Too Many Cancer Promises & Too Much Professional Arrogance? | T. Colin Campbell | NutritionStudies.org

When Science and related cancer journals ignore the sciences of diet and nutrition in the cause and possible treatment of cancer we all lose.

A note from Dr. Campbell: “This article was written in 2018 and updated in 2019. Sadly, reviewing it now, I find almost nothing to change except for the phrase, “there’s little or no progress during the last 35-40 years.” Now, it is closer to 45-50 years.

If anything, I have become more concerned about the refusal of the cancer industry to acknowledge the role of nutrition (whole food, not individual nutrients) in cancer prevention or, especially, cancer treatment. Enough is enough. This glaring omission has gone on for far too long.

In 1978-79, I was on an expert panel determining priorities of cancer research applications submitted to the U.S. National Cancer Institute (of NIH), which funds most cancer research. A few of these applications proposed investigations of a nutrition link to cancer. As the only panel member with nutritional experience, my colleagues asked me to summarize my thoughts on nutrition. Although this new interest favored plant foods, I did not want to refer to it as vegetarianism because of the failure of this concept to incorporate nutrition research, with its focus instead on ethical arguments. I chose the phrase “plant-based.”

Although this phrase has begun to appear in the public narrative in recent years, I am not sure whether there has been any significant progress. There may be a greater public interest in the nutritional effect of whole foods, but there is very little or no meaningful professional interest. The professionals who review funding proposals still ignore any association of a plant-based diet with cancer prevention or treatment for humans.

The bottom line—we still have a long way to go within the professional cancer research community. The current system relies on hypotheses that might lead to wealth for the few rather than health for the many. Many in the field do not even want to entertain the possibility of a nutrition–cancer link.

Near the onset of the COVID pandemic, I submitted a manuscript to two of the most prominent medical journals summarizing a human study showing some highly significant associations of nutrition with one of the world’s most serious cancers (primary liver) caused by a virus (hepatitis B virus). To my amazement, the journals refused to submit it for review. I’ve served on the editorial boards of several professional journals and published more than 350 research papers (mostly peer-reviewed), so I know that if a submitted manuscript is on topic, it is reviewed by professional peers (at least two, occasionally three) and authors are offered an opportunity to respond to the critiques. Provided there is agreement between the reviewers, it is published. This is a sacred practice in science: as long as the topic is relevant and within the scope of the journal (both journals have published papers on the topic of my manuscript), the decision on whether to publish should be made by scientific peers.

Our findings showed highly significant associations (p<0.001) of nutrition with this cancer, from eleven vantage points (correlations), strongly suggesting a similar nutritional effect on the COVID virus. My decades-long experience has made it abundantly clear that nutrition is not considered a serious biomedical science unless the information focuses on individual nutrients acting on specific, out-of-context mechanisms, and out-of-context biological outcomes. That’s not science; it’s technology being designed to create a marketable product. It also creates confusion for the public, an ideal environment for commercial exploitation. I regret that I am not more hopeful, but I must confess, after more than six decades of very active involvement in the diet and cancer research community, from the lab and the lecture hall to national and international policy boardrooms, I see little or no progress in the development of information for controlling cancer. My message for cancer patients and their families is to fend for yourselves because you are only good for testing pills and procedures that mostly enrich the bank accounts of others.”

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