BRCA 1 Mutation Response

Give us your thoughts on the latest McDougall mailings here

Moderators: JeffN, f1jim, Heather McDougall, carolve

BRCA 1 Mutation Response

Postby healingdoc » Thu May 16, 2013 1:40 pm

I am appalled by this physician's response to Angelina Jolie's LA times article. People know that I am a huge fan of treating food as medicine. I agree that research is growing more and more in support of the notion that many spontaneous cancers are environment and diet-related. Our society tends to have a quick-fix, attitude that Dr. McDougall has been working on eliminating with his patients for over 30 years.

But, I am very surprised that he has chosen specifically to respond to Jolie's story to promote these values. As a physician, he should know that women with the BRCA 1 mutation are part of a very small percentage of patients who are very much more likely to develop aggressive, highly metastatic and difficult-to-treat cancer at a young age, and their chances increase all the way up to 87% by the time they are elderly. No degree of lifestyle changes, including the adoption of a plant-based diet, will help these particular women avoid that statistic. My mother died when she was 39. If she had known to test for this mutation and chosen a mastectomy, she might still be alive today. My sister and our cousin tested positive around age 30, and had the same exact surgery as Jolie- now their chances of developing breast cancer are less than that of the general population. I think the death of my mother helped them come to terms with the reality of this mutation (The same was the case for Jolie).

Women who have the mutation and are in the same boat as Jolie need to know that having this potentially life-saving surgery by no means signifies that they are giving up on prevention of other diseases with healthy lifestyle choices. It in no way diminishes their femininity and should not be considered mutilation, especially with the amazing nipple-sparing surgeries that are available today. These women are just making sure that they are reducing their changes of succumbing to highly aggressive, hard-to-treat cancer that is fueled by genetic mutations alone.

I understand this physician's frustration and I share his support of plant-based nutrition to help people live quality, long lives- but I feel that he chose the wrong avenue to promote The McDougall Program for Women- a "starch based-diet." It is a very inappropriate, poorly timed response, and luckily it will not be as widely distributed as Jolie's article.
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu May 16, 2013 1:35 pm

Re: BRCA 1 Mutation Response

Postby f1jim » Thu May 16, 2013 11:24 pm

Welcome to the forums and for making this your first post. You are now a part of the mix so let's get to mixing it up.
You said:
" No degree of lifestyle changes, including the adoption of a plant-based diet, will help these particular women avoid that statistic."

On what scientific basis do you make that statement. Since I am completely unaware of any study attempting to prove or disprove this statement. I will agree that those claiming to be able to stop this cancer with diet and lifestyle have the burden of proof on them. I don't think Dr. McDougall has actually made that claim, only that his experiences gives evidence it would be a worthwhile treatment.
We do know that studies on cancer predisposed mice can have their cancer turned on and off by diet manipulation. That's not proof of removal of risk in humans but it does tell us to look deeper and learn more.
Yes Dr. McDougall does have a brash, in your face way about him but it certainly creates discussion and interest and that is probably a major reason he wrote the article.
Let's get people asking if diet and lifestyle should be in the mix for this issue. It certainly has a lot of people buzzing.
While adopting this diet and lifestyle program I have reversed my heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension, and lost 54 lbs. You can follow my story at Scroll to James Brown
User avatar
Posts: 10664
Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2008 4:45 pm
Location: Pacifica, CA

Re: BRCA 1 Mutation Response

Postby Learning » Fri May 17, 2013 9:40 am

Hi Jim,

It would be interesting to know how this 87% stat was developed. Plus, I wonder if there are any records of what the diets were of these women. In addition, what happened to the remaining 13%. How many died early of other natural causes or accidental deaths. Were their environmental factors different. I can think of a lot of questions.
My Star McDougaller story can be found here: ... ten/ron-m/
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. This WOE saved my life and how I get to live it!
Posts: 262
Joined: Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:04 am

Re: BRCA 1 Mutation Response

Postby healingdoc » Sat May 18, 2013 12:16 pm

This article from Dr. Welch helps explain while Jolie's decision to have prophylactic mastectomy is a very specific decision for her condition- having the BRCA mutation. ... ?hpt=hp_c4

They key is that a VERY SMALL percentage (1%) of women are BRCA+ which means they have a genetic predisposition to highly aggressive, difficult to treat cancer and the odds show that the longer they live, the more at-risk they are. Jolie's article brings the option of prophylaxis to light for the very small subset of the population with this genetic mutation in their family lines. A very beautiful public figure with a rare mutation is telling me that she had a prophylactic mastectomy, feels empowered and even more feminine now because of it. Her article makes women who are considering this potentially life-saving surgery feel more comfortable with the idea of taking such a drastic measure to lower the very dreadful statistic. Doctors have found this particular cancer in BRCA+ women to be very hard to treat and it mets spread quickly.

The problem with a public figure writing an article like this is that the rest of the population will read it and think that it applies to them. It would be a horrible idea for women in the general population to get prophylactic mastectomies because of their 25% risk of developing cancer in their lifetime. Rather, they should focus on reducing their risk factors with healthy lifestyle choices.

Edit: Also adding this link to a video for those who prefer to watch- further explanation by those talking with a brave CNN anchor who has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. ... r.cnn.html
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu May 16, 2013 1:35 pm

Re: BRCA 1 Mutation Response

Postby pattypom22 » Sat Jul 11, 2015 6:39 am

The braca gene mutation also affects men with an increased chance of pancreatic cancer. Removing ones pancreas is not an option. I found out I have the braca 2 which isn't as bad as braca 1. But I found out after being diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Prior to getting diagnosed I lived a classic western lifestyle. Ate whatever I wanted, no exercise and high stress business. Since then, which is almost 4 years ago, I adopted a whole food plant based diet, reduced stress by getting out of my business and exercised more. As I was being treated with conventional chemotherapy my response astounded my oncologist. Now I am on a maintenance dose of chemo and eventually plan on stopping all together.
So does diet alone work. I feel it is part of a plan that requires looking at your life and making changes that remove the triggers. Think of the gene mutation like a gun. The bullets are your food. Stress pulls the trigger. So by changing what you eat and reducing stress the gun won't go off. It's worked for me and and i feel the food was a big factor in my being in remission which is extremely rare. Look up those statistics.
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 6:35 am

Return to Comments on Latest Newsletter or Star McDougaller

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests