An Anti-Cancer Diet

Our cancer series resumes today with some tentative advice for cancer patients. (Note: This post is designed for solid tumor cancers, not blood cancers. However, most of the advice would also be applicable to blood cancers.)

This series began with Toward an Anti-Cancer Diet (Sep 15, 2011). There we advocated trying to shift cells away from the cancer phenotype via 8 anti-cancer strategies.

Future posts will explore in detail how to implement those strategies via diet and lifestyle. Today, I’m just going to give a general overview of what I would do if I had cancer.

Eat the Perfect Health Diet

This may sound self-serving, but it’s my best advice. Our diet is designed to optimize health generally, and that’s exactly what you want to do against cancer.

I said in the introduction that cancer is a disease in which cells lose their “humanness” – their proclivity to collaborate with other human cells to create a human organism. Instead, they lose recently evolved features and “remember” an identity similar to that of our distant evolutionary ancestors from the early days of multicellular life. This regression is possible because we retain the genes of our primitive evolutionary ancestors, and silencing of only a few hundred genes may cause a human cell to resemble, genetically, bacteria or fungi.

Many gut bacteria can take on two modes of behavior – a commensal or harmless phenotype, or a virulent harmful phenotype – depending on whether their environment is benign. In beneficial environments, bacteria tend to be cooperative with their host; in harsh environments, bacteria begin to look out for their own interests “selfishly,” and begin to display virulence traits which harm their host but help them move to a better environment.

Something similar may happen with “proto-cancer” cells. In a healthy environment, they are pleased to cooperate with their host – to retain their “humanness.” But in a harsh environment, they are more likely to withdraw from their neighbors and go their own way. An abused cell is more likely to become a cancer cell.

This may sound like anthropomorphization, but the metaphor is probably sound. Bruce Ames has remarked upon the fact that almost every compound is a carcinogen in large enough doses. Why? Because any unbalanced environment is harsh, and any harsh environment makes the cell more likely to develop the cancer phenotype.

It’s not only by discouraging “cancer virulence” that a good diet helps. A healthy diet also optimizes immune function.

Immune function is highly variable. Under stress, we suppress immunity so that all the body’s resources are available to meet “fight or flight” needs. Contrariwise, peaceable happiness is stimulating to immune function. A nutrient-rich diet, savory meals, happiness, calm, restful time spent in conversation – all of these things tell the body it has no pressing concerns and that available resources can be devoted to immunity and healing.

After cancer diagnosis, from a similar medical condition, those who are under stress tend to succumb to cancer, while those who are happy, cheerful, and sociable tend to recover from it. It is believed that this difference is primarily due to improved immune function in those under less stress.

I believe that a healthy, tasty diet is also a stimulant for immune function. Make your food nourishing and enjoyable.

Specific Dietary Aspects

A few aspects of an anti-cancer diet deserve special mention. Let’s look at the PHD Food Plate:

Some aspects I would emphasize for cancer patients:

  • Safe starches. I recommend obtaining 400 to 600 glucose calories a day, mainly from safe starches. I believe it is important to avoid a glucose deficiency, since glycosylated proteins are the means of intercellular coordination, and defects in glycosylation are characteristic of the cancer phenotype. (See, eg, this paper.) You don’t want to aggravate this with a self-induced glucose deficiency.
  • Low omega-6 meats. Omega-6 fats can be very damaging to mitochondria and can promote metastasis. Our needs for them are minimal, and they are everywhere. It’s important to choose foods that minimize omega-6 levels. Among meats, prefer seafood, shellfish, and red meats; obtain eggs, milk, and organ meats from pastured and naturally raised animals. Eat tropical plant oils like coconut and palm.
  • Omega-3 and omega-6 balance. The diet should include some marine sources of omega-3 fats, like salmon or sardines.
  • Bone broth soups and gelatin (cooked collagen). Collagen is 30% of our body’s protein and forms much of the extracellular matrix scaffolding which is crucial to maintainance of tissue health. The extracellular matrix is broken down in cancer. An anti-cancer diet should be rich in cooked joint tissue, such as can be found in Ox Feet Broth soups. Vitamin C and sulfur, discussed below, are also required for collagen formation; be sure you’re not deficient in these.
  • Fermented vegetables, yogurt, and acids. A diverse portfolio of gut bacteria can be helpful to the fight against cancer by several mechanisms. Probiotic flora from fermented  foods help shield against the entry of cancer-promoting pathogens to the body through the gut; they generate by-products, like short-chain fats and vitamin K2, which have anti-cancer effects; and they can modulate immunity in a favorable direction. Acids such as vinegar and lemon juice can also favorably modify gut bacteria.
  • Vegetables, herbs, and spices.Fiber is probably beneficial against cancer. Butyrate, which is produced by gut bacteria from the digestion of many types of fiber including “resistant starch” from safe starches, has anti-cancer properties. Moreover, many vegetables and traditional herbs and spices have been shown to have anti-angiogenic effects. Foods with anti-angiogenic properties include:
    • Garlic.
    • Tomato.
    • Green tea.
    • Dark chocolate / cocoa.
    • Maitake mushroom.
    • Bok choy.
    • Kale.
    • Many berries.
    • Cherries.
    • Ginseng.
    • Turmeric.
    • Oregano.
    • Parsley.
    • Polyphenol-rich extra virgin olive oils.
  • Organ meats and egg yolks. It’s important to be well nourished, and organ meats like liver and egg yolks tend to be rich in micronutrients. They are much better than plant foods for compounds like phospholipids. In particular, choline (and its phospholipid form phosphatidylcholine) is important for methylation status and epigenetic functioning – an important element in cancer prevention.
  • Sea vegetables, sea salt, and seafoods. These are good sources of trace minerals such as iodine, which is a critical anti-cancer nutrient.

