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PLATFORM : Rx: Eat Your Veggies

July 31, 1994|Dr. NEAL D. BARNARD | Dr. NEAL D. BARNARD is president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. He comments on the rising incidence of cancer:

For years, scientists have known the anti-carcinogenic benefits of fiber, yet the average daily intake of fiber is 10 to 20 grams, while experts recommend 30 to 40. Daily diets also need plenty of vegetables and fruits rich in anti-cancer agents such as beta-carotene and vitamin C, yet Americans only get about half the recommended servings of vegetables and fruits.

It is well-accepted that vegetarians, have a much lower chance of developing cancer than non-vegetarians. The absence of meat, in particular, dramatically reduces fat intake. Dietary fat speeds the growth of abnormal cancer cells. Americans on average consume 37% of daily calories as fat; fat intake should be closer to 10% or 15%.

Vegetarians also appear to have much stronger immune systems; one study of the cancer-fighting ability of white blood cells found the vegetarians' more than twice as effective. Clearly, doctors are not doing their jobs; they are not communicating to the public what needs to be done to prevent a leading cause of death in this country. When we are equipped with the ammunition to fight but are losing the war, war strategies need to change.

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