Chronicles of Less Urban Living, Fresh from In the Night Farm

Crap for The Cure

Did you ever have something you wanted to say for a long time, but held off because you knew you’d offend a bunch of people?

Good.  Then you know where I’m coming from on the subject of The Cure.

I bit my tongue through the fun runs, the yogurt lids, the bumper stickers.  I said nothing about “tough enough” cowboys in pink shirts.  I kept my silence regarding the beribboned teddy bears and advocacy days, the special credit cards, the posters and preachers and ads and fads. 

And then it happened:  The camel’s back broke when I stumbled across someone’s Facebook lament that the latest “I like it…” meme is a lost opportunity because it fails to make a connection raising awareness for breast cancer.

Excuse me?

Is she serious?!

Raise awareness?!?!

Does anyone honestly believe that we still need to “raise awareness” for breast cancer?  I don’t think there’s a rock big enough that you could live under it and fail to be aware of breast cancer. 

That’s proof that raising awareness works!

Erm, no.  I’ll bet you’re aware of pancreatic cancer and esophageal cancer and bladder cancer, too.  When was the last time you saw a ribbon “reminding” you of them?

But it isn’t just about awareness!  We’re raising money for The Cure.

Congratulations.  How’s that working for you?

According to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, despite over $1 billion raised since 1982, 1 in 8 women are still diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetimes.  Statistics indicating slightly decreased mortality rates over the past 30 years are the result of changing diagnostic patterns rather than an actual decrease in mortality among cancer patients.  Furthermore, researchers have yet to discover a cure for any cancer since Nixon “declared war” in 1971.

That’s why it’s so important we keep searching for The Cure!

For existing victims, yes, I’d say it is extremely important.  But wouldn’t the majority of us, who don’t have breast cancer but stand a good chance of developing it at some point, be better served to put our money on prevention?

You don’t have to cure something that never occurs in the first place.


Don’t you think we would already be preventing breast cancer, if we knew how?

Frankly, no. 

Scientists have known for years that lifestyle factors, particularly nutrition, have a dramatic impact on the incidence of most cancers, including breast cancer.  It turns my stomach that they understand this stuff, but go on letting millions of people, and their families, suffer anyway.

Want to know what they know, but aren’t bothering to tell you?  Here’s a summary:

Sugar feeds cancer.  You can prevent or starve many cancers by changing your diet to eliminate sugar (including grains and excessive fruits, as well as the more obvious refined and unrefined sources like HFCS, table sugar, and honey).  I particularly like this quote from Dr. Dan Ayer: “It’s been known since 1923 that tumor cells use a lot more glucose than normal cells.”  Since 1923.  Nice.  

Visceral fat (belly fat surrounding the organs) contributes to cancer development.  You can reduce risk by changing your diet to reduce your girth.  Dr. William Davis explains:  “Visceral fat…produces large quantities of inflammatory signals…that can trigger inflammatory responses in other parts of the body. Visceral fat also oddly fails to produce the protective cytokine, adiponectin, that protects us from diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.”  He goes on to note that eggs, meats, vegetables, and natural oils do not contribute to the accumulation of visceral fat.  Wheat, corn, potato, and fructose do.

 Other preventative measures you can take include the following:  Getting adequate Vitamin D; avoiding environmental toxins such as pesticides and added hormones in food; avoiding damaged and processed fats in favor of natural, healthful plant and animal fats; getting plenty of sleep; ensuring adequate Omega-3 intake; and increasing fitness through exercise.

You claim animal foods aren’t a risk factor.  What about The China Study? 

What about it?

Wouldn’t someone tell us if we could really prevent cancer with lifestyle changes?

I just did.

But no, the government and industry aren’t likely to say anything.  Cancer is a cash cow for the medical and pharmaceutical industries — and the politicians they support.  Why prevent something when you can make billions “curing” it, especially when the “cure” often contributes to return business a few years down the road?  (Radiation, anyone?)

You don’t really still trust those guys, do you?

Use your brain.  And your money.  To prevent instead of pretend.

