Fighting back at Cancer

A Letter From our Founder, Dr. Nadja Pinnavaia

Dear Friends,

All of you who know me well, know that Fall is NOT my favorite season of the year. Not having grown up in the US, I was never big into pumpkin and apple picking season. The days are getting shorter and colder, and what’s there to like about that? And while I love my fair share of butternut squash, I wouldn’t trade that for strawberries, peaches and dare I confess, a glass or two of cold rose wine. And then there’s Halloween… yep, let’s not start on that one yet.

However, there is one thing that I do appreciate in this coming season and that’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and how people around the world unite to give support, share success stories and the latest research with the common goal of empowering us over this devastating disease.

As many of you know, I lost my mother to breast cancer many years ago. My sister also had breast cancer and fortunately is a beautiful, happy and healthy survivor. Genetic testing showed that I am BRCA 2 and in late 2015, just as I was starting Plantable (known as Euphebe back then), I had a prophylactic mastectomy to reduce my risk of also getting breast cancer. I followed that in 2019 with a full hysterectomy and an oophorectomy (removal of ovaries) to again reduce cancer risk - this time ovarian. It’s probably fair to say that cancer has impacted my life in many ways.

I founded Plantable, following my mother-in-law’s diagnosis of kidney cancer, when I learned just how much our lifestyle decisions can impact our cancer outcomes. I always make this statement with hesitation as I do not wish to be misunderstood. Cancer is shit. Period. It does not discriminate. Lifestyle decisions impacting cancer outcomes does not mean to imply that cancer is a direct result or “punishment” for our lifestyle choices. On the contrary. Our bodies, and more specifically our immune system, is constantly thwarting rogue cell growth throughout our lives, until the moment that it can no longer suppress that rogue growth. Our positive lifestyle choices, like a healthy diet, exercise, management of stress and good sleep, have the ability to lower inflammation and boost our immune system. A healthy lifestyle, and in particular, a healthy, anti-inflammatory, low insulin diet (Plantable, anyone?), starves the cancer cells of the optimal environment for growth. Boom! Why didn’t we all know that? 

While October is a special month, every month for us is dedicated to supporting people that are fighting disease. Once I understood the power that diet has to strengthen and even heal, it became my mission to undeniably prove it. This was the genesis behind the first of many clinical trials, working with Memorial Sloan Kettering and Breast Cancer patients. One of the outcomes we are measuring is whether a lifestyle “prescription”, with Plantable (meals + coaching) as the dietary intervention, can in fact change gene expression. Can a lifestyle prescription actually “de-activate” genes linked to breast cancer? We will need to wait for the conclusion of the trial (end 2023) to find out. I wish I had had the results of this trial ahead of all my surgeries!

This is why every month for us is breast cancer awareness month. It is also prostate, myeloma, diabetes, cardiovascular, kidney, liver, mental health and all other diet-related chronic conditions awareness month, when we can help empower people, through effective dietary lifestyle change, to fight back from disease.

To all of you who are going through breast cancer - or have someone special in your life who is a member of that crappy club - know that we support you for your strength and resilience. For many years I used to run marathons for Fred’s Team, which is the charity arm for Memorial Sloan Kettering. Their motto is “Imagine a world without cancer”. I don’t think we will ever get to a place where there is no cancer, but I do think that with lifestyle research support and the continuing advancement in oncological research, we will get to a world in which we can fight back strongly, and cancer will no longer steal anyone from us, prematurely. I look forward to those days and Plantable being a part of that journey.

With love, science and hope,

Nadja xx


For information about our clinical trials and how Plantable can help you improve health and manage chronic conditions, click here.