Not eating dairy / soya for Hormone ++++

Another question for all you knowledgable ladies - are eggs considered to be dairy?



Well whilst they are are not dairy as such they have same animal proteins and fats…says my veggie hubby!

I always feel a little bit upset when primary cancer patients are assumed to be less focused on any of these issues, because i dont believe this is true, (certainly not for me anyway)surely all of us no matter what our present cancer status want to give ourselves the best possible chance of keeping this desease at bay ,primaries have absolutely no gaurentees of being “cured” or staying cancer free so to not be focussed on these kind of issues would be foolish .
As for the EPIC Study ,I think we need to remember that EPIC was designed to investigate the relationships between diet, nutritional status, lifestyle and environmental factors and the incidence of cancer and other chronic diseases.
EPIC is the largest study of diet and health ever undertaken, having recruited over half a million (520,000) people in ten European countries: Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
The other thing about EPIC is that they have included populations there with a Mediterranean-style diet, and those who are largely meat-eaters and fish-eaters. With such a broad range of dietary habits they can really identify which aspects of diet are important in trying to distinguish different rates of disease.
EPIC is a long-term study of more than 500,000 people , This includes around 90,000 British men and women, including about 30,000 vegetarians,
Unlike many other studies, It’s huge. At over 500,000 participants, EPIC is the largest study of diet and health EVER undertaken.
Only healthy people were recruited and their health was then followed for many years.
Its accurate. Each participant completed detailed diet and lifestyle questionnaires and also provided blood and urine samples so the researchers could analyse their nutrient levels.
It’s long-term. EPIC participants are followed for at least 10 years.
The 10 EPIC countries have very varied diets. This allows the researchers to make more reliable assessments of the effects of different aspects of our diet.
EPICs august podcast concluded " But for the two most common cancers – breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men – there are no strong dietary links."

The prostrate study is by no means proof that by following a vegan diet stops cancer progression,this particular study was tiny , therefore we need much larger studies with a lot longer follow up period to ever conclude that this particular study was even close to being very meaningfull, I am not awear of any further studies being undertaken which i find strange if the findings are so remarkable ,We also need to remenber that this particular study involved patients with a"very early" prostrate cancer DX,which as we know can take many many years “if ever” to kill someone,many people with this type of early prostrate cancer can live normal long lives and will go on to die of other causes.

We all have to make our own decisions at the end of the day, but cancer as we all know is a very complex desease and likely has many factors involved , there currently is no proof or evidence that diet plays a part in Breast Cancer, but we all have to do what feels right for us and if it gives us a feeling of being in control then of course that has to be a good thing.
Good luck to everyone whatever path we all decide to follow.
Linda x

The thing is that although the EPIC study does look at a variety of diets they all include either meat, fish or dairy. That’s okay in one way because that is the normal diet in the West so we may be reassured that what we’re eating is okay as nothing shows a greater increased risk. But the research shows that IGF-1 is linked to increased risk of cancer and we know that’s in all of those things.

So, unless I’m missing something here, I’d like to know how does this compare to people eating a vegan diet or a different type of diet such as one with soya and no dairy. Would such diets show up a link between diet and breast cancer?

Hi Elinda,
In relation to vegan diets there is just not enough information anywhere in the world to know if such a diet
would show a link with breast cancer.
The EPIC study included 30,000 vegetarians , but no link was found between this group.
I would expect that if there was enough “evidence” that a vegan diet was shown to be potentially beneficial in fighting/preventing Breast Cancer then much larger long term studies would now be underway, This isnt a new concept ,people have looked at these issues for many years.

I think we also need to remember that IGF-1 is a naturally occuring hormone that we all make (Humans and animals) ,re Dairy, as msmolly pointed out earlier ,European cattle don’t get this hormone, so our milk does not contain high IGF-1 levels.

The world cancer research fund report and website gives an exelent overview of a good healthy balanced diet ,which some may find helpfull.