In general cancer patients should focus on the foods in the apple of the PHD Food Plate more than the “pleasure foods.” However, there’s nothing wrong with some berries, dark chocolate, pistachios, and whipped cream for dessert, and some red wine with dinner. Above all, it’s important to enjoy your food. Try to obtain from every meal a sense of pleasure and well being!


Much more could be said on this topic than I’m going to say today. One could make a very long list of supplements that might help against cancer (also a long list of those that hurt). However, the crucial five from my point of view are in our recommended supplement list:

  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin K2
  • Iodine
  • Selenium
  • Magnesium

The tricky one here is the iodine. Iodine dosage should be built up very slowly from a low level, so as not to disrupt thyroid function. (Hyperthyroidism can strongly promote cancer, and hypothyroidism can inhibit immune function and healing, so any thyroid dysfunction is a serious risk.) Start at 500 mcg or less, and increase the dose no faster than a doubling per month. If you get either hypothyroid or hyperthyroid symptoms from an increase in dose, back off a bit (eg instead of going directly from 500 mcg to 1 mg per day, go to 500 mcg and 1 mg on alternate days). Be patient, but try to build up to 12 mg/day over a 6 month period. Then stay there. Be sure to get 200 mcg/day selenium along with the iodine.

I also recommend a multivitamin, for general nourishment; and make sure there is no deficiency of vitamin C, zinc, copper, or chromium. Also, when it comes to antioxidants, more is not better. Avoid most antioxidant supplements other than glutathione, vitamin C, selenium, zinc, copper, and manganese.

For magnesium, I recommend taking a 200 mg oral supplement of magnesium citrate or a magnesium chelate. Epsom salt baths might not provide magnesium, but they can be a useful source of sulfur (in the form of sulfate) which assists collagen formation.

Vitamin C is an unusual case. It supports collagen formation, and for this purpose and to avoid a deficiency I strongly suggest taking 1 g per day. In higher doses, vitamin C may be helpful because it has anti-viral properties (see Fighting Viral Infections by Vitamin C at Bowel Tolerance, Sep 26, 2010), and most cancers are probably viral in origin. Linus Pauling, of course, advocated high doses of vitamin C – either taken orally to bowel tolerance, or intravenously. However, there are arguments on the other side. Vitamin C can protect cancer cells from immune attack, and also makes them resistant to chemotherapies. Clinical trials have not yet proven high-dose vitamin C therapy, but it may help against a subset of cancers caused by viruses sensitive to vitamin C therapy.

If sufficient amounts are not obtained from diet, then choline should be supplemented.

Intermittent Fasting, Intermittent Ketosis, Intermittent Protein Restriction

This is an extremely important cluster of strategies that are probably highly effective against cancer.

Their common trait is that all three promote autophagy, or “self-eating,” which is both a means for cells to cope with resource scarcity and a central part of the intracellular immune response.

When resources are abundant, cells allow aged organelles and junk proteins to accumulate. When resources are scarce, they turn on autophagy and digest unnecessary components, recycling the resources.

Autophagy is the dominant innate immune mechanism inside cells – the primary way cells kill bacteria and viruses.

Autophagy also recycles damaged mitochondria, which can be digested, enabling remaining healthy mitochondria to multiply. The result is a healthier mitochondrial population.

Since viruses and damaged mitochondria promote cancer, autophagy helps transform cells from the cancer phenotype back to the normal human phenotype.

Fasting, by inducing resource scarcity, promotes autophagy. Scarcity of amino acids, which can be achieved by a protein restricted diet, also promotes autophagy. And ketosis, which is part of the metabolic profile of starvation, also promotes autophagy.

Note in my section heading the shared word: “intermittent.” We don’t want to sustain fasts or protein scarcity too long; that could create malnourishment and cause more harm than good. Permanent ketosis may promote fungal infections. The most helpful course is probably to follow these strategies intermittently:

  • Engage in daily intermittent fasting: eat only within a 6 to 8 hour window each day. Within the fasting period, eat some coconut oil or MCT oil to promote ketosis.
  • Eat high protein for a few weeks while engaging in resistance exercise to build muscle; then low protein for a few weeks.

A Note on Ketogenic Diets

Since we wrote our book, we’ve become a bit less excited about the therapeutic potential of ketogenic diets.

Ketogenic diets have demonstrated effectiveness in brain cancers, and several considerations suggest that they would be helpful against all cancers:

  • Cancer cells are dependent on glucose metabolism, a phenomenon called the Warburg effect. In ketosis, blood glucose levels can be decreased – a fall from 90 to 65 mg/dl is achievable – and reduced glucose availability should retard cancer growth.
  • Mitochondria do well on ketones, and some studies had shown that provision of ketones can restore the ability of mitochondria to trigger apoptosis, or the programmed cell death of cancer cells.

It’s too early to judge, but a few scraps of data published recently have made ketogenic diets seem a bit less exciting then hoped.

