Specific diet-cancer therapies

Specific diet-cancer therapies

Specific cancer diet therapies
This section provides you with information on specific diet-cancer therapies designed to beat cancer. It includes those with clinical trials behind them, like Dr Gonzalez and Professor Ben Pfeifer, and others that can only claim anecdotal support.
Here is a brief overview:

The World Health Organisation is convinced: Poor Diet causes cancer. The scientific evidence seems irrefutable. For example, Professor Waxman of Imperial College and CRUK said in the BMJ that, There is a convincing body of information that proves there is a strong dietary basis to the development of cancer.

So what is a good cancer diet? Good cancer nutrition is quite clear nowadays, with many nutritional experts being supported by excellent research from the cancer centers in UCLA, MD Anderson and Harvard Medical School.

At CANCERactive we remain firm in our views that cancer formation is a complex multi-step process involving both direct and indirect factors. Some factors cause a direct impact on the environment of a cells DNA, thus altering the mythelation and acetylation of the surrounds; this changes the binding of histones and can result in genes becoming blocked so their messages cannot be read.

But it is now known (in the Science of Epigenetics) that certain bioactive food compounds can affect the surrounding chemicals and un-block the expression of the genes, allowing crucial proteins to be made once again.

So does that mean that a good diet will cure a cancer?

Let us answer that in three parts.

  1.  Some cancers are not caused by poor diet it is hard to see how a lung cancer caused by excess asbestos might be cured by diet.

  2. Since cancer is a multi-step process, more often that not, in our opinion, caused by several contributory factors, it is unlikely that one correction or one magic-bullet could ever bring about total cure.

  3. However if, as the WHO suggests, 30 per cent of cancers are caused by poor diet and that is the overwhelming factor then it is logically possible that a good diet might well correct the problem in some cases.


John Boik at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in his book Natural Compounds in Cancer Therapy  released in 2001, took 4000 scientific studies on the effects of foods and their active ingredients and their ability to tackle cancers. He then divided them into 20 sub-groups of natural compounds (including vitamins) because he believed there were 20 steps in the cancer process and he wanted to scientifically combat each step.


And with food stuffs, their specific strength is also their weakness. Garlic for example is proven to restrict the formation of blood supplies to a cancer tumour. But it wont stop it (at least, there is no scientific evidence) firing off cells to spread the cancer around the body. No single natural compound is going to be the all embracing cure for cancer; just as no drug will do this.

Preventing the return of cancer

People with cancer regularly change their diets and one can understand why. If you have been given the infamous All Clear and a good diet is known to prevent cancer, then wouldnt everybody want to eat the best possible diet to try and prevent the cancer returning. Isnt this simply the same principle as taking Tamoxifen to block receptor sites in your other breast so that you prevent another cancer?? 

And anyway, it is now known that no current drugs kill off the cancer stem cells at the heart of a tumour. While Dr Young S. Kim at the National Cancer Institute showed that bad diets could cause the cancer stem cells to re-grow, a healthy diet including bioactive Epigenetic compounds like sulphoraphanes and ployphenols (curcumin, resveratrol, EGCG etc) would prevent the re-growth.

Many people use a changed (perhaps we should say, corrected) diet as part of their overall recovery or prevention of recurrence plan. We look at cancer nutrition and a cancer diet elsewhere on this site (click here for link)

Diet as an Alternative Cancer Therapy

But here we look at specific diet-cancer therapies; or cancer diet therapies, call them what you will. These are not simply about changing your diet while the Doctors get on with your orthodox programme;  by and large these are Alternative cancer treatments to that programme. From the orthodox and clinical perspective this is a risky route to take. You can, of course use them as complementary cancer therapies, alongside your cancer treatment plan. 

Yes,of course there have been cancer patients who ignored their doctors and from the outset did their own thing with spectacular results. One lady persuaded her husband with stomach cancer to eat nothing but cabbage for 6 weeks (well all those phytoestrogens may have blocked the oestrogen receptor sites, and the vitamin K may have strengthened her liver, and the diet will have alkalised her), a Hungarian Doctor ate nothing but beetroot (yes, it is full of cancer fighting anthocyanins) and they cured themselves totally and for ever. Wonderful.

The problem comes when, flushed with success, experts try to help other people and open a clinic. Of course, the authorities close them down. They rarely stop to think that your cancer is as individual as you are. There are lots of causes and lots of cancers. And just as Herceptin is not a cancer cure  - it works wonderfully, but only with about 10 per cent of breast cancer patients - neither is beetroot, even if it might have been excellent for a lady in Botswana.  And this naivity causes the serious Diet Therapy Practitioner many problems: Because the critics - who largely inhabit the other end of the medical spectrum - tar all alternative therapists with one and the same brush. And that too is misguided. Some Diet Therapies are based on a high degree of scientific logic.

