Part 2: Does Sugar Feed Cancer?

Does Sugar Feed Cancer In Part 1 of my Does Sugar Feed Cancer? series exploring the connection between sugar and cancer, I answered the questions What is one connection between sugar and cancer? And should I be on a Ketogenic diet? To find out the answers to these questions and learn how you can take action to reduce your cancer risk, read Part 1 here.

In Part 2, I will continue to explore the relationship between sugar and cancer to help guide you in understanding how your food choices can impact your cancer risk. I believe there are incremental changes you can make in your diet and lifestyle that will reduce your risk of developing cancer. These changes work through a variety of channels including supporting your immune system, reducing chronic inflammation and acting on cancer cells directly.

I want you to understand these channels because I think this will lead to greater appreciation for the power that food has on cancer risk. These changes that you can make will also boost your overall health and vitality, while allowing you to overcome your fear and thrive after cancer. To join a group of cancer thrivers who meet regularly to learn more about this topic and get support with their food and lifestyle goals, you are invited to join my Thriving After Cancer Coaching and Support Program by following this link.

thriving after cancer coaching and support program with jean lamantia

In today’s blog, I will explore the Insulin and Diabetes Connection to Cancer…

  • How are diabetes and cancer connected?
  • How are insulin levels connected to cancer?
  • Which cancers have insulin receptors?
  • How do I use this information to reduce my risk?
Diabetes and Cancer

Are these two seemingly different conditions related? According to the author of several papers on the connection, having diabetes will put a person at higher risk of developing certain cancers. These are cancers of the liver, pancreas, kidney, endometrium, colon or rectum, bladder, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and breast.

What is Responsible for the Increased Cancer Risk in People with Diabetes?

Diabetes provides two crucial elements that help to initiate cancer and keep it progressing and those are; high blood sugar levels and high insulin levels. The mechanism that seems to be the biggest driver of cancer growth is high insulin levels.

High Insulin Levels

This condition is called hyperinsulinemia (hyper=higher and emia= in the blood). What is the mechanism in which higher than normal levels of insulin promotes cancer? There are three mechanisms postulated and these are;

  1. Firstly, insulin will cause a decrease in insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) binding proteins. IGF-1 is a growth promoter, when its binding protein is kept busy by insulin it is free to circulate in the bloodstream at higher levels. This results in more IGF-1 available to promote the growth of cancer cells.
  2. Secondly, cancer cells have a greater number of insulin receptors. Insulin will dock into these receptors (like parking places) and this docking triggers the cells to undergo mitosis. Mitosis is the process of cell division in which a parent cell replaces itself with two identical daughter cells. This process is growing the cancer.
  3. Third and finally, higher levels of insulin. This is a hallmark of both prediabetes and type 2 diabetes and results from a condition called insulin resistance. When your body’s normal cells are resistant to insulin, this creates higher than normal insulin levels and this insulin can then find its way to insulin receptors on cancer cells. When insulin docks onto cancer cells it amps up cell division, putting this process into hyper drive and causing the cancers to grow rapidly.
Which Cancers Have Insulin Receptors?

Researchers from the University of Magna Craecia of Catanzaro, Italy have published a thorough review of the connection between insulin receptors and cancer progression (2).

According to their summary, the following cancers have insulin receptors:

  • Breast
  • Thyroid
  • Colon
  • Ovarian
  • Prostate
  • Sarcomas
What Does This Mean For Me as A Cancer Thriver?

Does Sugar Feed CancerThere are several action steps you can take that will help you benefit from this information.

  1. If you have type 2 diabetes and are taking medication for it, you should know that some diabetes medication works by making your body produce more insulin. For example, the sulfonylureas would increase insulin. In contrast metformin and thiazolidinediones decrease insulin levels. If you currently have type 2 diabetes and want to decrease your cancer risk, talk to your doctor about using metformin as your treatment of choice.
  1. Excess body fat leads to more insulin resistance. To reverse this and improve the insulin sensitivity of your cells, begin a weight loss program that includes a healthy balanced diet combined with regular moderate exercise.
  1. To achieve better control of blood sugars and insulin follow an eating plan that minimizes spikes in your blood sugar level. This means eating a diabetic diet even if you don’t have diabetes. This would be an eating plan that includes:

Minimizing sweets like soda pop, candies and added sugars

Choosing more whole grains (these are also called low glycemic) instead of refined and processed carbohydrate (called high glycemic). For example, choose whole grain bread over white bread, choose brown rice over white and choose whole flours for baking and not all purpose flour

Choosing fruits and vegetables over juice

Balancing your meals and snacks with a protein and carbohydrate choice. For example, instead of a fruit at snack combine a fruit with some nuts.

  1. You can make your cells more sensitive to insulin (less resistant) by regular moderate exercise.

Are you overwhelmed? Confused? Do you need help figuring out where to start? To get help implementing these steps, check out my Thriving After Cancer Coaching and Support Program.

thriving after cancer coaching and support program with jean lamantia

What You Eat Matters

I firmly believe that what you eat matters. This is more proof that if you eat in a way that balances your blood sugars and minimizes insulin resistance, you can help protect yourself from the cancer promoting effects of elevated insulin levels.

To stay up to date on the latest evidence and get the support you need to make the appropriate changes to your diet and lifestyle to reduce your cancer risk you are invited to join my Thriving After Cancer Coaching and Support Program by following this link.

Stay Tuned for More on Sugar and Cancer

In my next blog, I will help you understand the connection from sugar to visceral fat to cancer. This is important information that you need to help you understand how changing your diet is a powerful tool in your goal to be cancer free.

What Stakeholders Say

Oncology Dietitians – “Much research shows that it is sugar’s relationship to higher insulin levels and related growth factors that may influence cancer cell growth the most…”

Join the Conversation

Do you have diabetes or elevated insulin levels? What are you doing to reduce your risk? Let our community know in the comments section below!



Diabetes and Cancer. Vigneri P1, Frasca F, Sciacca L, et al. Endocr Relat Cancer. 2009 Dec;16(4):1103-23.
Insulin receptor and cancer. Belfiore A and Malaguarnera R. Endocr Relat Cancer. 2011 Jul 4;18(4):R125-47.
Diabetes and cancer: is diabetes causally related to cancer? Suh S, Kim KW
Diabetes Metab J. 2011 Jun;35(3):193-8.



Does Sugar Feed Cancer?

Golden granulated, light muscovado and dark muscovado sugar

I believe what you eat makes a difference in your cancer risk. I believe food and lifestyle changes have the ability to affect your immune system, reduce chronic inflammation, and act on cancer cells directly. I focus my work on empowering you, as a cancer survivor, to become a cancer thriver by giving you evidence-based tools you can use to make informed decisions about your diet and lifestyle choices. These evidence-based tools will also help you take back the power cancer has taken from you!

One question I hear often from cancer patients and survivors is does sugar feed cancer? I believe it’s important to understand the role sugar plays in cancer so you can make the best choices about:

  • if you will include sugar in your diet,
  • what type of sugar you consume, and
  • how much sugar you consume.

