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The Cancer Project Update

Top Cancer Researchers Show How to Fight Cancer with Food

Cancer Project Symposium speakers

Hundreds of oncologists, nurses, health professionals, dietitians, and Cancer Project Food for Life cooking instructors received breakthrough information this summer about how foods can fight cancer when top cancer researchers from across the country joined Cancer Project president Neal Barnard, M.D., at the first Cancer Project Symposium. You will soon be able to receive this same information by viewing the symposium webcasts at

The symposium, which was held in July in Bethesda, Md., featured presentations from Dr. Barnard, Paul Talalay, M.D., Edward Giovannucci, M.D., Sc.D., Paulette Chandler, M.D., M.P.H., and Gordon Saxe, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Talalay is John Jacob Abel Distinguished Service Professor of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He spoke about how cruciferous plants, such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, arugula, watercress, and radish, may be particularly effective in reducing cancer risk at several organ sites. Crucifers are rich in glucosinolates, which induce the liver to produce enzymes that detoxify potential carcinogens.

Dr. Giovannucci is a professor in the departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health and an associate professor in the Department of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He was recently awarded the 2005 DeWitt-Goodman Award for excellence in cancer research from the American Association for Cancer Research. At the symposium, Dr. Giovannucci spoke about evidence linking dairy products with risk for aggressive prostate cancer. Dr. Giovannucci’s research in the Harvard Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which followed more than 47,000 men for 16 years, found a twofold increased risk for high-grade prostate cancer in men with high calcium intake, mainly from dairy products, compared with those with low calcium intake. Some researchers believed the high-fat dairy products were to blame for this increased risk, but new evidence shows that low-fat dairy products might increase the risk for prostate cancer even more than high-fat products.

Dr. Saxe, assistant professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California, San Diego, presented evidence that a plant-based diet can play a role in the management of prostate cancer. Dr. Saxe presented findings from a pilot clinical intervention trial in which 13 prostate cancer patients were put on a plant-based diet along with stress-reduction training. The participants showed marked improvements, as measured by prostate specific antigen. The full results of the trial can be found in the September issue of Integrative Cancer Therapies.

Dr. Barnard presented research about the link between diet and breast cancer survival. He explained how a high-fat, low-fiber diet increases the amount of estrogens in a woman’s body. Because estrogens cause cells to multiply, the more of these hormones that circulate in the blood, the more likely cancer cells will arise and multiply. A high-fiber, low-fat diet will not only bring estrogen levels down, but the antioxidants and phytochemicals in plant-based foods are protective and can help prevent cancer.

Dr. Chandler is an associate physician in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and an instructor in clinical medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Chandler, who is also a Food for Life Nutrition and Cooking class instructor for The Cancer Project, ended the day with an uplifting discussion on how to stick to healthy diet changes when embarking on a vegan lifestyle.

Continuing Education
The symposium wasn’t the end of the learning experience for Cancer Project Food for Life cooking instructors. The Cancer Project held a summit for cooking instructors from around the country. The summit gave the instructors a chance to meet, mingle, and continue learning about cancer-fighting foods and cooking techniques. To find a Food for Life cooking class near you, visit

Online Symposium Videos

The following presentations from the symposium will be available as a webcast or for purchase at in the near future:

“The Cancer Project’s Nutrition Research and Advocacy”
Neal Barnard, M.D.

“Protection Against Cancer and Chronic Degenerative Diseases: Plants, Genes, and Enzymes”
Paul Talalay, M.D.

“Nutrition and Breast Cancer Survival”
Neal Barnard, M.D.

“Dairy Products, Calcium, and Prostate Cancer: A Review of the Evidence”
Edward Giovannucci, M.D., Sc.D.

“Effects of a Plant-based Diet on Disease Progression in Recurrent Prostate Cancer”
Gordon Saxe, M.D., Ph.D.

“Keys to Keeping the Change”
Paulette Chandler, M.D., M.P.H.


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