Narrative research 2015-2016

In 2015 a narrative research project was launched under the name 'Public Program Cancer'. The objective was simply to collect and analyse the stories of cancer survivors who had adopted changes to nutrition and lifestyle into their daily lives. One year and 142 stories further we have rounded off this project. As simple as the project objective is, so are the findings.

We could publish a “scientific” looking report, with numerous correlations and conclusions, subconclusions and statistics. But instead we have gone for one statement and one recommendation.

The statement:

Cancer survivors of 5, 10, 20, 30 years and more, who adopted some form of optimal nutrition and lifestyle plan along the way, all credit their recovery from cancer and long term survival to the changes they made in nutrition and lifestyle. Those cancer patients who first subjected themselves to years of medicines, chemo and radiation type therapies, and later adopted e.g. the Moerman nutrition guidelines, they all credit their eventual recovery and long term survival to the changes they made in nutrition and lifestyle.

The vast majority of these long term cancer survivors also share a common feeling of injustice and sometimes a kind of anger towards the medical establishment for a number of reasons:

  • doctors who would not / will not listen to their stories of natural recoveries;
  • not being properly informed of the long term nature and likelyhood of physical and psychological damage (e.g. neuropathy, lost ability to concentrate) as a consequence of the recommended therapies;
  • a medical establishment (this includes hospital dietitians, national cancer charities and research insititutions) that continues to ignore the possibility that nutrition and lifestyle can form a viable basis for cancer intervention.

The recommendation:

When an oncologist informs a patient that serious research to date has not produced any evidence to support the notion that nutrition and lifestyle can influence the cancer process, the impression is conveyed that serious research actually has been and is being done. To date I have not come across one single clinical trial in which a group of cancer patients have been coached and guided through a Moerman type nutritional therapy, let alone one combined with a lifestyle plan for exercise and sleep to further facilitate the body's natural self healing processes.

My recommendation is to design and execute such a clinical trial for a duration of 6-12 months. Within 2 weeks the cancer patients can start to report on the changes they experience to their sense of well-being and general health. Within 6-8 weeks measurable changes in the cancer processes and cancer markers are available. Within 6-12 months definitive conclusions can be drawn on the measured slowing down and reversal of cancer processes, the shrinking and disappearance of tumors.

I fully appreciate why such a clinical trial has not been performed in the past. Imagine that the evidence really does point towards an optimal nutrition and lifestyle therapy that can be successfully used with say 60% of all cancer patients. It would mean that nutrition and lifestyle studies would have to be incorporated into an oncologist's education. It would mean that many, if not all, existing cancer therapy protocols would have to be redesigned around a nutrition and lifestyle core. It would mean that the use of expensive medicines and hospital treatments would be cut by more than half. It would mean that research money would be chanelled away from expensive medicines and hospital treatments towards more natural and cheaper combination therapies.

When I consider the billions of dollars that are being poured annually into researching expensive medicines and hospital-based therapies, and the measurable “progress” that has been made over the past 40 years, it seems fair to ask the question 'Why has not one single clinical trial ever been perfomed to investigate the possible influence of a Moerman type therapy on an ongoing cancer process?' I have come across proposals for such trials, but they never made it to the starting line.

I sincerely hope that a national cancer institute, hospital or charity, or even the Moerman Academy in the Netherlands, or a consortium made up from these parties, will stand up and initiate a well-designed clinical trial on behalf of the cancer patients and families whose best interests they represent.

How to design such a clinical trial? Where to start? Here is my suggestion: keep it simple and start off with the three pillars that I designed and built for myself.