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Our guest today was diagnosed with cancer and a doctor's recommendation to undergo heavy chemotherapy. In his book, Chris Beat Cancer, Chris Wark explains why he didn't follow his doctor's recommendation and still beat cancer.
Allan (1:14): Chris, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Chris Wark (1:18): Allan, good to be with you.
Allan (1:22): When we look at cancer, it’s probably one of the scariest words in the English language. And it’s getting bigger, so more and more of us are getting that diagnosis at some point in our life. I think I actually read a statistic that everybody gets cancer, but some of us don’t live long enough to die of cancer.
Chris Wark (1:44): That’s basically true. Cancers come and go in life without us realizing it, and almost everyone has cancer cells in their body. Cancer cells are simply mutated cells, cells that mutate for a variety of reasons. Your immune system is designed to identify and eliminate those cells, but what can happen and what is happening is that many of us – one out of every two men and almost one out of every two women now are on track to develop cancer because of our diet, lifestyle, environmental choices, and stress. And I can dig into those as we talk more of how those elements are causing cancer and what can be done to prevent and even heal cancer. But we’re already at epidemic levels of cancer.
Allan (2:42): I think now at my age – I’m 53 – I need to be monitoring myself. I need to be doing the things I’m supposed to do at the age-related times I’m supposed to do them, whether I want to or not. And I think women are so much better at this than men. But in your book, Chris Beat Cancer, you did a couple of different things. One that I want to get into is your story, which is extremely compelling, because I could hardly wrap my mind around my 26-year-old self finding out that I had cancer. But you took a step back and you titled the blog originally and now the book Chris Beat Cancer. But you don’t think of it now in terms of actually winning or beating something. It has a different flavor or idea to you.
Chris Wark (3:41): Yeah, that’s right. When people think about cancer, they definitely think about beating it, winning it, fighting it, it’s a battle. And that’s all terminology that was created by the cancer industry. They had to do that in order to convince people to suffer, because the treatments are so brutal that if you can convince someone that it’s going to be a fight, you get them in this mentality where they accept that suffering is involved in the cancer battle. But it doesn’t have to be that way. So, Chris Beat Cancer is the name of my book and the name of my website, but as I’ve thought about it more over the years, it’s not about beating cancer. It’s not about a battle. It’s about healing the body. That’s really what it’s about. And unfortunately, the medical industry, pharmaceutical industry, they’re not interested in healing. They’re more interested in treating a disease. There are over 200 types of cancer. There will never be a pharmaceutical cure for all cancers. So, there’s a lot of misunderstanding in the public eye, thanks to the pharmaceutical / medical industry and the media about what cancer really is and the way you should approach it.
Allan (4:53): I think that’s really important, because as we look at this thing, the C-word, it is hard to sit there and say, “I’ve got to make certain decisions. My doctor’s going to tell me things and I’m going to have read or heard things.” It can be confusing. Like I said, I can’t even wrap my mind around my 26-year-old self making decisions that you made and having I guess the epiphany or the kind of faith – it was probably a little bit of both – to have done what you did. If you don’t mind, can you take us back there and talk through this? You were, like I said, 26 years old, had been married for two years, had your whole life in front of you, until you didn’t.
Chris Wark (5:43): Yeah. So, I’d been having abdominal pain for the better part of a year and I thought maybe I had an ulcer or something. Unfortunately, the pain got progressively worse and I went to the doctor. They did a colonoscopy after a series of other tests and found a golf ball sized tumor in my large intestine. And when I woke up they said, “You got this tumor and we took a biopsy, we’re sending it to the lab. Fingers crossed, hopefully it’s just a benign tumor and it isn’t cancerous.” But it was. This was two days before Christmas, when I found out I had colon cancer, and they said, “We’ve got to get this thing out of you right away, before it spreads and kills you.” And that’s the kind of conversation that every cancer patient has pretty much with their doctors. There’s a lot of fear and urgency, and they’re often rushed into treatment that they don’t understand; treatments that can have life-threatening side effects and long-term debilitating side effects. But because it’s so urgent, or they’re led to believe that it’s urgent, they say “Yes”. It’s sort of a tragedy. When people find out they have cancer, a lot of times they don’t even have pain. Something came up on a scan or a mammogram, a lump, a bump or whatever. They don’t feel sick, they don’t look sick, until treatment starts. That’s actually what makes them sick, is treatment.
