Can a Vegan Diet Cure Cancer?

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A level-headed look at claims made around vegan diets as well as an in-depth look at research, scientifically valid studies on the topic, studies on angiogenesis, vegan cancer rates and mechanisms that a vegan diet may be helping fight cancer. A whole food vegan diet is advantageous on many levels and has many benefits for fighting cancer by combining the power of anti-angiogenic foods, controlling blood sugar, saturating your body with antioxidants and removing hormones and carcinogens from animal products. Unlike drugs—which tend to only target specific conditions, can have dangerous side effects, and may only treat the symptoms of disease—a healthy diet can benefit all organ systems at once, has good side effects, and may treat the underlying cause of illness.

Concise Analysis of Studies Determining Wherever Vegan Diets are Capable of Heal Cancer

Alike everybody at this point cancer is present in my family. Periodically, I end up heavily researching it and asking questions like, what would I do if I got cancer at some point? And, is there anything I can do to prevent it in the first place? Despite being super interested in this topic, I have kind of put it off because it is such a charged topic; that is why I have to throw in a disclaimer saying, I am not a medical professional, I am merely a bachelor’s in alternative medicine student and this research is largely speculative. There are not definitive clinical trials on this subject yet, so take it with a grain of salt; but do not eat too much salt.


We do have to put this risk into context, though. Children are seven times more likely to develop a brain tumor eating just a single hotdog a week, than using a cell phone (Sarasua, & Savitz, 1994). In fact, if children eat a wiener, they are multiplying their odds of getting childhood leukemia by 950% (Peter et al., 1994).

Diet is the number one cause of cancer; cancer is, therefore, a preventable disease, but it does require major lifestyle changes. Only 5-10% of cancer is in our genes, our family history; the other 90-95% of cancer risk is caused by what we expose our bodies to. Of the 90-95%, tobacco contributes about a quarter of the risk in the United States. There are some infectious causes—particularly in people with AIDS— but diet, if you include alcohol and obesity, makes up about 50% of our cancer risk. Cellphones, air pollution, X-rays, etc. just fits in to that last 10-15% (Preetha et al., 2008).

Anything about our diet in particular? A massive study in Canada revealed that total meat consumption was directly related to the risk of the develop of cancer in the stomach , rectum, cancer, colon, pancreas, lung, breast, prostate, testicule, kidneyand bladder, and leukemia as well (Hu et al., 2008).

Zooming out to the epidemiological evidence, vegans pretty much across the board have lower levels of cancer, especially certain cancers like female reproductive cancers, which is 30% less compared to omnivores (Lap, & Joan, 2014). Across multiple large studies it appears that the general cancer rate for vegans is about 15% lower (Dinu et al., 2017); this of course does include vegan that is drinking fermented wheat juice or other alcoholic beverages and eating a junky diet. We can all agree that not every vegan diet is going to be helpful against cancer.

In terms of my history, a lot of what pushed me toward a vegan died in the first place was studies on cancer; we have Appleton, and Campbell (1983), who talked about studies where they could turn cancer on and off in rats with animal protein. Obviously that is not super definitive, especially not for humans, but it got me looking into this. Barnard et al. (2006). studies showed an imposing slowing of cancer growth in a petri dish, and an increased ability to kill cancer with blood of people put on a vegan diet.

In this other study a vegan diet plus three grams of fish oil, lower cancer by seven times, in comparison to the other diet group (Onish et al., 2005); to be completely clear it was a quasi plant based diet. When I became vegan, I had the mentality that 5% or less animal products is okay; but it very quickly became clear that was not practical or achievable; once you open the dam it is over.


There are specific reasons that a vegan diet should gives one an advantage in the fight against cancer; and some particular choices any can make in the realm of a vegan diet to go even further, perhaps further than that 15% lower rate. Angiogenesis is the creation of new blood cells, which eventually can feed cancer, and anti-angiogenic just prevents that. There are well studied anti-angiogenic foods, and they are not animal products. A study from anti-angiogenic researcher William et al. (2012). showed that, if you block angiogenesis and prevent blood vessels from ever reaching cancer cells, tumors simply cannot grow up; but once angiogenesis occurs, cancers can grow exponentially.

