Plant-Based Diet Benefits: Fighting Cancer with Olivia Newton-John

Hazel Needham

Hazel Needham

Olivia Newton John
photo credit: GETTY IMAGES

Having discovered that one of the benefits of a plant-based diet is that it can actively help fight and prevent cancer, Grease star Olivia Newton-John has set up a research fund for plant-based medicine.

Plants and the planet. They go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong. That’s the way it should be, wah-ooh yeah! 

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What is the link between meat and climate change?

According to Greenpeace, since 1961, the consumption of meat has more than doubled, and in the same period, emissions of methane from cattle and manure (a gas with 28 times more global warming potential than CO2) have increased by 1.7 times. It’s not just the cattle themselves that are releasing emissions, but the rapid deforestation required to accommodate the agriculture industry.

The Greenpeace report estimates that gross emissions from land use and land-use change (mostly from deforestation and logging) in the name of the meat and dairy industry during 2007-16 were almost 20 Gigatonnes of CO2 annually.

Less meat equals less carbon, it’s a no brainer.  

What is the link between meat and cancer?

A growing amount of research suggests that consumption of processed meat has direct links to cancer, specifically bowel cancer. Experts from The International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that over the long term, consuming a 50g portion of processed meat each day (which equates to two slices of bacon) increases the risk of bowel cancer by 18%.

The average Australian risk for developing bowel cancer by the age of 85 is 8.2%.

fried bacon strips
photo credit: Polina Tankilevitch

What is the link between dairy and cancer?

Recent research from the National Institute of Cancer found that, of the 2000 women they studied, those who consumed the most high-fat dairy increased their risk of developing breast cancer by 53 percent.

A 2020 study conducted by Loma Linda University and published in the International Journal of Epidemiology expanded on these findings by studying the dietary intake of nearly 53,000 cancer-free women, who were all initially cancer-free, over the course of eight years. By the end of the study, 1,057 new breast cancer cases had developed among the women. Dairy consumption had a strong link to cancer outcome.

What is a plant-based diet?

Before we discuss the plant-based diet benefits, we need to establish what we mean by a plant-based diet. Luckily, it’s quite self explanatory – someone with a plant-based diet doesn’t eat anything that comes directly or indirectly from animals – predominantly no meat or dairy

Olivia Newton-John y John Travolta 2018
photo credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

What are the plant-based diet benefits?

  • A plant-based diet benefits the environment. As mentioned, cutting out meat prevents the  deforestation, logging and carbon emissions produced by unsustainable agricultural farming.
  •  A plant-based diet benefits the animals. Not only does a plant-based diet not require the slaughter of thousands of animals each year, but it also boycotts the companies that may have less-than-desirable standards of animal welfare
  • A plant-based diet benefits your purse. Meat is expensive. Check out these cheap plant-based recipes for a plant-based diet on a budget!
  • A plant-based diet benefits your body. A lot of people report intolerance (irritated skin or stomach) in reaction to too much dairy, and see visible improvements after they cut it out.
  • A plant-based diet benefits your future. As mentioned, meat and dairy have proven links to cancer. A plant-based diet, therefore, reduces these risks.

Are there such things as cancer-fighting foods?

Yes – Fighting cancer is just another of the plant-based diet benefits!

The Loma Linda University of Health predicts that 50% of cancer diagnoses are linked to diet. ‘When it comes to cancer-fighting foods, you can’t beat the power of produce and plant-based foods. 

Certain fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, oats, whole grains, spices and teas provide unique benefits not found in other foods. These benefits help reduce the risks of certain cancers and can even slow tumor growth and recurrence. Most of these plant-based foods provide plenty of other health benefits too.’

What is ‘the best’ plant-based diet?

Of course, to get the plant-based diet benefits, it’s important to maintain balance. A common misconception about plant-based diets is that it exclusively means eating vegetables. The best plant-based diet is a considered and balanced one, as the Harvard Medical School says . . . 


A healthy eating plate
photo credit: Harvard University

Celebrities reaping the plant-based diet benefits after cancer diagnoses

Grease star Olivia-Newton John and her husband, John Easterling, recently launched the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, which is solely purposed to invest in how plant-based diets and medicine can support cancer treatment research. 

“After having lived for years with different cancers, and having surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, I thought it would be wonderful if we could find different kinds of treatments for people going through cancer,” Newton-John said.

Also, Loose Woman star Coleen Nolan said announced that she turned to a plant-based diet earlier this year after her  sister’s diagnosis of cancer.

The presenter confirmed that the swap has not only made her feel the best she’s felt in years, it has also helped her shed unhealthy excess weight.

For more information on plant-based diet benefits and how to have a sustainable diet, visit out article here!

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