First, the group of Michael Lisanti has published work suggesting that tumors can evade the metabolic restrictions of a ketogenic diet by manipulating neighboring normal cells. The idea (here is an overview) is that cancer cells release hydrogen peroxide, which causes a stress response in neighboring cells, stimulating them to release lactic acid, which the cancer cells can metabolize. This process can happen nearly as well on a ketogenic as on a normal diet, so the effectiveness of a ketogenic diet in starving the cancer cells is reduced.

The Lisanti group results are hardly conclusive – indeed so far as I know no other group has supported their claims – and there are plenty of skeptics. Jimmy Moore gathered responses from a panel of low-carb experts.

Second, clinical experience with ketogenic diets has not yet shown them to be highly effective. The sort of data we have is well represented by a recent report in Nutrition and Metabolism. Sixteen patients with advanced metastatic cancer were put on ketogenic diets. The results:

One patient did not tolerate the diet and dropped out within 3 days. Among those who tolerated the diet, two patients died early, one stopped after 2 weeks due to personal reasons, one felt unable to stick to the diet after 4 weeks, one stopped after 6 and two stopped after 7 and 8 weeks due to progress of the disease, one had to discontinue after 6 weeks to resume chemotherapy and five completed the 3 month intervention period.

The conclusion: a ketogenic diet “has no severe side effects and might improve aspects of quality of life and blood parameters in some patients.”

Clinical trials with control groups and more statistical power are needed to evaluate whether ketogenic diets have therapeutic effect. For now, I think the most prudent course is intermittent ketosis and intermittent ketogenic fasting, rather than a continuously ketogenic diet.

UPDATE: Mario makes a great point in the comments: fasting prior to chemotherapy reduces toxicity to normal cells but increases toxicity to cancer cells. It is quite likely that a ketogenic diet might have the same effect during chemotherapy. So the combination of intermittent ketogenic dieting with chemotherapy should be given consideration.

Circadian Rhythm Enhancement

Many diseases become more likely, or more severe, if circadian rhythms are disrupted. Enhancement of circadian rhythms may be therapeutic for these diseases.

I’ve blogged about circadian rhythm therapies for hypothyroidism (“Intermittent Fasting as a Therapy for Hypothyroidism,” Dec 1, 2010) and for sleep disorders, psychiatric disorders, neurodegenerative disorders, and obesity (“Seth Roberts and Circadian Therapy,” Mar 22, 2011).

Well, cancer is another disease for which circadian disruption may be damaging. The International Agency on Research on Cancer (IARC) has recently classified “shiftwork that involves circadian disruption” as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

It’s plausible that circadian enhancement may be therapeutic for cancer. Tactics that enhance circadian rhythms include:

  • Exposure to mid-day sunlight.
  • Sleeping in total darkness during hours of darkness.
  • Confining eating to daylight hours.
  • Socializing – especially, looking at faces and talking – during daylight hours. Seth Roberts found that looking at images of human faces can substitute for actual socializing.
  • Exercising during daylight hours. Even low-level activity – like standing instead of sitting – helps.
  • In people who are melatonin deficient due to a brain immune response, supplementation of melatonin just before bedtime.

Curiously, circadian rhythm disruption seems to make chemotherapy more effective. Also, timing treatments to match circadian rhythms may double their effectiveness.

Exercise and Other Lifestyle Factors

A number of lifestyle factors are important for cancer recovery. David Servan-Schreiber’s Anti-Cancer has an excellent overview of the evidence.

A recent study in the Lancet found that every additional 15 min of daily exercise beyond 15 min a day reduced all-cancer mortality by 1%. Exercise appears to be therapeutic even for late stage cancers. A meta-review found that two and a half hours of exercise a week could lower a breast cancer patient’s risk of dying or cancer recurrence by 40 percent, and could reduce a prostate cancer patient’s risk of dying from the disease by about 30 percent.

However, exercise should not be exhausting. Rather, it should be restful and relaxing; or build muscle. Resistance exercise on the “Body by Science” model of one intense workout per week, with more time spent in restful recovery than in stress, is probably a good strategy. Long walks outdoors in nature, and relaxing exercises like yoga or tai chi, are also great approaches to cancer therapy.

Being sociable, happy, calm, and optimistic are all important factors for cancer recovery. Those who have companions they love, and a purpose for living that makes them happy, have the best prognosis. Be grateful for what you have, and make your body understand that life is worth living.

Dealing with Anorexia and Nausea

Anorexia and nausea can seriously impair the ability of cancer patients to eat a nourishing diet and maintain their strength.

I haven’t had time to research this aspect of the disease yet, but there do seem to be some dietary and lifestyle interventions that help.

For instance, exercise can correct anorexia.

Among dietary interventions, ginger has been reported to reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea, reducing incidence in one study from 93% to 55%. (Hat tip: Healthy Fellow.)

Ginger teas are a traditional Asian folk remedy. Slice some ginger root in water, boil it on the stove, add some rice syrup for sweetness, and drink up!

Under-Utilized Therapies

There are a few therapies which are rarely prescribed, but might be more helpful than chemotherapies in treating cancer:

  • Low-dose naltrexone.
  • Anti-viral drugs.
  • Anti-fungal therapies.

