A recent viral email scam circulated and credited Johns Hopkins University as its source, stating that there was a new “cancer update,” and claimed that doing something as simple as converting to a vegan diet would starve cancer cells. It may have been believed because it had fluid tips that "you are almost positive you’ve heard somewhere, from someone, or even read before."
The email goes on to state that everyone has cancer cells in their bodies that may become active approximately six to eight times in a person’s lifetime. It suggests that “when doctors tell cancer patients that there are no more cancer cells in their bodies after treatment, it just means the tests are unable to detect the cancer cells because they have not reached the detectable size.” But according to Johns Hopkins response, “Cancer is a genetic disease resulting from a variety of mutations and alterations either inherited from our parents or, more commonly, acquired over time due to environmental exposures and behaviors, such as smoking and poor diet. These alterations turn off important cell growth regulators allowing cells to continually divide unchecked,” explains Luis Diaz, a clinician-scientist at the Ludwig Center for Cancer Genetics.
The email continues to give credit to the immune system’s superb ability to “destroy (cancer cells) and prevent from multiplying and forming tumors.” Immune system health is no guarantee if a person has poor lifestyle habits, such as smoking, drinking, and stress – the average American routine; in fact, “The immune system simply does not recognize cancer. In its complexity, the cancer cell has learned to disguise itself to the immune system as a normal cell." Infected cells send out danger signals setting the immune system in action. Cancer cells do not, explains Elizabeth Jaffee, co-director of cancer immunology and a leading expert on cancer and the immune system, as written in the Hopkins article.
“When a person has cancer it indicates the person has multiple nutritional deficiencies. These could be due to genetic, environmental, food and lifestyle factors. To overcome the multiple nutritional deficiencies, changing diet and including supplements will strengthen the immune system.” Yet dietary habits and lifestyle choices, such as smoking, contribute to the development of many human cancers, says Kimmel Cancer Center director William Nelson. "Our experts recommend a balanced diet as a way of reducing cancer risk. In terms of supplements, Nelson points out that while they may help mediate vitamin deficiencies, taking doses above what the body needs provides no added benefit.”
With so many people stricken with cancer, and twice as many devoted to stopping it, it seems cruel to compromise hope with false data. Cancer has struck to close for comfort for millions of individuals, and to blatantly publish false information without care about the negative repercussions shows how limited our focus, as humans, truly can be. “It has become such a problem, that the National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, and individual cancer centers like the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have posted warnings on their Web sites. Emails offering easy remedies for avoiding and curing cancer are the latest Web-influenced trend. To gain credibility, the anonymous authors falsely attribute their work to respected research institutions like Johns Hopkins”.
Several Johns Hopkins experts participated in the American Institute for Cancer Research Report on Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer. They recommend:
1. Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight.
2. Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day.
3. Avoid sugary drinks. Limit consumption of energy-dense foods (particularly processed foods high in added sugar or low in fiber, or high in fat).
4. Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes such as beans.
5. Limit consumption of red meats (such as beef, pork and lamb) and avoid processed meats.
6. If consumed at all, limit alcoholic drinks to 2 for men and 1 for women a day.
7. Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt (sodium).
8. Don't use supplements to protect against cancer.
9. Our experts recommend that people meet their nutritional needs through their food choices.
While vitamin supplements can be helpful in people with nutritional deficiencies, evidence suggests that supplementation above what the body can use provides no added health benefit.
As a strong believer in alternative practice, it’s a passion to help people realize that health is achievable, but like everything else in life, it takes time and commitment. If you work hard at it, and accept change as something we can embrace instead of fear, then together, we can make a difference in living life to its fullest. For health to be unified, then it only makes sense to unite Western & Complimentary Alternative Medicine for a complete health and wellness synergy. For more detailed information about the email hoax, please see the Johns Hopkins website.