In order to empower you with evidence-based recommendations and tools, I am beginning a blog series on the various ways sugar can affect cancer. I hope you follow along. Understanding the relationship between sugar and cancer can help you to reduce the fear that can come up when you think about sugar feeding your cancer.

The 4 part blog series exploring the relationships between sugar and cancer will include:

Part 1: The Warburg Effect and Ketogenic Diets

  • What is Warburg effect between sugar and cancer?
  • Should I avoid all sugar in my diet?
  • What is a ketogenic diet and should I be on one?

Part 2: The Insulin and Diabetes Connection to Cancer

  • How are diabetes and cancer connected?
  • What are insulin receptors?
  • What is the glycemic index and glycemic load?
  • How do I use this information to reduce my risk?

Part 3: Excess Sugar Calories, Visceral Fat and Cancer

  • What is the connection between sugar, visceral fat and cancer?
  • How much sugar can I safely include in my diet?
  • What sources should that sugar be in?

Part 4: Navigating a Low Added Sugar Diet

  • What are added sugars?
  • How many can I consume?
  • How do I eat a low added sugar diet?

(Understanding the relationship between sugar and cancer and making changes to your diet and lifestyle as a result, are just a couple of the things you can do to start thriving after cancer. Want more? Click here to learn more about my Thriving After Cancer Coaching and Support Program. There are a ton of small changes you can begin to make today to move from surviving to thriving!)

thriving after cancer coaching and support program with jean lamantia

What is the Connection Between Sugar and Cancer?

A German physiologist and medical doctor named Otto Warburg was the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1931 for his discovery of the unique way cancer cells use fuel and generate energy.

In his research, he documented the two common ways a cell can create energy for its needs. One, which takes place in the presence of oxygen, is called Oxidative Phosphorylation. A second, which produces much less ATP (energy) and is predominate when oxygen is limited, is called Anaerobic Glycolysis.

Cancer cells are different though in that they have their own unique energy pathway, which is a hybrid of these two common ways. It is called Aerobic Glycolysis. In other words, despite oxygen being available and the cancer cell having functioning mitochondria, which could use the more efficient system of phosphorylation, the cancer cell prefers to use glycolysis. In microorganisms, this energy pathway is called glucose fermentation.

Why Should a Cancer Thriver Care About This?

Since cancer cells prefer to use glucose (sugar) as its energy source, could this mean that by removing sugar from your diet you could starve a cancer cell? This suggestion is certainly being touted on the Internet and is recommended by many alternative cancer practitioners. However, it is also beginning to be tested through clinical trials in conventional cancer treatment settings as well.

does sugar feed cancerShould I Eliminate Sugar from My Diet?

Like most nutrition questions I answer, I like to look at this situation like a cost-benefit question. Let’s examine the costs and benefits of cutting out sugar from your diet.

What are the Costs to Cutting Sugar Out of My Diet?

If you think of sugar as “added sugar” like cane sugar, beet sugar, honey, molasses, syrup, sweets and candy, then there isn’t really any downside to cutting sugar out of your diet. You will likely lose some body fat, reduce your triglycerides and your dentist will be happy too. But, if you know anything about nutrition, you know that even healthy whole grains, fruits, certain vegetables and legumes are also eventually converted to sugar by digestion. Avoiding these healthy foods could certainly come at a cost.

Healthy carbohydrate foods, although they are eventually converted to sugar, ALSO contain fibre including prebiotics, beneficial phytonutrients, and important vitamins and minerals. These foods have been shown to help support the immune system, reduce chronic inflammation and act on cancer cells directly. Eliminating these healthy foods could certainly be detrimental to a cancer thrivers risk reduction strategy.

What are the Benefits to Cutting Sugar Out of My Diet?

There is preliminary evidence that some cancers (particularly brain cancers) benefit from a very strict reduction of all sugars from the diet (from healthy and unhealthy sources). This is called a ketogenic diet.

Should I Get Rid of ALL Sources of Sugar?

Beginning a ketogenic diet (very low carbohydrate and high fat diet) for the purposes of treating your cancer is a decision that requires thoughtful consideration. I don’t believe there is a clear answer on this question yet. There are several clinical trials underway, which you may want to investigate if you find yourself drawn to the ketogenic diet as a treatment option.

Clinical Trials of Ketogenic Diets
Cancer Type Being Studied

Reference Number

Glioblastoma NCT01535911



Pancreatic Cancer NCT01419843
Lung Cancer NCT01419587
Metastatic disease of solid tumors NCT0176468
Recurrent glioblastoma NCT00575146
Head and Neck Cancer NCT01975766

Go to to and type in the number in the right column to find out more, or simply search “ketogenic diet and cancer” to see what trials are available.

I would not suggest a ketogenic diet without proper monitoring by your physician and diet planning with your registered dietitian. If you want to know how a ketogenic diet might help you specifically, begin the conversation with your cancer care team.

The Ketogenic Diet is Too Extreme, Are There Other Changes I Could Make?

If you find yourself shying away from the extreme prospect of a ketogenic diet, or its lack of definitive answers, you are not alone. Sticking to these types of diets are a challenge and only due to sheer determination and strength of will are people able to stick to them. Because this diet does not yet have good scientific evidence support it, it’s difficult for me to recommend it at this time.

However, until the clinical trials finish, are published and we have a better idea of the benefits of a ketogenic diet, there are still changes you can make and actions that can be taken!

Cut way back on the amount of nutrient-poor added sugars in your diet. This includes candy, soda pop and other sources of sugar that don’t provide a nutritional benefit to the diet. I will talk more about the amounts in future blogs, but for now, focus on getting these unhealthy sweets out of your diet.

(Want to get access to action-oriented analysis of new clinical trials and studies as they are published? Stay up to date on the latest research, get action-oriented, evidence-based tips and information, and receive thoughtful, researched answers to your burning questions by being part of my Thriving After Cancer Coaching and Support Program, you can join here.)

thriving after cancer coaching and support program with jean lamantia

What is the PET Scan? Did You Know it uses Sugar to Find Cancer?

PET stands for positron emission tomography (PET). This is an imaging procedure a medical team will use to find exactly where cancer is in your body. Active cells such as malignant cancer cells will use sugar as an energy source at a more rapid rate than normal cells. Inactive cells such as benign cells and scar tissue will not use sugar at the same rate.

Prior to the scan a patient is injected with Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG). This is made by combining a special type of sugar with a safe radioactive component to produce what is called a radioactive tracer. Once injected into a vein, the FDG travels throughout the body. Because of their rapid rate of glucose uptake, cancer cells absorb a greater amount of FDG than normal cells. The FDG is then trapped inside the cell. An image is taken of the body and because of its radioactive tracer the FDG appears on the image. The radiologist reading the scan will see the size and location of the cancer.

Does This Mean Sugar Feeds Cancer?

The mechanism of the PET scan is often sighted by proponents of the Sugar Feeds Cancer theory to demonstrate their belief. BUT, the fact is, sugar feeds every cell in the body. However, cancer cells multiply at a much faster rate and therefore, gobble up sugar faster to fuel their growth. This faster uptake of sugar and FDG is what allows radiologists to see cancer on the PET scan.

What Does This Mean For Me as a Cancer Survivor?

One way I can help you as a cancer survivor become a cancer thriver is by helping you reduce your fear. Fear is powerful but it is something you can conquer. If you are afraid of every carbohydrate food—including healthy whole grains, fruits, and legumes—because they convert to sugar, then you are not choosing the best anti-cancer diet, not to mention creating stress hormones because of your fear.

But you can become a cancer thriver by taking action!

Take action to change your diet and lifestyle in a way that will help to reduce your risk of cancer recurrence AND reduce your fear!

To this end, you need to reduce unhealthy sources of sugar in the diet. Cut back on added sugars like table sugar, syrups, soda pop and other sweetened beverages, candies and sweets.

Want More Actionable Information and Evidence-Based Tips to Help You Thrive After Cancer?

Keep reading this series as I explore the cancer-sugar relationship further. If you want to benefit from live monthly trainings that address how you can reduce your risk of cancer with food and lifestyle changes and take advantage of Q&A sessions where I answer your most pressing questions live on the line, then please join me in my Thriving After Cancer Coaching and Support Program by clicking this link. I would love for you to be part of my community and receive support from other cancer survivors (and thrivers!) just like you!

Join the Conversation and Be An Active Participant in Your Cancer Care

Have you talked to your health care team about a ketogenic diet or tried one? How do you manage sugar intake in your diet? Please leave your comments below or on Facebook here.

References and Additional Reading
What Stakeholders Say

“Eating sugar does not make cancer cells grow faster.” – Canadian Cancer Society

“Sugar does not directly cause cancer nor do sugary foods preferentially “feed” cancer cells.” – BC Cancer Agency

More on the Sugar and Cancer Connection

PET Scans



Understanding the Warburg effect: the metabolic requirements of cell proliferation. Vander Heiden MG, Cantley LC, Thompson CB. Science. 2009 May 22;324(5930):1029-33
Selectively starving cancer cells through dietary manipulation: methods and clinical implications. Simone BA1, Champ CE, et al. Future Oncol. 2013 Jul;9(7):959-76.



A Special Diet for Triple Negative Breast Cancer

There is exciting news in the world of cancer nutrition! For years, the triple negative breast cancer patient has been without a targeted treatment. But, the evidence is beginning to show that some triple-negative specific targeted treatment is on the horizon.

This is great news for you if you want to take back the control cancer has taken from you and reduce your fear around this diagnosis—you are not powerless! This is new information in the triple-negative breast cancer community and it will help you to be an active participant in your cancer treatment and get you on your way to thriving after cancer.

Whether you are a breast cancer patient or survivor or are dealing with another type of cancer, let’s take a look at what these new studies might mean for you…

What is Triple Negative Breast Cancer?

When a cancer is diagnosed, it undergoes laboratory analysis to determine the exact type of cancer and its receptors. In the case of breast cancer, there are currently several different receptors that have been identified. These are:

  • Estrogen Receptor Positive (ER+)—Estrogen drives the growth of this cancer so treatment includes blocking estrogen and/or shutting down production of estrogen.
  • Progesterone Receptor Positive (PR+)—Similar treatments are used for PR+ as are used for ER+ including hormone therapy such as Tamoxifen and Aromatase Inhibitors.
  • HER-2/Neu Positive—There was a win for the breast cancer community in the mid-1980s with the discovery of a protein called Human Epidermal Growth Factor (HER), which resulted in a subsequent benefit for patients with this very aggressive breast cancer. Herceptin, a drug that targets this gene was first tested on 15 women in the summer of 1992 and is now standard treatment for HER-2/Neu positive breast cancers (2).
  • Triple Negative—When pathologists test a woman’s breast cancer cell biopsy, some are negative for estrogen receptors, negative for progesterone receptors, and negative for HER-2/neu receptors. It is therefore referred to as “triple negative”.
Triple Negative and Harder to Treat

The type of cancer cell found in Triple Negative Breast Cancer is more common in women with BRCA1 gene mutations, younger women, African-Americans and Hispanics. Triple Negative Breast Cancer makes up about 15% of breast cancer cases and is more difficult to treat because it lacks a specific target.

Since it is more difficult to treat, people with this diagnosis can be especially fearful and also feel there isn’t much they can do to help themselves fight against this cancer. I want to share some information about a recent study and scientific evidence to show you that triple negative patients may not be as powerless as they once thought.

A Reason to be Optimistic

Could something called “methionine depletion” provide the target that is needed for triple negative cancers? Methionine is an amino acid that is part of our diet. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin conducted experiments to see how cancer behaves when this amino acid is removed from the diet. Let me say first that this study was conducted in a laboratory with triple negative breast cancer cells in a petri dish. The study was not performed on people. But based on the results of the lab study, researchers are planning a clinical trial to do just that.

Why Care about this Study?

The guiding philosophy of my work is that there are incremental changes you can make in your diet and lifestyle to reduce your risk of developing/redeveloping cancer. These changes work through a variety of channels including supporting your immune system, reducing chronic inflammation and acting on cancer cells directly.

These changes will also boost your overall health and vitality, while allowing you to overcome your fear of cancer and its recurrence and getting you on your way to thriving after cancer.

The information in this study provides early evidence that changes to your diet could help to treat cancer.

What Happened in this Study?

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin worked with triple negative breast cancer cells, growing these cells in 1 of 2 different cultures in the lab. One normal culture, called a “control” and one culture that was deficient in the amino acid, methionine. Three different cell types (MDAMB-468, GILM2 and MDA-MB-231) were treated with seven different cancer drugs including lexatumumab.


The cell culture that was deficient in the amino acid, methionine, was found to be moderately toxic to the cancer cells and inhibited their proliferation. The combination of growing cancer cells in the methionine deficient culture plus the drug lexatumumab was the only combination that showed enhanced cancer cell toxicity in all three cancer cell types. A second experiment in which a methionine degrading enzyme (methioninase) showed that this also made lexatumumab more effective.

What Does This Mean for Me?

While the human body is far more complex than cells in a petri dish, this experiment gives us a hypothesis…

Since restricting methionine for isolated cancer cells is toxic, restricting methionine from the diet of a cancer patient could help to kill cancer cells, reduce their proliferation and make the drug lexatumumab more effective. The next step to testing this hypothesis is an animal model.

Methionine Restricted Diet in Mice with Breast Cancer

Because of the results of the cell studies, the same researchers from the University of Wisconsin tested the methionine restricted diet in mice with breast cancer. The following treatments were used on the mice: control group, methionine-free diet alone, lexatumumab alone, and methionine-free diet plus lexatumumab.

Results of the Mice Study

All three treatments: methionine-free diet alone, lexatumumab alone or methionine-free diet plus lexatumumab inhibited tumor growth compared to the control group. The best result though was in the mice given the combination of the methionine-free diet plus lexatumumab. This group of mice (given methionine-free diet plus lexatumumab) also had less lung metastasis. In fact, the methionine-free diet plus lexatumumab combination was even better at reducing metastases than it was at inhibiting the tumor growth.

What Do These Studies Mean For Me as a Cancer Patient?