So, I said “Yes” to surgery. I didn’t know anything at the time. And surgery, by the way, is not that big a deal for a lot of cancers, so I’m not anti-surgery or anything like that. But I was able to postpone them about a week to 10 days. They wanted to have me in surgery before Christmas. I was diagnosed two days before Christmas; they were trying to get me in there before Christmas. And so I said, “I really don’t want to be in the hospital over Christmas. Can we just postpone it until after?” So I went in on December 30th, they took out a third of my large intestine, they took out the tumor, a bunch of lymph nodes. And when I woke up they said, “Look, it’s worse than we thought. You’re stage 3C.” And stage 4 means it’s in two organs. So the cancer had left the primary tumor site, it was in the lymph nodes, it was on its way to my liver. So they said, “Your next step is 9 to 12 months of chemotherapy if you want to live and survive, because at your stage, we can’t cure your cancer with surgery.” So, I initially accepted that that was my fate. My future was the chemo patient at 26. But a couple of things happened in the hospital, and faith was a big part of my journey. From the very beginning I was just praying and saying, “God, help. What do I do? What’s wrong in my life? Why am I sick?” There’s a verse in Romans that says, “God works all things for the good of those who love Him.” I chose to believe that, that God was going to work this for my good somehow. But I didn’t like it. I definitely would’ve traded places with anybody, but I had no choice. What else do I have to believe in? Luck? “I hope I’m lucky enough to survive!” So I really put my faith, hope and trust in God first and foremost, to lead me in the process.
So I’m in the hospital. They took out the tumor, and then the first meal that they serve me after taking out a third of my large intestines was a Sloppy Joe. The Sloppy Joe is a funny kind of food item. Nobody likes Sloppy Joes, restaurants don’t serve Sloppy Joes. It’s the best worst example of cafeteria food, right? The main place you would find the Sloppy Joe is if you’re at summer camp or in the military or maybe prison. And to my surprise, they’re serving Sloppy Joes to cancer patients in the hospital right after surgery. Even more ironic is the fact that red meat, beef, is a group to human carcinogen, specifically known to cause colon cancer. It’s like giving the guy that has open heart surgery some barbecue when he wakes up. So, I thought that was very strange. Of course, I didn’t know any of this, but I still knew, “Why are they serving this terrible food in the hospital to sick people?” I knew there was a difference between health food and junk food. And that was a little clue; the first little crack in the foundation of the medical industry from my perspective.
And then the day I was told I could go home, my surgeon came in to check on me and we were having a conversation about what was going to happen next. And I said, “Are there any foods I need to avoid?” And he said, “No. Just don’t lift anything heavier than a beer.” So I’m like, “Okay.” Clearly, my abdominal surgeon, who I thought might have some expertise on digestive health, optimal nutrition for healing your gut or something, had nothing to say about it. So again, another little crack in the foundation. My faith, hope and trust in the medical system, which I was placing some there too, was starting to erode. I got home and I was thinking about my life, my future and chemotherapy and what I would become, what chemotherapy would do to me. And it was a scary thought. It was scary feeling to know that in less than a month, we’re going to start injecting you with some very, very toxic drugs that are going to make you sick. Your hair’s going to fall out. You’re going to lose your appetite, you’re going to lose weight. I was already borderline underweight.
Allan (12:14): I think you said you were like 6’2’’ and 155 pounds or something like that. And that was full healthy; generally healthy. Now you were going to get to this emaciated state.
Chris Wark (12:33): At that time I was probably closer to 150, maybe even a little under 150. I had lost weight because I had not been eating very much because eating was causing this pain. So I was already really thin, and my instincts were telling me this is not what I need to do, this is wrong for me. But I didn’t know what else to do. Just the idea of poisoning my way back to health didn’t really make sense to me. So, I prayed about it. My wife and I were sitting on the couch and I said, “God, if there’s another way besides chemotherapy, please show me. I don’t know what to do.” It was just a humble prayer, asking for help. Desperately asking for help. Sincerely, desperately asking for help.
And a couple of days later I got a book that came to my house, that was mailed to me from a friend of my dad’s who lives in Alaska. The guy who wrote this book had found out he had colon cancer, and instead of having surgery, chemo and whatever treatment was offered to him, because he had seen family and friends suffer and die from cancer treatment – he decided to not do it. And happened to have a friend who was a health nut who said, “What you should do is you should go back to the Garden of Eden. You should start eating fruits and vegetables only, just raw fruits and vegetables as your primary source of food. And you should probably drink a lot of carrot juice too.” So that’s what this guy did and a year later his tumor was gone. His name is George Malkmus, and he had written a bunch of books and stuff. I started reading this one book he wrote, where he’s telling his story, and it just blew my mind. I was like, “This is exactly what I’m looking for. I can’t believe this showed up. This is the answer to my prayer. I need to change my diet.”
I had this big epiphany, which was, the way you’re living is killing you. Most of us don’t realize, and we’re not told that only 5% roughly of cancers are genetic. What that means is that up to 95% of cancers, based on available studies, are caused by our diet, lifestyle, environment, like environmental factors, environmental pollution. Those three factors. And stress is underneath them, and I can talk about that as well, but it’s a root cause of cancer. Stress is hard to measure, but it’s easy to measure diet, it’s easy to measure lifestyle, and it’s easy to measure environmental toxic exposure. Those are the main drivers of cancer. The way we’re living, what we’re putting in our mouth and the choices we’re making every day are leading us down the path of health or down the path of disease. There’s a recipe for health and there’s also a recipe for disease. And most people are following the recipe for disease. And I was.
