Cancer and its dietary origins

Cancer and its dietary origins

History of cancer While most of what we know about diet and cancer comes from recent research, the idea that foods play a crucial role in perpetrating and preventing disease has quite a long history. During the Song Dynasty in China (A.D. 960 - 1279), Yong-He Yan wrote that poor nutrition was a cause of esophageal cancer. In 1815 Dr W. Lambe, a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London, wrote about diet, cancer, and chronic diseases, cautioning against excess consumption of food in general and meat in particular . His contemporary Dr John Bell observed that some cancer patients had been cured by "adherence to a non-flesh dietary." A hundred years later, Dr W. Roger Williams noted, "Probably no single factor is more potent in determining the outbreak of cancer in the predisposed, than excessive feeding. Many indications point to the gluttonous consumption of proteins—especially meat--which is such a characteristic feature of the age as likely to be especially harmful in this respect." As contributing factors, Dr Williams added "deficient exercise, and also lack of sufficient vegetable food."

And Dr J.H. Kellogg, a renowned surgeon who later championed the health value of breakfast cereals, echoed his views. Despite the clear vision of these physicians, medical approaches related to diet and lifestyle received relatively little attention. Among mainstream cancer scientists, the search was on for something much more obscure than the food on our plates.

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