All the best to you

It’s a tricky one isn’t it. There is evidence of course to show that many countries with quite different diets have much lower breast cancer rates although as we’ve discussed on here previously there may be a variety of factors at play including lifestyle, environment, body fat etc.
I’m not so sure about whether research would have been done into vegan diet if there was something in it as there are not many purely vegan societies in the world (I don’t think) and numbers in Europe would be quite limited. Also there are other potential health issues with an unbalanced vegan diet so making a recommendation to follow a vegan diet if researched show it beneficial may make this all the more problematic. Let alone the public outcry,
To my mind, looking at vegan diets is likely to be the next step not a missed step.

With regards to IGF-1, we will have a level of this in our bloodstream but it is the higher level from dietary things that the research suggests may be a problem.

I think there are still alot of unanswered questions on diet. Good to discuss.

take care, Elinda

Linda - the EPIC study only looked at 90 odd vegans out of 500,000 - so less than 0.1% of the cohort were vegan. So how could this study possible show any meaningful results for a diet excluding meat and dairy? It didn’t even attempt it - in the conclusions it explicitly says it does not analyse outcomes for the vegan group. Vegetarians generally consume a lot of dairy products, so I would not expect to see any difference between meat eaters and the 30,000 vegetarians - the only ones of interest are the 90 vegans.

In fact this illustrates the entire problem with observational studies like EPIC. I once shared a house with a vegan that ate only three things - white bread, peanut butter and chips. I have also shared a house with a vegetarian that only ate two things - cereal and cheese on toast. I wouldn’t expect either of these to have a low cancer risk - they ate no fruit or vegetables, ever.
If you want to know if a particular diet has any benefits, by far the most efficacious way is an interventional study - take a group of people, put them on the diet, and compare with a control group. That is exactly what the prostate study did, and why it is far more interesting than the EPIC study.

To say that IGFs occur naturally in humans so are not dangerous is to miss the point entirely. We also produce oestrogen, yet we know it is dangerous to take in more oestrogen in medications and food. IGFs are not “added” to dairy either, so can’t be banned or removed. They are produced naturally in all animals, but were thought not to be bioavailable in humans - but this has recently been disproved. The body seems to be very sensitive to small increments in circulating IGFs - and certain cancers such as prostate are particularly sensitive to raised levels. One article quoted an 8% rise in IGFs in men put them at a vastly increased risk of cancer - I can’t remember the precise number but it was many times higher than the 8% rise in IGFs.

The prostate study IS being followed up - the second year results were pretty impressive too. The reason that it is very hard to find other similar studies is that intervention studies for people with active cancer and no other variables (ie treatment) are extremely hard to recruit too. This should be obvious stuff. In fact prostate cancer is probably the only cancer that can be left untreated and studied in this way. But these results were only released very recently - any studies initiated as a result of this promising research will not be available for several years - and I would be very surprised if there aren’t similar studies being undertaken, we just don’t know yet. Again, this is not a valid reason to reject this research.

The fact that this is a small study does not negate the results either - if it were an observational study like EPIC it would be meaningless because you have to start with huge numbers, then wait to see if they develop cancer. But all the results in an interventional study are meaningful, they all have cancer and they are all following an identical diet - and the size of this cohort was certainly within the normal range for this type of research. In any case, the statistical analysis can deal with cohort size, and predict the degree of accuracy of the results with a precise degree of confidence (the standard is 95%).

To criticise the study because none of them were probably going to die anyway is bizarre indeed. We are discussing whether diet is a useful extra treatment, which would almost certainly apply most to prevention and early diagnosis - so to study it in early cancers is totally valid. So you think it would only be valid if they studied end stage cancers, and if so, would they have to be cured? We know that 6 members of the control group had to leave the study to have chemo, rads or surgery - so obviously their cancer was sufficiently advanced that they needed treatment. Yet all in the diet group saw their PSA levels drop and required no treatent. They even showed you the mechanism by which they were fighting the cancer - their serum was actively killing cancer cells at EIGHT TIMES the rate of the control group.

But most of all - and the mark of a well run medical trial - is that the results were dose specific. This is hugely important. That is, the level by which the diet group’s PSA fell was closely correlated to the degree to which they adhered to the diet. Those that followed the diet most strictly saw their PSA levels drop more than those that were less strict. This is the clearest indication possible that the diet was responsible for their cancer markers falling, and is universally accepted as a test for whether the trial results are credible or not - ask any scientist.