One of the first big light bulbs was in the diet category. In America and most industrialized countries, we’re eating a diet that’s very different than our ancestors and that’s very different than some of the healthiest populations around the world with the lowest rates of cancer. But a lot of people don’t think about things that I think about and researched in great detail in my book. The fact is that there are countries all over the world with much lower cancer rates than us. And it’s not genetic; it’s their diet, lifestyle and environment. So, what’s wrong with our diet? It’s way too much processed food, junk food and fast food. Way too much sugary garbage, artificial processed colors, flavors, additives, preservatives. Soft drinks. Way too much meat, dairy, oils, sugar, salt. All of this stuff is really not natural. I mean you could make a case that meat and dairy is natural, but the high levels of processed sugar and salt, oils and artificial foods – we’re consuming them at unprecedented levels in human history. And our meat and dairy consumption is far in excess of healthy populations around the world. In fact, the populations with the lowest rates of cancer and the longest lifespans…
This is really what’s most important – who’s living the longest. And on every continent, if you look at the isolated pockets of people that have the longest lifespans, they have a lot of things in common. One of them is they eat a diet that’s about 95% plant-based. So they’re not pure vegan, but they eat mostly fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains. Food from the earth; unadulterated whole foods. And the animal foods they eat are very minimal, because they have lack of access to animal food. Just think about poor villages in remote parts of the world. The animals they’re eating are not coming from McDonald’s, Wendy’s, KFC. They’re not even coming from the supermarket. They’re coming because they either caught and killed something, which is not happening every day, or because they raised an animal and killed it. And usually when they’re killing an animal they raised, it’s for a feast, and the whole village is enjoying the cow or the goat or the pig. So, in practical terms, they’re only eating animal products a few times a week, like three times a week. Sometimes in some regions it’s like three times a month, versus in the US it’s three times a day. Huge difference there. So that’s the dietary part.
I was reading this book, and I didn’t learn all that from this book, but I learned some really basic stuff that got me excited about changing my life. And I loved the idea of going back to a diet that was just fruits and vegetables from the earth, organic of course, and eliminating everything from my life that could be toxic and disease-promoting. So I turned my life upside down because I wanted to restore my health, and I took full responsibility for it. The problem in the cancer community, of which there are many, but one huge problem is when a patient is diagnosed with cancer, they’re always like, “Doc, why do you think I got cancer? What caused my cancer? I’m too young to have cancer.” Even if they’re 30 or 40 or 50 or whatever. And the doctors almost always say, “We don’t know what caused your cancer, but it might be genetic. Do you have family history?” “Well, yes. So-and-so, my aunt, my uncle, my mom, somebody had cancer.” “Well, that’s probably why you have cancer. It’s genetic, unfortunately.” Or if you say, “No, I don’t have any family history”, they say, “Well, it may just be bad luck. We’re so sorry about that, but we’ll do our best to take care of you and treat you”, and all this kind of stuff.
Allan (19:44): Quick question though. As I look at it, when someone gets into the medical profession, I have to give them some kudos there because they’re not walking an easy path, particularly when they start going to become an oncologist, because they’re stepping into a career field where their success rate is never going to be high enough. They’re always going to be losing patients to cancer and they’re going to be facing some terrible, terrible things. I have to believe they go into this with a noble intention and saying, “I see this young man. I want to help him.” But your doctor’s trying to talk you in a direction, and of course most of the doctors are in the hospital, so they know what you’re eating. Then you ask for advice and they say they can’t give you nutrition advice, is effectively what he was saying. He just said it, in his mind, in a little bit more of a comical way. Why do you feel that we’re trapped in this thing? Why do you feel that doctors get into this thing and then really don’t have the tools?
Chris Wark (21:00): I cover this in great detail in the book, but to try to summarize it quickly – most doctors I think pursue a career in medicine with noble intentions because they want to help someone. Because so-and-so, “My grandmother, my dad, somebody I know died of cancer, and I want to help people.” That’s great. I love that. But medical school is absolutely soul-crushing. Doctors and med students have the highest rates of suicide of any profession, because the current medical system is like a meat grinder. It takes courageous, loving, empathetic, wonderful people that want to serve humanity, and basically like bootcamp destroys their spirits and turns them into compliant, assimilated cogs in a machine. They’re only trained how to do surgery, chemo, radiation – that’s about it for oncology. They’re not trained in nutrition, they’re not trained in lifestyle medicine, they’re not trained in prevention. And because the pharmaceutical industry has such a stranglehold on medicine, they dictate what doctors are taught. So, what happens is a young person goes into med school and it takes them 15 years to get through med school to get their residency, to go into private practice, to build up their practice and start treating patients, before they realize that the treatments they are giving people don’t really work. Most of their patients are not alive. And by that time they’re trapped in a system that pays them really well, that doesn’t work. And when I say “doesn’t work”, it’s not curing most cancers.
