|Eating away cancer
A CHILL wind blew through Jane Plant's
London in the autumn of 1987. The geochemist
and mother of two was diagnosed with breast
cancer. Her son was :ix and her daughter was
13, just starting to develop breasts herself.
Yet Singapore consumes considerably
less calcium, but has a much lower bone
fracture rate. But, just to appease those
dieticians who do see a preventive role for
calcium against osteoporosis - for they are
certainly the majority- Plant says her program
provides calcium from vegetables, "the same
source (from which) cows and
hippopotami obtain theirs". the question
remains, though: is it enough?
After five successive bouts of the cancer,
Professor Plant was given three months to
live. A large secondary cancer the size of a
}oiled egg was sticking out of her neck.
"My initial reaction was total despair," ;he
says. "It was only when I found the new diet I
had developed was working that I found I had
the spirit to fight."
And so, 14 years later, Plant is as busy as
ever as chief scientist at the British
Geological Survey. She has had no trace of
cancer for the past eight years and her general
health is good.
Such a recovery for someone with a
metastasised cancer - spread to the bones -
seems a little too good to be true. Plant does
not eschew conventional treatment; indeed,
she puts chemotherapy down as one half of
the formula that saved her life.
The other half was a simple change to her
diet. Taking a lead from many Asian countries,
where cancer rates are generally lower than in
the West, she took a look at her daily eating
Her diet had been good in most respects,
she says - except for the amount of dairy
produce in it. "I (was having) an organic :.) fat yoghurt almost every day and a lot u f
skimmed milk in my tea," she says.
Hardly an indulgent lifestyle, then. But
Plant became interested in various
controversial dietary studies - heavily
disputed, yet which seemed to indicate that
consuming dairy products increased the cancer
risk; not only of breast cancer, but lung cancer
as well, and, in men, prostate and testicular
So Plant changed her diet. And lived.
Now she is even more strident in her
rampage against milk, particularly in respect
to hormones and growth factors it contains. With every new cancer-fighting trend comes
a book. From Plant we now have her second, The Plant Program, co-authored with her
friend Gill Tidey and replete with recipes, as a
follow-up to the first book, Your Life in Your
When she had active cancer, Plant avoided
animal products. Now she is on the preventive
phase of The Plant Program.
It's a busy career woman's diet that goes a
little like this: on weekdays a dose of brewer's
yeast and kelp tablets.
Then an organic boiled egg with wholemeal
bread and grilled tomatoes and fruit. At the
weekend a (milk-free) omelette.
Lunch is generally a baked potato filled with
humus, and dinner red pepper soup, followed
by Asian salad, chicken and tomato curry, and
finished off with a sorbet.
But not everyone is convinced. Milk
producers dispute the veracity of the
cancerous claims around milk. Many
dieticians decry the lack of calcium without
milk, leading to an osteoporosis risk.
Plant is unmoved. She is not convinced of the
calcium and osteoporosis link, for a
start. Americans and Scandinavians, she
claims, consume the highest amounts of
dairy produce in the world, but have the
highest bone fracture rates.
Plant professes to be heart healthy and
cancer free. And who's to argue with that?
So if she had to pick the best Asian menu
for avoiding cancer, what would
"Thai," she say s. But as
become Westernised and follow our diet, their
rates of breast cancer increases."
The Plant Program, Reci pes for FightingBreast Cancer - Healthier Li ving for Everyone is published In, Penguin (it S30.