Got this from a friend this morning and I think that it's important enough
to pass on to everybody I know, male and female.
Prof Jane Plant
WHY WOMEN IN CHINA DO NOT GET BREAST CANCER
By Prof. Jane Plant, PhD, CBE
I had no alternative but to die or to try to find a cure for
myself. I am a scientist - surely there was a rational explanation
for this cruel illness that affects one in 12 women in the UK ?
I had suffered the loss of one breast, and undergone radiotherapy.
I was now receiving painful chemotherapy, and had been seen by
some of the country's most eminent specialists. But, deep down, I
felt certain I was facing death. I had a loving husband, a
beautiful home and two young children to care for. I desperately
wanted to live.
Fortunately, this desire drove me to unearth the facts, some of
which were known only to a handful of scientists at the time.
Anyone who has come into contact with breast cancer will know that
certain risk factors - such as increasing age, early onset of
womanhood, late onset of menopause and a family history of breast
cancer - are completely out of our control. But there are many
risk factors, which we can control easily.
These "controllable" risk factors readily translate into simple
changes that we can all make in our day-to-day lives to help
prevent or treat breast cancer. My message is that even advanced
breast cancer can be overcome because I have done it.
The first clue to understanding what was promoting my breast
cancer came when my husband Peter, who was also a scientist,
arrived back from working in China while I was being plugged in
for a chemotherapy session.
He had brought with him cards and letters, as well as some amazing
herbal suppositories, sent by my friends and science colleagues in
The suppositories were sent to me as a cure for breast cancer.
Despite the awfulness of the situation, we both had a good belly
laugh, and I remember saying that this was the treatment for
breast cancer in China , then it was little wonder that Chinese
women avoided getting the disease.
Those words echoed in my mind.
Why didn't Chinese women in China get breast cancer?
I had collaborated once with Chinese colleagues on a study of
links between soil chemistry and disease, and I remembered some of
The disease was virtually non-existent throughout the whole
country. Only one in 10,000 women in China will die from it,
compared to that terrible figure of one in 12 in Britain and the
even grimmer average of one in 10 across most Western countries.
It is not just a matter of China being a more rural country, with
less urban pollution. In highly urbanized Hong Kong , the rate
rises to 34 women in every 10,000 but still puts the West to shame.
The Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have similar rates.
And remember, both cities were attacked withnuclear weapons, so in
addition to the usual pollution-related cancers, one would also
expect to find some radiation-related cases, too.
The conclusion we can draw from these statistics strikes you with
some force. If a Western woman were to move to industrialized,
irradiated Hiroshima , she would slash her risk of contracting
breast cancer by half. Obviously this is absurd.
It seemed obvious to me that some lifestyle factor not related to
pollution, urbanization or the environment is seriously increasing
the Western woman's chance of contracting breast cancer.
I then discovered that whatever causes the huge differences in
breast cancer rates between oriental and Western countries, it
Scientific research showed that when Chinese or Japanese people
move to the West, within one or two generations their rates of
breast cancer approach those of their host community.
The same thing happens when oriental people adopt a completely
Western lifestyle in Hong Kong . In fact, the slang name for
breast cancer in China translates as 'Rich Woman's Disease'. This
is because, in China , only the better off can afford to eat what
is termed ' Hong Kong food'.
The Chinese describe all Western food, including everything from
ice cream and chocolate bars to spaghetti and feta cheese, as
"Hong Kong food", because of its availability in the former
British colony and its scarcity, in the past, in mainland China .
So it made perfect sense to me that whatever was causing my
breast cancer and the shockingly high incidence in this country
generally, it was almost certainly something to do with our better-
off, middle-class, Western lifestyle.
There is an important point for men here, too. I have observed in
my research that much of the data about prostate cancer leads to
According to figures from the World Health Organization, the
number of men contracting prostate cancer in ruralChina is
negligible, only 0.5 men in every 100,000.
In England , Scotland and Wales , however, this figure is 70
times higher. Like breast cancer, it is a middle-class disease
that primarily attacks the wealthier and higher socio-economic
groups, those that can afford to eat rich foods.
I remember saying to my husband, "Come on Peter, you have just
come back from China . What is it about the Chinese way of life
that is so different?"
Why don't they get breast cancer?'
We decided to utilize our joint scientific backgrounds and
approach it logically.
We examined scientific data that pointed us in the general
direction of fats in diets.
Researchers had discovered in the 1980s that only l4% of calories
in the average Chinese diet were from fat, compared to almost 36%
in the West.
But the diet I had been living on for years before I contracted
breast cancer was very low in fat and high in fibre.
Besides, I knew as a scientist that fat intake in adults has not
been shown to increase risk for breast cancer in most
investigations that have followed large groups of women for up to
a dozen years.
Then one day something rather special happened. Peter and I have
worked together so closely over the years that I am not sure which
one of us first said:
"The Chinese don't eat dairy produce!"
