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On the Subject of Cancer and Diet: My Interview with BBC Radio


Being interviewed by Sheila Dillon for BBC Radio this week was a great pleasure for me. Sheila is a food expert with an interest in the relationship between food and cancer.

A key question was the relevance of a U.K. book, "Food to Fight Cancer," by Richard Beliveau and Denis Bingras. This beautifully illustrated book summarizes the health benefits of everything from cabbage to chocolate! But the question is: can one really fight cancer with food alone? My answer quite simply was no! I stressed that one cannot eat one's way out of cancer.

In 2013, for myeloma in particular, there are many novel therapy approaches to treatment, which work extremely well: VELCADE, Thalomid, REVLIMID, plus new agents, POMALYST and KYPROLIS. These are the mainstays of treatment.

So what aspects of food are important? Eating "real food" is the most important step to healthy living. Avoid processed and fast foods as well as sodas, as I have discussed in previous blogs. Do not go overboard. There are only limited data to support the added value of particular healthy vegetables, fruits, herbal drinks, and juices.

In "The Blue Zones," a book by Dan Buettner about places in the world where people live to be over 100 years old, the diets are rather simple plant-based diets that include omega-3 fatty acids and usually some red wine with polyphenols. What is missing are the fast foods and sodas.

"That's all very well for people living in beautiful 'Blue Zones' with wonderful air and water, but what about us living in London or Los Angeles?" Sheila asked.

My answer is that we have to do the best we can to create our own "blue zones." Eating as healthfully as we can undoubtedly boosts our immune systems, as does reducing stress, getting exercise and sleep. As they say on Ikaria--the Blue Zone island close to Turkey--naps are OK!

But where does one get this kind of advice and specific help?Brian-Durie-BBC-042913.jpg

Unfortunately, doctors are really not trained in detailed nutrition and health as they should be! The focus is on disease. So

it is important to seek the best advice possible from experts such as Sheila Dillon, as well as authors, such as Nina Planck (author of "Real Food") and Michael Pollan (whose new book is "Cooked"). If you want to really know what NOT TO EAT, the new bible on this is, in my view, "Salt Sugar Fat" by Michael Moss, who provides a comprehensive, sobering look at the processed food industry.

So, there you have it! Focus on the new treatments we have, but also pay close attention to what you eat. These are exciting times in myeloma research. The IMF's Black Swan Research Initiative� is for the first time redefining and searching for a cure! Exciting times indeed!

Check back at the IMF website for the air date of Dr. Durie's interview on BBC Radio 4.


Just a little update for all the patients out there. My multiple myeloma is still being treated with experimental MLN9708, & I'll take my 250th dose today. Does my daily dose of 1/4 of a marijuana no-added sugar fudge brownie add to my quality of life? Absolutely !!!
It makes me happy, hungry, horny, healthier,& improves my creativity, focus, reverence, & keeps me young & more fun to be around. I've never taken one of Big Pharma's drugs for stress, anxiety, depression, PTSD, panic attacks, pain, appetite, nausea, neuropthy, etc. Maybe cancer fighting treatments would work better if they didn't have to cope with the side effects of the drugs treating other side effects. Mine from the 9708 could be as many as 32. Research the benefits of marijuana because you'll never hear them from Big Pharma or those who benefit finanically from them.

Can someone please tell me about the holistic Bowen Technique Therapy and how is works.?

I'm a nutritionist and cookbook author with a particular interest in cancer prevention (I overcame early-stage cervical cancer 14 years ago) and also spoke with Sheila Dillon for her upcoming programme.

I totally agree: cancer can neither be cured, nor prevented, through healthy food alone. I underwent conventional medical treatment and always recommend that anyone with a cancer diagnosis -- even early-stage -- do so too.

However, cancer researchers and the World Cancer Research Fund estimate that at least a third of all cancers -- and for some cancers, around 70% -- could be prevented if people eat a healthy diet, have a healthy body weight and get regular exercise. This information needs to be more widely known; most people still think cancer is something you "just get" out of the blue, and they should know that their lifestyle plays a crucial part.

Moreover, a healthy diet can even support cancer patients *going through* treatment -- not just because it nourishes them optimally and makes it more likely that they'll complete the course of treatment, but also because it helps them play an active part in their treatment.

I believe this psycho-emotional aspect of the role of diet in cancer is often overlooked: that preparing and eating healthy food feels empowering for patients and their carers and gives them a sense that they can play a positive role in supporting their treatment.

To help increase public understanding about the dietary factors involved in cancer, I have written a book, "Zest for Life: The Mediterranean Anti-Cancer Diet," (www.zestforlifediet.com) which provides not only an in-depth explanation of the science behind this healthy diet (eaten in "Blue Zones" such as Sardinia and Sicily) but also 150 recipes based on its basic principles (lots of veg & fruit, pulses, nuts & seeds, fish, herbs, spices, healthy fats, low in dairy, meat, sugar and processed food). The book has been endorsed by several leading U.S. oncologists (I'm based in Boulder, CO).

I also offer nutrition coaching (online) for people seeking to shift to a Mediterranean-style diet to boost their bodies' defenses against cancer. You can find details about my coaching programmes here: http://nutrelan.com/nutrition-coaching-2/.

Thank you very much!
Best regards,

As an Englishman with Myeloma living in SoCal who listens to the BBC via the web so it is especially good to see Dr Durie on a program I am familiar with. Well done to Dr Durie, Sheila Dillon and the BBC for highlighting " Myeloma ".

Being 7 years down the road from an Allogenic Transplant. I have had plenty of time to balance and tune my food intake to suit living with and surviving from cancer. I have read books, listened to radio, watched TV and talked with people, BUT in the end it all comes down to personal choice, logic and common sense.