I have great empathy and sympathy for physicians. They’re not the bad guys. There are a few bad ones out there, for sure. You’ve got to keep in mind, doctors are just humans, and there are some awful humans in the world. Some of them are doctors. There are awful plumbers, electricians, flight attendants. There are bad people in every profession. But giving them the benefit of the doubt, most doctors are really good people and they want to help, but they’re trapped. They have a very small number of tools at their disposal and they don’t have training in nutrition, prevention, and true healing modalities. They just are trained, “This patient has this type of cancer – this is the drug you give them. This is how many treatments of the drug they get. This is the dose they get based on their body weight. And cross your fingers and hope for the best.” That’s the way it works. And the system is, like I said, a huge machine. Anybody who’s ever been to the doctor knows you sit in a waiting room for an hour or more, and then you go and see the doctor for 15 minutes. I mean, how much can you help somebody in 15 minutes or 20 minutes? They don’t get enough time because of the way the compensation structure is. They don’t have enough time to really dig into your life and help you solve problems and help you get to the root causes of your disease. They’re not even trained how to do that anyway. So, it’s a vastly poorly constructed system. And I say “poorly constructed”. It’s actually constructed very well to make as much money as possible, but the problem is that doctors and patients are suffering under the weight of this really terrible system.
Allan (24:35): Yes. I recently got this review, because I refuse to take statins, and that’s a personal choice. My doctor continually wants me to manage my LDL. I’m looking at other components in my cardiovascular risk. I don’t think that singular number is worth me dealing with the other things that those medications would do to me, so I don’t want to be on those medications. And so, there was a little bit of flak from a reviewer that I was telling people to not take statins, and that was not my intention. My intention was, just understand in my situation as in your situation, there typically is never just one path. If the doctor is pushing you down a singular path that you’ve seen where that leads for a lot of people, just realize there likely are other alternatives out there.
Chris Wark (25:33): Yeah. It’s the only path they know. It’s the only path they’re trained in and it’s the only path they’re allowed to talk about.
Allan (25:41): The standards of care.
Chris Wark (25:43): It’s the standard of care. Physicians risk losing their reputation, risk losing their license to practice medicine if they deviate from the standard of care. Who wrote the standards? The pharmaceutical industry. Cholesterol is a great example, and we can rabbit on this for a minute. The body produces cholesterol, your liver produces cholesterol, but the biggest source of cholesterol in the body doesn’t come from your liver; it comes from our diets. And so, most people have high cholesterol because they’re eating it. They’re eating cholesterol. When you eat cholesterol, it raises your cholesterol. And the only way to eat cholesterol is to eat animals. If you don’t eat any animal food, then your consumption of cholesterol goes to zero, and then the only source of cholesterol in your body comes from your liver.
There have been two landmark studies on advanced heart disease patients. And of course your doctor is not talking about this, but anyone can easily Google this, read the studies. First one was done by Dr. Dean Ornish, and then it was duplicated by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, both MDs. And they both proved that you can take advanced heart disease patients, and reverse the progression of their heart disease, stop their heart disease, prevent future heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular events, and open their veins back up by putting them on a plant-based diet. And this is a very strict plant-based diet, so it’s no animal food and also no oils. The reason for no oils is because saturated fat also sends signals, triggers the liver to produce cholesterol.
You might try this as a fun experiment, but if you eliminate all animal foods and oils for 30 days – 30 to 90 days, but 30 days minimum – get your blood checked again and look at your cholesterol numbers, you will likely see a significant drop. And the drop will continue for the better part of a year. It’ll keep going down and down and down as your body adapts and starts to self-regulate. Another driver of high cholesterol is heavy metal toxicity – so lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic. There’ve been studies that show that when you have high levels of those metals in your body, it triggers the production of cholesterol. So cholesterol is a defense mechanism that your body is producing to protect itself. The more injurious elements, toxic elements circulating in your body on a daily basis, the more your body has to protect itself. So, high cholesterol can also be the result of your body trying to protect you. Just interesting, fascinating kind of rabbit trail stuff, but fun to talk about nonetheless.
Allan (28:37): You made those huge, drastic changes to what you eat and how you manage your environment and those other things. Again, kudos to you for taking that path and putting yourself in that motive of thought, “I am doing this. There’s not another option. I’m not taking this other option.” But in the book, you also talked a lot about mindset and the things you did to basically, for a lack of a better word, positive attitude yourself through this. Can you talk a little bit about some of those mindset changes that you went through to basically have a mindset of health?
Chris Wark (29:20): I call it the “beat cancer” mindset, because cancer is not so much a battle in the body as it is in the mind, and because taking a holistic approach to health is very different than taking a passive approach to cancer treatment. What I was saying earlier about when doctors tell the patients it’s either bad luck or bad genes – that’s some of the most egregious, borderline malpractice advice a doctor can tell a person. What they’ve effectively done is said, “There’s nothing you did to contribute to your disease, therefore there’s nothing you can do to help yourself. We are your only hope.” And what that does is it makes the patient into a powerless victim of disease. It could not be further from the truth. What we have to do is accept responsibility for our health.