Low-dose naltrexone is taken at night before bed. It temporarily blocks opioid receptors, which leads the body to increase production of endorphins and enkephalins – immune compounds which interact with opioid receptors. The following day, the naltrexone is gone and the opioid receptors are working again, but the endorphins are still around. Taking LDN thus increases endorphin levels. Endorphins inhibit cancer proliferation, and may enhance anti-cancer immunity. Here is a recent paper on anti-proliferative effects of LDN against ovarian cancer: Here is a recent paper on LDN plus alpha lipoic acid as a therapy against pancreatic cancer: For a general overview, see

Viruses cause or contribute to most cancers, and thus anti-viral drugs have great potential. A few cancer-causing viruses are famous, such as the Human Papilloma Virus for which there is a vaccine; however, most of the viruses that cause cancer remain unknown, though we know they exist because genetic mutations that impair viral immunity greatly increase cancer incidence.

Mario Renato Iwakura recently sent me a link to a paper that nicely illustrates the potential of antiviral therapies against cancer. Cytomegalovirus, also known as human herpes virus 5, is a common virus that infects 40% of adults worldwide and 50% to 80% of Americans. However, it is found in almost 100% of human tumors. It seems to be difficult to get cancer if you haven’t been infected by cytomegalovirus.

From the paper abstract:

Medulloblastomas are the most common malignant brain tumors in children…. Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is prevalent in the human population and encodes proteins that provide immune evasion strategies and promote oncogenic transformation and oncomodulation…. Remarkably, all of the human medulloblastoma cell lines that we analyzed contained HCMV DNA and RNA and expressed HCMV proteins at various levels in vitro. When engrafted into immunocompromised mice, human medulloblastoma cells induced expression of HCMV proteins. HCMV and COX-2 expression correlated in primary tumors, cell lines, and medulloblastoma xenografts. The antiviral drug valganciclovir and the specific COX-2 inhibitor celecoxib prevented HCMV replication in vitro and inhibited PGE2 production and reduced medulloblastoma tumor cell growth both in vitro and in vivo.

Tumor growth declined by 72% when treated with Valcyte (valganciclovir) and an NSAID drug. A press release notes that these drugs have “relatively good adverse effect profiles” and that “antiviral drugs are selective and largely affect infected cells.”

Yet another antimicrobial approach that may be helpful against cancer is antifungal therapy. Most cancer patients develop systemic fungal infections, and fungal infections such as Candida promote metastasis and tumor growth, and may also suppress anti-cancer immunity. An effective antifungal therapy may significantly retard cancer progression.


Much more remains to be said, and it’s certain that we’ll refine these suggestions after more thoroughly studying the literature. But I think this basic approach to an anti-cancer diet can’t be too far wrong.

Our prayers and best wishes go out to all those who are battling cancer.

Leave a comment ?


  1. The Polyp Prevention Trial (PPT) was another large, high-budget intervention (again, not looking at correlations, but specifically changes) attempting to show that fruits veggies and fiber are good for you. Again, no benefit.
    CONCLUSIONS: Adopting a diet that is low in fat and high in fiber, fruits, and vegetables does not influence the risk of recurrence of colorectal adenomas.

    [No positive result after 4 years, so they went out another 4 years for a total duration of 8 years. Again, no benefit.]
    This study failed to show any effect of a low-fat, high-fiber, high-fruit and -vegetable eating pattern on adenoma recurrence even with 8 years of follow-up.

    I’m sure they weren’t following the Perfect Health diet (which I support and am telling my family about), but again I think it supports humility in dietary considerations.

    And I’ll roll this one into this post so it’s easier to skip if I’m making your eyes glaze over.

    The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) attempted to show that low-fat helps beat cancer, then heart disease and stroke. It failed.
    RESULTS: Dietary fat intake was significantly lower in the dietary modification intervention group compared with the comparison group. The difference between groups in change from baseline for percentage of energy from fat varied from 10.7% at year 1 to 8.1% at year 6. Vegetable and fruit consumption was higher in the intervention group by at least 1 serving per day and a smaller, more transient difference was found for grain consumption. […] CONCLUSIONS: Among postmenopausal women, a low-fat dietary pattern did not result in a statistically significant reduction in invasive breast cancer risk over an 8.1-year average follow-up period.
    CONCLUSIONS: Over a mean of 8.1 years, a dietary intervention that reduced total fat intake and increased intakes of vegetables, fruits, and grains did not significantly reduce the risk of CHD, stroke, or CVD in postmenopausal women and achieved only modest effects on CVD risk factors, suggesting that more focused diet and lifestyle interventions may be needed to improve risk factors and reduce CVD risk.

    I apologize to other commenters on this blog if this is boring or annoying. The big point is that we have used both epidemiological and reductionist data to pose the hypothesis that more fruit & veggies and less fat will prevent cancer. I think what most people don’t realize is that the hypothesis has been tested in real, actual studies, large & well funded & long run studies. It’s the difference between saying that you bet you could shoot a target that’s a half mile away and actually doing it. The large, well funded, long run studies failed to show support for the hypothesis. Yet the hypothesis continues.

    A good argument could be made that they have are right in parts and wrong in parts, and they are wrong in enough parts that it equals out the parts where they are right. That’s fine with me, but it would mean that those folks would need to go back to the drawing board to propose a new hypothesis.

    I don’t mean this as an attack on Paul or the PHD. I support the logic and reasoning that the Jaminets are putting into their work and recommendation. I am, however, very mindful of the difference between hypothesis and theory.

  2. Mario, I wasn’t clear enough.

    I asked about the LDN action, to bind on opiate receptors for short time, then organism up regulating endorphins, then LDN releasing, then endorphins having more binding spots.