Resveratrol (the active ingredient in the extract from red grapes), inhibits abnormal angiogenesis by 60%. Ellagic acid in strawberries is anti-angiogenic. The point here is that a vegan diet will naturally push you to eat more anti-angiogenic plant foods; you also have the choice to endeavor for those. People are kind of avoiding soy beans, but the genistein in it potently inhibits angiogenesis; which is probably why it is associated with lower breast cancer risk in Japan for example Seiichiro et al. (2003). The power of soy beans is astounding if there was a drug that had the same effect it would be worth billions.

Angiogenic foods do the opposite, they grow blood vessels. Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) contributes to the promotion of angiogenesis (Samples, Willis, & Klauber-Demore, 2013). Animal protein appears to raise IGF-1 and plant protein appears to lower it (Naomi et al., 2002). It is no wonder that the vegans in the study had 13% lower IGF-1 levels on average. It is hard to say exactly how much this would affect cancer; maybe, it would be 13% less growth or it might push over some edge that would prevent cancer from starting, who knows.


Cow’s milk, America’s favorite hormone cocktail, appears to raise IGF-1 by about 10% (Heaney et al., (1999). Other hormones like estrogen plays a role in breast cancer and other reproductive cancers (Susan, 2003). The daily intake of total investigated estrogens through milk, is dramatically more than currently recognized (Hassan et al., 2006). In fact from another study 60-80% of our dietary intake of all estrogen comes from dairy (Hassan M.& Aysa R. 2015).

While they do add hormones to some milk that people are consuming, this studies talk about naturally occurring hormones. Dripping organic cow’s milk on prostate cancer cells in a petri dish increases growth rate by 30%; In contrast, almond milk decreases the growth of this cells by 30%. (Patricia L. , Robert B. & Lyndon 2010).That is not telling us a ton about what is happening in the body, unless somebody gruesomely injects cow’s milk directly into their tumor.

A study that gave people milk to drink, found that it raised their estrone (type of estrogen) by about 25% in men and women; and lowered testosterone in men by 20% (Kazumi M., Tomoe O & Kenji O. 2010). On a vegan diet you dodge all that hormonal manipulation, specifically from dairy; that is probably a large part of why those vegans were recorded having 30% lower female cancer.

Antioxidants and DNA

Antioxidants fight oxidative stress; which is essentially a chain reaction that can cause DNA damage, lead to mutations and then lead to cancer. Eating antioxidants is preventing the start of cancer, it is preventing that cancer party. For example, one reason that red meat is deemed a class 2A carcinogen, is because of the heme iron. Heme iron in your colon can oxidize, then rip some DNA apart, and then lead to colorectal cancer, a vegan diet obviously excludes that. Nadiaa et al., (2015). In terms of antioxidants in general, a massive study of 3100 foods, establish that plant foods on average have 64 times more antioxidants than animal foods, that is another advantage (Monica et al., 2010).


Another negative of animal products is the inflammatory molecule Neu5Gc (particularly present in pig products) which promotes tumor growth. It incorporates itself into our cells from animal products in our diet, leading to chronic inflammation directly, and the formation of antibodies—which can then lead back to more inflammation, which may explain the increased risk of cancer noted in those consuming animal products (Varki, 2010).

Even though saturated fat in animal products is the usual explanation for that fact, maybe we should start looking into the association between Neu5GC and the incidence of both cancer and heart disease. In addition, there are some other carcinogens in meat like heterocyclic amines, which are caused by cooking meat at high temperatures (NCI, 2017)

Blood Sugar

It appears that elevated blood sugar levels can also feed cancer. Tae, Jiyoung, & Philip (2014) stated that “enhanced glucose uptake in cancer cells is a well-established hallmark of cancer cells”; they are scientists, not English majors. Elevated blood sugar is an established predictor of cancer survival, probably because it fuels cancer growth. Diabetics generally have higher levels of blood sugar throughout the day, and vegans according to Lap et al. (2014) as high as 78% lower risk of all diabetes. This difference is likely from the buildup of animal fat in the muscle cells of people who eat meat and other animal fats; so that, can lead to insulin resistance or gum up the insulin lock, as Neil Barnard puts it, which can make your body not respond appropriately to sugar.