It is hard to explain to a non-scientist the sudden mental and
emotional 'buzz' you get when you know you have had an important
insight. It's as if you have had a lot of pieces of a jigsaw in
your mind, and suddenly, in a few seconds, they all fall into
place and the whole picture is clear.
Suddenly I recalled how many Chinese people were physically unable
to tolerate milk, how the Chinese people I had worked with had
always said that milk was only for babies, and how one of my close
friends, who is of Chinese origin, always politely turned down the
cheese course at dinner parties.
I knew of no Chinese people who lived a traditional Chinese life
who ever used cow or other dairy food to feed their babies. The
tradition was to use a wet nurse but never, ever, dairy products.
Culturally, the Chinese find our Western preoccupation with milk
and milk products very strange. I remember entertaining a large
delegation of Chinese scientists shortly after the ending of the
Cultural Revolution in the 1980s.
On advice from the Foreign Office, we had asked the caterer to
provide a pudding that contained a lot of ice cream. After
inquiring what the pudding consisted of, all of the Chinese,
including their interpreter, politely but firmly refused to eat
it, and they could not be persuaded to change their minds.
At the time we were all delighted and ate extra portions!
Milk, I discovered, is one of the most common causes of food
Over 70% of the world's population are unable to digest the milk
sugar, lactose, which has led nutritionists to believe that this
is the normal condition for adults, not some sort of deficiency.
Perhaps nature is trying to tell us that we are eating the wrong
Before I had breast cancer for the first time, I had eaten a lot
of dairy produce, such as skimmed milk, low-fat cheese and yogurt.
I had used it as my main source of protein. I also ate cheap but
lean minced beef, which I now realized was probably often ground-
up dairy cow.
In order to cope with the chemotherapy I received for my fifth
case of cancer, I had been eating organic yogurts as a way of
helping my digestive tract to recover and repopulate my gut with
Recently, I discovered that way back in 1989 yogurt had been
implicated in ovarian cancer. Dr Daniel Cramer of Harvard
University studied hundreds of women with ovarian cancer, and had
them record in detail what they normally ate. Wish I'd been made
aware of his findings when he had first discovered them.
Following Peter's and my insight into the Chinese diet, I decided
to give up not just yogurt but all dairy produce immediately.
Cheese, butter, milk and yogurt and anything else that contained
dairy produce - it went down the sink or in the rubbish.
It is surprising how many products, including commercial soups,
biscuits and cakes, contain some form of dairy produce. Even many
proprietary brands of margarine marketed as soya, sunflower or
olive oil spreads can contain dairy produce
I therefore became an avid reader of the small print on food labels.
Up to this point, I had been steadfastly measuring the progress of
my fifth cancerous lump with callipers and plotting the results.
Despite all the encouraging comments and positive feedback from my
doctors and nurses, my own precise observations told me the bitter
My first chemotherapy sessions had produced no effect - the lump
was still the same size.
Then I eliminated dairy products. Within days, the lump started to
About two weeks after my second chemotherapy session and one week
after giving up dairy produce, the lump in my neck started to
itch. Then it began to soften and to reduce in size. The line on
the graph, which had shown no change, was now pointing downwards
as the tumour got smaller and smaller.
And, very significantly, I noted that instead of declining
exponentially (a graceful curve) as cancer is meant to do, the
tumour's decrease in size was plotted on a straight line heading
off the bottom of the graph, indicating a cure, not suppression
(or remission) of the tumour.
One Saturday afternoon after about six weeks of excluding all
dairy produce from my diet, I practised an hour of meditation then
felt for what was left of the lump. I couldn't find it. Yet I was
very experienced at detecting cancerous lumps - I had discovered
all five cancers on my own. I went downstairs and asked my husband
to feel my neck. He could not find any trace of the lump either.
On the following Thursday I was due to be seen by my cancer
specialist at Charing Cross Hospital in London . He examined me
thoroughly, especially my neck where the tumour had been. He was
initially bemused and then delighted as he said, "I cannot find
it." None of my doctors, it appeared, had expected someone with my
type and stage of cancer (which had clearly spread to the lymph
system) to survive, let alone be so hale and hearty.
My specialist was as overjoyed as I was. When I first discussed my
ideas with him he was understandably sceptical. But I understand
that he now uses maps showing cancer mortality in China in his
lectures, and recommends a non-dairy diet to his cancer patients.
I now believe that the link between dairy produce and breast
cancer is similar to the link between smoking and lung cancer.
I believe that identifying the link between breast cancer and
dairy produce, and then developing a diet specifically targeted at
maintaining the health of my breast and hormone system, cured me.
It was difficult for me, as it may be for you, to accept that a
substance as 'natural' as milk might have such ominous health
implications. But I am a living proof that it works and, starting
from tomorrow, I shall reveal the secrets of my revolutionary