    I was reading entire LDN site together with testimonies etc, and I remember they said such action is hypothetical. It is indeed in sync with current understandings of how receptors and hormones work in general.

    About Vitamin C, its well known that megadoses (IV and lypo, not oral ones) promote well being. Recently, we had this one:

    but its repeated number of times.

    Vitamin C alone probably can’t beat cancer and I think its a thing of luck for most people. Cancer is probably unbeatable. I find this theory fascinating:

    Vitamin C will help because mitochondrial disorders will promote fermentation for energy and C competes with GLUT receptors. For the same reason fruit is not helpful (Gerson therapy uses vegetables for instance). Also, C will strengthen collagen makaing harder for cancer to spread. Alone, it can’t bit it up as cancer cells could also use C for their own benefit. Riordan clinic used K3 in combination (now known as Apatone drug) for better effects. I believe C alone is most effective as prevention as it will arm the immune system.

    I guess point of baking soda is to reduce increased amounts of lactic acid because of extensive fermentation.

  3. @Ed. Don’t you wonder some times if it wouldn’t be better to let the tax payers keep their money and let the study subjects use their lives in more productive ways? 🙂

  4. About the vitamin C comments. Most oncologists will discourage taking vitamin C during most chemotherapy protocols as it helps all cells, including the cancer cells. In effect, it works counter to the chemotherapy. Echoing something Paul said in an earlier post, it might be that a “bad” diet may actually be recommended during chemotherapy. It is quite a difficult situation: wanting to help your body fight cancer, but not wanting to fight against the chemotherapy and prevent it doing its job.

    I am currently in chemotherapy treatment and have stopped all supplimentation until the chemo is done. Afterwards is another question. I see the vitamins Paul has recommended in his post in my diet plan, no question.

    The problem with cancer is that it is not one thing, not actually one disease, but many different cancers. All with their own issues, differences, etc. I suspect this is why Paul noted that this post was for hard tumour cancers and not blood cancers…

  5. Re: Ed’s

    DrGreger has pointed out they ate 3.5 down to 3.4 servings a day: (he does recommend 9+ servings/day in 2007, but he also advocates vegan diet if you watch his full series and even shows plant-based, vegetarians with plasma salicylic acid (like aspirin) lower dna breaks

    And it may depend on what kind of plants you eat (eg not potato, tomato, iceberg lettuce, carrot: from ‘mindblower.pdf’

  6. In my opinion science should explore essential oils for their antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral effects. In spite of numerous studies on pubmed, essential oils are not taken seriously and are relegated to mouthwash and skin lotion.

  7. Different types of chemotherapy kill cells via different mechanisms. For example, some induce cell apoptosis, others damage DNA/ RNA and replication cycle, or target only certain phases during cell division, so on and so forth.

    Blood cancers such as leukemias and lymphomas are different than solid tumor cancers. Certain fast-growing or acute types/ subtypes of blood cancers are actually easier to treat at first with chemotherapy, mainly due to chemotherapy’s ability to kill fast-dividing cell quickly. I think that’s why many oncology teams do not suggest high antioxidant diets for patients, in the small chance that they might help cancer cells survive chemotherapy.

  8. Just to clarify my above post

    Regarding Vitamin C therapy for cancer: my friend with ovarian cancer only did the Vitamin C treatments before and after the chemo, and on the “off from chemo” weeks.

    She never did the Vitamin C treatment simultaneously with the chemo treatment. That would have defeated the purpose of the Vitamin C.

  9. suzan,

    IV Vitamin C works as chemotherapy (i.e. prooxidant). In such large doses it should be beneficial along with chemotherapy. The one need to check for G6PD deficiency before doing that to prevent hemolysis.

    Oral doses are probably not good idea while doing chemo although this is more hypothesis then experience.

  10. BTW, here is the good discussion about importance of glycemic control with cancer.

  11. Awesome!


    Lisanti’s research on hydrogen peroxide is most interesting as i have been just reading the section on it by Hickery & Roberts. their theory is the opposite; i.e., cancer cells can’t neutralize hydrogen peroxide while healthy cells can via catalase.


  12. @Jana,

    indeed, American culture tends to demand one to be “positive” all the time, not just health but many others situations (job market, relationships, etc)

    this is inhumane to to wear nice & sweet facade & never allowed to be down at any minute.

    i have observed that Americans tend to be more upbeat than people in other countries. (i didn’t grow up in this culture btw)


  13. @ Pam,

    I came here when I was 8 years-old, and also I’ve travelled quite a bit. You’re right, Americans have an ‘individualist’ culture that celebrates self-sufficiency and upbeat/ can-do outlook. Unfortunately this also carries into times of stress or illness. Many other cultures I’d experienced, for example Taiwanese and Italian cultures, can be more stifling in terms of extended network around you (family, friends) being up in your business so to speak, but they tend to offer more all-encompassing, emotional support during life’s stressful periods, including illnesses. Good and not so good aspects to different cultural norms I guess.

  14. 10/04/11 – Happy Birthday to us! - pingback on October 3, 2011 at 8:01 pm
  15. Dr. Jaminet,

    sorry, me again.

    if a cancer cell can become smart enough to “manipulate” its healthy neighbors hence undermining the efficacy ketogenic diet.

    this sounds so depressing & scary. i certainly hope this is not true!