So, having a “beat cancer” mindset starts with accepting responsibility for your life, your health and your situation, and that your decisions have led you to where you are today. We all make decisions, those decisions have consequences. Sometimes we make smart decisions and have good things happen, and sometimes we make not so smart decisions and not so good things happen. Sometimes things that happen to us are the result of decisions of others, but most of what happens to us is the result of the decisions we make. There’s an expression: “Everything happens for a reason.” But I like the expanded version of that expression, which is, “Everything happens for a reason, and most of the time the reason is you.” You’re the reason. So, when you start there, you realize, “I’ve got a part to play in my life, in my health, in my disease. I want to take an active role. I want to help my body heal. What can I do to help myself?” And that starts the healing adventure – this process of reeducation on health and nutrition and healing cancer. I went down this deep rabbit hole, trying to figure out who has healed cancer naturally, what do these people do, what are the experts saying, like natural health and wellness experts, cancer healing experts, alternative therapy experts. Who are the players, what are they saying, what do I need to be doing? And I just embarked on this journey of changing my entire life.
The diet was a huge component, but detoxification is huge; removing all the toxic stuff from my home environment – body care products, cleaning products, and cleaning out all that stuff. This was January 2004. Now it’s kind of hip and cool to buy organic body care products, organic cleaning products, non-toxic, environmentally-friendly products. It’s really come a long way in the last 14 years, but back then it was pretty fringe and there were very limited options in terms of non-toxic products and things, and even finding organic food. But I just made a decision I was willing to do whatever it took to get well. And that’s part of the mindset as well: I’m taking responsibility for this and I’m going to do everything in my power to change my life, and I’m not going to make any excuses. I’m going to change my whole life. That meant I was willing to stop eating the food that I liked. I was willing to stop eating cheeseburgers and pizza and drinking Cokes and Dr Pepper. Because my health was more important to me.
There was nothing I was willing to hold on to that was more important than life and health. And I had several people; I had a strong reason to live. Again, it goes back to mindset. Why are you doing what you’re doing? What’s your motivation? For me, it was my wife and my parents. I was a newlywed, been married two years. I’m an only child. So, the idea of my parents and my wife standing at my grave side was so absolutely painful to me, to think about my parents burying their only child, my wife burying me. We’d been together eight years. We dated for six years and we’d been married for two, so we were pretty close. So, those were my reasons to live. I had to organize all this stuff in my head, like, do I want to live? Why? Why do I want to live? And if so, what am I going to do about it? Am I going to cross my fingers and hope for the best, or am I going to take massive action to change my life and help my body heal? And obviously I took massive action. We’ve been conditioned though in our culture to look for the quick fix, the magic bullet, the hack. Biohacking – what a crock.
Allan (34:16): I’m glad you said that, because I thought I might be the only person on earth that actually kind of felt that way.
Chris Wark (34:24): I hope it’s not just us two Allan, really.
Allan (34:30): My book is coming out. I talk about an experiment where you use big rocks, little rocks and sand.
Chris Wark (34:36): Yeah, I know it.
Allan (34:38): Just do the big rocks first. There are so many big rocks in front of us that you don’t have to be worried about the sand right now. That’s not going to help you at this point of your journey. Particularly if you’re dealing with an illness, you need to find that big rock as fast as you can and implement that in your life. You don’t need to be focused on the sand. The big rock is there staring you right in the face and you have to, like you said, take massive action and get that big rock in your jar.
Chris Wark (35:09): That’s awesome. I say something very similar to that often to my group. We have people in a coaching program and I have a large community of people that follow me that I’m trying to constantly encourage and inspire. One of the things that I found myself saying, because I saw these obvious, sort of glaring problems in people’s lives… Or not problems, it was more like stumbling blocks. I don’t even know how I came to this conclusion exactly, but anyway, the expression is, “Don’t let the little things get in the way of the big things.” So many people get caught up in some dumb little detail and they get hung up on it and they can’t take action because they have some kind of confusion or they need an answer on some little quibbling question that just doesn’t matter. Feel free to use that in your book and give me a quote: “Don’t let the little things get in the way of the big things.” You can Google it and make sure no one else said it first. But that’s the truth.
And this thing about hacking, it’s like everybody is looking for a quick fix and a magic bullet. And the medical industry, the pharmaceutical industry and the supplement industry is ready to take advantage of anyone with that mentality. And the truth is, health is not caused by a hack. You can’t hack your way to health. What you have to do is you have to change everything. You have to take massive action. It’s not about, what’s the minimum effective dose? That’s a recipe for failure. Now, having said that, I love it when small changes produce big results, but the reality of it is, massive action produces massive results. Small changes usually produce small results. But if you make enough small changes, they add up to a big result. So all those little changes that I made in my life – removing every toxic thing in my home, replacing my body care products, eating all organic food, cutting out all the junk food, fast food, processed food, all that stuff, exercising every day.
