given the power of the dairy industry (lobbying, relationship with medical community, etc.), how do we re-educate the public to this very serious issue? Speaking from personal experience, this is a great drain of resources on our health care system and personal lives."

Jane Plant at 12:37pm ET
Well, I've tried to do it by publishing my book and by publicizing the issue as, indeed, have other people. Ultimately, the main weapon we have is our buying power.

If we just stop buying products with dairy in them, and replace them with healthy alternatives, people will start moving out of an industry if nobody wants to buy the products.

I would like to say, I didn't set out to damage the dairy industry, and I would hope they could find some alternative ways to make their products.

Moderator at 12:39pm ET
Jane, thanks for your time today.
Jane Plant is the author of a new book, Your Life in Your Hands.

Sent via
Copyright 1995-2001, Inc. All rights reserved.
Welcome to BCUP's website
Breast Cancer Understanding & Prevention (BCUP)

BCUP is the foundation established by Professor Jane Plant CBE to promote more widespread understanding of the insights into the causes of breast cancer as first described in her book "Your Life In Your Hands", published in Britain by Virgin Publishing Ltd. BCUP is currently in the process of acquiring charitable status in the UK.

Professor Jane Plant is one of Britain's most distinguished female scientists. She has won many scientific honors, and last year was presented with British science's highest award -- the Lord Kilgerran Prize.


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