  16. @Jana,

    yes, there is a greater pressure for conformity in Asian cultures but it also comes with support.

    in US the able ones are afraid to reach out; then the needy do not want to appear whiny.


  17. Seeing that nuts have more omega 6 and more phytic acid than legumes, I’m having trouble identifying the reason that you suggest nuts are better than legumes? Sure they are a good source of some micronutrients, but the phytic acid levels in them would overcompensate, no? What do nuts provide that legumes don’t?

  18. Me again Paul, your favorite blood cancer person 🙂
    Wanted to share this, in CLL circles it is sometimes held that high C can stimulate lymphocytes and their activity and we do NOT want that as we are already over loaded with overactive lymphocytes.
    Here is one place I found it, I will look further for a more ‘pubmed’ sort of source. This site is run by CLL patients etc… from the trenches.

    I found this one. Anyone else know anything specific re: Cll and other chronic leukemia’s?

  20. Paul,
    A truly remarkable post. This is one of your most outstanding posts. Worth re-reading and referring to others. Thank you!

    Lots of Epsom salt questions. (Answer what you care to.)
    Salt on the skin sounds good for me. I don’t have a bath tub. Do you allow the solution to get dry or keep it wet? Will it absorb even when it’s dry? How long a time do you keep the salt on? How much skin surface do you cover? Do you think the skin transport mechanism finally gets overloaded during a single application? Will the body shut down absorbing when it gets enough or does it keep absorbing? How many treatments a week? Would a foot bath absorb better (perhaps better just because it’s more soothing)?

  21. Any thoughts on the antioxidant Astaxanthin?

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  24. Wow, this is daunting. If I wanted to phase in this change in diet, what would you suggest are the most important steps to take first?

  25. Hi Paul:
    I just purchased your book. An excellent reading!!

    Paul, on a routine blood test, I was recently diagnosed with MGUS, having a high reading of my Immunoglobulin M level or IgM of 10.10. The normal readings should read between 0.46-3.04 g/L. The oncologist told me that although the level was high, she would be concerned if the level gets to ’12’ as she would schedule a biopsy to be done. I also have two discrete bands in the gamma region, or biclonal gammopathies. I understand that these are a group of disorders characterized by the production of two distinct monoclonal proteins, which may be due to proliferation of two clones of plasma cells, each producing an unrelated monoclonal immunoglobulin, or it may result from production of two monoclonal proteins by a single clone of plasma cells.

    Anyway, my question to you is that, for the most part I feel good, as I am in my early 50’s, and I eat a variety of foods.
    I used to be vegetarian years ago, and for the past few years have started eating
    meats, and dairy products. I enjoy exercising, and look ‘healthy’ for my age, yet am fairly stressed with this recent diagnosis of ‘Mgus’.

    Paul, I understand your rationale for not incorporating grains in the diet, and not a lot of fruits that contain fructose. Although I do not have cancer per say, apparently the abnormal blood protein levels (Mgus) that I have, can lead down the road to lymphoma, or Waldenstroms.
    What about sprouted grains? Are they okay to digest, and have?
    What about taking protein shakes from Whey Protein?
    What about taking protein shakes from hemp seed, and maca protein?

    Paul, I take a lot of supplements, and have read that you encourage just a few supplements to take. Is it possible that I am taking too many supplements?
    For example, most of the supplements that I am taking are ‘food based’ and they include, Co-Q10, Vit B, Vit D, Vit C, VitE and Selenium, (Astaxanthin, and Curcumin) (recommended by Dr. Mercola) Quercetin, Primal Defence (which I saw in your product list as a Probiotic) and enzymes.
    What are your views on homeopathic medicines, and or herbs sprinkled on food?

    Paul, I am very interested in the study of nutrition, yet it is very confusing with some advocates saying that one should not be eating meat, and dairy, due to health concerns, yet to the ‘Paleo’ advocates writing that one should not be eating grains, and fruits high in fructose.

    Anyway sorry for the long post, however, I was very intrigued by both your wife’s, and your research in your book. As mentioned it was an excellent reading. I wish the book had an index to look up some things, however, it was a wonderful reading, and I will be recommending it to my colleagues at school (I’m a teacher), and friends as well.

    Paul, when you have a moment, if you could answer some of my questions above, particularly if one can do anything about ‘Mgus’ other than following a healthy diet, exercise, sleep etc.
    As well, your views on eating seeds (sunflower, pumpkin) whey protein, sprouted grains, and or seeds, apple cider vinegar, and freshly squeezed juices involving carrots, and or are carrots too high in sugar. I have cut out bread, sometimes enjoy eating ‘flax seed’ crackers, yet feel sleepy right after eating the crackers.
    Thanks Paul,
    Keep up the good work of helping others on your website, and in your writings,
    Take care,

  26. Hi Lawrence,

    I would strongly encourage you to eliminate grains other than white rice. I discussed links between wheat and lymphoma development in this post:

    I would also keep omega-6 levels down, that is very important; take selenium and iodine (starting from low levels); and optimize D/A/K2 intake. You should concentrate your diet on fish, shellfish, seafood.

    You can see what supplements we recommend on our recommended supplements page: I would recommend reading Step 3 of our book carefully.

    I would also take vitamin C to bowel tolerance, as blood cancers are usually viral in origin and C is active against some viruses. And tend to any hypothyroidism, since body temperature is important, usually high temperatures are anti-viral. Saunas, hot tubs, or thermotherapy ( might be worth considering.

