I have just learned that Jane Plant passed away at about a year ago. In 1993, despite several operations, chemotherapy and radiotherapy to treat her breast cancer, she was told she had only months to live. Jane was a first-class scientist and she decided to conduct her own research into the causes of breast cancer and as a result made fundamental changes to her diet, including a total elimination of all foods related to milk and dairy. At the end of the chemotherapy treatment all signs of the cancer had disappeared. At the time of writing the book six years later, she was still free of cancer. However eighteen years later in December 2011, cancer was detected in her lungs and close to her collar bone above an old mastectomy scar. At the time she admitted that she had been quite lax about complying with the strict dietary regime that she had formulated.
She immediately returned to the oncologist, Professor Coombes at Charing Cross Hospital, who had treated her in the 1990s. He persuaded her to try a low dose of Letrozole, which blocks the production of oestrogen and she reverted to strict adherence to her dietary programme. By April 2012 the fluid in her lungs had disappeared completely and the lump beneath her collar bone was’ hardly palpable’. By the end of July she was pronounced clear and told that her cancer was once again in remission. As she says in her website:
“I am sure that it was the combination of Letrozole with my diet that saved me once again” (1).
Her story is told in her book “Your life in your hands” (2), which I found absolutely fascinating and I used as a basis for a blog (3).
This book was extremely well received and Jane set up her own website to help spread the knowledge to others who might benefit from her knowledge and experience (4). The primary objective was to provide:
“independent, impartial information. Unlike many other sites, we are not funded by pharmaceuticals, government or any company with a vested interest and therefore we are free from their influence”.
This has certainly helped many individuals and there are a number of impressive case histories on the website.
Therefore it is particularly regrettable that there have been some attempts to denigrate her very valuable contribution to the whole cancer story. Here is one comment which appeared on Twitter:
“But she still had cancer when she died. Not much of a cure, it seems.”
The reality is that she did not have cancer when she died. Here is the exact statement, which was posted on her website:
“It is with great sadness that we report that Jane Plant died on 4th March 2016. After 30 years and the disease recurring 8 times, she always stuck with her diet and was actually clear of cancer when she passed away from a blood clot – and possibly an unforeseen side-effect of the medication.”
This makes it absolutely clear that her last cancer had been effectively cured. It must be obvious to anyone that her contribution was extremely positive and constructive. Not only did she benefit by surviving for almost 30 years longer than expected but also through her efforts to disseminate the information, many others were able cope effectively with the disease.
Progress has been very disappointing
In her book, Jane was highly critical of the conventional approach to cancer research and treatment. It really is time to face up to the fact that despite the huge amounts of resources devoted to these efforts the results have been very disappointing. One of the fundamental weaknesses, which applies to the treatment of many other diseases is the failure to attempt to identify the actual cause. Essentially the conventional approach to cancer treatment is to remove the tumour(s). Even if this is successful, there is still a high probability that another one will develop if the original cause is still in place. The most likely factors are diet and exposure to toxins. Of course, genetics may play a part but this must be relatively small and certainly cannot explain the staggering increase in incidence that has occurred during the past 100 years or so.
The role of diet
The growing appreciation that cancers are due to damage to the mitochondria and therefore a fault in the metabolism is confirmation that diet (or rather the wrong diet) is further confirmation of contribution of Jane Plant. No-one would pretend that she has supplied all the answers but there is no doubt that this aspect should be given much more emphasis. Although Jane’s focus was on the importance of milk and dairy products in relation to breast cancer in women (and prostate cancer in men), we must also take into account the work of Otto Warburg. He concluded that cancer cells are dependent on a supply of glucose to survive and thrive (5). It follows from this that restricting the intake of sugar and any other source of glucose will mean that the cancer cells are starved of a source of energy.
Conventional v non-conventional
It is unfortunate that attempts to make real progress are often hampered by a somewhat irrational view that anyone who even suggests an alternative approach is directly challenging the conventional methods. I find the attempts to denigrate the contribution of Jane Plant deplorable, especially when the facts are misrepresented.
While I am dubious of much of the conventional approach that does not mean I reject it completely. However I do contend that we need to be highly critical and subject all treatments to thorough evaluations. The same should apply to complementary medicine. There are many examples where a combination of conventional and complementary approaches have been successful as shown by Jane’s experience.
The over-riding objective must be to improve our understanding of the disease and how it arises so that patients can be given proper advice on what steps to take to avoid the primary cause. We need honesty of purpose, high quality science and the removal of vested interests as far as possible.
- Jane A Plant (2000) “Your Life in Your Hands: Understanding, Preventing and Overcoming Breast Cancer”. Virgin: London