Exercise is so amazing. I mentioned what’s causing and contributing to cancer and what you can do to reverse it. My life’s mission and work is to educate people on this, to help patients take care of themselves and increase their odds of survival and help people that want to prevent it decrease their odds of ever getting cancer. A plant-based diet is a huge part, but exercise is the other big part. It’s this really complicated idea, diet and exercise. But this is the 40+ Fitness podcast. I’m 41 years old. Spoiler alert – I didn’t die. I’m almost 15 years out. My 15 year Cancerversary is in December, and I’m the strongest I’ve ever been in my life. I’m in the best shape, I’m the most fit I’ve ever been, and exercise is the reason. But beyond just being strong and fit, exercise actually flips genetic switches in your body. It flips genes that are anti-cancer genes, cancer-protective genes. It turns them on and it turns cancer-promoting genes off. It doesn’t matter if you inherited some cancer gene. Exercise can keep that gene off – that’s how powerful it is. We know based on numerous studies, which are referenced in the book, you need at least 30 minutes a day, six days a week, up to 60 minutes. So somewhere in that range – 30 to 60 minutes a day of exercise – aerobic exercise, strength training. But get in there, get sweaty, huff and puff, run, walk, do yoga, do karate, rock climbing. Move your body. Sweaty exercise really is the best, because sweating detoxifies your body of heavy metals, namely the big four – mercury, arsenic, cadmium and lead. So, exercise is huge.
The plant-based diet – tons of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables have all these amazing anti-cancer compounds. Americans are only eating one to two servings of fruits and vegetables per day on average, which is terrible. Terrible. It’s abysmal. And when you look at the healthiest populations around the world, they’re eating a minimum of 10 servings per day. That’s actually the new recommended dietary minimum, is 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. It sounds like a lot and people think 10 servings are 10 meals. A serving is only half a cup. So, a plate of veggies is going to be three or four servings. It’s easy to eat three or four servings of fruits and vegetables.
Allan (40:02): And when you’re eating predominantly plants, from a volume perspective, it feels like it’s more. There’s a lot of water, some fiber in there, and all the good stuff. You look at a serving of broccoli – it is going to look about the same as probably the chicken breast you have sitting there. If the chicken breast wasn’t there, and instead you had quinoa, the broccoli, and some beans or maybe a salad, or just even a big salad – you’re looking at picking up, like you said, three to four servings of those vegetables pretty easily, pretty quickly.
Chris Wark (40:39): Easily. Oatmeal for breakfast, a big salad for lunch, cooked veggies for dinner – rice, beans, potatoes. The good starches that have unfortunately been demonized by so many health gurus and weight loss gurus, that starches are the enemy and you need to eat chicken breast and kale or whatever. But the truth is the healthiest, longest living populations subsist on starches. That’s their staple food. They’re eating about 65% of their calories from carbohydrates – so rice, potatoes, and lots of beans, especially beans.
Allan (41:17): But we’re not talking the instant kind. We’re talking they’re growing them, they’re sprouting them, they’re doing their food the traditional ways. It’s a little different than walking in and buying a box of instant oatmeal or instant oats, and calling that your starch. You do have to look at the quality.
Chris Wark (41:36): Quality matters, absolutely. Organic matters. If you can find it and afford it, organic is best because you’re reducing your exposure to toxic pesticides, especially Roundup glyphosate, which is a probable human carcinogen. There’s a really fascinating study that just came out of France where they followed tens of thousands of people over five years and they found that those who ate an organic diet had a 34% reduced risk of breast cancer – obviously women, and had a 70% to 80% reduced risk of Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas. That’s huge. What does that tell you? That tells you that the pesticides used in non-organic food are causing a percentage of those cancers. There are multiple studies linking lymphomas to pesticides as well.
Allan (42:32): In my next episode, I’m actually talking to a woman that wrote a book called Informed Consent, and she deep dives into that topic as well. So, stay tuned. We’re going to be talking about Roundup in the next episode. Another big, I’m not going to call it a major action, but it was something that came across your path, and you’ve been using this successfully in your wellness journey since you were diagnosed. You’ve been doing some fasting. I know that there’s an aspect of apoptosis that’s called “programmed cell death”. Basically a cancer cell doesn’t know what it’s supposed to be doing other than replicating and it gets really, really good at that. That’s where the cancer is, and that’s the growth factor of it. But fasting can help with that process. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Chris Wark (43:27): Fasting is an amazing practice that we’ve gotten away from. Fasting has been used as a religious practice for centuries. It’s also been sort of involuntary; in other words, cultures where they have food scarcity end up fasting, not by choice, going several days without food at a time. It’s wonderful for your body to go without food, which sounds counterintuitive, right? What we know now is the ideal fast is three to five days on water. When you stop eating, your body goes into repair mode and protection mode, and it starts breaking down all this unused accumulated crap that’s built up in your body. Your cells sort of throw up these force field-like defenses that protect them and they start a process called autophagy, which is where they, again, break down parts of them that are not useful and they burn those things for energy.