"FRESH REAL FOOD" is the answer, it is not hard or particularly expensive to live well and enjoy food that is not processed. After my transplant I lost my salivary glands in my mouth due to the radiation. This effectively meant all I could eat were wet foods such a porridge and soup. Along with a high intolerance to salt I quickly found that ALL processed off the shelf soups were not palatable. I ended up making my own soup with FRESH roasted vegetables with home made chicken stock. At an early stage this led me to look into how I was going to eat for the rest of my life and what I was prepared to do to keep myself as healthy a possible in order to live well with Myeloma. Yes sometimes it is difficult to avoid the guilty pleasures of an In-n-Out, Mexican or frozen yogurt but the odd treat is not too harmful, as long as it is just that " an occasional treat ". Avoiding SALT, SATURATED FAT and SUGER all of which predominate in ready made and processed foods is a wise choice. Taking a supplement of Fish Oils, OMEGA 3's with an ANTI-INFLAMITORY and some TURMERIC is my personal choice from my reasearch and reading.

Most recently I have modified my eating in the last month due to another BBC program called HORIZON ( Shown in the USA on PBS " Eat, Fast and Live Longer with Michael Mosley" ). I highly recommend this show and the book as I now beleive, having lost 10lbs in a month and feeling very well, that occasional short term fasting is good for the brain and the body. Sheila Dillon also did a " Food Program" on this subject called "Fasting, old and new" which you can listen to on the BBC web site.

Thank you to Susie Novis and Dr Durie for the IMF and all it's good works.

Thanks for all your comments. Hope this is not a repeat of an earlier reply I left using my cell phone which somehow got lost before I hit the submit link. Any way here it is again. I do believe that environmental influence are the leading causes of MM and other cancers. I lived the 1st 16 years of my life in the shadow of a polluting chemical plant.
As Don Elliott pointed out, your chances of surviving MM are better if you have lived a healthy life style. I hear that all the time. It's my old body (78)that I worry about. Most of the "good" survival stories I hear about on these blogs are of much younger ppl. Don's prognosis is what everybody hopes for. Have a great time on your Triumph road trip. I mostly miss the physical exercise and will be reduced to walking or kayaking. Dr. said any bone break would mean the start of therapy all over again. I'm only 3 months into my therapy, getting better, "I think", . All your comments are encouraging and I'm trying to have a positive outlook.
Thanks again!
Bob Adamski

Bob - In 2004 I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma as well as Amyloidosis. I had always led a healthy life style - much as you have. In reply to my question, "Why me?", my oncologist said, "Just think of how bad it might be if you were not in great shape".

In a way he was right because he gave me 12 to 18 months to live and here I am, cured of "in-curable" Multiple Myeloma - more than 8 years later. This weekend I'll go for a 450 mile drive in my 1958 Triumph TR3A sportscar that I bought brand new when I was 20. I think a positive attitude, courage, a bit of good luck as well as a good diet and your medication will all help. I have been off all medication for almost 5 years and all my numbers are stable and normal.

Don, 8 years is awesome. I too was diagnosed with amyloidosis and MM. Did you have a stem cell?

We're living in Heaven, so live like you appreciate being here for as long as possible. All studies show the most healthy in the world don't eat animals or animal products. The first drink of alcohol reduces your immune system by 50%. I abstain also from caffeine, added sugar & salt. Stress I relieve through meditation, exercise, sex & Atkins protein drinks in a Nutri-bullet with a pinch of marijuana. I'm very lucky to be enjoying a wonderful life even with 156 chemo doses in me. Stay away from all the pain & chill-out pharmaceuticals & have some fun with your remaining life.

I agree about diet but hard to do in America. Chemo and the steroids gave me diabetes. In the hospital to start my SCT they said they couldn't get my sugar down very much. When I was ready to leave and they were unhooking all the tubes of stuff they said no wonder, you were getting glucose. I will forever make sure they don't do that again. My cancer is still there but low enough to still be considered in remission. Thank God! I have been retired for a year today and that took care of a lot of stress. I also cook from scratch so I don't get all the preservatives. However, I have not been able to loose weight due to a couple meds I must take. I have no way of growing my own veggies and unless I can peel them, I don't get them. Many veggies are sprayed as they grow. I walk more which keeps the sugar down a bit. I do believe that myeloma is an environmental cancer. You really have to watch what's in the food you eat. It's a do the best you can with what you have. Thank you for all your research and help. I do appreciate it so much. Interested in the Black Swan Project. I'll be following that.

I agree with Dr. Durie's comments about diet fighting cancer. I have lived a healthy lifestyle including a very good diet. Although it was not a "Blue Zone" diet, it was very close including a glass of red wine. And, I either ran 3-5 miles a day or bicycled 10-60 miles, or walked 5 miles. I climed mountains, kyacked in the jungles of Maylasia, swam in most of the world's oceans, ran the Great Wall of China, ran/walked the bay areas in Perth Australia, etc. etc. Anyway, you get the point. AND I STILL GOT CANCER! Sorry if I sound bitter because I am.
My friends mostly say " if you got cancer is anybody safe?". I often observe men at the Mall, they are fat, obviously out of shape eating a hot dog , but they are probably healthy. Is it the double heliex? No, my father passed away at 97, mother at 86.
Again sorry about being bitter but I am.

thank you for all of your insights and advice on this cancer. Those of us with MGUS receive different advice and info from doctors and it tends to confuse. I am in that category and follow your recommended diet to a tee.. as well as attempting to grow most of my vegetables...thank you for giving us hope and leading this battle.

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