It’s a very valuable study - it doesn’t tell us everything we want to know, but it is an excellent start.


Yes you’re quite right Finty. It does need interventional studies. with such promising research to date with a vegan diet and prostate cancer hopefully these will be done.
The research to date on IGF-1 is also promising.

Finty, I can’t remember - did the prostate study look at IGF-1 levels and as well as the PSA levels?

Hi Elinda - no the prostate study looked at PSA levels and studied a “near vegan diet” - included eggs and oily fish as far as I can remember. As far as I know it didn’t measure circulating IGF - but I will take a second look to be sure.

The information about vegans having lower IGF levels than meat eaters and vegetarians came from the study of the 90 vegans in the EPIC study, comparing with group of about 300 meat eaters and vegetarians. It also found that vegans have 40% higher levels of the IGF binding protein that neutralises IGFs, so the real level of active IGFs is even lower for vegans - remembering that the body is very sensitive to small changes.

There is no doubt in my mind that the intervention diet accounted for the lowered PSA levels in the prostate patients, but whether IGFs explain all the effect, none of it or just part of it can’t be known. Although there are so many other studies now that link raised IGF to cancer risk that it seems safe to assume it accounts for at least some of the affect.

finty xxx

I suppose if we consider that most of the worlds population eat Dairy/Meat/sugars ect of some kind,but of course not everyone has cancer, (most people dont),then its hard to come to the conclusion that these things could possibly be a cause.
There was a recent study published in China ,which was interesting i thought,i know people often equate the differences in dietry patterns from the east to the west ,but its not as clear cut as is often believed.

I think it is important to understand the role of IGF-I to have a better understanding.
IGF-1 is produced primarily by the liver as an endocrine hormone as well as in target tissues in a paracrine/autocrine fashion. Production is stimulated by growth hormone (GH) and can be retarded by undernutrition, IGF-1 has growth-promoting effects on almost every cell in the body, especially skeletal muscle, cartilage, bone, liver, kidney, nerves, skin, hematopoietic cell, and lungs. In addition to the insulin-like effects, IGF-1 can also regulate cell growth and development, especially in nerve cells, as well as cellular DNA synthesis.
Deficiency of either growth hormone or IGF-1 results in diminished stature.
Factors that are known to cause variation in the levels of growth hormone IGF-1 in the circulation include: genetic make-up, the time of day, age, sex, exercise status, stress levels, nutrition level and body mass index (BMI), disease state, race, estrogen status and xenobiotic intake. so there are many,many causes to varying levels.
Breast feeding women have very high amounts of IGF-I that is produced naturaly in the body.
There is now growing evidence suggesting that women with
relatively high blood concentrations of IGF-I have a moderately higher risk for developing breast cancer, but as you can see there are so many more factors involved than a simple change in diet even if diet were to be proven to increase levels, its just far more complex than that.

It certainly is a tricky one i agree. and i quess there are no easy answers.


Your first sentence doesn’t really follow logically. First of all, large parts of the world - most of the third world - actually DON’T eat dairy, meat and sugars, or eat very little. And as is commonly recognised, they have much lower rates of the “western diseases” - heart disease, cancer, strokes and diabetes. Lots of other health problems obviously, but generally not the same ones as us. And it isn’t that they die younger - the age adjusted figures are wildly divergent too. And here in the UK, the rate of BC has risen by 80% since since WW2 - so something is causing that dramatic rise, and given how much our diets have altered in that time it doesn’t seem at all unreasonable to assume that diet is a part of the cause, but by no means the only part. After all we know it is the cause of the rise in heart disease, obesity, diabetes and strokes - wouldn’t it be odd if cancer weren’t affected also?

And there isn’t really any logic to the statement that because most people eat dairy, meat and sugar and don’t get cancer, that it isn’t a contributory cause. You could say the same for alcohol, most people who drink don’t get cancer - yet you accept that it is a cause of bc.

In fact 1 in 3 people DO get cancer, and between 99% and 100% of them eat dairy and meat.