It’s like if you were trapped in a cabin in a blizzard, and you only had a fireplace for heat and you ran out of firewood. What would you do? You’d start breaking down the table, the chairs, the cabinets. You’d start burning everything in there that was non-essential to survival. You would burn for heat to survive. You wouldn’t throw your food in the fire. That’s the last thing you’d throw in there. You wouldn’t throw your blankets in there, but you would throw everything else in there. Your cells are doing the same kind of process. Healthy cells are really good at this process, autophagy, but cancer cells are bad at it. So, fasting actually weakens cancer cells. During a fast, old and damaged cells in your body, which are known as senescent cells, die off. And this is good, because you have a lot of cells in your body that are senile, and senile cells, especially senile immune cells are not good at their job anymore. So, imagine an army full of senior citizens. That’s not a good army, right? During a fast, all these old and damaged cells – immune cells are the ones that we’re particularly interested in – die.
Again, you want to fast between three and five days. When you start eating again at the end of the fast, your body ramps up production of new immune cells. It’s called stem cell activation. Fasting triggers stem cell activation and regeneration. So, it produces all of these brand new, young, healthy immune cells that are like the 18, 19, 20-year-old soldiers that are like, “Let me at them!” They’re cancer scavengers. That’s what those cells are doing. There are a lot of different types of immune cells – we won’t go into all that – but the point is, just for simplicity’s sake, fasting regenerates your immune system. So, so, so powerful; and among a lot of other benefits in the body. So yeah, I’m a huge fan of fasting. Juice fasting is wonderful. It doesn’t accomplish quite the same thing; it’s great for weight loss and detoxification. But a pure water fast or the Fasting Mimicking Diet, which is developed by a company called ProLon – those are two of the most powerful things you can do for yourself. And fasting costs you nothing.
Allan (47:15): It’ll actually save you money in food. That’s basically 1/10 of the month, so your food budget just went down by 1/10 and you can afford to buy higher quality food.
Chris Wark (47:26): That’s right. You save three to five days’ worth of groceries. That’s significant for some people. That’s hundreds of dollars.
Allan (47:33): I’m definitely going to be doing some more experimentation with fasting in the coming year. I have to leave you with one last question. I define “wellness” as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
Chris Wark (47:49): That’s good. I like your definition. The big takeaways here, I think… And I hope your audience will read my book because it really goes deep and there’s tons of science in there. But what I think based on the available evidence and research and all these wonderful studies – number one is a plant-based diet. You don’t have to be pure vegan, but if you can cut your animal product consumption… I didn’t get into all the ways that animal protein fuels cancer growth. It’s in the book. But if you can cut it down from three times a day to three times a week, you’re doing a huge favor for yourself. You’re doing yourself so much good. Trust me on this. Number two is going to be exercising 30 to 60 minutes a day. And then the third thing, which I didn’t get to get into, but I know we’ve got a couple of minutes, so I’ll touch on it here – it’s stress.
Stress is a root cause of many diseases. It’s one of those concepts that most people don’t have a great handle on it. They know what stress feels like, but they don’t know what’s causing the stress. They don’t know why they feel stressed. Sometimes they do, but sometimes they don’t, and there’s a lot more to it than they realize. So, stress is a state in the body that is caused by conflict – emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical conflict. To put it very simply, all negative thoughts produce negative emotions, which produce a negative stress response in the body, which is elevated adrenaline and cortisol. When those hormones are elevated, they suppress your immune function and they increase inflammation in the body. And when you have increased inflammation and suppressed immune function, your body is a place where cancer can thrive.
I said earlier at the very beginning, it’s not about killing cancer, beating cancer, fighting cancer. It’s about healing the body and creating an environment where cancer cannot thrive. That involves nutrition, detoxification, and repair and regeneration. Improving your immune function is such a huge part of cancer healing, survival and prevention. So, stress suppresses your immunity. If you have anger, jealousy, envy, prejudice, shame and guilt, if you’re carrying bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness – all these negative thoughts and emotions – if you’re carrying these things through life, what it does is it keeps you in a state of chronic stress. Not to mention work stress, family stress, the problems that come and go in life. It just piles on top of the baggage that you’re already carrying.
I heard a great analogy that I think everyone can understand. If I gave you a five-pound dumbbell and I said to hold it out to your side, just hold it up in the air, and I said, “Is that heavy?” You would say, “No.” If I said we’ll keep holding it; five minutes go by. Is it heavy now? You’d say it’s a little heavy. It’s starting to feel a little heavy now. If you held it for an hour, at some point you’ve got to put it down. It’s too heavy. The weight didn’t change. That’s what bitterness, unforgiveness and all of these negative emotions and thoughts that we’re carrying with us do to us. The longer we hold on to bitterness, the heavier it gets, the more it weighs us down and the more pain it causes us.
I talk about this in great detail in the book, but I want to at least leave your audience with this one thing they can do right now. There’s a lot more you can do to remove stress from your life and you really should make it a priority, but forgiveness is the most powerful stress reducer in your life. The most powerful thing you can do is make a decision to forgive every person who has ever hurt you. That means going back in time and thinking through your life. You have to sit down and focus on this, and let those people come up and let those memories come up. And the painful ones. And one by one, choose to forgive. The way you choose to forgive is pretty simple. Forgiveness is not a feeling. You can still be mad and you can still forgive, even if you’re mad. And you should, because if you’re waiting until you’re not mad, you’re probably waiting a long time. There is an expression: “Time heals all wounds”, and that’s fine, but the longer you wait, the more pain you cause yourself.
