Originally published in Issue 1 2005 icon
It´s Been An Exciting Time
Professor Jane Plant was our very first "Living Proof", in July 2002, and what a story she had to tell! Her battle against breast cancer took so many twists and turns that she recorded it in her recently updated bestseller Your Life in Your Hands so that others could benefit from her research and experiences. Awarded a CBE for services to science, Professor Plant is still a member of many government committees and Chief Scientist of the British Geological Survey.
Two and half years ago she told us how she beat progressively more advanced breast cancer five times. First diagnosed 17 years ago, when her two children were still at home, she underwent conventional treatment, including a mastectomy, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and was given three months to live. Her life changed when her osteopath told her to give up dairy products. Within six weeks the lump in her neck (the cancer had spread to the lymph) had shrivelled and disappeared. It is the mixture of science and personal experience that makes Jane´s case against dairy products, if you have breast or prostate cancer, unarguable. Now just weeks away from her 60th birthday, she tells us what she´s been up since we told her story.
"I´ve been very busy and have written another four books - something I would never have thought possible before! I´ve also moved to London and am enjoying doing up my house. It´s been an exciting time too, because I have been given honorary professorships at Exeter and Kingston universities, been made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and became the first woman President of the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy.
I use acupuncture, weekly-to-monthly counselling and my diet to get me through
Professionally it´s been fantastic, but I have had a lot of problems and stress in other areas (personal and work) so I´m not convinced of the role stress plays in breast cancer. If it was a problem, I should have had my cancer back, but I check myself very carefully and am OK. I think it´s important to be honest, and I have had the odd touch of depression in the last couple of years. I´ve been prone to that since my teens and am pretty good at overcoming it. I think the fact that I suffer from anxiety and depression and got through cancer is quite important. I use acupuncture, weekly-to-monthly counselling and my diet to get me through.
When I read all the anti-soya publicity, the cynic in me has to laugh. It´s utter nonsense to say that soya is going to cause problems because it´s oestrogenic - scientific nonsense! There are three points to make here:
1: The Chinese have virtually lived on soya in the past and they had next to no breast or prostate cancer. When I´ve been in China, I´ve spoken to doctors who have never seen a case of either.
2: The phytoestrogens in soya are between 1/500th and 1/1000th the strength of human oestrogen. They are thought to lock onto receptors in breast or prostate tissue and protect them from animal oestrogen in the way Tamoxifen does - but without the side effects.
3: Most plants contain phytoestrogens, so the idea that these are dangerous is ludicrous. Recent research shows that the main pathway of animal oestrogens in the diet is from dairy. That is far more significant than soya. In The Plant Programme, the book I wrote with Jill Tidey, we explain that the typical healthy Japanese diet is based on 30 separate ingredients a day, not just soya. So use it to replace dairy and if you´re allergic, try rice, pea or oat milk.
I particularly want to get the message across to men as they´re very difficult to reach. Prostate cancer is fast becoming the biggest killer cancer of men and I very much want them to read my latest book, Prostate Cancer: Understand, Prevent and Overcome to prevent themselves getting this horrid disease.
I also wrote Understanding, Preventing and Overcoming Osteoporosis because everyone kept saying they would get it if they went on my diet. I thought I´d better do some responsible research and found the opposite to be true. It´s nonsense for doctors to say that if you cut out dairy you´ll get osteoporosis.
Countries that have the most dairy and animal product have the most osteoporosis. Cheese is the most bone-damaging food you can ever have. I used to love it but, knowing how dangerous it is, I don´t touch it.
I don´t think of myself as a cancer patient any longer. It´s 17 years since I was first diagnosed and I hope all that´s in the past. When I look to the future I hope that more people will read my books and prevent their cancers and, in my own case, that my family is happy."
All Jane Plant´s books are published by Virgin Books.