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The Physicians Committee

Vegan Formula One Driver Lewis Hamilton Races to Fifth World Title

October 17, 2018   Dr. Neal Barnard   other


Leaving meat, dairy, and the other drivers in the dust, vegan racing phenomenon Lewis Hamilton is racing his way toward another Formula One World Title!

Hamilton started a vegan diet in September 2017 after watching What the Health, a documentary about the detrimental health effects of meat and dairy products. After adopting a plant-based diet, Hamilton not only started to feel better, but he was racing better than ever!

“I feel the best I have ever felt in my 32 years, energy is super high, can lift more weight in the gym, skin is in better condition, feel light, never bloated, feel fresh. … Am disgusted by what’s in the foods I used to eat such as meat,” he wrote on Instagram.

Hamilton joins a growing number of athletes who are fueling their performances with a vegan diet. A plant-based diet, which emphasizes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, provides healthy complex carbohydrate for energy, balanced with the protein and fat the body needs for training sessions and competition.

Three Ways to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

September 30, 2018   Dr. Neal Barnard   cancer


Guest post by Lee Crosby, R.D.

In 2010, my doctor found some suspicious spots in my left breast. A biopsy showed they weren’t cancer, but that I had a higher risk for cancer down the road. My doctor also found a “thickened” area in my right breast she wanted to keep an eye on.

I was only 30 years old, so that got my attention! I was determined to do everything I could to reduce my future risk. While no eating pattern gives 100 percent protection against cancer, I was impressed by research showing that plant-based diets cut cancer risk. I also took up exercise. And all was well for many months.

Then I fell off the wagon. It’s a long story, but I stopped exercising and went back to eating meat. And that "thickened" area they’d been following—which had been stable when I was plant-based. It doubled in size in just four months of eating meat.

Within a week, I was under the knife having a lumpectomy. The results came back “atypical,” or one step before cancer.

Needless to say, I got right back to eating a plant-based diet! I even went back to school to become a registered dietitian, having personally experienced the power of nutrition. It’s been four years since my last surgery, and so far all reports are clear.

While having breast issues was stressful, I’m grateful for the knowledge I’ve gained about reducing breast cancer risk, and I try to pass it along as useful tips for my family, friends, and patients. While research is still developing in the field of diet and disease prevention, this much I know for sure: Wearing a pink ribbon to raise awareness of breast cancer is good, but doing what we can to reduce our risk of getting the disease or having a recurrence is even better.

The World Health Organization has determined that dietary factors account for at least 30 percent of all cancers in Western countries and up to 20 percent in developing countries. The consumption of high-fat foods such as meat, dairy products, fried foods, and even vegetable oils causes a woman’s body to make more estrogens, which encourage cancer cell growth in the breast and other organs that are sensitive to female sex hormones. But taking these three steps can help you reduce your risk:

1. Focus on Beta-Carotene

Beta-carotene, a type of carotenoid and cancer-fighting antioxidant, is a colorful pigment found in orange and red fruits and vegetables. The Institute of Medicine recommends women consume 3 to 6 milligrams of beta-carotene each day. Beta-carotene inhibits oxidation and protects the body from free radicals, which can damage the cells and lead to cancer and other chronic illnesses.  Recipe: Zippy Yams and Bok Choy

2. Eat Cruciferous Vegetables 

Cruciferous vegetables—including arugula, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower—are packed with phytochemicals called indoles and isothiocyanates, which may help reduce breast cancer risk by decreasing the production of “bad” estrogen (16-alpha-OHE) while increasing levels of “good” estrogen (2-OHE).  Recipe: Kale and Mango Salad

3. Try Meatless Mondays or Eliminating Meat

The high fat content of meat and dairy products increases hormone production, increasing the risk of hormone-related cancers such as breast and prostate cancer. Meat also contains animal protein, saturated fat, and, in some cases, carcinogenic compounds such as heterocyclic amines (HCA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) formed during the processing or cooking of meat. Recipe: Tempeh Sloppy Joes 

Learn more about cancer prevention and survival by visiting the Barnard Medical Center or coming out to Bethesda Row Cinema to watch Crazy, Sexy, Cancer and learn about the foods that fight cancer.

Philadelphia Flyers Mascot Should Drop the Hot Dogs to Fight Cancer

September 25, 2018   Dr. Neal Barnard   processed meat


Tell Gritty to Drop the Hot Dogs

The Philadelphia Flyers just introduced Gritty, the hockey team’s new hot-dog-loving mascot. Well, I have some news for Gritty: Hot dogs don’t love you back. So skip Flyers Dollar Dog Night to protect yourself from colorectal cancer.