Would I use a diet therapy as the one and only tresatment? Its a very hard decision. You would have to be really sure that you felt this was going to work. And the truth is that Gerson, Plaskett, Hoxsey do not have Clinical Trials in any shape or form to support them. Gonzales has some evidence base for his protocol, as does Pfeifer; but not a lot.


We will start with the least scientific approach. Sixty or more years ago, Hoxseys father bred horses and when they became ill, he noticed that they would end up in a certain corner of the field munching their way through various herbs. Fast forward a few years and Hoxsey has his group of up to ten herbs, which he uses in combinations to treat patients with cancer. The FDA go mad, a journalist is dispatched to ridicule his clinic. But. The journalist ends up impressed and writes a story entitled The Quack who cured cancer, the Senate summon the FDA, and censure them for lying about the treatment, new research shows that each of the herbs does in fact have anti-cancer properties, and by the time Hoxsey died he had treated over 70,000 people not in hiding in Mexico, but in the USA where his clinic still is today. His treatment is apparently particularly good for skin cancer (But, poultices always have been since Egyptian, Roman and Greek times) although the clinic treats all sorts of cancers. Click here to see more and Its only Natural in this very issue.

Professor Ben Pfeifer

This Swiss professor used science to build a protocol out of Herbs, anti-oxidants, immune system boosters and cancer cell killers. One of his active ingredients is MGN-3. He has clinical trials behind his work in Switzerland on prostate cancer patients where he has a 70 per cent success rate. He is now turning his attention to other cancers notably breast cancer. Barts hospital have now started a test (not a trial) on his Diet Therapy with a small number of prostate cancer patients who have the disease so badly there is little more that orthodox medicine can do to quote the man in charge. We have several articles and the protocol details on our web site click here to read about the protocol and here  to learn more about the Professor.

The Gerson Therapy

The simple fact that patients come to Gerson so late in their treatment programmes is Charlotte Gersons biggest heartbreak. She is convinced the Therapy would have far greater success if people started earlier ideally before poisoning their bodies further with radiotherapy and toxic drugs. Also she feels she could then conduct proper clinical trials of the Therapy used against control groups taking conventional drugs. Who would pay for these is another matter, but in the USA there is now the Government backed Institute of Complementary Health, which attempts to look objectively into these types of alternative treatments. Meanwhile, far from being quirky alternative lepers, the Gerson senior staff sit on various US cancer committees. (Read the interview with Charlotte by clicking here.)

The clinic is in Mexico, but there is a center in San Diego, California. And there is a thriving organisation in the UK. Beata Bishop, one of the leading UK lights, cured her own cancer some 22 years ago with this Therapy when everything else had failed. We cover her story and that of the late Oxford Don Michael Gearin-Tosh  (one of our patrons) on our web site

The late Dr Max Gerson started it all more than half a century ago treating TB. Having turned his hand to cancer he then produced a book of his first 50 cases all cured. The theory is that cancer is caused by the internal working of the cell becoming polluted. This may be caused by excessive oestrogen creating the effects inside the cell, or directly by heightened sodium/low potassium/low magnesium (ie a modern diet) causing the downward spiral of lowered oxygen and lowered energy production. In the end a cell starved of oxygen, acidic and with low power turning off the p53 gene is a cancer cell. The scientific logic of Dr Max was What if we simply reversed the whole process? (The actual science can be found here )

The Therapy is rarely understood by its critics. They often misguidedly state that it is to do with vitamin C or coffee enemas curing the cancer but this is just ignorance. The coffee enemas merely dilate the liver bile ducts to allow the body to expel more toxins. Max Gerson made no claims for vitamin C, that was not even a part of his theory.

The Therapy allows no dairy, animal fat, or protein (and no soya because it contains both fat and protein) nor pulses of any sort. Just organic fruit and vegetables.

When there is a cellular imbalance of minerals, leading to a cancerous state the Therapy could well produce a positive outcome. When a patient has metastatic spread, or if they really do object to using chemotherapy, the science of Gerson is worth considering. It is hard work as it involves preparing fresh organic juices up to 13 per day and 4 or 5 coffee enemas.