But if you want to be precise, the prostate study doesn’t say anything about what causes cancer, it is studying what sort of diet can affect the progression of the cancer. And it concluded that a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and complex carbs, and excluding meat and dairy, caused the early cancer to regress; whilst a diet including meat and dairy caused the cancer to progress. It’s so clear cut I really can’t understand why you are so unwilling to acknowledge it.


Thanks for the C and p on IGF. It clearly demonstrates that the role of IGF is to stimulate growth - ie cell division, exactly what you don’t want if you have cancer. It’s ability to stimulate growth has been known for ages, which is why it is used extensively by body builders. Why do you think body builders eat steak and protein shakes made from whey? We need it when we are young and growing, but we certainly don’t need as much when we are fully grown adults. And if you have cancer, you should run a mile from it. The point is not that we shouldn’t have any IGFs, but that a modern diet rich in animal protein upsets the normal balance and provides more than the body needs for normal repair.


I guess everyone will come to their own conclusions ,which is only right and proper, all i would say to anyone who is concerned about these issues is do your own research, view most of what you read on the internet with a huge degree of Skepticism (there is a lot of twaddle out there)stick to the reptuable sites, dont waste money on these so called “i can cure cancer books” they cant, though they do get very rich trying to sell you their many unproven theories, stay up to date with the current latest guidelines,and most importantly of all listen to the experts in the field of cancer, who know far more than any of us here will ever know.
One last comment ,re The prostrate study as it has been discussed many times on here before ,
I hold a very different view finty to you on the prostrate diet/lifestyle study that you keep refering too, so i am afraid i dont share your same excited enthusiasm , thats “my view” though and i know its not necessarily others, however, we are all entiltled to our own views.
The prostrate study as you know consisted of just 98 men with “very early low grade” prostrate cancer, the study as i said earlier is tiny, even thousands of participents are not always enough to make a study very meaningfull, so i realy dont know why this study is always being hailed up as some kind of miracle finding , we only have yr 1 & 2 follow up results and year 2 findings already differ from year 1. I would like to know if this particular studies findings are now being promoted by oncologists? and also is the diet and lifestyle change now being used as a treatment in prostrate cancer? and if not why not? if the findings are infact that remarkable.
Below is but one critic of this particular study
Paul H. Lange
Department of Urology ,

The fact that no one switched to active therapy in the experimental group is no surprise, Relative PSA decreases
in the experimental group, while “significant,” were meager,especially when one considers that the coefficient
of variation for most PSA assays is 15% and the number of
patients in the groups is relatively small. Also, PSA
decrease differences do not necessarily translate into differences in progression or survival.
Experimental serum seemed to contain “something” that differentially inhibited cell line growth but so what.
Just because these serums were different does not mean that they were good.
They might have also killed normal cells.
This report undoubtedly will excite the aficionados and devotees of lifestyle changes for cancer.
Appropriately it will encourage other and more vigorous
scientific scrutinies of complementary medicine strategies. For those of us looking after those with prostate cancer it will reinforce the use of lifestyle
changes in management. Even if scientific evidence is
meager, complementary medicine approaches have
strong appeal in practicing the medical art since
they give the patient an active role in his care and promote an attitude of optimism and hope.

Paul H. Lange
Department of Urology
University of Washington
Seattle, Washington

Like Tim Key stated, This research area is interesting but there is not yet enough known to draw any firm conclusions,
therefore there is still not any proof that a vegan diet does prevent cancer progression.

I realy dont want to get into another debate on this subject as i only ever intended to post in reply to Sarahs original question,so i will leave this topic now to the other ladies as i realy dont want to get dragged back in .
Good luck to all

Linda / Finty + others…

Many thanks for the time you have spent sharing your views on this subject, I find it all very interesting and am keen to learn more hence my original question, and I think having a debate is healthy for others to see all sides of the coin…

Thanks again for all your feedback. I have asked my onc regarding diet and he has suggested “a good balanced diet” and didn’t mention any exclusions, but reading your posts i think i will certainly try and change the way i eat, and if nothing else i shall be eating more heathly and will also give me the sense that i am doing whatever is in my control to stop my cancer from returning.