You sound like a heartless bitch.


Did you hear me say that breast cancer isn’t a devastating disease?  Or that it wouldn’t be wonderful if we did discover a cure for cancer?  Or that anyone is stupid for desperately wanting a cure? Or that we shouldn’t rally around cancer sufferers and their families?  Or even that some cancers won’t still occur among the fit and well-nourished? 

I didn’t say those things, and I didn’t mean them.

What I said is that the tremendous amount of time and money we pour into research for The Cure would be better spent on educating and aiding people in prevention.  How’s this for a plan:  Let’s teach people what they can do to avoid getting cancer in the first place.  Then, let’s help them afford the whole, real, unprocessed, fat- and protein-rich, low-carbohydrate foods they need to pull it off.

Unless, of course, you’d rather see them undergo some new, painful, and expensive attempt at The Cure.

[Now, before you get your bra in a bramble — if you’re so inclined — please take time to read the rest of the series:  Cancer for a FortnightBefore Early DetectionIn the Beginning:  The Cancer-Inflammation Connection, Only YOU Can Prevent Inflammation, Supply Lines:  The Importance of AngiogenesisShort-Circuit:  Inhibiting Angiogenesis Naturally, Please Don’t Feed the Cancer, Blaming the Victim?, Fighting Mad(ness), Too Much of a Good Thing:  Estrogen and Breast Cancer]


A few good resources on cancer and its prevention:

Robb Wolf on Cancer and Ketosis

Cancer’s Sweet Tooth, Quillin, 2000

The Cancer Files:  Why are the Best Cancer Treatments Not Used?

Can a High Fat Diet Beat Cancer, Friebe, 2007

Animal Fats Don’t Cause Breast Cancer, Groves, 2008

The Cancer-Carbohydrate Link, Blackbird Clinic

The Paleo Diet Breast Cancer Testimonial

Anti-Cancer, a New Way of Life, Servan-Schreiber, 2008 (book)

Beating Cancer with Nutrition, Quillin, 2001 (book)


38 responses

  1. melinda

    Thank you.

    Although I have the upmost sympathy for everyone involved in this (and yes, I’ve been personally affected as well by breast cancer – not me, but someone I was close to), and I understand the desier to DO something, I agree with your post.

    I hate it when people blinding “do something” because it seems “right” rather than evaluating and making a logical decision. The united way campaign is one such subject and everyone hear knows my full opinion on THAT subject. After being bombarded for 4 years with requests and fundraising at work, in which I politely smiled and declined requests, I snapped this year and let whomeever asked know EXACTLY why I would not be supporting united way. Grrrrrr…….

    Anyway – totally off subject.

    October 7, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    • You’re not alone re your United Way opinion…and I’m glad I’m not alone re The Cure!

      October 7, 2010 at 12:31 pm

  2. tomandbuster

    Well, you’re certainly right. Maybe delivered with a little bit more “edge” than I would have, but I can’t find fault with anything you are saying, or anyone who is so passionate about a good cause (better lifestyle and nutrition).

    I compared you to my best childhood friend the other day and I can so hear him passionately arguing a point like you just did. But he’s a compassionate, loving man, and I know that you are speaking up to help others as well.

    Ummm, well, maybe don’t look too close at my FB avatar for awhile, OK? I turned it pink. 🙂 🙂

    I could do so much better with my diet (although my exercise is excellent and has been for 30 years). But, I could do a lot worse, too.

    My internist and I were talking about this not long ago. He sees so many patients with terrible diseases related to lifestyle and all they want is a pill that can fix it. Virtually no awareness or concern over the connection between their choices and their health.

    We have a high-deductible insurance policy with no prescription coverage and I’m actually glad for it. My wife and I are motivated to maintain our health.

    So, thanks for speaking the truth. Nobody can ever be faulted for that.

    October 7, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    • Thanks, Tom. It’s true that certain topics get my “edge” up! I guess I haven’t much patience with people who claim they want results but don’t take the known and necessary steps to achieve said results. (I do, however, have a great deal of sympathy for those who work their butts off to get results but can’t achieve them because they have been misinformed about the best means by which to do so.)

