What role does nutrition really play in tackling cancer?

A book by leading biochemist Dr Lawrence Plaskett champions the power of the body to destroy tumours naturally. Why this happens is not always clear but a change of diet and other nutritional and naturopathic measures can aid recovery, says Michael Finucane.

The Nutritional Therapy of Cancer, a remarkable book by the respected Dr Plaskett - biochemist, medical researcher, food industry expert, practitioner of nutritional, herbal and homoeopathic medicine and founder of the Plaskett Nutritional Medicine College - comes as something of a surprise because when cancer is diagnosed, most of us assume that treatment will follow the usual orthodox medical paths of operation, chemotherapy and radiation. Nutrition will hardly figure as a possible part of the reversal of the disease and the medical profession derides it as follow-up therapy following successful conventional treatments. Dr. Plaskett realised, early in his career, the power of the body to destroy tumours, naturally. Why this happens is not always known but a radical change of diet and other nutritional and naturopathic measures have been shown to aid some of these means of recovery.


Cancer arises because weakened cells succumb to damage by environmental influences and it is not in dispute that nutritional measures that strengthen the cells against these influences prevent cancers from forming. What is in dispute is that nutritional measures can enable the body to reject established cancers and Dr. Plaskett set out to design a biochemically based, nutritional cancer therapy which could bring about reversal. His therapy was taken up by The Nutritional Therapy Cancer Trust in 1997 which used it to treat a substantial number of cancer patients until 2006. Well over half who closely followed the therapy went into full remission and, as far as could be told, were free from the disease and back in health. The purpose of his book is to contribute to the future development of improved cancer treatment and with the backing of the Trust's results, to encourage further, properly regulated trials by those who work with cancer, including doctors, so that the therapy comes part of mainstream medicine.

Along with all animals and plants, humans are composed of cells which are made up, mostly, of a kind of jelly called protoplasm. This protoplasm is protected by a membrane which allows desirable material in and keeps out or expels the unwanted, one of the most important being the removal of sodium and the admittance of potassium. Inside the protoplasm there is the nucleus which is also protected by a membrane and outside the nucleus there are small organs called, 'organelles'. The nucleus of the cells are able to store information in substances such as protein or nucleic acids ‒ its DNA ‒ which enable it to produce new cells of the same kind. The energy to operate and reproduce comes from food ‒ carbohydrates, fat and protein.

All the biochemical reactions that take place in the cell are called its 'metabolism' which must maintain a equilibrium so the cells' structures and materials remain largely unchanged. Within this equilibrium, however, it must be able to adapt in order to survive or to contribute to overall body function and it is in constant contact with other types of cells through control mechanisms, which ensure the ordered functioning of the whole body. In cancerous cells, inter-cellular communication is disrupted, particularly in relation to the rate of cell division and the retention of cells within their own organs or tissue.

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