A review of two books: The Vegetarian Myth, and Cancer is a Fungus
January 14, 2010
I did not write this review, nor have I read the books. The review is via a friend, and I found it well worth reading. That doesn’t mean this is the final word on either subject (for instance, the Amish and others appear to have very sustainable patterns of agriculture), but – well worth reading.
RECOMMENDED READING from Dr. Cowan
I don’t usually review two books in the same newsletter but there are some hidden but compelling similarities in these two books, The Vegetarian Myth and Cancer is a Fungus, that made me feel like I should. In many ways, it is the link between these two books that is the probably the most fascinating story.
The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith
Very occasionally powerful, life-changing books are written that give one the palpable sense that “if people would only listen” the world might be a different place. The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith is one such book. In this book Lierre essentially tells two intertwined stories. One is the story of the deterioration of her own health as a direct result of adopting a vegan diet. The second is the related tale of the destruction of our planet essentially as a result of the widespread adoption of agriculture, specifically agriculture based on the growing of grains. Her central premise is that, unlike what we are all led to believe, the absolute worst thing that could ever befall humans or the earth is if we all adopted a vegetarian or, worse yet, a vegan diet.
To many, this is such an unbelievable head spinner that they simply will not even be able to entertain the ideas that are presented by Lierre. The ideas, the argument she presents to make her case are powerful, coherent and irrefutable – grains and in fact a grain-based (i.e. vegetarian) diet are literally killing us all.
First, the ecological argument. We are told that the biggest users of fresh water and the most wasteful, ecologically speaking, food we can eat is meat. We are told that if instead of feeding grains to cows to get meat, which is anyway poison for us to eat, we should feed that grain to people thereby feeding at least 30 people with a grain-based diet for every one person we can feed on a meat-based diet. We are told to eat low on the food chain to conserve resources and be ecologically friendly. And, finally and crucially we hear people proudly announce they don’t eat anything with faces as a sign that they are living out their deeply held convictions about social justice. The facts actually tell a completely different story.
Imagine the Middle East 10,000 years ago when the only people living in what we now call Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, etc., were nomadic hunter-gatherer types. This area was referred to as a paradise; it was lush, fecund; Lebanon was the land of the cedar forests. The area between the Tigris and Euphrates was literally paradise on earth.
Then came agriculture, specifically the growing of grains. As happens where grains are grown and irrigation is used, the soil began to lose its vitality, the humous layer was lost. The irrigation and the converting of perennial grasses and the animals that live on these grasses to annual crops is akin to mining the nutrients and the fertility out of the soil. Without sufficient animal manure and animal bodies to put nutrients back into the soil, without the annual flooding of the plains that is stopped when irrigation systems are used, the land loses its nutrients, the soil becomes more salty and, as evidenced in the Middle East, eventually, inevitably the land becomes a desert.
Lierre describes this process in intimate detail so the reader is left with no doubt that in human history, whenever the transition from perennial grass-based land – alongside naturally flowing lakes and rivers, co-existing with verdant forests – is converted into grain based agriculture, the inevitable result is everything dies. Everything – the plants, the insects, the wild animals and eventually the people.
Think of our own Great Plains. A brief 300 years ago this was a vast territory of perennial grass-based prairie, supporting millions of diverse forms of animals, plants and people for thousands of years. In fact over those thousands of years, the soil, the land that is our only home, was getting healthier and healthier. Estimates show that the topsoil layer of the unspoiled Great Plains was in some places more than 12 feet deep, a vast reservoir of fertility, of health of possibility for seemingly endless life on earth for a multitude of plants and animal beings.
Along came grains and their “evil” cousin soya beans (the vegan diet and food processors’ darling). By this time agriculture had become more sophisticated, no more planting grains with sticks and burying fish in the soil, the green revolution. A blink of an eye later in terms of earth time, the Great Plains have become a literal wasteland. The only tall grass prairie left is confined to a few museums, the topsoil is in many places just a few inches thick; the animal and plant species extinctions are estimated between 20 to 40 percent. The human community is impoverished, the rivers are poisoned and the food is not worth eating. A few years of drought and we have a literal dustbowl as the few inches of topsoil left blows out towards California.
Some would say this unspeakable tragedy is a result of commercial (chemical) agriculture and that what we need is a return to organics. They are wrong. In fact the first great dustbowl on the plains happened before there even was such a thing as chemical agriculture. No, as Lierre shows, this is the inevitable result of grain-based agriculture. It happens in every circumstance, at different speeds for sure, but in every instance where perennial grasses are converted to annual food crops, particularly grains.
If this wasn’t reason enough for conscientious people to shun a grain-based diet, Lierre spends the second half of the book detailing the negative health repercussions from adopting a grain-based, vegetarian or vegan diet. For those familiar with the work of the Weston A. Price foundation or The Four Fold Path to Healing, this will come as no surprise. What will be eye-opening for many is a detailed chart that compares the physiology of meat eaters with that of herbivores.
If you still have any doubts that humans are literally physiologically required to live on mostly an animal food diet, I recommend checking out this enlightening chart. Lierre has done her homework. She references many studies that have been done in the last 100 years documenting the superior health outcomes, the absence of chronic disease, and the total absence of cancer and heart disease in people who eat the food that comes naturally out of a perennially based grass and forest system.
What do these people eat? What is the “human” diet, the diet that works back to heal the land? Conveniently it is one diet, called the GAPS diet. As probably more than a hundred of my patients can attest, those who have literally regained their health as a result of the GAPS diet, it is no surprise that the very diet that can heal so many sick people is the very diet that, when applied to agriculture, can heal a “sick” earth.
