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A Forum on “How to Avoid The Killers of Our Lives”

Wang Ku Xing
Chiu-Nan Lai, PH.D
Li Si Xuan

This is not a particularly cold winter in Taiwan. Yet, Taiwanese are experiencing many physical, mental, and spiritual problems caused, not by the weather, but by unemployment and work-related stress. Suicides have been rampant, and so has the incidence of cancer, the number one killer in the past ten years. According to Dr. Chiu-Nan Lai, long-term exposure to unhealthy physical, mental, and spiritual environments can lead to such problems and ailments.

Dr. Lai has a unique perspective on the care of our physical, mental, and spiritual health. She proposes a lifestyle that involves natural organic food consumption, qi maintenance, mind training and visualization. This perspective is an integration of traditional Chinese medicine, religion, and Western scientific research. Having been a researcher for over ten years at the Cancer Research Center in Houston, she is able to integrate her Western scientific background with the Chinese philosophy of harmony with nature.

She became a vegetarian at the age of nineteen, when she came across a book on natural vegetarianism. She confesses that she was initially not used to a vegetarian diet, but soon appreciated the sweetness of vegetables. “The mindset is hardest to change,” Dr. Lai points out. Some people erroneously believe that children will not grow if they do not eat meat. In actual fact, the nutrients (protein, calcium, iron, vitamins) necessary for healthy development can be derived from a balanced diet of whole grains, vegetables and fruits. In contrast, toxins that mimic estrogens are accumulated within animal fat, and cause harm to the body. She points out that women who eat meat everyday are 3.8 times more likely to contact breast cancer than those who infrequently eat meat (less than once a week).

Dr. Lai is against the use of chemotherapy to treat cancer, as chemotherapy kills both the healthy and cancerous cells. She suggests enhancing one’s qi to increase the immune system as a natural way to cure cancer. She points out that the combined use of qi gong and diet has a 90% chance of curing lung cancer, a success rate that is significantly higher than that obtained using chemotherapy.

Many people are unaware of the many carcinogenic agents present in their everyday environment. For example, mobile phones emit radiation that can interfere with the brain waves and adversely affect health. Dr. Lai gives the following analogy: “It is like burning your brain by putting a small microwave oven next to your ear.”

Exercise more. Get closer to nature to receive the earth’s natural 8 Hz magnetic field. This is the advice given by Dr. Lai, who explains: “When exposed to magnetic fields of about 8 Hz, the mind will calm down, and the incidence of restlessness and depression will decrease.”

Dr. Lai believes that a person’s body and mind form a whole, and the qi flowing inside the body is closely related to one’s physical and mental conditions. She advices those whose professions involve frequent contact with the computer and television: “Get close to nature, wear natural fabrics, cultivate a happy mind and warm social relationships – all these can strengthen one’s qi.”

Having a warm relationship with one’s friends and relatives is a key factor in strengthening one’s health. In her book “Returning to the Bliss of Our Minds”, Dr. Lai cites the following results from a Harvard University 35-year longitudinal study: of the people who felt they did not have a warm relationship with their mothers, 90% suffered serious ailments at middle-age; these figures were 83% among those who did not have a warm relationship with their fathers, and 100% among those who did not have a warm relationship with both parents.

Treat people with love, and you will get love in return.

Only when the human spirit gets enough nourishment will the physical body have the energy to deal with serious ailments and suicidal tendencies. Dr. Lai says: “Even plants need to be watered with love, and all the more so for humans. Love begets happiness.” To improve one’s emotional well-being and clear one’s memory of past trauma, Dr. Lai suggests the use of various exercises such as breathing, color visualization, eyeball rotation, and light tapping of the entire body.

Many inappropriate lifestyles and habits in modern society are causes of ailments, whether biological (cancer) or mental (suicidal tendencies). However, such ailments can be relieved by reducing the influence of adverse environmental and mental factors, and by eating healthily and sleeping well.

“More exercise, more contact with nature” – Dr. Lai advocates these ways to prevent cancer and suicide. The economic situation may be bleak, but it is a good time to slow down and reflect on recovering one’s health.

WANG: Dr. Lai Chiu-Nan followed her parents to the USA at the age of 14. She studied at the University of Hawaii and obtained a PhD in Chemistry from MIT. After that, she spent ten years in Texas performing cancer research, including the effects of food and environment on cancer incidence.

Motivated by her interest and personal experience, she subsequently left her research position in Texas to set up the Lapis Lazuli Light. From her research, she developed methods to preserve health and helped numerous people in the process. Her work focuses on preventative measures, as she believes that prevention is better than cure. From the 1990s onwards, she began to spread her message by giving public talks and writing and publishing books.

Many unpleasant things may happen in our lives, but two things are generally fatal or not easy to cure: cancer and suicidal tendencies. Today, we will discuss reasons why the incidence of cancer has skyrocketed in recent times. It used to be that middle-aged and old-aged people are the ones likely to contact cancer. However, the age of cancer victims has been going down. Is this due to the environment or one’s diet? What are the major causes of cancer? How do we prevent cancer?