This is where choices on a vegan diet come into play. Eating whole food complex carbohydrates are not going to spike your blood sugar; well, perhaps some refined sugar or even a lot of fruit will. Murdoch, Bazzarre, Snider and Goldfarb (1993). demonstrates that eating a few bananas, blended or not, does not have a negative effect on your blood sugar. Diets like Gerson Therapy include juices that have apple, which can spike your blood sugar; although, the apple juice industry supported a study by Murphy, Barrett, Bresnahan, and Barraj (2017) to make you to think otherwise.


Ingrid and Linda (2012) revealed that hypoxia is a critical hallmark of solid tumors and involves enhanced cell survival, angiogenesis, glycolytic metabolism and metastasis of cancer. One treatment for cancer is placing people in hyperbaric chambers or high oxygen chambers, which have been shown to raise the oxygen level in your blood. Studies show no noticeable results but there is evidence that implies that hyperbaric oxygen might have tumor-inhibitory effects in certain cancer subtypes and others that show no noticeable results, and it appears not to be dangerous.

The problem is that there are simply so many types of cancer; there are over a hundred different general categories of cancer, so it could be helping some and not others. Interestingly, low oxygen levels can also alter epigenetics or how your genes are expressed, decreasing your ability to suppress cancer (Bernard et al., 2016).Increased blood oxygen is great, but if your arteries are clogged, is it ever even going to make it to the cancer site?

Esselstyn CB Jr, Gendy G, Doyle J, Golubic M & Roizen MF. (2014) clinical trials of a whole food vegan diet for advanced cardiovascular disease showed a rapid increase in blood flow; therefore, by clearing those arteries out, the oxygen is more likely to make it to the cancer site, which is obviously great. It is all about whole plant foods, specifically nitrate rich plant foods like chard and beets that can dilate your arteries.

On the opposite end, eating a high animal fat or even and oily meal, can increase fat in the blood, provoking hyperlipidemia (fatty blood or even sludge blood), which can lower the oxygen content in the body (Hyman, 1983). One might call it babe’s revenge.


After covering a decent amount of science, an anecdotal cancer reversal story is that of Janette Murray-Wakelin(2016), who was essentially sent home to die with cancer that has spread throughout her body Instead, she decided not give up and commit to a raw vegan diet, do oxygen therapy and become a runner–amazingly she reversed it. A raw diet and the situation definitely has a lot of advantages if you are eating enough calories; for example, it will relatively push you toward consuming more higher antioxidant foods.

Perhaps the most amazing part is that once healed, she and her husband ran a marathon a day every day for 366 days around Australia, just to show people how amazing the diet was. Oxygen was part of her motivation for the exercise. Fabian et al. (2016) demonstrates that favorable things are happening with oxygen in your blood after exercise, this is likely part of the reason that exercise is associated with lower cancer rates, in addition to just being healthier.

From the study of Steven et al. (2016) the group that had the most exercise versus the least exercise, had 20% less cancer which is very notable. Another a remarkable story is Chris(2010) who beat cancer at the age of 26. He had colorectal cancer that had metastasized but decide to go on a raw vegan diet, extraordinarily he managed to beat .There are many amazing stories of people reversing their cancer on a vegan diet, but we do not have the clinical trials yet, millions and millions of dollars are needed and they would be quite difficult to orchestrate. In the end these are just stories albeit amazing stories.

It is really important to make scientifically valid claims around vegan diet, so would it be scientifically valid to say that a whole plant based diet cures cancer. Certainly a vegan diet will not always cure cancer or always even help the state of cancer, but in certain cases people have reversed hospice level cancer with a vegan diet. It is definitely optimistic about how diet can help with cancer. Well we cannot say that we have proof that it will reliably reverse cancer, we definitely can say that vegans generally have lower cancer rates.


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Cite this paper

Can a Vegan Diet Cure Cancer?. (2021, Nov 19). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/can-a-vegan-diet-cure-cancer/



Can people with cancer be vegan?
Yes, cancer patients can be vegan. However, they need to make sure they are getting enough nutrients, including protein, vitamins, and minerals.
How does vegan diet help cancer?
A vegan diet helps cancer by reducing the amount of fat and sugar in the body. Cancer cells thrive on sugar, so by reducing the amount of sugar in the body, the cancer cells are less likely to grow.
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