Unraveling the connection between food and cancer Buckle your seatbelts. This is going to be a controversial post. This post is going to answer the question, what causes breast cancer and what causes prostate cancer. The answers may make you angry, they may make you skeptical, but if you give it a chance, they may make you reflective and eager to learn more. So let's dive in. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women in the United Sates (the first is heart disease). Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men in the US and the leading cause of cancer death among African American men. Both cancers are reproductive cancers – affecting the cells of human's reproductive organs – and appear to be influenced by eating habits that occur before and during puberty. * A brief look at the history of the Western diet reveals that as the Western diet shifted to an increase in meat and dairy consumption, by the early 1900s adolescents reached the age of puberty at an earlier age than previous centuries. Boys and girls were growing faster and entering puberty at younger ages. Among female adolescents, this was clear, as the arrival of their first menstruation was at an age remarkably lower than girls of previous generations – age 17 in 1840 compared to ages 11 and 12 in the 21st century. This link between diet and onset of puberty showed that there was a relationship between food and rapid growth in humans. Joel Fuhrman is a doctor and the author of a book titled "Eat to Live." In the book, he describes how rapid growth affects reproductive cells. When the consumption of animal food increases, "it leads to a higher level of sex hormones...these levels cause hormonal and cellular abnormalities which [if continues] persist into adulthood, setting the stage for cancer many years later." Fuhrman continues by writing that "ovarian hormones play an [important] role, at all stages, in the development of breast cancer." While these are obvious markers for women, in terms of their reproductive organs and cells, the same is true for men. The earlier boys enter puberty, the greater the risk they have of developing prostate cancer in the future. In essence, "the rapidly we grow and mature, the greater our cancer risk." This is the part of the post that may make you feel angry because for so long, doctors and researchers have told us that breast cancer and prostate cancer are genetic cancers. The truth is genetics play a very minor role in the development of breast and prostate cancer. In fact, although there are many contributing factors to cancer, diet and food are the number one factors, and specifically, in the cases of these two cancers, how we eat before and during puberty. It is the "unhealthy nutrition" habits of childhood and adolescence that creates the environment for cancer. Again, a diet of animal consumption leads to rapid growth, which leads to high hormone levels, in turn leading to abnormality in the cells and creating an environment where cancer can develop. Let Food Heal Thyself The "cure" then, for reversing damaged cells formed from unhealthy eating habits is to significantly reduce or eliminate our animal consumption as early as possible – while simultaneously increasing our fruit and vegetable intake. To everyone who loves their meat, yikes this is hard, but it isn't impossible. Fruits and vegetables – nature's medicine – offer protection against diseases such as cancer.* As we decrease our animal consumption and increase our fruit and vegetable intake, we can reduce our risk of breast and prostate cancer. Even those with cancer currently and undergoing treatment can see a reduction in the spread of the cancer as they make changes to their eating habits.* The good news is, it is never too late to reverse the effects of past eating habits. Judith Silfrene is not a licensed medical professional, however, she is an avid reader of health and nutrition books written by PHDs and MDs. *The studies and statements referred to in this post can be found in Dr. Joel Fuhrman's book, "Eat to Live."