Thirty Years of Better Nutrition, Improved Research

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine was founded by Neal Barnard, M.D., on April 16, 1985.

In honor of the 30th anniversary of the Physicians Committee, I would like to announce the opening of the Barnard Medical Center in the fall of 2015.

After years of campaigns to boost nutrition and ethical research standards across the country, we’re looking forward to branching out within our local Washington, D.C. community. The Physicians Committee’s dietitians, doctors, volunteers, and Food for Life instructors have worked together over the years on everything from nutrition classes to clinical research studies held at our office. Now, we’re adding patient care to our roster.

The Barnard Medical Center will be located in the Friendship Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C. We’ve hired several new staff members—including physicians, a nurse practitioner, and dietitians—and a few additional positions are still open.

Working with individuals one-on-one is a natural and exciting extension of our work to change national nutrition policies on using diet for disease prevention. Not only will we continue to lobby on Capitol Hill and launch nutrition programs in school cafeterias, we’ll also help individuals transform their lives in the doctor’s office!

Like the Barnard Medical Center on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest news and information!

Note: Barnard Medical Center is not yet scheduling appointments. If you are a member of the Physicians Committee or receive our free online community newsletters, you will be notified when we begin scheduling appointments!


2015 Dietary Guidelines: Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peas

Earlier this year, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee released its recommendations. These recommendations are currently under federal review, with a modified version passing into law later in the year. The comment period—in which medical professionals, food industry representatives, and concerned citizens submit their feedback regarding the recommendations—ends this Friday. This is our last chance to make our voices heard!


In a previous blog, I broke down the basic good and bad points made in the report. But let’s take a look at some of the broader cultural implications:

Lean Meat

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has officially removed its recommendation for Americans to eat lean meat, and solid scientific evidence shows that people who avoid meat are healthier than those who consume it. There is a mounting body of research showing the ill-effects of meat consumption.

Saturated Fat

Saturated fat also took a big hit. At the Physicians Committee, we agree with the Committee’s recommendation to reduce saturated fat consumption, due to the harmful impact on heart health and other diseases. Nearly 90 percent of Americans consume more than the recommended daily limit of saturated fat and added sugar.


Unfortunately, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee erred in reversing the prior recommendation to limit dietary cholesterol. Physicians Committee doctors have been making a strong case for adjusting the 2015 guidelines to limit cholesterol—and why cholesterol is still a nutrient of concern.

Decades of scientific study have linked dietary cholesterol to cardiovascular disease, our country’s number-one cause of death, killing nearly 2,200 Americans daily.Telling Americans that “cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for overconsumption” is likely to encourage consumption of meat, dairy products, and eggs—foods high in dietary cholesterol and saturated fat. Meat and dairy products are strongly linked to our country’s deadliest epidemics: obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Not only are chronic disease rates rising, but they’re being seen in younger and younger patients.

Let your voice be heard and help keep cholesterol warnings in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines! Submit your comments by Friday, May 8.

Prevent Cancer Costs by Preventing Cancer

A new report shows that global spending on cancer drugs reached $100 billion last year—a 10.3 percent increase from 2013. Experts predict that, at this rate, spending on cancer medicine will reach $147 billion by 2018.

But we could potentially save billions by halting the rise of lifestyle cancers. Approximately one-third of cancer cases are preventable, according to the World Health Organization. And the American Institute for Cancer Research states that a healthy diet and other lifestyle changes can prevent an estimated 340,000 cancer cases per year.

Physicians Committee doctors and dietitians released a list of six dietary recommendations to help individuals lower their cancer risk. Read the recommendations below to learn how you can help improve your health. After all, prevention is the best form of treatment!


The six dietary recommendations to reduce risk of several types of cancer are:

1. Limit or avoid dairy products to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

Findings: Consuming thirty-five grams of dairy protein each day, the equivalent of one large cup of cottage cheese, increases risk of prostate cancer by 32 percent. Drinking two glasses of milk each day increases risk of prostate cancer by 60 percent.

2. Limit or avoid alcohol to reduce the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colon, rectum, and breast.

Findings: One drink per week increases risk of mouth, pharynx, and larynx cancers by 24 percent. Two to three drinks per day increase risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent.

3. Avoid red and processed meats to reduce the risk of cancers of the colon and rectum. 

Findings: Each 50-gram daily serving of processed meat, equivalent to two slices of bacon or one sausage link, increases risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent. Each 120-gram daily serving of red meat, equivalent to a small steak, increases risk of colorectal cancer by 28 percent.

4. Avoid grilled, fried, and broiled meats to reduce the risk of cancers of the colon, rectum, breast, prostate, kidney, and pancreas.

Findings: Four types of heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are associated with cancer of the colon and rectum. HCAs form from creatine and amino acids in cooked skeletal muscle, increasing with higher cooking times and higher temperatures. When ingested, HCAs can disrupt DNA synthesis.

5. Consume soy products to reduce risk of breast cancer and to reduce the risk of recurrence and mortality for women previously treated for breast cancer

Findings: Evidence from Asian and Western countries shows that soy products are associated with reduced cancer risk. Chinese women who consume more than 11.3 grams of soy protein, equivalent to half a cup of cooked soybeans, each day during adolescence have a 43 percent reduced risk of premenopausal breast cancer, compared with women who consume 1.7 grams.

Research in Shanghai shows that women with breast cancer who consume 11 grams of soy protein each day can reduce mortality and risk of recurrence by about 30 percent.  U.S. populations show similar findings: the higher the isoflavone intake from soy products, the less risk of mortality and recurrence in women with breast cancer.

6. Emphasize fruits and vegetables to reduce risk of several common forms of cancer. 

Findings: Fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, help reduce overall cancer risk. A high intake of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, and cabbage, is associated with an 18 percent reduced risk of colorectal cancer and reduced risk of lung and stomach cancers.

Women who consume the most carotenoid-rich vegetables, such as carrots and sweet potatoes, lower their risk of breast cancer by 19 percent. Overall, women who consume the highest quantities of any kind of fruit or vegetable reduce breast cancer risk by 11 percent.  A high intake of tomato products has been shown to reduce risk of gastric cancer by 27 percent. Garlic and other allium vegetables, such as onions, significantly reduce risk for gastric cancer, while a Western diet (high amounts of meat and fat with minimal amounts of fruits and vegetables) doubles the risk.