Hi Sarah

I am glad you have found it interesting. Unfortunately most oncs do not keep up to date with new research on diet, and have no training on it in the first place. Med school covers diet in general in half a day - oncs have no further specialised training in diet. This is standard in modern medicine - those with heart problems, type 2 diabetes, stroke risk etc are put on medication - rarely told in no uncertain terms that they can probably significantly improve their chances if they radically change the way they eat. Just the same with cancer. It is viewed by many oncs rather distastefully. So unless it is an area they have a particular interest in and have chosen to spend their free time on it, they will know very little about it other than the usual and useless “eat a healthy diet”. If you want to test this hypothesis, just ask your onc what their views on IGFs are - if they don’t know anything about them, then you can assume their advice on diet is inadequate.

Don’t be confused by Linda’s references to websites selling cancer cures - the Prostate and IGF research was undertaken by respected university academics without a product to sell. Further more they only studied an altered diet, not one requiring expensive supplements, or indeed any additional expenditure at all - a plant based diet is much cheaper than a meat and dairy based one. There is no financial motive in promoting this research - none of the foods can be patented and sold for profit, they are available in your local Tesco’s.

Jane Plant - who was one of the first to make the connection between IGFs and breast cancer - you will see derided here because she is not a cancer specialist and because she has sold a lot of books on the subject. In fact she donates all the income from her books to cancer charities, so any attempt to slander her by saying her motives are financial should be seen in that light. She works full time as a Professor at Imperial College - which is one of the top 3 science institutions in the world and you don’t get to be a Professor there without understanding the scientific method and have expertise in analysing research - and does all her cancer work in her free time, including individual consultations for those interested. You can email her and ask her any questions you like - she will give you a lengthy prompt response. It is true that she is not a cancer specialist, but I happen to know that the oncology department at Guys and St Thomas’s, who recently invited her to give a talk to them on this subject, were extremely impressed both by her and her work. None of them had any previous in depth knowledge of the connection between diet and cancer - which is where I started this post. Oncs really don’t know anything about it, and will give you safe, bland advice. Most oncs don’t even tell their bc patients to lose weight and stop drinking - known risk factors, let alone alter their diet.

I am guessing it will take 20 years or more for this advice to be mainstream for cancer patients - none of us here can afford to wait that long.

finty x

As I’ve said before on this subject, I’ve never been advised on diet even though I specifically asked about it. The research couldn’t be clearer on alcohol but I wasn’t told to reduce or cut down alcohol for all they knew I could have been drinking regularly. I’ve never been told to lose weight although I was overweight. So to think that the doctors are suddenly going to start giving meaningful, in depth diet advice is frankly the stuff of dreams.

The second thing is to say that with other diets around the world, it may not just be the exclusion of certain foods. Jane Plant suggests that soya, for example, may have a protective quality. Personally, I don’t find the argument compelling enough yet because soya has been found to raise IGF-1 levels in vegans. Those that eat meat/dairy plus soya have the highest levels.

It is quite right to have a degree of sceptism when it comes to generalised books on diet and of course with miracle cures. However I think it must be pointed out again that the research on IGF-1 levels that Finty posted at the start of this thread did actually come from the EPIC study and was supported by Cancer Research UK and the Europe against Cancer Programme.

I think its important to frame these new research findings in a positive way and not see all this new evidence potentially as something that will restrict our lifestyle. I am pleased to know that there are changes I can make that may have some potential to alter things in a positive way in my body.
I have not gone completely vegan out of personal choice but I have now changed to have many vegan meals each week. They tend to have more fibre and be low fat so there are other health bonuses their too.

Thanks Elinda45,

Would you mind if i PM you for your vegan meal idea?

Sarah X

Sarah, you’re always welcome to PM me. We do though have a good thread on healthy recipes which I will bump up and put another recipe on their I had yesterday. People have put on some lovely vegan and other recipes.

Sarah, I haven’t gone completely vegan either. I eat eggs, fish shellfish and small amounts of organic chicken. I also still drink occasionally, but much less than I used to.

finty xx

Thanks ladies,

Im really pleased I asked my original question, you both certainly seem to know a lot about this subject. I have ordered Jane Plants book, so i can read this as next week im having chemo no.3 so hope it will be an interesting read and a welcome distraction to the se’s!

Elinda, would you mind posting the link of the healthy eating thread please?

Sarah X