4 Key Facts from Dr. Quillin's Talk on Cancer-Fighting Foods - Dr. Axe

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4 Need-to-Know Facts from Dr. Quillin’s Talk on Cancer-Fighting Foods


Dr. Quillen cancer-fighting foods - Dr. Axe

Patrick Quillen, PhD, CNS, RD, author of Beating Cancer with Nutrition, recently presented a session on nutrition and cancer during The Truth About Cancer’s Ultimate Live Symposium. There, he shared some interesting facts about the healing power of nutrition and natural cancer treatments, including many facts you won’t hear about in conventional medicine doctor’s offices.

Dr. Quillin is an internationally recognized expert in the area of nutrition and cancer. In fact, he’s been a clinical nutritionist for 30 years. For a decade, he served as the vice president of nutrition for Cancer Treatment Centers of America, where he worked with thousands of cancer patients in a hospital setting.

He says poor nutrition is one of the reasons we’ve gone from 5 percent of the population developing cancer in 1900 to 40 percent today. (1, 2)

Here, I’m sharing some basic, key points of Dr. Quillen’s talk on cancer-fighting foods and the importance of nutrition. Let’s take a look.

4 Key Points from Dr. Quillen’s Talk on Cancer-Fighting Foods & Nutrition

1. America’s eating lots of veggies that don’t count. 


According to the United States Department of Agriculture, some of the top “vegetables” consumed by Americans include ketchup, french fries and onion rings. (3)

Dr. Quillen also noted these sobering nutrition statistics, calling out the annual consumption and production of junk food in America:

  • 130 pounds of refined sugar consumed per person per year (4)
  • 700 million total pancakes sold at IHOP alone (5)
  • 500 million total Twinkies made in U.S. annually (6)
  • More than 10 billion total donuts made in U.S. annually (7)
  • Nearly 45 gallons of soda consumed per person per year (8)

“People are digging their graves with their fork,” Dr. Quillen said.

What we need to be eating more of are the top cancer-fighting foods, including things like leafy greens, bright orange fruits and veggies, cruciferous veggies and berries. Choose organic versions of the dirty dozen to protect yourself from pesticides.

2. Don’t eat overcooked foods and avoid the “whites.”

Dr. Quillen highlighted the importance of avoiding overcooked foods. Particularly overcooked meat. He said, for instance, that eating a 12-ounce, well-done charbroiled steak contains levels of a particular aromatic hydrocarbon carcinogen on par with what’s found in 600 cigarettes. (9)

Aside from that anti-cancer nutrition tip, Dr. Quillen also advocates for avoidance of white sugar, white flour and white potatoes. (If you love potatoes, check out purple potatoes instead.)

3. You’re not a prisoner of your DNA. 

A landmark 2008 study showed that making certain lifestyle changes can actually change your DNA. Dean Ornish, MD, president and founder of Preventative Medicine Research Institute studied 30 prostate cancer survivors not receiving treatment and instead following the watch-and-wait plan. (10)

The study participants took on the following lifestyle modifications:

  • A low-fat (10 percent of calories from fat), plant-based diet consisting of whole foods
  • 60 minutes a day of stress management, including gentle yoga-based stretching, breathing, medication, imagery and progressive relaxation
  • Moderate aerobic exercise, walking 30 minutes a day for 6 days a week
  • A 1-hour support group per week for social interaction

In just three months, researchers saw a change in more than 500 genes. In fact, several cancer-promoting genes became less aggressive, while genes that suppress cancer became more active. This was the first study to show genetic changes in cancer patients based solely on lifestyle factors.

4. Keep It Simple When Creating an Anti-Cancer Plate

Dr. Quillen advocates for a plant-based diet, but does advocate for some wild-caught and grass-fed meat and fish because it contains nutrients you can’t get otherwise. (Just be sure to avoid farmed fish and animal products that come from conventionally raised animals.)

He also called beans one of “your ultimate health foods.” Beans are consistently shown to lower your cancer risk. One reason is they contain resistant starch that is not digested in the small intestine. This helps promote healthy bacteria in the colon produce short-chain fatty acids, which seems to protect colon cells. Aside from that, beans are loaded with phytochemicals, including including triterpenoids, flavonoids, inositol, protease inhibitors and sterols. (11)

Black bean nutrition alone aids in protecting colon health and helping to ward off colon cancer due to the beans’ ability to block oxidative damage within the digestive system. (12)


Nutrition can get very complex, but he says to keep things simple, advising this strategy:

  • 1/3 of your plate should be a high-quality protein food
  • 1/3 should be cooked whole plant food
  • 1/3 should be raw, colorful fruits and vegetables

And don’t forget to use those herbs and spices. “Grandmother was practicing herbal medicine without a license when she was seasoned food in the kitchen,” Dr. Quillen noted.

Final Thoughts 

  • What you put on your plate can literally be the difference between life and death.
  • We now know that nutrition plays a huge role in cancer prevention and treatment.
  • With cancer rates soaring from 5 percent of the population to 40 percent from 1900 to now, it’s clear the move to the standard American diet has been devastating for our health.
  • Focus on avoiding white sugar, white flour and white potatoes.
  • Create a plate that’s one-third high-quality protein, one-third cooked plant food and one-third raw, colorful fruits and vegetables.

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