For this reason, the integrated clinic of Dr Contreras, The Oasis of Hope in Mexico, uses a slightly less restrictive diet and less enemas. Who knows? And thats the problem. We are in a world of anecdotal evidence here although when it comes to the Gerson Therapy, there are a lot of positive anecdotes. Readers might remember that Prince Charles caused a stir a few years back when telling a story of a lady friend who had lived for 7 years with breast cancer still only using the Gerson Therapy; and he merely asked if it wasnt high time someone researched this Therapy so we all had some real answers. We agree. 

But the fact is why couldnt the Gerson Clinic have started to log people in twenty years ago, to see if they lived longer than equivalent patients on orthodox therapies. I think everybody is running out of patience waiting for some (any?) half decent research.

The Plaskett Therapy

One of the criticisms levelled at the Gerson Therapy a few years ago was that it had not moved on as more science became available. In the early 1990s Lawrence Plaskett, vice-chair of the Nutritional Council, took on this task. He has modified the Gerson Therapy to include more Quercetin (apples, onions) and he introduces a little soya after 8 weeks for hormonally responsive cancers. Plaskett now runs nutritional courses for students at Exeter University and there are Plaskett trained Therapists all over the UK. I detail the specific diet for both the Gerson and Plaskett Therapies in my book, The Rainbow Diet and how it can help you beat cancer.

Dr Gonzalez

The story is complicated and starts with a Scottish embryologist (Dr John Beard) who noted that stem cells under the effect of oestrogen did not convert to normal cells but instead grew like topsy. Unfortunately he then went on to say that therefore cancer was like having a baby growing in the wrong place at the wrong time! That was back in 1906 in Edinburgh, but in 2004 Professor Wang and his team at British Columbia came up with exactly the same Revolutionary, new theory for stomach cancer.

Beard also made another observation back in 1906. He observed that the oestrogen switched off, and the stem cells started becoming eye, lung, toe, finger cells when there were pancreatic hormones around. So he concluded the pancreas, via its enzymes, could well be the big controller of cancer in the human body.

His work was forgotten until a US Dentist started a hunt to see what might save his wife from her breast cancer. And save his wife is exactly what William Kelley did using a Diet therapy, plus vitamins and pancreatic hormones. He then set up a clinic and noticed that not everybody responded to the same diet (some people thrived on meat, for example. So he started using the concept of Metabolic Typing. One observer of his work in the 1970s was a student at the local University, and he, now Dr Gonzalez, took the work forward.

Gonzalez is highly disciplined, using metabolic typing via blood tests to determine the exact biochemistry of his patients. The Diet Therapy then involves approximately 130 supplements that correct, add, invigorate etc exactly the condition the patient is in. At the focal point of the supplements are pancreatic enzymes. And Gonzalez has met with real success. After treating many types of cancer patient in the late 80s he applied for FDA approval for his diet therapy and was turned down. The US Institute for Complementary Health stepped in. The FDA is now monitoring the Therapy, having selected Pancreatic cancer, which has a very limited survival rate even using modern drugs. To date all the control group has died, while the Gonzalez Therapy is meeting with significant success. You can read more if you follow this link.


In my travels Ive met a lot of people who genuinely believe they have cured themselves through  using Diet alone, as an alternative therapy. I would never take the line that this is all mumbo jumbo. Some alternative therapies play a part in curing some people of cancer. Some specific diet therapies, which aim to cover off all the bases in the multi-step process that is cancer, will stand a much better chance of doing some good, than those that resort to a bit of this, and a bit of that. You may well decide to embark on a full-blown diet therapy. But. Be sure.

Be sure you are doing it for your own reasons and not to please other people. Be sure you know exactly what you are undertaking. Be sure you know exactly what you are giving up. Be sure of the advice, and the criticisms. If your Doctor expresses concerns ask for clear logical reasons, and scientific evidence for or against. Be objective, and find out the facts. Some therapies have limited clinical trials, some have merely anecdote. Find out the Truth. Its your life.

Of course, this is one reason why we set up CANCERactive and our website. We try to give you the honest, unbiased information with no vested interests, so you can make informed choices that are right for you and your cancer. We do not endorse, we do not promote. We just provide information. Why?  Because people with cancer search the web and people are polarised about alternative therapies; they hate them or love them. Neither helps our patient make an objective and seriously informed decision.

But, if you are not sure dont do it. As we said at the start, there are many different cancers, many different combinations of factors causing it. And one of those Therapies may be just right for you. Not all drugs work on everybody and nor do Diet Therapies.  But there is no doubt that some Diet Therapies do work, in a non-toxic way, without all the side-effects, for some people. And you may well be one of them.

Rainbow diet          At last!! The definitive, research-based book on how to build a diet to help beat cancer. Click here to read about it.

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