    Best, Paul

  27. Hi Paul:
    Thanks for the quick reply.
    Much appreciated!
    Paul, I will eliminate grains, however, what about sprouted grains, and or sprouted seeds on occasion?
    In terms of supplementation, I saw your supplement page, and read ‘step 3’, however would like to know your views on Spirulina, and or Chlorella, in addition to ‘green’ drinks in the morning?

    Thanks Paul,
    Take care,

  28. Hi Lawrence,

    Sprouted grains are less toxic than unsprouted grains, but they’re still not safe, especially for someone with a blood cancer.

    I would be cautious about spirulina and chlorella. See the post on chlorella linked in my latest Around the Web. Green drinks – if you make them yourself by juicing fresh vegetables I think that’s OK.

  29. This talk by Jerry Brunetti is useful:

    He also has a DVD on Amazon.

  30. Hi Kayumochi:
    Thanks for the link.
    It was interesting to hear
    Jerry’s views on this subject.

  31. Believe it was a blood cancer of some sort that Jerry Brunetti healed himself of. He was given 6 months to live … Haven’t watched it in a while but think the Youtube video is in several parts and the DVD contains much of what he did to heal. His methods are Paleo-ish.

  32. Hi Paul:
    Hope your well.
    Paul, I attended a health seminar recently, and some of the alternative doctors suggested wheat grass, and chlorophyll to take to ‘clean the blood’.
    What are your views on this, in relation to abnormal protein levels in the blood?

    I can appreciate in your book that you prefer omega 3 foods, to omega 6, particularly suggesting no more than 4 brazil nuts for example a day for added selenium. However, I also appreciate your answer a few weeks back on not taking sprouted grains for possible blood cancer, however, are sprouted seeds such as hemp or flax okay to sprinkle on foods with this condition?

    Finally, what does one say to those theorists who argue against too much ‘fat’ in the diet, particularly to how it relates to heart disease, when you advocate healthy portions of fat to take in the ‘P.H.Diet’?

    I received a nice reply from ‘Kayumochi’, recently in your blog, about Jerry Brunetti who healed himself of possibly blood cancer, with a mostly paleo diet. Are you familiar with Mr. Brunetti’s work?
    Thanks Paul,

  33. Hi Larry,

    I know of Jerry Brunetti, and met him at the Wise Traditions conference last fall, but I’m not intimately familiar with his work.

    I think it’s generally OK to sprinkle sprouted hemp or flax seeds on food for omega-3. They do have some toxins, but the toxins have been reported to have an anti-cancer effect on solid tumor cancers. That tells us nothing about their effect on blood cancers. I would just keep the dose fairly low and use salmon/sardines/seafood as my primary source of omega-3.

    I would avoid wheat grass, which is likely to be toxin rich, especially given wheat’s poor record generally in regard to lymphomas. Chlorophyll I’m undecided on, but I would not take it continuously — either never or intermittently, it also has toxins and you want to give your body toxin-free periods.

    For fat, see our book.

    Best, Paul

  34. Paul,

    Your wheat grass synopsis unsettles me as I have been taking a half ounce to an ounce of wheat grass almost everyday for five years. It – along with fish oil – has been the only regular supplements I’ve taken. Could you explain more about wheat grass behaving as a toxin etc.? Or mention any other antagonistic properties it might have..

    Thanks and I love your book!


  35. Hi Matt,

    Unfortunately there’s little data on wheatgrass toxicity. However, as a grass it’s likely to be toxin rich. The cotyledons of other grasses, such as corn and barley, are known to have toxins, some of which aren’t present in the grains.

    I just don’t see a compelling reason to risk it.

  36. Paul,

    Love your site and all your info. Really spot on!

    Didn’t know if you saw this on fasting and cancer, but it’s getting more attention mainstream (which is a good thing). Showing how fasting can help even with chemo treatments.

    Mike OD

    PS. I would love to get your feedback on my IF ebook before it goes to Kindle. If your interested, just shoot me an email and I’ll get you a pre-release copy.

    PPS. Lately I’ve been experimenting with coconut “oil pulling” while fasting. Amazingly finding some good results with stable energy and hunger too.

  37. Hello Paul,
    I enjoyed your article very much. I am an otherwise healthy 44 year old woman with no history of smoking or drinking who was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia 3 months ago.

    I have been doing as much research as possible on what I should eat. What I come up against time after time is that the diets that are recommended for those with cancer do not pertain to those with blood cancers.

    For now, I am still in good health, with good immunity and platelets, just an increased malignant B-Lymphocyte count.

    You mention at the beginning of your article that most of the information would apply to those with blood cancers also, but that some may not. What is it in your recommended eating plan that is not for blood cancer?