      October 7, 2010 at 2:35 pm

      • K.C.

        I was curious as to all the ‘hubbub’ about your blog regarding ‘The Cure’ so today I finally sat and read it. I guess I’m still not exactly sure what all the hubbub is about actually. I didn’t read anywhere in your blog about hating the ‘pink’ efforts, or cutting down on people who have or have had cancer. The article, albeit maybe in a more aggressive tone than I may have used, simply talks about making prevention as important that the current efforts to find a cure. Even if folks don’t agree with your dietary methods the message is still says ‘lets work on prevention too’. Did I get the gist of it right? I have a very close friend who is currently being treated for stage 3 carcinoma breast cancer (the really bad one). So for anyone else reading this reply I don’t want to be labeled ‘heartless bitch’ who hasn’t been touched by cancer. Her treatment and getting her into remission is VERY important to me, but I can see the other side of the coin too.

        There is an age old saying, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ and it is true with almost everything. Why isn’t there more being done to increase prevention? I’ll tell you why, people want to do what they want to do even if they know it might kill them. People have been told for years that smoking causes cancer, and emphysema, ruins their skin, and ages them and still they smoke. Teenagers who have been shown since birth ad campaign after ad campaign talking about the danger of smoking still do it! It is called human nature.

        We all know what to do to prevent disease and lose fat. WE KNOW, but it takes thought and effort, and dammit we like our candy, pizza, mac n cheese, wine, beer, and what-have-you. Besides in our busy ‘I’m a victim’ society it’s much easier to do what we want, then point the finger somewhere else refusing to take responsibility for our own decisions.

        The information is out there and not just in dry hard to understand research publications. Look at the rise of Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen, they have touted the information for years launched by one of the biggest platforms in the world – the Oprah Winfrey network and yet people are still fat, still feeding their kids mac n cheese, and still letting them sit in front of the computer or TV for hours and not make them get out and MOVE. There is another big network show, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution talking about the importance of exercise and eating fresh whole foods, the man educates and makes over and entire town or school or whatever for Pete’s sake and still people are fat, still feeding their kids mac n cheese, blah blah blah.

        The information is out and readily available, it’s time to stop making excuses, start taking responsibility for our choices and decisions and for God’s sake stop whining. If we can do that the rest is easy. 🙂

        January 18, 2012 at 5:40 pm

      • K.C. — THANK YOU for taking the time to read the post for yourself and draw your own conclusions. I don’t care if people disagree with me, but I have trouble respecting those who form an opinion based on what they’ve heard through the rumor mill without bothering to check the original source for themselves.

        I think you’re right on about being willing to take responsiblity — and action. Unfortunately, a lot of people DO try to take responsiblity, but they base their actions on the wrong information that is fed to us by the USDA and others (eat your “healthy” whole grains!) The result is that their genuine attempts to do good for themselves actually have the opposite effect. The frustration you hear in my post is with the systemic misinformation — not with cancer sufferers and those who try to help them, though I obviously believe there are better ways to help (prevention) than buying pink ribbons (“raising awareness”).

        Anyway, the correct information IS out there, but it still takes some digging to find it. Less and less so, though…science is prevailing, slowly… The cancer prevention series on this blog is my attempt to help spread the word.

        I’m sorry about your friend. 😦 Ironman has a good friend in a similar situation, and it’s heartbreaking to hear what she’s going through.

        January 19, 2012 at 8:17 am

      • K.C.

        I’ve been taking my health very seriously lately and I’m not sure if its my age (38) or that I’m watching loved ones fall like dominoes around me, or both, but I’m taking a hard look at my lifestyle and making some changes. Travis has been an amazing support and fount of knowledge for me. I’m not sure I can go full primal but I’m doing what I can. I seem to have a very sensitive system that doesn’t have typical responses to changes. Coconut oil stoves me up like nobodies business and I also feel physically ill if I eat very much fat so trying to balance it all so I can get healthier but also function has been VERY tricky for me. We are looking at getting some palm oil shortening to try to see if that works for me without killing my intestines. Any suggestions you might have would be helpful!

