Fans of the trendy "caveman" low-carb diet have written glowing personal testimonials and comments - posted by celebrity chef and Paleo advocate Pete Evans on his popular Facebook page - of healing themselves of various ailments, including asthma and cancer.
This latest development coincides with the publication today of The Weekly’s investigation into the transformation of Pete Evans from party-loving pizza master to Paleo warrior. The article appears in the March issue of the magazine, on sale from today.
In one testimonial, a Gold Coast woman says her dad is “healing his melanomas, all because he is following the Paleo way." A comment on the same post is from a mother-of-three with leukaemia who says, "I now feel [Paleo] might be my way to try and one day get off my chemotherapy medication that I take every day, not to mention all the antibiotics I’ve had to be on to fight infections along the way."
In a separate testimonial, a man with asthma said he had enjoyed a dramatic improvement in his health since switching to a Paleo diet, although he acknowledged he was taking other medications that could help too.
While health professionals encourage healthy eating, they recommend patients consult with qualified doctors before making radical changes to their diet, such as eliminating food groups, or altering their medication.
"There is no eating plan or special diet that is proven to cure cancer," says Kathy Chapman, chair of Cancer Council Australia’s nutrition and physical activity committee. "However eating well and maintaining a healthy weight can help maintain a person with cancer’s wellbeing while they undergo the rigours of [conventional] cancer treatment."
Mark Brooke, CEO of Asthma Australia, confirmed to The Weekly that a polite message from his organisation urging asthmatics not to stop their medication was removed from Pete Evans’ Facebook site shortly after being posted.
“I was surprised when our post was taken down,” he said. “It was well-intentioned and sought balance. But that’s the pain of social media.”
Mr Brooke acknowledged the man who wrote the testimonial had a positive experience with Paleo and that a healthy lifestyle and weight loss can have a beneficial impact on asthma.
But Asthma Australia posted on its own Facebook page, “Each year new fad diets, products and complimentary medicines come on to the market making claims about the benefits to people with asthma, these claims are rarely evidence based and rarely provide the benefits claimed.
“It is always important to discuss your asthma regularly with your doctor, including any changes to diet, and always follow an asthma management plan and take medications as prescribed."
Pete Evans’ new book Going Paleo, to be published next month, includes a long list of diseases that Paleo can allegedly help with. It includes "cancer remissions/tumour shrinkage", "dramatic improvement in autistic symptoms" and "cessation of migraines".
The list was compiled by Pete Evans’ co-author Nora Gedgaudus, author of Primal Body, Primal Mind and a holistic nutritional consultant, who says she’s witnessed or received innumerable reports of improvement in the 23 conditions listed.
However, she prefaces the claim by saying “It is important to repeat that we are not promoting any sort of treatment here for any specific illness or medically related issue. We aren’t claiming that this approach will prevent any possibility of disease.”
Cancer Council Australia was not aware of any scientific studies examining whether a Paleo diet could cure or treat cancer.
A disclaimer on Pete Evan’s Facebook page includes the lines,"Do not use the information found on this page as a substitute for professional healthcare advice… Pete Evans does not make any representation or warranty (express or implied) as to the accuracy or completeness of the information set out on this page, and shall not have any liability for any misrepresentation (express or implied) contained in, or for any omissions from, the information on this page."