Despite the “war on cancer” initiated by President Nixon in 1971, the disease continues to spread, afflicting millions of Americans across the U.S. and leaving a trail of suffering and death in its wake. It’s particularly disturbing that health organizations and professionals working to eliminate cancer have failed to address major contributors to the disease and have failed to provide simple advice for reducing risk.
I recently learned of a chicken barbeque, organized by well-meaning citizens that sought to raise funds and awareness for a cancer society. I was struck by the irony. People coming together to fight cancer were consuming grilled chicken, which increases the risk of cancer. Rather than advancing its purported cause, this event was actually perpetuating the problem, along with the dangerous assumption that eating chicken is somehow healthy.
Mainstream health organizations have failed to heed the advice of Hippocrates, the father of western medicine, who said “Let food be thy medicine.” How we eat has profound impacts on our health. Sadly, we’re eating ourselves to early deaths. Billions of dollars are spent every year in the U.S. to treat preventable diseases. Those burdensome costs, along with the untold suffering accompanying these illnesses, could be significantly reduced, or even eliminated in many instances, through healthier food choices. The best nutritional advice, according to leading experts, is to eat whole plant foods and to leave processed foods and animal products off our plates.
Hopefully, organizations whose mission it is to promote health will remember Hippocrates’ advice, and instead of centering fundraising events around barbequed chicken or other unhealthy foods, they’ll start bringing people together over whole plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.