The University of Wisconsin researchers state in the publication of the research that “our findings provide proof-of-principle preclinical evidence to support a clinical trial combining dietary methionine restriction and [cancer drugs].”

I will be monitoring for the published version of this study and hope to share more information with you. These results are very promising especially for the triple negative breast cancer community that is currently without a targeted therapy. To stay up to date on the latest information and research that will help you to thrive after cancer, you should join me in my Thriving After Cancer Coaching and Support Program. One of many benefits is that you receive in-depth information and updates on new findings in the cancer research world. I encourage you to check it out here!

Should I Go On A Methionine-Free Diet?

It’s too early in the research process to prescribe a methionine-free diet for cancer patients. However, a study was performed on eight patients with metastatic cancer done to test whether a methionine-free diet might be safe. The patients were given a very low protein, low methionine diet for an average of 17 weeks and it was found to be safe (3).

What if I Don’t Want to Wait for the Clinical Trial?

I certainly understand if you as a cancer patient or survivor do not want to wait for a clinical trial to finish and the results to be published. I know many of you want to be actively fighting against your cancer and doing everything you can.

So, I want to provide you with some additional information about methionine and a low methionine diet. Since studies have shown a low methionine diet is safe and we know plant-based diets are safe and healthy, following a low methionine diet could be just what you need to help you feel that you are doing more to help reduce your cancer and it’s spread. By actively participating in your care in this way, it can help to give you back some control and reduce some of your fear.

What is Methionine?

Methionine is an essential amino acid. These are the building blocks of protein that we must consume in our diet in our to maintain our health. It is ‘essential’ meaning that we can’t make it in our bodies, but must consume it in our diet.

What Foods Contain Methionine?

The top 100 methionine containing foods are all animal proteins. Turkey has 1.5 g of methionine per 3 oz (90 g) serving followed by (in descending order) whelk, eggs, cottage cheese, beef, chicken, sturgeon, veal, tuna, pork, lamb, quail and pheasant.

Top 500 Methionine-Containing Foods

The top 500 methionine-containing foods include all manner of animal proteins including game meat, goose, ostrich, halibut, trout, snapper, milkfish, duck, mackerel, salmon, swordfish, haddock, parmesan cheese, Pollock, perch, grouper, burbot, mollusks, pike, snapper, herring, tilefish, anchovy, ling, flatfish (flounder, sole or plaice), bluefish, rickfish, tilapia, roe, followed by the final entry out of 500 which is ground chicken with 0.45 g of methionine in a 75 g serving.

What Constitutes A Methionine Restriction?

In one study on the topic (3) of restricting methionine intake, used 2 mg of methionine per kg of body weight. Let’s calculate this by plugging in our body weight to the calculations below.

Methionine Calculations With Example

Step 1. How much do you weigh? 132 lbs

Step 2. Convert your weight in lbs to kg by dividing your weight in lbs by 2.2 = 60 kg

Step 3. Multiply the methionine level used in the study (2 mg) X your weight in kg (60 kg) = 120 mg

Step 4. Convert mg to g by dividing by 1000 (120/1000) = 0.12 g

As I mentioned above, a 75 g serving (2 ½ oz) of ground chicken had 0.45 g of methionine. So, you can see, that this would already be over the limit of 0.12 g per day.

How Do I Achieve a Low Methionine Diet?

Choosing a diet that is low in animal protein such as a plant-based would lessen your methionine intake. Until more research is known about the actual level of methionine intake necessary and what cancer types and subtypes are more adversely affected by methionine restriction, and what drug regime is made more effective by methionine restriction, it’s hard to get any more detailed at this time. But, in the meantime, I still think this study is relevant for you as a cancer patient, cancer survivor and cancer thriver!

Why Is This Study Relevant for A Cancer Thriver?

This study provides early evidence that nutrition can play a key role both by itself and combined with drug therapy (lexatumumab) to make cancer cells more vulnerable. This is especially relevant for the cells lines that were tested in the study—namely triple negative breast cancer cells. Being able to be part of your care team by following a therapeutic diet will help to keep you in the drivers seat of your own cancer care. Taking back control and maintaining control of aspects of your life, such as your diet, is a big part of being a cancer thriver.

Plant-Based Diets for Cancer Treatment

plant-based diet for cancer thriversThis study provides more evidence that a plant-based diet is best for cancer patients. It also provides an interesting slant that plant-based diets may not just be useful for cancer prevention but also can be a treatment by itself and to make cancer treatment with lexatumumab more effective. This study has peaked my interest in this topic so I plan to continue to follow it and update you with new teachings. To make sure you don’t miss out, I invite you to join my Thriving After Cancer Coaching and Support Program where you will receive in-depth training, answers to your specific questions and support from cancer patients, survivors and thrivers just like you!

Join the Conversation

Do you have triple negative breast cancer? Are you being treated with lexatumumab? Have you been told by your medical professional about a low-methionine diet? I’d love to read your comments below or on Facebook here.

Looking for Additional Reading on this Topic?

Triple Negative Breast Cancer

Receptor Status

ER Negative PR Positive Breast Cancer

Her2- Positive Breast Cancer

Science Daily





(1) Methionine Deprivation Induces a Targetable Vulnerability in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Cells by Enhancing TRAIL Receptor-2 Expression Clin Cancer Res. 2015 Jun 15;21(12):2780-91. Strekalova E1 et al.

(2) The Emperor of All Maladies, A Biography of Cancer. Siddhartha Mukherjee. Scribner, 2010.

(3) Nutrient intake and nutritional indexes in adults with metastatic cancer on a phase I clinical trial of dietary methionine restriction. Nutr Cancer. 2002;42(2):158-66. Epner DE et al.


A Super Simple Maitake Mushroom Recipe for Cancer Thrivers

I’ve been up to my eyeballs in fungus!

What I mean by that is, I’ve been researching edible fungus (mushrooms) and the documented health benefits so that I am able to share this information with you.

Health Benefits of Edible Fungus (Mushrooms)

Recently, I did a series of blog posts called Nutrients for Immune Function. One the posts in this series (The Link Between Mushrooms and Immune Function) provides an overview of the components of mushrooms and the health benefits mushrooms can provide for us as cancer thrivers! Also, I have covered this topic in even more depth during an online training for the Thriving After Cancer Coaching and Support Program. You can learn more about the program and how you can access a recording of this training in the archives of my Thriving After Cancer Coaching and Support Program by clicking here.

This post is about finding and eating mushrooms! While I am usually adventurous when it comes to trying new foods, I must admit I was a little hesitant when it came to mushrooms. Maybe it was the thought of eating fungus, but after being swayed by the very compelling evidence-based research, I set out on my quest to find some immune boosting mushrooms.

Immune Boosting Mushrooms
Maitake Mushroom

Maitake Mushroom

Specifically, I was after Maitake mushrooms. Like most mushrooms, Maitake has several names—keep this in mind when you are shopping! Maitake is also called:

  • Sheep’s head
  • Ram’s head
  • Hen-of-the-woods
  • Dancing Mushroom.