So, the way I did it and the way I think everyone should do it is you say, “Okay God, You know what they did. You know how I feel about it. And I’m so mad, but I’m giving it to You. I’m choosing to forgive them and I’m giving it to You. They’re all Yours. You can deal with them. I am not going to carry this. I’m not going to hold it against them anymore.” And we’re doing it by name. Now, I’m not saying, “I forgive everybody” at once. That doesn’t work. You have to forgive John for calling you an idiot or whatever. So, one by one I would give these people to God and just say, “I’m forgiving them. I’m letting it go. They’re all yours. And I’m asking you to bless them.” Which sounds crazy, like, “I don’t want blessing. I want a lightning bolt.” By the way, you’re not being insincere. God knows your heart. He knows you don’t want Him to bless them. He knows, but the fact that you’re asking Him to bless them despite your feelings is so powerful. I’m telling you, it heals your heart. It just opens your heart up to healing like nothing else. Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Some of the best life advice, period.
Allan (54:16): Absolutely, and thank you for sharing those. Really, thank you for that. If someone wanted to get in touch with you, learn more about your book, Chris Beat Cancer, where would you like for me to send them?
Chris Wark (54:28): It’s easy to find. It’s on Amazon, it’s in Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million. It’s pretty much anywhere books are sold. If you love bookstores and you want to support your local bookstore, I want to encourage you to call up your favorite bookstore and ask them if they have it or ask them to order it for you. They can all get it. But if you don’t care and you want it right now, you can just get on Amazon and have it in two clicks and have it tomorrow. Or download the audio book, which is read by me. Or the e-book or whatever. So it’s pretty easy to get. My site is ChrisBeatCancer.com. The cool thing about the site is I’ve interviewed I guess over 70 people now, who’ve healed all types and stages of cancer. So, it’s an incredible resource of encouragement, inspiration and support that I’ve built over the last eight years. Tons of articles and videos, interviews with doctors and experts and people who’ve healed. It’s just something I am so proud of and excited about, and I feel like it’s doing a lot of good in the world.
Allan (55:30): Good, good. You can go to 40PlusFitnessPodcast.com/355, and I’ll have the links there in the show notes. Chris, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Chris Wark (55:42): Thanks, Allan. It’s a pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Chris is a pretty inspirational guy and I really enjoyed that conversation with him. The book is excellent. A lot of us are dealing with cancer. I think the last statistic I saw was that pretty much every human being on earth at some point in their life is going to have cancer, a diagnosable cancer, and we talked about that. So this is a very important issue. Chris’s approach, while not down mainstream medicine’s bailiwick for the most part, actually is kind of a message of hope. If you are dealing with cancer or someone in your family is dealing with cancer, I think Chris and what he has to offer are great and you should check him out more. So please do that.
The question I’ve got before I cut out here is, have you got your pre-order on The Wellness Roadmap book yet? What are you waiting for? It’s in Amazon right now. You can go to Amazon and you can search for “Wellness Roadmap” and it’s going to come up first. Good, because now people are in there paying attention to it. So, Amazon sees it and they value it. Last time I tried to search my name on there, it still wants to send me to an audio mixer. Maybe that’s just me. I know Amazon’s pretty smart and probably knows that I’m doing a podcast because I buy all my equipment through them. So, they’re thinking I want a mixer, but I’m not a mixer. It’s not an Allen mixer; it’s Allan Misner. So, I have to tell them “No, not mixer. Yes, I actually meant to search for Allan Misner.”
So, if you type in “Allan Misner” and don’t see the book – go ahead… And even if you put “book”, it’s going to put books about mixers, which is bizarre. But anyway, you go in and you can type in my name, Allan Misner, and then actually click on “Allan Misner” and it’ll take you to the book. You can pre-order the ebook right now at an insanely low price. It’s actually the lowest price that Amazon will let me offer the book. I cannot offer it for free at this point. So $0.99 is as low as I can offer it.
It’s probably going to be different in different markets. I know I was hearing from India and the UK that they couldn’t actually pre-order it yet, and I’m sorry. That’s Amazon being Amazon. We’ve done everything on our side to make sure that the book was available, but I guess that’s just their way. It’ll be available December 4th, I think for everybody else. So please do go out, get a copy of the book. I really do think if you enjoy what we’re doing on this podcast, you’re going to love this book.
And please, once you get it, when you’ve had an opportunity to look at it, go give me an honest rating and review. Amazon is that weird, weird one. When I say Apple really cares about reviews, and Google really cares about reviews – Amazon will not show my book for much longer if they don’t see these ratings and reviews. If you’ve been on Amazon, you go to buy a book, you look at a book, you see people who bought this book also bought that book, or people who liked this book also liked that book. That algorithm, that whole recommendation thing – that is all based on those ratings and reviews that you do. So please, please, please, if you enjoy the book, go out and give me an honest rating and review. That’s really going to help boost this book and let me help as many people as possible. Thank you for that.