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Cancer doctor relies on vegan food

She had an inoperable cancer, many metastases, and death before her eyes. Today Rosa Aspalter is tumor-free. Now she wants to know what a meatless diet in conjunction with chemotherapy can actually do.

She is a doctor for general and nutritional medicine. And she had cancer. "I was diagnosed with colon cancer about five and a half years ago, and the lymph nodes were also affected," says Rosa Aspalter. The operation and chemotherapy were successful, “I thought everything would be okay.” But then, in July last year, the shocking diagnosis that amounted to a death sentence: many metastases in the lungs and in lymph node stations. "The cancer had spread so widely that an operation was no longer possible," says the sporty 54-year-old.

At that time, the patient was recommended to undergo triple chemotherapy, which the cancer doctor also did. “Although,” she says, “I have rarely seen patients who even this great chemotherapy would have helped at this advanced stage that I was in.” And every time she heard of the death of a cancer patient, was there is also some news of her own death. Nevertheless, she bought a concert subscription without knowing whether she would still be able to experience the concerts. Rosa Aspalter enjoyed every concert, today the doctor is tumor-free.

A huge opportunity

In the end-stage of cancer, according to Aspalter, chemotherapy and radiation therapy can no longer keep up with the cancer growth, and the tumor virtually grows away from the therapy. The doctor primarily attributes the fact that she was nevertheless successful at Aspalter to her diet: As a once downright meat fan, she switched to a vegan diet. “I've read the China Study: It is one of the world's largest epidemiological studies on the relationship between disease and diet and says that even small amounts of animal products can have a negative impact on our health and the lower the proportion, the greater the health benefits animal food is part of the diet. I saw a huge opportunity in this diet. "

Is the “little miracle” she experienced herself also possible for other cancer patients? Do you also benefit from vegan food? "My treating doctors tend not to believe in it," says Aspalter. She herself already believes in it, founded the association and the Internet platform “Essen und Krebs” and has now started an online study in which cancer patients can take part (for more information, see the info box at the bottom right).

There are several theses on how a vegan diet can prevent tumors or prevent them from spreading. “Animal protein is the ideal building material for cancer cells, it promotes both the development and growth of a tumor. If I don't give them any of it, it restricts their growth. ”Another explanation is the amino acid methionine:“ This is also much more contained in animal than in vegetable protein. Many types of cancer, however, are dependent on methionine. ”Studies, according to Aspalter, have shown that cancer cells that were already resistant to chemotherapy were withdrawn from methionine,“ and they then responded to the therapy again ”. Another hypothesis of how vegan food could protect against carcinomas: Tumor cells grow particularly in an acidic pH value, but vegetable food is more basic. "This protects the bones and also seems to inhibit tumor growth."

The renowned oncologist Heinz Ludwig, head of the Wihelminen Cancer Research Institute in Vienna, refers to the facts at hand: “A diet that does not contain too much meat and, in particular, little to no insufficiently cooked meat, reduces the risk of cancer in general and colon cancer in general Special. ”It has also been proven that vegetarians live longer and suffer less from chronic diseases. Several studies have shown that.

The question was not answered whether it is meat per se that harms omnivores, i.e. omnivores, or whether it is not also the harmful cocktail of antibiotics, hormones and the poison of factory farming that we nowadays with meat take to us.


Healthiest with fish?

According to Ludwig, it is not entirely clear whether the proven health benefit actually comes only from nutrition. “After all, nutrition has something to do with discipline. And disciplined people probably live healthier overall. "

A US study, which is not entirely uncontroversial among experts, sheds a little more light on this question on more than 72,000 Seventh-day Adventists, who as a religious community have a largely homogeneous lifestyle, but who eat differently. The most important result of the study, which collects data from six years, in brief: Vegetarian food can protect against colon cancer to a certain extent, whereby pesco-vegetarianism (no meat, but fish) reduces the risk even further. And not just with cancer. The overall death rate among pesco vegetarians was 19 percent lower than among meat eaters (among men it was even 27 percent lower). This is mainly due to the omega-3 fatty acids in fish - among other things, they dampen silent inflammations in the body, which are jointly responsible for numerous diseases, including cancer.

“Every cancer patient who wants a vegan diet and for whom there are no contraindications, gets it. I then visit him, talk to him in detail and advise him. Because advice from a nutritionist is really very important in this case, ”says Martina Schmidt, dietician at a small Styrian hospital specializing in oncology.

According to Schmidt, the trend towards vegan food has increased significantly among cancer patients, "not least because of the book and film, fork instead of scalpel‘ ". However, she would not recommend a vegan diet on her own initiative. “That has nothing to do with the fact that it is controversial among many doctors. Even if various studies show that a vegan or vegetarian diet lowers the risk of cancer, i.e. could have a preventive effect, there is still no scientific evidence for the curative effect. So there is currently no scientific evidence that a vegan diet helps in curing cancer. But it can quickly lead to deficiencies. ”Many cancer patients suffered from a protein deficiency anyway. The supply of vitamin B12, which is vital for humans, is also problematic in a purely plant-based diet. Vitamin supplements could counteract this.

However, Rosa Aspalter believes that this is not always necessary. “Anyone who eats whole grain and soy products, legumes and something fermented like kimchi or sauerkraut every day hardly suffers a deficiency.” Of course, the specific consumption recommendation depends on the constitution of the individual. One thing, however, is 100 percent certain: “Vegan food is incredibly varied and tastes really excellent.” And ultimately, according to Aspalter, she saved her life in connection with chemotherapy.

Nutritional study

The doctor Rosa Aspalter, who suffered from an inoperable cancer with numerous metastases, believes that chemotherapy mainly helped her in conjunction with a vegan diet. She is now doing a study on this.

Cancer patient wanted for study. Cancer patients aged 18 and over can take part in the online study. You must not be underweight and must in any case continue with your standard therapy (chemotherapy or radiation therapy). There are three groups: vegans, vegetarians and omnivores. More information at 01/586 13 16-17 and at www.essenundkrebs.net.

Nutritional advice as well as information, assistance and brochures for cancer patients are also available free of charge from the Austrian Cancer Aid: 01/796 64 50 and www.krebshilfe.net.

Book tips

"China Study: The scientific rationale for a vegan diet ”; T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell, 440 pages, 29.80 euros, Verlag Systemische Medizin

“Fork instead of scalpel. The Vegan Cookbook ”, Del Soufre, 352 pages, 20.60 euros and“ Fork instead of scalpel. Healthy through nutrition based on plants ”, 224 pages, 18.50 euros, both Scorpio-Verlag

("Die Presse", print edition, 02.08.2015)