Asia

Why Chinese Women Rarely Get Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a common occurrence in many parts of the world. While campaigns that promote awareness are virtually countless, the condition comes like a thief in the night, bringing a myriad of symptoms that often go unnoticed until it’s too late.

In the United States, it is the most common type of cancer with over 249,000 new cases estimated in the previous year. For 2017, the American Cancer Society sets the number at around 252,710, with about 40,610 women expected to die.

Interestingly, Asians are not as unfortunate as other ethnic groups. In 2012, the lowest incidence of breast cancer was recorded in Asia and Africa, according to the World Cancer Research Fund. The trend appears stable as per longitudinal statistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where Asians and Pacific islanders join American-Indian and Alaska-native women as lower incidence groups.

Women in China have less chances of developing it, suggests Professor Jane Plant, who suffered the condition herself. After receiving herbal suppositories as gifts from friends and colleagues in China, she began reviewing what really made the difference.

“The suppositories were sent to me as a cure for breast cancer,” the geochemist said previously. “The disease was virtually non-existent throughout the whole country. Only one in 10,000 women in China will die from it, compared to that terrible figure of one in 12 in Britain and the even grimmer average of one in 10 across most Western countries. It is not just a matter of China being a more rural country, with less urban pollution.”

She realized, “It seemed obvious to me that some lifestyle factor not related to pollution, urbanization or the environment is seriously increasing the Western woman’s chance of contracting breast cancer.”

Prof. Plant, with her husband Peter, who was also a scientist, looked into risk factors involving lifestyle. They figured from earlier research that Chinese people consume much less fat than those in the West.

However, Prof. Plant had a diet with “very low” fat in the years before she was diagnosed. With closer examination, the pair finally arrived at a conclusion:

“Then one day something rather special happened. Peter and I have worked together so closely over the years that I am not sure which one of us first said: ‘The Chinese don’t eat dairy produce!'”

From that moment, Prof. Plant began following a diet that replaced high-fat dairy products with low-fat cheese and skimmed milk. Eventually, she eliminated all dairy from her diet, leading to the shrinking of the lump in her breast. It did not take long before her doctor stated in delight, “I cannot find it.”

Prof. Plant highlighted her personal discovery:

“I now believe that the link between dairy produce and breast cancer is similar to the link between smoking and lung cancer. I believe that identifying the link between breast cancer and dairy produce, and then developing a diet specifically targeted at maintaining the health of my breast and hormone system, cured me.”

“It was difficult for me, as it may be for you, to accept that a substance as ‘natural’ as milk might have such ominous health implications. But I am a living proof that it works.”

Prof. Plant’s claims naturally warrant further scientific investigation. Interestingly, a 2013 study conducted by Kaiser Permanente researchers found that women with early-stage breast cancer who consume full-fat dairy products (such as whole milk) following diagnosis are more likely to die than those who eat low-fat counterparts.

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