        January 19, 2012 at 1:12 pm

      • I do have some ideas! Taking ox bile before eating can help your body digest fat better (this works for people who have had their gallbladders removed and have LOTS of trouble digesting fat because they can no longer produce the appropriate digestive enzymes). Also, don’t buy palm oil just to test it — I have lots and will get some to you to try! 🙂

        Another thing: paleo/primal is macro-nutrient agnostic. That is, it’s about food quality more than protein:fat:carbohydrate ratios. Many people do really well on high fat, moderate protein, low carb primal — but you can also do high non-grain carb, moderate protein, high fat (or whatever). In generally, the only really bad combo is high carb AND high fat.

        ETA: Ok, just figured out you’re looking at palm shortening instead of oil. But I’ll still send some oil for you to try, just in case. Another safe and tasty option for cooking is ghee. I haven’t found an inexpensive online source, but I keep meaning to check in a local Asian foods shop…

        January 19, 2012 at 1:22 pm

      • K.C.

        Ok that is a good place to start and good information. Most eating plans are all about ratios so its good to know its more about the quality of the food. Even taking ox bile I doubt I will still be able to eat as high a fat content as T is able to. 🙂

        Thanks for the palm oil sample. I hope my body can handle it and I can replace the vegetable and safflower oil I’ve been using. I started a simple food journal to keep track of my progress or lack thereof. I’m noting how I feel each day and weight as well. I’m hoping it will really help me pinpoint what I’m doing to further or hinder my efforts. 🙂

        January 20, 2012 at 2:34 pm

  3. Funder

    Hear hear. I hate the pink crap in October. I call it “supporting the Susan G Komen foundation” month. Nonprofits like SGK and, yes, the United Way really annoy me. If you care, do something for the actual cause. Don’t just buy pink ribbon oatmeal.

    October 8, 2010 at 10:45 am

  4. tomandbuster

    If I sent you a bottle of non-permanent hair dye, would you be willing to turn Consolation pink? Just for this month? Or maybe a sheep?

    Bwahahaha! Just kidding.

    You will be pleased to know that you’ve had a positive influence on my diet. I am most interestsed in the Barbs or course, but have always struggled with nutrition.

    I LOVE SUGAR. And CARBS. I’m overweight, but not by too much. Most would say not at all, but I am, and my triglycerides were recently way too high.

    Anyway, I had my oatmeal with no added sugar this morning. I let the raisins I added (which have tons of sugar already) sweeten it – and it was very good. Very good. No more added sugar to cereal – ever.

    Dinner last night was veggie chili and I cut way, way back on the saltines. And it was just as filling.

    Now on a continuum from my diet to yours, I’m probably slightly negative on the number scale (or down in the single digits), and you are off to the right somewhere after adding the notation that the line is broken and picked up at the end becuause the page isn’t wide enough, but still. It’s pretty important progress for me. So thanks!

    Oh, and I am completely with you on the meat thing. I bought chicken the other day at the health store. Two leg/thighs for $9. Organic, from a terrific local farm. For comparison, I checked at the grocery store. I could get much, much more chicken from there for $3.34! And the awful factory farming practices, antibiotics, cheapest food imaginable for the chickens, etc., are all thrown in for free, I guess. Terrible that people feed this to themselves and their kids without thinking through what it takes to get a price down that low.

    October 8, 2010 at 11:09 am

    • How about Aaruba? I think he’s tough enough for pink!

      I hear you on the slow diet changes. Knowing you, you’ve probably already pillaged the archives 😉 and discovered that I spent several years eating mostly vegan…which is high carb, almost by definition. Believe me when I say that it took me *months* of intensive reading to finally come around to believing that grains are, in fact, BAD for us — because as far as the body is concerned, they’re just more sugar. Once I took the plunge into primal eating, it took me a good 6-8 weeks to recover from the “low-carb flu” because my body was so used to running on sugar and didn’t know how to run on fat. The change was worth it, though.