Its botanical name is Grifola frondosa and it’s one of the major culinary mushrooms used in Japan.

Turns out, I am not alone in my interest in Maitake mushrooms. The Maitake mushroom is a top 10 food trend in both North America and France this year. I suspect that Maitake’s popularity is not just based on a culinary trend but also because people are interested in Maitake mushrooms for the same reasons I was—nutrition, effect on the body’s immune function and its use in cancer research.

(Are you (like many other cancer thrivers!) trying to support your immune system by eating immune boosting foods? Check out my Thriving After Cancer Coaching and Support Program where you can access archived and live trainings on immune boosting diet and lifestyle changes you can make to support your immune system, reduce inflammation and attack cancer cells directly. Also, get answers to your questions and advice on how to deal with the challenges you are facing.)

Support your immune system, reduce inflammation, attack cancer cells directly

Maitake Mushroom Extract

Extracts of the Maitake mushroom have been used as part of cancer treatment in combination with chemotherapy by introperitoneal, intravenous or oral routes. Published research shows that extracts of the Maitake mushroom can enhance the effects of the chemotherapy and help stimulate immune system cells.

This of course makes me wonder—if taking Maitake mushroom extracts as a supplement is beneficial—is eating Maitake mushrooms also beneficial?

The type of study that would address this question would be an epidemiological study.

There haven’t been many of these done but the few that have show that as mushroom intake increases, cancer risk decreases, but none of them break down the type of mushroom consumed, only the total amount.

So, for now, my question remains partially unanswered. However, I was still on a mission to find and eat some Maitake mushrooms. Based on the evidence that is available, I believe it’s reasonable to assume that including these mushrooms in the diet of a cancer survivor will be another tool to help reduce cancer risk.

Where to Find Maitake Mushrooms

My first stop to find some Maitake was a farmers market. I did find two mushroom vendors. One had the usual cultivated mushrooms—button, Portobello, and oyster but there was no Maitake. The second had more exotic foraged mushrooms including chanterelles, lobster mushrooms, and shiitake.

The best selection of mushrooms I've seen

The best selection of mushrooms I’ve seen!

I struck it rich when I visited a local independent grocery store (Yeah! For the independents!). For those of you in Toronto, Fiesta Farms has the best mushroom selection I have seen in Toronto.

Sure enough, Fiesta Farms had Maitake mushrooms, as well as several other exotic mushroom types. I selected some fresh looking Maitake and some other varieties I had never tried before.

Then, I went home and cooked the mushrooms! The recipe is super simple:

Pan Fried Maitake Mushrooms


  • Maitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • Salt


  • Heat some olive oil on a fry pan on low-medium heat.
  • Add the mushrooms and pan fry.
  • Add salt and serve hot.
Pan Fried Maitake Mushrooms

Pan Fried Maitake Mushrooms

The Maitake were delicious! I will be going back for more and won’t be afraid to try other new mushrooms in future.

If you are fearful of your cancer coming back, remember there are incremental changes you can make in your diet and lifestyle to help support your immune system, reduce inflammation and attack cancer cells directly. I believe including a variety of mushrooms, which are known to support the immune system, is an excellent way to take control of your eating habits and diet, and in turn take back your power that your cancer has taken from you.

Do you have a favourite mushroom or mushroom recipe? Please share it in the comments below.


Want to Learn More About Food, Nutrition and Lifestyle Choices to Reduce Your Risk of Cancer?

The Thriving After Cancer Coaching and Support Program provides you with advice and answers to your questions based on evidence-based, scientific research and connects you with a community of cancer thrivers just like you! Learn more here.

Support your immune system, reduce inflammation, attack cancer cells directly


Further Reading on Food Trends:


Edible mushrooms: improving human health and promoting quality life. Int J Microbiol. 2015;2015:376387. Valverde ME1, Hernández-Pérez T1, Paredes-López O1.

Dietary mushroom intake and the risk of breast cancer based on hormone receptor status. Shin A, Kim J, Lim SY, Kim G, Sung MK, Lee ES, Ro J. Nutr Cancer. 2010;62(4):476-83.

β-Glucans and their applications in cancer therapy: focus on human studies. Aleem E1.Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 2013 Jun;13(5):709-19.




Matcha Green Tea Powder (& a cancer-thriver smoothie recipe!)

Last week, I wrote briefly on the benefits of green tea. When it comes to increasing your intake of cancer-fighting catechins, doctors Richard Béliveau and Denis Gingras (authors of the book Foods that Fight Cancer) recommend that you choose Japanese green tea over Chinese. This is because the evidence indicates that Japanese green tea has higher amounts of beneficial cancer-fighting catechins.

Making the small change to Japanese green tea can have a big impact on your journey towards becoming a cancer thriver.


What if you haven’t yet acquired a taste for green tea yet?

Well, I suggest you start with this recipe from Toronto’s much-loved vegetarian restaurant, Fresh ( They have kindly given me permission to share their recipe with you!

Shamrock Smoothie

Ingredients:banana, agave, peppermint oil, Matcha green tea powder, vanilla soy milk

  • 1 banana
  • 1 tsp agave
  • ½ tsp peppermint oil (or less if you use full strength oil)
  • 1 T Matcha green tea powder
  • 12 oz vanilla soy milk


  • Put the ingredients into a blender, blend and enjoy.

(Want to transform your diet to one that supports your goal to be cancer free? Get monthly trainings on the key elements of a thriving after cancer diet and lifestyle, complete with tips to get you started right away. Join here.)

thriving after cancer coaching and support program with jean lamantiaWhy Should Cancer Thrivers Try This Recipe?

Let’s take a look at the cancer-fighting potential of the ingredients in this delicious smoothie!

Banana—Banana is a source of prebiotic fibre. This is a type of fibre that provides fuel to the healthy bacteria that live in your intestines and helps to keep your immune system strong. A strong immune system is absolutely critical to a thriving after cancer lifestyle. Remember all prebiotics are fibre but not all fibres are blue agave syrup

Agave—While there is a lot of fear of sugar in the cancer community, the 1 tsp of agave in this recipe is a very small amount. And, it comes with a lot of other beneficial nutrition contained in this recipe. Agave is a sweetener made from the agave plant. Is there an advantage to using agave over other sugars? Check out “Added Sugar” below. If you want to avoid all added sugars, then you can leave this out of the recipe all together.

matcha green tea powder and peppermint oilPeppermint Oil—Like many spices, peppermint has a long history of medicinal uses, which continue to be studied and documented. In the case of peppermint oil, it is known for helping indigestion, reducing stress and anxiety, and even has been shown in test tube and animal studies to combat a variety of cancers. The ½ tsp in this recipe is a small amount but it is nice to know that most of the ingredients in the recipes have positive health properties. When you are learning to thrive after cancer, every small step helps! They can really add up and transform into a healthy lifestyle.

Matcha Green Tea Powder—Matcha is made from shade-grown tea leaves. The tea bushes are covered to prevent direct sunlight several weeks before harvest. The dried leaves are de-veined and de-stemmed, and stone ground to the fine, bright green powder known as matcha. When you consume matcha, you are consuming the entire leaf—so you don’t use a tea bag or diffuser. Because of this, matcha is thought to be higher in beneficial cancer fighting compounds than steeped tea. To use the powder, just add it to the smoothie (or hot water if you are making a cup of tea). You can find it in tea shops and health food stores.

