A diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in fat may well be the most effective alternative approach of all because it may help prevent certain cancers. Some alternative diets aim to rid the body of toxins that accumulate from the food we eat in the Western world. Many of these dietary therapies are strictly vegetarian. They involve eating food that is raw, sugar-free and low in salt, the use of vegetable/fruit/liver juices and high doses of vitamins/minerals/enzymes. Gorging on soy products (such as tofu) is looking like a better and better idea. Some people feel these therapies are helpful and there have been claims of dramatic cures. However, cancer doctors have not independently confirmed these.
The Bristol Diet
Developed at the Cancer Help Center in Bristol, is perhaps the best known alternative diet in the UK. The emphasis of this diet is on wholefoods, fresh fruit and vegetables, raw cereals and organic fish, poultry and eggs. The diet stresses the avoidance of dairy produce such as milk, cheese and yogurt, red meat, salt, sugar and caffeine and encourages the use of organically grown produce.
The diet can be modified to an individual`s particular requirements, and the guidelines recommend that changes should be made gently and without pressure. They emphasize that eating should be enjoyable and not stressful.
Doctors remain concerned about the exclusion of important sources of calories and protein from the diet, such as dairy products and red meat, and that cutting out salt and sugar will make food less tasty for many people. People may find the emphasis on organic food expensive and impractical, although these products are now becoming more readily available.
The Gerson Diet
Gerson Therapy, a dietary approach that has been used by some to treat cancer and other diseases, focuses on the role of dietary factors in restoring health and well being. It calls for drinking 13 glasses of juice prepared from fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, and eating vegetarian meals prepared from organically grown fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Various supplements are given, including an iodine solution called Lugol, Vitamin B-12, potassium, hormones, an injectable crude extract, and enemas, including coffee or chamomile enemas, which are recommended on a regular basis to detoxify the body. Salt, spices, and aluminum cookware or utensils are not used when preparing food.
Gerson therapy was named after Dr. Max B. Gerson, who initially developed this approach to treat his migraine headaches. Dr. Gerson`s therapy first came to public attention in the 1930s as a treatment for a type of tuberculosis. Gerson therapy was later used to treat other conditions, including cancer. In a presentation before a Congressional subcommittee in 1946, Dr. Gerson estimated that about 30 percent of cancer patients treated with his therapy had a favorable response. In 1947, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) reviewed 10 cases submitted by Dr. Gerson. However, because the patients were also receiving other anticancer treatments, the NCI could not determine whether the patients` condition was due to the Gerson therapy or some other treatment. The NCI has not conducted any further evaluation of Dr. Gerson`s therapy.
Gerson claimed a 50% recovery rate with his diet, even with people who were terminally ill. There is no evidence at all to support this claim. The diet itself is very strictly based on organic fruit and vegetables, mainly taken as juice prepared with a juice extractor. In addition a number of medications including thyroid hormones and liver extracts are given, and coffee enemas are used to `flush out toxins`. It is important to be aware before starting this diet that it needs a lot of time and commitment and may be expensive.
When vitamins were discovered in the early part of the twentieth century, it seemed as if modern medicine had unraveled one of life`s major mysteries. Minute amounts of these compounds could cure sufferers of scurvy, rickets and many other life-threatening conditions. Because the body cannot make vitamins in large enough amounts, they are an essential part of a healthy diet. Tiny amounts of certain vitamins help to protect the body from cancer. Those therapists who advocate very large doses of vitamins (megavitamin therapy) in both preventing and treating cancer have tended to assume that if a little of a vitamin will do you good, a lot will be even better. But there is no evidence that taking large doses of vitamins is helpful.
The vitamins most often used in this form of treatment are vitamins A, C and E.
There is some evidence to suggest that vitamin A may have a protective action in some forms of cancer. However, very high doses can be harmful.
Vitamin C is the most popular of the vitamin supplements used for cancer. It is said to reduce the spread of cancer cells and boost the immune system, but this has never been proved.
This is also thought possibly to help prevent cancer. But as yet there is no reliable evidence.
Vitamin Q10 is sometimes used in cancer treatment. It has been suggested that there are molecules in the body called free radicals, which may damage cell membranes, and that these changes to the cell membrane are part of the development of cancer. There are some claims that vitamin Q10 prevents this damage. However, there is no scientific evidence to support these claims.
This is a mineral trace element that can be found in brazil nuts, grain, fish and meat. There is some suggestion that selenium may offer protection against cancer. Because of this The Cancer Research Campaign is running a trial to discover whether there are benefits of taking selenium as part of a daily diet.
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