Get this book, read it, pass it to your friends, especially your vegetarian friends, for as Lierre often says in our current situation, it is not enough any more to just have good intentions. You also have to be informed about what it is you are fighting for.
Cancer is a Fungus by Tulio Simoncini
In the last year, Cancer is a Fungus has become the hot new story in cancer. That alone made it worth exploring for me. The book is written by Italian oncologist Tulio Simoncini, who after his medical and oncology training, began to see conventional oncology treatment as basically a house of cards. As he explored deeper, he began to question not only the success of conventional oncology treatments, especially chemotherapy and radiation, but the entire scientific basis of our current view of cancer.
An unquestioned “truth” in conventional oncology theory is that cancer is a genetic defect that arises as a mutation in a single cell and then grows from this single cell stock to first form the primary tumor and then metastasize to the other organs in the body.
This understanding of cancer in conventional oncology is the philosophical basis for all of our current therapies. That is, if we catch the cancer early, when it is still just a primary tumor, we remove this mutated cell mass and cure the cancer. If the cancer has spread we try to kill it with poison (chemotherapy), radiation, hormones or more lately specialized genetic products (i.e. Herceptin).
After investigating the history of this theory and the dismal success rate for this type of therapy, Dr. Simoncini came to the startling conclusion that this whole genetic mutation theory is totally incorrect. This apparently rocked his life. His initial response to this revelation was to go back to university to study philosophy, apparently with the question of how is it that we as a “culture” decide that certain things are true. The first part of Cancer is a Fungus is the exploration of why we think certain things and in certain ways.
The second section of the book is the exploration of the history of how oncologists came to believe in the genetic defect/errant cell theory and the evidence that it is incorrect. Dr. Simoncini quotes from current oncology texts such as “the mechanism through which chromosomal alterations occur is to date unknown” to try to demonstrate that the proof that cancer is a genetic defect is simply unproven hypothesis. He then turns to current therapies in oncology and, using actual numbers from conventional literature, shows that the success rate for treating cancer is somewhere in the 2-5% range – in other words about the same as random events mixed with a strong placebo response. His conclusion is that the basic theories of our current approach to oncology and the treatments that have resulted from these theories are a dismal failure and should be abandoned.
Dr. Simoncini then turns to discuss his “revolutionary” theory in oncology which is that the vast percentage of cancers are actually nothing more than infections with the fungus we call candida albicans. This same fungus that causes vaginal infections in women, opportunistic infections in AIDS patients and skin rashes in many people is fingered by Dr. Simonicini as the sole cause of the vast majority of cancers. As evidence, he explains in detail the life cycle of candida and how it actually causes disease in humans. He points to research in various oncology journals suggesting that when pathologists look for candida in human tumors they find it in anywhere from 79% to 97% of the cases. And, finally he points out that in nature, especially plants, almost all tumors (e.g. of trees) are known to be caused by a variety of fungal infections.
Fungal masses become tumors; when the host defenses slip, they spread; they are almost impossible to get rid of by the organism without some sort of intervention, and they are remarkably pleomorphic in their appearance. Dr. Simoncini makes a solid case that cancer is not some big scary multi-factorial mystery. Rather it is simply a combination of a weakened host and its subsequent invasion with candida albicans.
Finally, we get to the part of the book that makes the rest relevant. This is the section, backed up by written histories, pathology reports and in some cases actual CT scans or other x-rays (some are on his website http://www.cancerfungus.com) where Dr. Simoncini relates how when he treats his cancer patients with the appropriate anti-fungal therapy somewhere around 90% of his patients will be “cured” of their cancer. Among the cases he presents include cancer of the pancreas, melanomas, lung cancer and a variety of the cancers known to have particularly poor prognoses.
The surprising part of the therapy, well actually shocking part, is that the treatment he uses is high dose of a concentrated baking soda solution injected via intra-arterial catheter directly into the tumor/fungal mass. This means in the case of a cancer of the pancreas you must instill the baking soda directly into the pancreatic artery. This is, of course, a fairly complex procedure requiring the skills of surgeons and radiologist trained in this technique. Currently, as far as I know, the only place this therapy is available is with Dr. Simoncini’s group in Italy but his intention is to make his case and literally revolutionize the treatment of oncology patients around the world with his simple and straightforward approach.
Two questions arise at this point. First, is it true that you can cure most cancer patients with this baking soda approach which, as he points out, literally proves that cancer is either a fungus (baking soda is a good anti-fungal defect) or maybe a baking soda deficiency (unlikely)? And second, what does this have to do with The Vegetarian Myth?
Tackling the second question, what is striking about this is that when you put together GAPS theory, low-dose naltrexone theory, and the basic story of The Vegetarian Myth, what emerges is that pre-civilized humans simply never got cancer. Civilization is essentially the process of turning complex and stable diverse ecologies into large fields of grain. Another way of saying this is we convert the diverse nutrients from the soil into carbohydrate and opiate-producing factories. This degrades the ecology of the earth and turns us into weakened (from the opiates), obese (from the excess sugars), poisoned (form the modern agriculture techniques) beings. Our strong susceptibility to chronic yeast infections is a result of the above three factors. Put this all together and cancer does start to look like a fungal infection.
Unfortunately, I can’t confirm the baking soda treatment from personal experience; if anyone has a personal experience, I would love to hear about it. What I do know is that the more determined I get to restore the ecology of my patients, including getting rid of candida, the better the results overall. Dr. Simoncini makes a strong case that baking soda is the most direct way. I use and have used other ways of improving host defenses and affecting candida besides baking soda. Regardless, Cancer is a Fungus has piqued my interest and helped me see that fundamentally we in the GAPS and WAPF movement are on the right track.