Vanilla Soy Milk – While I still come across cancer patients and survivors who have sworn off soy products (either on their own or recommended by a health professional), I am a promoter of soy. I’ve looked at the scientific evidence relating to soy and cancer and I feel very comfortable consuming organic whole soy foods. This is because the evidence has shown that consuming organic whole soy foods can help to reduce cancer risk due to soy’s many beneficial plant compounds. If you choose to avoid it, then substitute your favorite milk/milk-like beverage. I would love to hear how it turns out! Also, I should mention that this recipe calls for vanilla soy beverage, which will most likely contain added sugar. If you prefer no-sugar-added version, then get an unsweetened soy beverage. (See “How to Choose a Soy Beverage” below.)

How to Choose a Soy Beverage

It is recommended you choose whole soy foods and not processed soy foods. In order to choose whole soy foods, it’s important to read the ingredient list on the product. You want to choose those products that contain “organic soy beans” and not “soy protein isolate”. Organic soy beans will give you a higher level of isoflavones, which are a group of compounds shown to protect again cancer.

organic soy beans

organic soy beans

soy protein isolate

soy protein isolate

Is Agave Better than Table Sugar?

According to research scientists and dietitians at the University of Sydney (, the glycemic index of agave ranges from 10-19, whereas the glycemic index of sugar (sucrose) is 60-65. When it comes to glycemic index, the lower the number, the better. Agave has 20 kcal per tsp compared to sugar, which has less at 15 kcal. However, agave is also sweeter so you may find yourself using less. With these two advantages in mind, you may prefer to use agave over sugar. Keep in mind though that you should limit your added sugars to 25 g per day (See “Added Sugar” below.) Alos, stay tuned for my upcoming series on the relationship between sugar and cancer.

Added Sugar

Let’s add up the added sugar in this Shamrock Smoothie recipe:

  • ½ tsp agave = 2.6 g
  • 12 oz of vanilla soy beverage = 12 g
  • Total = 14.6 g

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recommends you limit added sugar to 25 g per day for women and 28 g per day for men. If you consume the Shamrock Smoothie, you will still be left with over 15 g for the remainder of the day. The natural sugar in the banana is not counted because only ‘added sugar’ is limited.

More Than Ingredients

Finally, this recipe provides more than the healthy ingredients and what they do for your body on a cellular level, it also provides you with positive energy and feelings from eating something you know is good for you. You feel you are part of your health care team. You feel you have the power to make a difference in your survivorship. To me, this is an important part of being a cancer-thriver—knowing you are making a contribution to reducing your cancer risk. I believe food, diet and lifestyle choices can make a difference in boosting your immune system, reducing chronic inflammation, and directly fighting cancer cells. Your everyday choices matter!

(Want to transform your diet to one that supports your goal to be cancer free? Get monthly trainings on the key elements of a thriving after cancer diet and lifestyle, complete with tips to get you started right away. Join here.)

thriving after cancer coaching and support program with jean lamantia

Let me know if you make the Shamrock Smoothie recipe and how you like it in the comments below!

Additional Reading

Matcha Madness What’s Old is New and Here to Stay

Other Green Tea Recipes

Matcha Tea Waffles

Matcha-Ginger Oatmeal Cups



How to Improve Your Tea Routine

green teaGreen Tea and Thriving After Cancer

When reading about healthy eating for cancer survivors, it is common to see green tea ranking high on the list of recommended foods. The reason for this is that green tea contains a high level of cancer-fighting compounds called catechins. In their book, Foods to Fight Cancer, doctors Richard Béliveau and Denis Gingras devote an entire chapter to discussing the cancer-fighting benefits of green tea. These doctors and other evidence-based research suggest that green tea can be an important part of thriving after cancer!

The Important Difference Between Black Tea and Green Tea

While green tea and black tea come from the same plant (Camellia sinensis), green tea is not fermented. The plant contains naturally occurring enzymes that start the fermentation process soon after the leaf is harvested. In order to prevent the fermentation that would lead to black tea, the green tea leaves are heated. The Chinese method for doing this is to roast the leaves, while the Japanese method is to steam them.

Why Should Cancer Thrivers Consider Japanese Green Tea?

The Chinese method of roasting the leaves results in a tea that is sweeter—having flavour notes of orchid, green bean, chestnut and honey. Japanese green tea flavour notes are described as grassy, asparagus, marine, vegetal and spinach. However, Japanese green tea is much higher in beneficial catechins. So, while it may take your palate some time to acquire the taste for Japanese green tea, the evidence indicates it will be worth it, as the amount of beneficial cancer-fighting components is significantly higher!

So, will you make the switch to Japanese green tea? Maybe you are thinking “I don’t like tea at all!” If so, stay tuned for next week’s blog when I will share a yummy green tea recipe for the non-tea lover.


Book Review – The Calories In Calories Out Cookbook

The Calories In Calories Out CookbookThe Calories In Calories Out Cookbook…Plus, the Exercise it Takes to Burn Them Off is by Catherine Jones and Elaine Trujillo (The Experiment, 2014). Catherine Jones, the recipe developer on the project, said that the idea for the book came to her after a conversation with her brother who said:

“All I want is a cookbook with really good recipes that won’t make me fat. And, I want to know how many calories I’m eating, so I can burn them off in the gym.”

Inspired by his need, she has created just that—a cookbook designed to take the guesswork out of counting calories.

The Calories In Calories Out Cookbook organizes the recipes into sections based on the calorie level: 0-199 calories, 200-299 calories and 300-399 calories. Each section contains a variety of recipes for each meal of the day.

The result is 400 very appealing recipes with nutritional breakdown and an estimate of the number of minutes of walking or jogging it would take to burn off these calories.

Should A Cancer Survivor Read This Book (and try the recipes!)?

If you are interested in losing weight by tracking your calories in and calories out, I don’t know of a better resource then this one! The book also begins with an explanation of calories by Malden Nesheim, a professor of nutrition at Cornell University.

Weight loss is a proven strategy that can help you to lower chronic inflammation, support your immune system and reduce cancer risk. Controlling your weight and getting the right amount of exercise are essential to a cancer-thriver lifestyle!

However, I should warn you about a couple of things with this book. If you like to preview recipes by reading a cookbook at night before you go to bed, holding this book up with be a workout! The 412 pages combined with the paper stock make this a really heavy read…literally.

A Sample of the Calories In for this recipe and the Calories Out.

A sample of the “calories in” for a recipe and the “calories out”.

Also, if you are far sighted and need glasses to read, get them polished up because you will need them. The recipe font and layout are not the most reader friendly that I have encountered.

Besides these physical limitations, if you are looking for a cookbook with really great recipes, nutritional breakdown and a quick glance guide for how to burn off the calories then this book is for you.

If you already have a copy, I’d love to hear about your favourite recipes in the comments below or let me know what your favourite cookbook is.





