Oftentimes when I'm talking to somebody and telling them the virtues of eating a whole foods, plant-based diet, I will hear them tell me some story about a great uncle of theirs or a great aunt who lived to be 110 years old smoking a pack of cigarettes a day and eating fried chicken every day of their life and never exercising. Or some such story like that. They state it as if that was proof that it doesn't matter how you eat.
I think we can clearly see that such persons are the exception to the rule, however. In statistical terms, they are considered outliers. They don't fit under the bulky part of the bell curve of normal distribution. They're out there at the extreme ends.
And just as there are people like that at one end, there are also exceptions at the other end of the bell curve. There are people who eat whole foods, plant-based diets and still get cancer for example. How do we explain that when we know that animal protein is what cancer feeds on?
Actually, both exceptions are explainable and neither voids or eliminates the fact that our best course of action is to eat a WFPB diet. In the former situation, the person who lives a longer life despite their behavior, the exception can generally be explained by genetics. Some people really are gifted with good genes that allow them to do just about anything and not suffer the consequences. And I say more power to them. They are the lucky few. Most of us aren't in that situation, however, and it would be a bad gamble to bet our lives on being one of the lucky few. Behavior patterns that involve smoking, fried foods, and lack of exercise are more likely to result in serious illness, pain and early death.
What about the other way? Why would a vegan get cancer? The fact that a vegan would get cancer would seem to argue against the idea that cancers feed on animal protein. Well, the fact is, we as humans belong in the animal kingdom. Our bodies are made up of animal protein. So, cancer cells have food to grow on based just on our bodies themselves, even though we may not consume any animal protein.
However, that's not to discourage us. After all, the rats that Dr. T. Colin Campbell used in his research were also animals and yet at 5% protein intake their cancers stopped growing, but at 20%, their cancers continued growing. So, the message is that in most cases, it's excess intake of animal protein that causes cancer cells to start growing wildly. At a low enough level, or at no level, our bodies seem to be at an optimal point where cancer cells will be starved. But in some people, that's not true. In some people, their own animal protein turns out to be enough food to keep the cancers growing. And those are the unlucky vegans who get cancer despite the fact that they consume no animal protein.
So, there are explanations for the exceptions to the rules. And because there are explanations that fit in with the WFPB way of eating, that means that the whole foods, plant-based way of eating is not negated by the exceptions. So, next time somebody tells you about their great aunt who lived to be 110 eating fish and chips every day or about their sister-in-law who ate whole foods, plant-based all their lives and still died of cancer, just remind them that those are exceptions to the rule that are fully explainable. But as exceptions, they are by definition then not the rule. For the vast majority of us, whole foods, plant-based eating is right for us.