The symptoms produced by cancer depend on the site of the tumor and the extent of the development. Any of the following are common: a lump, skin changes, weight loss, a sore that fails to heal, a blemish that enlarges, severe headaches, difficulty swallowing, persistent hoarseness, coughing up blood, persistent abdominal pain, change in shape and size of testes, blood in urine, change in bowel habits, change in breast shape, bleeding or discharge from nipple, or vaginal bleeding between periods.


What is Cancer?

From Modern Western Medicine

Cancer, the second most common cause of death in the United States, is a group of disease states that arise when cells reproduce without restraint and without regard for the whole body. Malignant tumors occur most commonly in major organs, such as the lungs, breasts, intestines, skin, stomach, pancreas, or bones, as well as in smaller sites, such as nasal sinuses, the testes, ovaries, or the lips or tongue. Cancer also develops in the blood and lymph system. Surgery is the most common form of treatment, often in combination with radiation therapy and anticancer drugs (chemotherapy). Surgery, of course, is performed to remove the cancer cells or diseased organ, while radiation therapy and chemotherapy are intended to destroy the cancer cells and arrest its development.


From Traditional Medicine

Cancer is the end result of a long-term process of degeneration. Long before a collection of cancer calls arise, the body has suffered from poor circulation of blood, lymph and qi in that particular location. Blood brings oxygen to cells. When blood flow to cells is reduced or blocked, cells die or become deformed, sometimes becoming cancerous. When lymph is blocked, waste accumulates in the areas and contributes to the likelihood of disease. Qi is life force; without adequate qi, cells degenerate and become diseased.

The stagnation in that site has arisen out of multiple reasons that involve body, mind and spirit. Physical influences, such as unhealthful foods, chemicals (such as pesticides and additives), lack of exercise and physical inflexibility—especially in that part of the body—has caused poor circulation. As for mental aspects, certain types of thoughts and fears have created muscle tension and thus contributed to the lack of circulation. Emotionally, grief and old resentments that were never resolved exist as unhealed wounds in the psyche. These emotions, and the experiences and relationships that gave rise to them, form a kind of ongoing pain that never fully heals or goes away. Like a part of us that cannot integrate into our being or put to rest, such feelings serve as antagonists to our general sense of well-being, our immune system and the body’s detoxifying functions. Finally, cancer is related to a deeper existential fear that arises from the spirit and, specifically, out of feelings of being disconnected from others and from the universe at large. When these debilitating behaviors,  thoughts, fears and beliefs are maintained  over time, they form the foundation for illnesses known as cancer.

On the other hand, such awareness provides the insight and guidance for treatment. The disease must be dealt with from the body/mind/spirit perspective, specifically to increase qi, blood, and lymph flow to the overall body and especially to the site of the tumor.


Who Gets Cancer?

Cancer has affected humans since prehistoric times and is also common in domestic and farm animals, birds, and fish. Apart from childhood cancers, which may be associated with events during pregnancy, such as exposure to radiation, most cancers are features of aging.


General Recommendations

  • Eat a diet composed of whole grains, vegetables, beans, green foods, and sea vegetables
  • Eat foods and herbs that have specific anticancer properties
  • Exercise daily. Include yoga or some other meditative exercise.
  • Undergo some type of energy therapy, such as acupuncture and/or the laying of hands to promote qi flow throughout the body
  • Do whatever therapy that appeals to you that will make you confront and put old emotional wounds, sadness and unresolved conflicts to rest
  • Pray, meditate, and adopt behaviors that promote a sense of connection to the universe at large, to your sense of God, Tao, or Great Spirit


Foods to Eat

The choices of food and amount of cooking depends on the type of the cancer and the condition of the individual. The following general recommendations will cause a slow release of toxins and can be used by anyone:

  • Whole grains
  • Vegetables, especially those rich in antioxidants and anticancer nutrients (see the section on Nutrition in Part III for anticancer foods)
  • Seaweeds (immune-boosting and anticancer)
  • Beans (anticancer)
  • Sprouts (anticancer)
  • Microalgae such as spirulina, chlorella, and blue-green algae (immune-boosting and anticancer)
  • Flaxseed (antitumor, antiestrogenic, and antioxidant)
  • Reishi and shiitake mushrooms (immune-boosting and anticancer): one mushroom per day
  • Onions and garlic (immune-boosting and anticancer)
  • Cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, kale, and broccoli (immune-boosting and anticancer)
  • White fish, when desired


Foods to Avoid

  • Red meat
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products
  • Processed or chemicalized foods
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeinated beverages
  • Hydrogenated vegetable oils, such as margarine, shortening, or soy margarines
  • Salty foods



  • Perform some aerobic exercise at least five times per week. Do not exhaust yourself. Walking is ample, but any exercise that promotes circulation and is enjoyed will be of benefit.
  • Yoga, especially stretching areas of the body that are tight and inflexible


Herbs to Treat Cancer

Mix equal parts of chaparral, bloodroot, red clover, Echinacea, dandelion root, violet leaves, santicle, buckthorn bark, burdock root, ginger, and licorice root. Take 2 capsules four to six times a day.

Chinese Medicine

See the section on Breast Cancer for dietary recommendations for cancer.

Chinese medicine regards cancer as stagnation of blood, lymph, and qi. These three are the basis for health. All three must be restored to the body at large and, specifically, to the affected area for health to be reestablished.

Tissue oxygen is maximized by moderate exercise; living in a clean environment; eating freshly prepared, lightly cooked whole grains and vegetables; eating small amounts of raw vegetables; and emphasizing chlorophyll-rich foods.

Acupuncture and energetic exercise, such as tai chi chuan also help combat cancer.


  • Perform positive imagining routines daily
  • Meditate or pray
  • Identify places of tension in the body, particularly in the areas if the cancer, and release the tension and emotions related to that area



The use of supplements in the treatment of cancer is very controversial. Many experts believe that supplements stress the liver excessively and may impair its detoxifying function; others wonder if supplements weaken the immune system function, especially in light of the recent report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (62; supplement, 1995; S1427-S1430, and previously reported in The New England Journal of Medicine) showing that supplements of beta carotene and vitamin E were associated with higher levels of cancer than those cases in which people were getting beta carotene and vitamin E from diet alone.

The evidence suggests that supplements may be inappropriate for cancer patients and the best way to get your vitamins and minerals is through food.