      I’m the jump-in-with-both-feet type, but there’s nothing wrong with the baby-steps method. Congrats!

      October 8, 2010 at 11:15 am

  5. “Raising Awareness” is the means by which people make themselves feel like they’re doing something when they aren’t.

    It’s about time somebody pointed out the absrurdity of wearing a pink ribbon and thinking they’re curing cancer!

    (To quote you) Duh!

    October 8, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    • “Raising awareness is…” A quotable quote. Why am I not surprised? 🙂

      October 8, 2010 at 8:55 pm

  6. kathleen

    Thank you for the great post! I feel the exact same way. Was starting to think I was a cold hearted B constantly saying “no” to people asking for donations. I only donate to our local Hospice.

    October 9, 2010 at 11:09 am

    • LOL 🙂 Well, at least now you know you’re no more cold-hearted than I…for what it’s worth!

      October 12, 2010 at 12:57 pm

  7. Yes. And you put it all into words that express it so perfectly. Thank you!

    October 11, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    • Thanks, Gwenn — I’m glad I’m not alone in seeing the issue this way!

      October 12, 2010 at 12:58 pm

  8. Mike

    I think one of the reasons for the pinkwashing of America is that it’s an excuse to use the word “breast” in our sometimes Puritanical society. Certainly the causes of preventing and curing breast cancer are noble, but I can’t fathom the reason this particular disease warrants such hype above others, including the one (heart disease) which kills more than 7 times as many women as does breast cancer.

    October 12, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    • Excellent point, Mike. I suspect some other, even more significant health issues get less coverage simply because no one has taken up their cause in the way that Komen for the Cure has with breast cancer.

      October 12, 2010 at 1:00 pm

  9. Some cancers are environmental and life style related while others are simply “it’s your unlucky number”. I agree with you, it probably wouldn’t hurt to be more healthy, to help prevent any health issues by eating the right things and living a proper lifestyle.

    But, between my sister-in-law and myself who would be more likely to get breast cancer? I would not of bet on my sister-in-law. She is thin, extremely fit, eats like a bird, eats good food, has had two children, breast fed, wasn’t on the pill most of her adult life and doesn’t have a mother that had breast cancer. You’d never look at her and think between the two of us she would be the unlucky one to have Stage IV breast cancer and end up with a double mastectomy!

    I wish you luck in thinking your clean lifestyle will prevent you from getting cancer. I’ll cross my fingers that you never have to endure what my sister-in-law and my mother had to go through in beating breast cancer.

    I am pretty sure that if you were in my sister-in-law’s shoes 5 years ago you’d be embracing the support of everyone wearing pink, eating more pink-labeled yogurts, and hoping there will be a pill to rid that evil cancer in your body.

    You sure sound all high and mighty over there. How dare you talk down with “crap for a cure”! All that awareness and pink that makes you so sick, gives hope to a lot of really ill people that pull strength from it…that they are not alone and that they might live to see their children grow up. Sometimes hope is all they have!

    And, if it bothers you so much to see all that pink support, close your eyes or better yet, open your eyes…go volunteer at St. Luke’s MSTI.

    I hope that you never have to eat your words….

    Sally Tarbet

    October 13, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    • Thanks for your comment, Sally. I absolutely agree that genetics, environmental toxins beyond our control, and other factors do sometimes result in cancers in even the most health-conscious and fit of individuals. As I noted in my post, we can’t prevent them all.

      My concern is that most people aren’t aware that a great many cancer cases CAN be prevented through lifestyle choices. It angers me that our government, Big Pharma, and many (though far too few) in the medical industry are perfectly aware of measures that women could take to dramatically reduce their chance of getting cancer in the first place – but they don’t spread the word. They’d rather generate money and power from the suffering of millions of people.

      Please understand that, while I chose a confrontational tone for my post, it was not my intent to minimize the suffering that families such as yours have endured, nor your passion for helping others facing similar situations. Allow me to clarify that my deepest frustration is with our government, much of the medical establishment, Big Pharma, research organizations, and anyone else who withholds beneficial knowledge from the public — and with people who casually throw money at beribbioned products because it makes them feel virtuous — NOT with the truly committed folks who throw heart and soul into efforts to make a difference.