Get The Calories In Calories Out Cookbook on Amazon

A Cancer Thriver’s Salmon Recipe

Salmon with Grainy Mustard and Wheat Germ Topping
  • 4 – 1” pieces of salmon
  • ¼ cup wheat germ toasted
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 Tbsp grainy mustard
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 °F.
  2. Rinse the salmon and place on parchment paper lined baking sheet.pieces of salmon
  3. Toast the wheat germ by heating in non-stick fry pan over medium heat. Remove from heat when a medium brown colour is achieved.Toast wheat germ
  4. Cover the top and sides of the salmon fillet with grainy mustard.grainy mustard
  5. Mix the garlic powder, cayenne pepper and toasted wheat germ and apply over the mustard.garlic powder, cayenne pepper and toasted wheat germgrainy mustard and toasted wheat germ
  6. Place the salmon into the preheated oven and cook until you see the white fat appear on the fish. You can test it with a fork. When the salmon flakes, it is done. Do not overcook it or it will be dry! It should be about 10 minutes depending on the thickness.cooked salmon
  7. Separate the salmon from the skin and dark fat (keep reading to find out why I suggest this!).
  8. Serve with your favourite vegetable and grain!salmon with vegetable and grain

This is an original recipe by Jean LaMantia at It is adapted from a recipe from this blog Wheat Germ Crusted Salmon. Please share with credit to


Why should a cancer survivor enjoy Salmon with Grainy Mustard and Wheat Germ Topping?

Let me explain…

In a recent blog series, I reviewed the Top Nutrients For Immune Function that were recently highlighted in a webinar by the National Cancer Institute. (You can see the links to the blogs in the notes section below). One of the top nutrients for immune function discussed was omega-3 fatty acid. This make omega-3 fatty acid a MUST for cancer thrivers!

Omega-3 Fatty Acid

Omega-3 fatty acid is found in cold water fish including salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, anchovies and trout. It is important for you as a cancer survivor (and thriver!) to include these types of fish in your diet regularly (about two times per week). This is because omega-3 is a strong anti-inflammatory (the strongest in fact) and it can also support the immune system. A strong immune system can mean a better defense against cancer cells!

There is a Catch!

There is indeed a catch at the end of the salmon line. The catch is that researchers discovered that omega-3 could reduce T-cell mediated immune function. This means that it can actually reduce the functioning of this part of the immune system. Yikes!! But I just said that omega-3 was immune boosting, right? It is immune boosting, BUT you have to combine omega-3 with other foods properly to achieve this immune boosting effect.

Food Combining to The Rescue

The solution to overcoming the immune weakening effect of omega-3 is to include an antioxidant along with the fish oil. In the research (referenced below), a supplement of 100 and 200 IU of vitamin E (an antioxidant) was used. While the research on this used a vitamin E supplement, you can also get your antioxidants from food.

Antioxidants Plus Omega-3

Antioxidants include vitamins E and C, as well as beta-carotene, flavonoids and selenium. A wheat germ crust (wheat germ is high in vitamin E) with salmon is an example of combining an antioxidant with omega-3. And it’s delicious!

Other Food Combining Examples

Combine your favourite omega-3 rich fish plus:

  • Citrus glaze
  • Side salad with almonds and strawberries
  • Tropical fruit salad (papaya, kiwi, guava, mango)
  • Guacamole
  • Green tea
  • Berries
  • Bean salad
  • Brazil nuts

Do you have a favourite combination of omega-3 rich fish and an antioxidant? Please share your idea below!

Why Remove the Fish Skin and Dark Fat?

While there is a big health benefit to consuming fish for its omega-3 content, because of environmental contamination, fish can contain contaminants such as PCBs. Many contaminants are bound in the fat and the skin of the fish, so by removing these parts of the fish, you will reduce your exposure!





Nutrients for Immune Function Blog Series

What Foods Boost My Immune System?

Vitamin E and Your Immune System

Do Low Vitamin B6 Levels Harm My Immune System?

Is Fish Oil Beneficial or Detrimental?

Probiotics and Prebiotics

The Link between Mushrooms and Immune Function

Soy Foods and Cancer Risk

National Cancer Institute Webinar: Cancer Prevention Through Immunomodulation: Does Diet Play a Role?

Fish Oil and Vitamin E Study

J Am Coll Nutr. 2006 Aug;25(4):300-6.


Cancer-Smart Salad Dressing

cancer-smart salad dressing recipe

Enjoy this recipe with your favourite greens or vegetables!

I first encountered this salad dressing when I was attending a weekend retreat and I asked for the recipe right away! After getting a copy of the recipe, I made my own tweaks to improve its nutritional quality and its cancer-fighting ability but keep the same great taste. Yum! I hope you like it.


Ingredients for Cancer-Smart Salad Dressing

Ingredients for Cancer-Smart Salad Dressing

Cancer-Smart Salad Dressing
  • 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp of Light Tamari
  • ¾ cup flax oil
  • black pepper (to taste)

Mix all ingredients in a jar and stir or shake. Keep refrigerated. Be careful with spills, as the turmeric powder will stain.

The Finished Product, Cancer-Smart Salad Dressing

The Finished Product!


Why Should Cancer Thrivers Enjoy this Recipe?

Let me answer this, one ingredient at a time…

Garlic – There is evidence that the compounds formed after garlic is cut or crushed are able to stop cancer cells. In addition to this, garlic is also anti-inflammatory and an important part of the traditional Mediterranean diet, which shows good evidence for fighting against cancer.

Turmeric – Turmeric is part of the traditional Indian cuisine. The Indian people have much lower rates of cancers that are more common in the west, such as breast, prostrate and colorectal. Turmeric is the strongest anti-inflammatory of all the spices, so it plays an important role in boosting your immune system and helping you to thrive after cancer.

Flax oil – There are not very many ways to incorporate flax oil into your diet since it can’t be cooked, so using it in a salad dressing might just be the best way to consume it! Flax is highest in the plant version of omega-3. Omega-3 is one of my top 4 essential foods for fighting chronic inflammation! Minimizing chronic inflammation helps keep your immune system strong so it can protect you from cancer. Look for flax oil in the refrigerated section of your grocery or health food store and make sure to keep it in the fridge!

Nutritional Yeast

The package on the left contains 200% of the Daily Value for vitamin B12 (meaning it is fortified with vitamin B12). The package on the right does not contain vitamin B12.

Nutritional yeast – This type of yeast is different from the yeast used to make bread. Nutritional yeast is deactivated by heating and so, will not rise. Despite internet claims to the contrary, not all nutritional yeast is a good source of vitamin B12. It is only a source of vitamin B12 when it has been fortified. I recommend you use the vitamin B12 fortified version of nutritional yeast for this recipe. Animal products are the only source of vitamin B12 and since many cancer survivors focus on plant-based diets, their diets may be low in vitamin B12. Low B12 levels puts you at risk for anemia. So, I suggest you use vitamin B12 fortified nutritional yeast.

Black Pepper – Black pepper should always be included in recipes using turmeric. The peperine in black pepper will help your body to absorb the active ingredient in turmeric called curcumin. Curcumin is an anti-cancer compound as well as an anti-inflammatory. You don’t need a lot of black pepper; so, I will leave it up to you how much you want to add.

