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The Physicians Committee

VIDEO: Thanksgiving with Three Sisters

November 23, 2015   Dr. Neal Barnard   ,

It’s that time of year. On NPR, Susan Stamberg continued the tradition of sharing her mother-in-law’s cranberry relish recipe. And I’m going to continue my tradition of sharing a recipe made from the Native American Three Sisters gardening tradition that uses corns, beans, and squash.

Here’s the gist of the ingenious garden design:

Even if you didn’t harvest the Three Sisters from your own garden this year, head to your farmers market or grocery store for the corn, beans, and squash to try some of my favorite Thanksgiving Three Sisters recipes:

Harvest Pudding

Harvest Pudding utilizes both corn and pumpkin. Molasses, ginger, and cinnamon give this hearty dessert the flavors of autumn. Recipe >

Pueblo Pie

Pueblo Pie is a great center-of-the-plate dish that's sure to wow your Thanksgiving guests. Recipe >


INFOGRAPHIC: Ditch the Milk Mustache this Movember

November 13, 2015   Dr. Neal Barnard   ,

It’s Movember. That means many men are spending the month growing mustaches to raise awareness of men’s health issues such as prostate cancer. But there’s one mustache you’ll want to avoid: the milk mustache. Milk increases men’s risk for death from prostate cancer. Instead of a milk mustache, try a Pomodoro pencil mustache this Movember. Just two servings of tomato products a week can reduce prostate cancer risk by 23 percent.




Enough Pink, Now Let’s Get Serious

November 4, 2015   Dr. Neal Barnard   ,

“Well now that’s done: and I’m glad it’s over,” wrote T.S. Eliot in The Waste Land. I think of those lines every November, when Americans put away their pink T-shirts, pink ribbons, and pink slippers and forget about breast cancer for another year.

Few of the marchers in pink tutus and wigs know that Breast Cancer Awareness Month was launched in 1985 by Imperial Chemical Industries and served to pump up the market for anticancer drugs. Since then, the month has become a cash-register-ringing, credit-card-swiping distraction from what really would help stem the epidemic.

The National Cancer Institute reports that alcohol—even one drink per day—increases breast cancer risk. So why not book a manicure and pedicure at Seagate Hotel & Spa in Delray Beach, Fla., and sip a “pink lady” martini? It’s only $100, and 10 percent goes to the American Cancer Society.

NCI also explains the link between obesity and breast cancer.  So over the years, we’ve celebrated with KFC’s pink bucket full of chicken and Bon Appétit’s Pan Seared Strip Steak with Red-Wine Pan Sauce and Pink-Peppercorn Butter—don’t overcook it; that steak should stay pink—and Lemon-Raspberry Cupcakes. The recipes come online with free pop-up advertisements for President Cheese.

This year should have been different. On Oct. 26, the World Health Organization gave women, men, and children a beautiful gift by letting us all know that avoiding processed meats will cut our cancer risk. The link between bacon, sausage, ham, etc., and several forms of cancer had been known for years in scientific circles, but the WHO announcement made it official. The debate was over. This really, really works. Get them out of your life, and your risk drops.

The response from many corners was whining and panicked. “Are you trying to tell me what to eat!?” Even some medical experts called for no more than moderation. On the PBS NewsHour, a Harvard physician said, “I don’t think that it should warrant an overall change in people’s lifestyles at this point.”

Let’s take a lesson from the fight against lung cancer. Years of study showed that smoking, asbestos, and radon cause the disease. The answer was not to put on a T-shirt, walk with a sign, make a donation, or do anything other than stop the dangerous exposures and encourage friends and family to do the same. And the campaign has worked.

For breast cancer, we have learned a lot about the causes. But if we don’t put that knowledge to work—if instead we slip on our pink socks, zip up our pink jackets, and look at cancer through our pink-colored glasses—we make a mockery of the lifesaving findings that were painstakingly elucidated.

“April is the cruelest month,” Eliot wrote. Perhaps that honor should go to October.


Escape Milk’s Horrors This Halloween

October 28, 2015   Dr. Neal Barnard   ,

Doctors and parents agree that gorging on Halloween candy—loaded with sugar, fat, and empty calories—once a year is more than enough. But how many parents realize that just as much sugar and fat can actually lurk in milk, a beverage many kids drink with breakfast, lunch, and dinner?

Just 3 cups of low-fat milk a day amounts to more than 37 grams of sugar and 14 grams of fat—more than many of the most popular Halloween candies. Even scarier: Drinking milk increases the risk of bone fractures, early death, and other health problems.

Don’t let milk send you to an early grave. Ditch the dairy and escape milk’s horrors this Halloween.



VIDEO: Drop the Hot Dogs to Protect Kids from Cancer Risk

October 26, 2015   Dr. Neal Barnard   ,

No parent or educator would knowingly send a student into a school where they are exposed to asbestos. But in most schools, students are endangered by something just as dangerous: processed meats. Bacon, sausage, pepperoni pizza, hot dogs, and other processed meat products have joined the World Health Organization’s list of cancer-causing products, along with asbestos, arsenic, and cigarettes.

WHO joins a rapidly growing list of organizations, doctors, scientists, and researchers raising the alarm over processed meats, which are linked to colorectal, prostate, and bladder cancers, diabetes, heart disease, and early death.

Back in 2008, the Physicians Committee’s Good Medicine magazine reported on the dangers of processed meats in school meals. We also released this public service announcement:


It’s a campaign we’re still working on in 2015. A report we released this summer found that the magazine of the School Nutrition Association, which represents school food service workers, continues to push schools to serve processed meats.

Of 106 ads in the magazine for unhealthful meat and dairy products, 23 were full-page ads for Domino’s or Pizza Hut pepperoni pizza. A Domino’s ad in one issue of the magazine even urges “Help us take a slice out of cancer,” despite the fact that a daily serving of pepperoni or other processed meat is linked to colorectal cancer risk.

It’s clear that more education is needed. That’s why the Physicians Committee created DropTheDog.org. The website offers infographics and fact sheets on the dangers of processed meats, as well as cancer-prevention tips and recipes.

It’s time for schools to drop the hot dogs—and pepperoni and bacon and sausage—from school meals to protect kids from future cancer risk.

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