Hockey is no place for hot dogs. The World Health Organization says hot dogs and other processed meat—like pepperoni, bacon, and deli meat—are “carcinogenic to humans” and major contributors to colorectal cancer. In fact, eating just one hot dog a day can increase cancer risk by 18 percent. The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AIRC) agree and say that “the evidence on processed meat and cancer is clear-cut.”

Gritty’s hot dog habit also sends a dangerous message to his younger fans, who are at greater risk of colorectal cancer than earlier generations. The American Cancer Society says that high consumption of processed meat and low consumption of fruits, vegetables, and other dietary fiber are contributing risk factors.

So let’s encourage Gritty and his fans to stick it to colorectal cancer by dropping the hot dogs.

CDC Should Prescribe Plant-Based Diet for Middle-Aged Hearts

September 10, 2018   Dr. Neal Barnard   heart disease


Plant-based diets reduce heart disease risk by 40%

Middle-aged adults are being especially hard hit by heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So it just launched Million Hearts to help prevent a million heart attacks and strokes by 2022. The initiative encourages people to eat a heart-healthy diet, get physically active, and quit smoking. Good advice. But the CDC’s Million Hearts Initiative should be clear that the heart-healthiest diet is a plant-based diet.

The CDC says that about 16 million heart attacks, strokes, and related events could happen by 2022, but that 80 of premature heart disease and strokes are preventable by focusing on what it calls the ABCS of heart health: Aspirin use when appropriate, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management, and Smoking cessation.

Well, research shows that eating more fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans, and avoiding meat, dairy products, and eggs—which are packed with saturated fat and cholesterol—is the best prescription for blood pressure control and cholesterol management.

In fact, my colleagues and I recently published a scientific review in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases that looked at multiple clinical trials and observational studies and found that a plant-based diet:

  • Reduces the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 40 percent.
  • Reduces the risk of coronary heart disease by 40 percent.
  • Fully or partially opens blocked arteries in up to 91 percent of patients.
  • Reduces the risk of hypertension by 34 percent.
  • Is associated with 29 mg/dL and 23 mg/dL lower total cholesterol and LDL-C levels, respectively, compared with non-vegetarian diets.

Of course, plenty of other research shows similar benefits. So if the CDC wants to help prevent 1 million heart attacks by 2022, a plant-based diet is good medicine.

Q-and-A: Actress Mallika Sherawat Says Go Vegan to Fight Diabetes

August 3, 2018   Dr. Neal Barnard   diabetes


Mumbai: Eat more fruits and vegetables

“Change happens through education,” says Indian actress Mallika Sherawat, who believes a plant-based diet could help fight India’s diabetes and heart disease epidemics. That’s why she’s supporting a Barnard Medical Center and Physicians Committee tour of 11 medical schools in India, where students are learning how to use the power of a plant-based diet to help patients fight obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

The tour, led by Zeeshan Ali, Ph.D., Physicians Committee Kickstart India specialist, and James Loomis, M.D., M.B.A., Barnard Medical Center medical director, includes information on the Physicians Committee’s new Nutrition Guide for Clinicians app; evidence-based lectures; and plant-based meals and resources for students.

Below, Sherawat, who is featured on two Physicians Committee billboards in Mumbai, answers questions on why she follows a vegan diet and how a vegan diet could help keep India fit and healthy.

Why are you supporting the Physicians Committee’s medical school tour?
I support the tour because I’m a vegan, and I believe in spreading the message of the health benefits of a plant-based diet. Change happens through education. Teaching medical students across India about the benefits of a plant-based diet is the first step in changing dietary habits in India. India is set to emerge as the youngest nation in the world by 2020, so we need a fit and healthy India.

How can diabetes and heart disease rates be reduced in India?
There is a diabetes epidemic in India—More than 72 million Indians have diabetes! Diabetes and heart disease rates can be brought down in India by educating people about the innumerable benefits of switching to a plant-based diet and moderate exercise. A vegan diet can help prevent plaque build-up in the blood vessels and lower the risk of heart disease. Make conscious food choices, and stay away from processed foods, meat, dairy products, and sugar. Incorporate lots of leafy green vegetables and seasonal organic fruit in your diet.

Eat Plants. End Diabetes.

Why do you follow a plant-based diet?
I follow a plant-based diet to boost my energy during long working hours. I’ve never felt better in my life—both physically and emotionally.

What is your favorite vegan food?
My favorite vegan food is a big bowl of salad with lots of organic leafy green vegetables and avocados along with a bowl of steamed quinoa.



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