Apple Cider Vinegar – The internet is full of claims about apple cider vinegar! It turns out there may be some truth to the claims that it helps with weight loss. In one study, participants who consumed 1 Tbsp per day of apple cider vinegar lost an additional 1 lb over 12 weeks. While weight loss is important for cancer thrivers because it reduces inflammation and strengthens the immune system, the apple cider vinegar’s effect is very small. It is included in this salad dressing because of the flavour and acidity it imparts in the recipe and not for it’s “fat busting”.

Tamari – Tamari is a Japanese form of soy sauce. Unlike soy sauce, it is made without wheat (or much less) and it is described as having a darker colour and richer flavour than Chinese soy sauce. I use “light” tamari as it is lower in sodium (salt). I was unable to find any published health benefits of tamari. So, it is included in the recipe for its flavour. Yum!

Want Some Additional Reading on This Topic?

I suggest you check out this article from The Kitchn, The difference between soy sauce and tamari

Recipe Credit:

This is an original recipe by Jean LaMantia at It is adapted from a recipe from Hollyhock retreat. Please share with credit to





Evidence to Support Apple Cider Vinegar

Book Review: Radical Remission, The Nine Key Factors That Can Make a Real Difference

Radical RemissionKelly Turner is a psychotherapist who specializes in integrative oncology. She has a master’s degree in social work in the field of counseling for cancer patients. During her PhD work, she studied spontaneous healing, which she calls “radical remission”.

Her book, Radical Remission, The Nine Key Factors That Can Make a Real Difference, is a summary of the findings from her PhD work (and beyond). It outlines the nine key factors that all of the radical remission patients had in common. She defines “radical remission” as any cancer remission that is statistically unexpected. This can occur when;

  • a cancer goes away without any conventional treatment;
  • a patient begins with conventional treatment, then abandons this for alternative;
  • or a patient uses both conventional and alternative at the same time

One thing I would like to note is that I take issue with Turner’s use of the term alternative. In my mind, an alternative treatment is one that is used in place of (or as an alternative to) conventional medicine. When it is used alongside conventional treatment, I believe it should be called complimentary or integrative.

During the course of her dissertation research, she focused her attention on two groups. The first group was radical remission survivors. She asked the radical remission survivors this question: “why do you think you healed?” The second group she interviewed was alternative healers who treat cancer.

From her research she found 75 factors could account for the healing. Nine of these factors occurred with the greatest frequency. Her book outlines these nine factors, which are:

  1. Changing your diet
  2. Taking control of your health
  3. Following your intuition
  4. Using herbs and supplements
  5. Releasing suppressed emotions
  6. Increasing positive emotions
  7. Embracing social support
  8. Deepening your spiritual connection
  9. Having strong reasons for living

Regarding the first factor (changing your diet), the majority of people Turner studied greatly reduced or eliminated sugar, meat, dairy, and refined foods, and greatly increased fruit and vegetable intake, choose organic food, and drink filtered water.

Based on my experience in teaching people how to thrive after cancer, these findings are all in alignment with my recommendations. Reading this section of the book was reassuring that the published evidence I use to guide my nutrition recommendations is being confirmed in Turner’s work. If you are not already following these recommendations, then I would suggest that you work towards these goals.

Turner’s overarching goal for her research is to spur on further study of these radical remission cases in the hopes of learning more about the body’s ability to heal itself. I too focus my Thriving After Cancer Coaching and Support Program on uncovering the connections between the immune system, inflammation and cancer. My goal is to help you support your immune system and allow your body to maximize its own healing potential.

Are There Shortcomings in the Research?

I’m not convinced of Turner’s thoroughness in interviewing her subjects. I would have liked more detail about how much investigation she did into the stories of the survivors. In her introduction she states she “conducted over a hundred direct interviews and analyzed over a thousand written cases… after analyzing all these cases carefully and repeatedly using qualitative research methods I identified more than seventy-five different factors that may hypothetically play a role…”

There is nothing in this description to satisfy some nagging questions such as:

  • Did she confirm that the patient had a cancer diagnosis?
  • Did she rule out that the remission was due to the conventional treatment as opposed to one of the nine key factors?

I think these questions are especially nagging for me, because prior to reading Radical Remission, I read Cancer is a Word, Not A Sentence by the late Dr. Robert Buckman, a well-respected oncologist.

In his book, Dr. Robert Buckman describes how he spent two and a half years investigating “miraculous responses”. He states that “in all of the stories that I investigated, I found everyday explanations that had not been considered, and I think it is important to be aware of the more mundane explanations in order to avoid having hopes falsely raised and then suffering deep disappointment.”

You might accuse Dr. Buckman for being overly scrupulous in his debunking of miraculous claims and at the same time Kelly Turner may be guilty of not looking for “everyday explanations” in her enthusiasm to count her subject among one of her radical remissions. I only wish she had been more detailed in her book to tell me the extent to which she validated the patients claims. She also never mentions whether any of the interviewees were excluded from her analysis as their remission was found to be due to their conventional treatment.

Bottom Line for Cancer Thrivers

Despite the fact I am not completely satisfied with the detailing of her research method and the extent to which she ruled out other possible cures, I would still recommend this book. I think many of the suggestions included in the nine factors that could account for the healing are good ones—I think they open up cancer patients to new possibilities.

I especially relate to the Chapter 5 Releasing Suppressed Emotions. In my personal experience with cancer, I believe my deep shame was a major contributor to my cancer. I agree with Turner that releasing these harmful emotions is key. I don’t want to just survive after cancer, I want to thrive and for me that means many things including living my life in integrity with who I really am. I would encourage you to explore this as well. Releasing negative emotions such as fear, trauma, regret, anger or sadness is an important part of thriving after cancer. I encourage you to begin this journey. If you want to hear more about my journey with releasing my shame, you can listen to my interview with Tom Coccanga here.

Should A Cancer Survivor Read This Book?

I think so. It is uplifting to read about others who have survived cancer against the odds. Reading this book will provide a boost to your optimism and in turn, this can boost your immune system and help you to really thrive. For more on how optimism can help boost your immune system, read my blog on the subject here.

Since seven of the nine key factors Turner outlines in the book are emotional or spiritual in nature, you can implement all of these without interfering with conventional cancer treatments. The other two key factors (changing your diet and taking herbs and supplements) will require more individualized care plan. You should seek guidance from a nutritional professional with expertise in oncology. But don’t let that scare you into inaction—making these changes in your life can be easy and fun! Especially when you are supported by a group of other cancer thrivers who are working toward the same goals! Check out how my Thriving After Cancer Coaching and Support Program can help you achieve your goals here.

Want to do some additional reading on this topic?

I suggest you take a look at my blog post, Book Review: Cancer is a word not a Sentence here.





Radical Remission, The Nine Key Factors That Can Make a Real Difference. Kelly A. Turner, HarperOne, 2014.

Cancer is a Word, Not A Sentence. Dr. Robert Buckman. Collins, 2007.

Older posts «