LAI: I am delighted to share with everyone my thoughts and my thirty years of personal experience on these issues. Throughout these years, I’ve had the opportunity obtain insights from meeting many different cancer patients attending my workshops.

I’ve been living in the USA, so I’m more familiar with the situation there than that in Taiwan. However, the US experience should still be relevant to Taiwan. America is world’s richest country, and its medical expenditure comprises over half of the world’s medical expenditure. Yet, the life span of its people and the infant mortality rate rank 25 in the world. Clearly, then, money cannot buy health – high medical expenditure cannot help Americans to live longer.

Many pollutants are invisible to the naked eye. These include those coming from energy guzzlers like motor vehicles; they also include things such as high fat food. The US population constitutes 4% of the world’s population, but it takes up one-third of the world’s energy consumption. From this perspective, the US is a highly polluted country. This is why cancer incidence in the US was 3-4% 100 years ago, but now 40% of the Americans will develop cancer in their lifetime. This is a very unnatural and abnormal situation. Over the next twenty years, the number will continue to increase, and may rise to 50% in the short run.

After the Second World War, the US economy gradually shifted from one based on warfare to one based on consumerism. Thus, some toxic chemicals invented during the war were used in agriculture. In fact, chemical weapons were used in the treatment of cancer, and this is particularly true of early medicine used in chemotherapy.

In the field of medicine, antibiotics are to be used only when there is no choice and in life-threatening situations. However, the use of antibiotics has become more prevalent, and its usage is now derived from economic reasons. In the US meat industry, for example, antibiotics are mixed with animal feed and fed to healthy animals to promote the weight growth. Approximately 25 million pounds of antibiotics are used every year. This is the cause of the increase in antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains. Other countries such as the UK, Canada, Holland, Switzerland, Finland, Germany, and other European countries have banned the use of antibiotics, but the US meat industry has prevented the passage of legislation banning antibiotic use in animal feed.

There is one other major change within the US-the popularity of television in the past 40 to 50 years. This has radically changed the US culture, and in addition, although seemingly unrelated, this development has very close association with the incidence of cancer. Television advertisements encourage people to take high fat food and buy bigger cars. Early advertisements even encourage people to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, eat sweet desserts, and eat high-sugar breakfasts. Manufacturers promote their products from a commercial perspective, not a health-oriented one. The television has fundamentally changed Americans’ way of life, and this is associated with the rapid increase in cancer incidence among Americans. The influence of television will become more and more alarming.

WANG:  What is the role of genetic factors in cancer occurrence?

LAI: There are many factors that cause cancer, but very few cancers result purely from genetic reasons. External factors play a more major role. Sometimes, we see some families having a higher proportion of their members being afflicted by cancer – this is not necessarily due to genetic reasons but can be due to their common lifestyles (incl. Diet habit), personalities, or the way they express their emotions.

A person’s mood is closely related to the occurrence of diseases. Furthermore, children pattern after the way their parents express their emotions. Thus, cancer is more closely related to a family’s lifestyle and how their members express their emotions, and less related to genetic factors.

WANG: There is a difference in the diets of people in the East and West, yet the spread of cancer in these two regions is similar. Why is this so? How can cancer be prevented?

LAI: In the past, the Chinese have a higher incidence of stomach cancer, while the Americans have a higher incidence of breast cancer. The incidence of cancer of the reproductive organs has increased most rapidly in the past twenty years. For example, prostate cancer is now the most common type of cancer.

Cancer of the reproductive organs is related to pollution. Most of the petroleum derivatives, such as agricultural chemicals (pesticides, herbicides) and household pesticides, soap powder, as well as plastic, imitate estrogen, a female hormone, and thus encourages cell growth. When these chemicals get discharged into the water passages, rivers, and the sea, where they further break down into other chemicals, one of which is a strong female hormone imitator. When heated, plastics also release chemicals that imitate female hormones, very small amounts of which can interfere with our own hormonal secretions. Some commercial products employ nonylphenols, which is also a female hormone imitator. Cancer in the reproductive organs among males and females is the result of excessive hormones imitators remaining in the body. Thus, the best preventive measures are to avoid using plastic containers to store hot food, to avoid taking food that contains agricultural chemicals, and to avoid the use of insecticides.

Concerning diet, Americans’ diets generally contain high fat. Fast food has high sugar and high fat contents. These diets can easily lead to cancer of the rectal, mammary, breast, and prostate. The use of agricultural chemicals is an indirect reason for the incidence of cancer, because these chemicals are concentrated stored within the flesh of the animals. As one’s consumption of meat increases, the intake of residual chemicals also increases.

People in the East used to take low fat food such green vegetables and tofu as their normal diet. However, as they learn from the West, they also increasingly adopt a Western diet. For example, as the Japanese increased their fat intake in the last twenty to thirty years, so has the incidence of cancer among Japanese. This is because chemical pollutants are retained in the animals’ fat that people consume. Western countries such as New Zealand seem to have less pollution, yet the incidence of cancer in these countries is high and no different from that in the US. Again, this is because the people in these countries tend to have high meat consumption.