    Thank you so much,

  38. Hey Darlene!
    I am also a CLL paitent, 5 year canserversary this month! I met Paul at the Wise Traditions and asked a similar question. He says (correct me Paul!) lots of Vitamin C, treating it like a virus. I think the basic Perfect Health Diet is a great diet for folks with our condition. Are you Stage 0 or? I am .. and holding.
    All the Best

  39. Hi Deb 🙂 So nice of you to reply. I am in Stage 0 currently, glad to hear you are still in stage 0 after five years.
    Since I was diagnosed I have been eating a totally vegan, mainly raw diet, the only carbohydrates I eat are quinoa, forbidden rice etc. No gluten at all. I juice lots of kale and other veggies, eat huge salads with baby greens, avocado’s, pumpkin seeds, cabbage etc. I had my three month check and my numbers had remained stable. But I am a researcher at heart. I have been looking in depth into what exactly I should be doing to help my body the most.
    I found that many of the all vegan/raw/juicing diets are great for solid tumor cancers, but the success with blood cancers is not so great.
    Have you been eating the Perfect Health Diet? If you have, for how long? I noticed that you mentioned that Vitamin C can increase our WBC. Have you found that to be the case? I take 2000-3000 mg each day. Do you drink green tea or take any supplements? Sorry for all the questions lol. Its so hard to find any information! Darlene

  40. Oh my, very very long story Darlene! I don’t want to take up all the space/time here, but suffice to say that I did a raw vegan diet with lots of juicing and enemas and colonics.. worked at first, I dropped my WBC from a high of 29k to a low of 15K in five months. HOWEVER… after losing a lot of weight, losing hair, and finally, losing my digestion of pretty much anything, even green juice, I saw my number go back up… I have since followed a diet similar to the PHD with a few detours My last three tests have been exactly the same at 21K..this test on weds will make my five years. Stay clean, vegan is ok for a short run but in the long run at least eat some eggs, dairy, good grass fed meats. You can find my new blog at
    all the best

  41. sorry, sups I take: Vitamin D, B complex, magnesium, zinc No green tea anymore..long story again..i try to get my C via foods aka fresh orange juice, potatoes (baked) or other veg/fruits. As I am post meno, I have been toying with progest e, a progesterone/vitamin E drop to see how that goes. Oh and K2. And Asprin, about 5 a day, controversial that one.. see the work of Ray Peat to go further down that rabbit hole 🙂 Gotta keep researching! Calcium via ground egg shells that I make in the coffee grinder. 1/2 tsp a day usually

  42. Hi Darlene,

    Nothing in this post is known to be bad for blood cancers, and nearly all of it will be good for blood cancers. But Shou-Ching’s expertise is in solid tumor cancers and research on solid tumor cancers was in our minds as we wrote.

    As Deb says, CLL is most likely caused by an unknown virus. Some things like vitamin C, heat (eg sauna), and lysine can work against some viruses. But there’s no guarantee those will work against CLL. By and large, you just want to be healthy and promote normal immune function. Make sure vitamin D levels stay near optimal, gut sun during the day and plenty of sleep at night in a totally darkened room, eat well, be well nourished but not overnourished (too many nutrients can promote cell proliferation). So don’t overdo supplementation, but do eat a nutrient-rich whole foods diet. Good supplements are D, K, C, magnesium, iodine, maybe zinc/copper but not too much.

    A concern about B complex is that folic acid in particular may promote cellular proliferation. If you want B vitamins, I would go for B1, B2, B5, and biotin, plus choline.

    Deb, I’m not a fan of the aspirin, nor ground egg shells. Bone broth should provide enough calcium, along with green leafy vegetables and maybe some dairy.

    Best, Paul

  43. Paul,
    Thank you so much for your reply. I am going to begin eating the Perfect Health Diet and see how I feel over the next few months. I am also going to order the kindle version of your book in order to more fully understand it.
    I have felt quite well as I have switched to a raw vegan diet, but have heard so many experiences like Deb’s where it helps initially, but then seems to hinder wellness.
    I have also read in my internet researching, that an alkaline diet as is provided by a raw vegan diet might be the opposite of what is indicated for blood cancers.
    Thank you again for your reply. Your internet resources are amazing.

  44. Paul,

    I am not entirely convinced by your decision here to consume that level of carbs. You point out that glycosylation is a necessary part of cellular function, and generally impaired in cancer.

    The question is whether the glycosylation problems are causing mitochondrial dysfunction – if not, then I don’t particularly WANT the cancer cell functioning better, I want it to function poorly and die! And the only reason I want the mitochondria to function better is so that they can initiate apoptosis ASAP! So to what degree does impaired glycosylation keep the cancer cell from killing itself?

    It seems possible to get lower blood glucose by long-term fasting/ketogenesis than by eating a few carbs. Do you know about how much lower it can possibly go? If the effect size is small that is a different issue, but lower does seem better from my current knowledge of biology.



  45. @Deb

    In 2008, when I had my first arthritis flare, I treated the pain & inflammation with a generous amount of aspirin. I’m guessing 2-6 pills a day, regular strength.

    It didn’t take long before I was anemic again, then subsequent testing revealed plummeting Serum Iron & Ferritin levels. Although I skipped the test for occult blood in the stool, it seemed reasonable that the aspirin was causing blood loss.

    I dropped the aspirin right away, began Iron supplements, and with time, both Serum Iron & Ferritin rose, then the anemia cleared.

    My moralizing tale is Be Careful with Aspirin.

  46. Hi Will,

    Although apoptosis is one pathway cancer cells die, they generally evolve resistance to this pathway and it is not the way cancer is cured. That is through immune function, in which the immune system recognizes and clears the cancer.

    Normal glucose intake is likely to be the best cancer preventative, normalizing cellular and mitochondrial function; but also it best supports the immune response. NK-cell attachment and monocyte phagocytosis and killing are glucose dependent processes.

    I’m not saying that this is proven, but it is my best guess as to what is most likely to work.

    I would be supportive of including coconut milk / oil in the diet and lowering blood glucose somewhat by that means. But I wouldn’t try to starve the body of glucose.

    Best, Paul

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