      I’m impressed with all you do, and I certainly don’t have anything against finding a cure. As I said in my post, it would be wonderful to find that cure. The dichotomy I’m drawing is not between “bad” and “good,” but between what I believe to be “good” and “better.” I think anyone would agree that it’s better to avoid cancer than to cure it.

      However, as you’ve noted, not every cancer can be prevented through lifestyle factors. The second part of my frustration is with people who make themselves feel good about “helping cure cancer” by doing things that don’t actually make a contribution at all. How does wearing a pink shirt cure cancer? It doesn’t. What it may really do is show support for cancer victims and their families. There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s important. Let’s just be honest about what we’re really accomplishing.

      Thanks again for sharing your perspective. I agree with much of what you said and ultimately, if minimizing human suffering is the goal, we’re on the same side.

      October 14, 2010 at 7:55 am

  10. First, I’ll start by saying I’m a cancer survivor – in nine months I’ll be 5 years clean and able to actually say I’m in remission.

    Second, the only thing I can agree with in Sally’s seethingly passive aggressive comment is that cancer isn’t always based on health & nutrition. Regardless, like you say, every little bit helps. Putting my left shoe on before my right shoe might not keep me from relapsing, but if I even heard a suggestion it might, I’d be willing to change my shoe order 🙂

    As for the rest of us who have had a cancer OTHER than breast cancer, you’ve got a lot of support in your opinions on this pink ribbon BS. In the past five years, I’ve really come to hate the month of October. Everywhere you look, pink this and pink that. Drives me up a frickin’ wall.

    I’ve written about the whole thing a couple of times over on my blog ( and got a lot of response through comments and emails, 99% of which was positive. And regardless of what Sally says, if you were in her sister-in-law’s shoes, you might HATE the color pink. I’ve talked to several post-mastectomy survivors who just want to be able to move on with their lives, but every stupid pink ribbon is a reminder of what they went through.

    I think what bugs me most about this nowadays is what a financial sinkhole the color pink has become. When I started making my CiMB shirts, I came up with a different fundraising method. My shirts were high quality enough to justify a $35 price tag, easily. Since they only cost me $13 to make & ship, I came up with the “Donation Obligation.” Take $35 out of your bank account. Send me $13 for the shirt and send the $22 to a LOCAL organization helping out cancer people. Your money’s not allowed to go to the ACS, Komen, Livestrong or any of the other big organizations. Why? Because your $22 is a drop in the bucket to them, but to a small local charity that makes meals for cancer folk (for example), that $22 is going to go a long way. Which would you rather fund, pamphlets and phone calls or food?

    Unfortunately life & work craziness have gotten in the way of my “mission” as of late, but I’m slowly getting things back on track and will be ready to rally around the flag again soon.

    But I digress. Just wanted to thank you for your opinion, let you know you’re not alone even in the cancer community, and tell you to keep on being awesome 🙂

    October 15, 2010 at 7:13 am

    • Hey, thanks, Brian — for the encouragement, and especially for shedding light on yet another angle of this issue. I appreciated your link and the guts it took to write that post. As another commenter said (on Facebook), it’s almost heresy for a woman to say such things, let alone a man.

      I hear you on the fundraising problem; while I do see Komen doing some good things when they directly help families and such (overhead notwithstanding), I can’t help raising my eyebrow at any organization that puts its logo on a product that contains 27 grams of sugar per serving (that blasted yogurt!), when cancer is a known sugar-feeder. WTH?

      Cheers for your upcoming 5 years! 🙂

      October 15, 2010 at 7:40 am

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  22. You’ve managed to say, and say it well, what I’ve been thinking for a long time.


    October 6, 2011 at 8:50 am

    • Thanks, Liane. I lost a couple friends over it, sadly, but I reckon we’re all entitled to our own opinions.

      October 6, 2011 at 9:18 am

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