Early Exposure to Pesticide: Revisited

Last month DiseaseProof.com examined whether or not consuming organic food is safer than eating standard produce that may contain pesticide residue. In Disease Proof Your Child Dr. Fuhrman explains this only represents a negligible risk and that the real concern should be with early exposure to chemical cleaners, insecticides, weed killers, and compounds used in pressure-treated wood. These materials can cause a myriad of health problems including cancers such as leukemia.

Recently FoodConsumer.org published an article written by David Liu Ph.D. supporting the claim that household insecticides are linked to childhood leukemia. Dr. Liu cites a new French study:

In the case-control study, Florence Menegaux, Ph.D. of INSERM (France's national institute for medical research) and colleagues compared the cases with 288 matched controls that did not have diagnosed cancer.

The mothers in both groups were interviewed for exposure to insecticides during pregnancy and early years of their children. Their socioeconomic status, education, family medical history, and their child's pre and postnatal characteristics were surveyed. The hazard risk factors included gardening chemicals, fertilizer, herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides, among others…

…Exposure to insecticides in the garden during childhood was also linked with a nearly doubled risk of acute leukemia. Considering exposure to gardening insecticides both in childhood and during pregnancy, the risk was 20 percent higher than controls.

Exposure to bug spray at home during pregnancy and childhood was associated with a doubled risk of acute leukemia.

Exposure to both garden insecticide and fungicide during childhood was also associated with a more than doubled risk.

The toxins associated with conventional produce are hardly the only ones worth limiting. (More on that from the previous post about organic food.) In his book Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman explains why residue on produce shouldn't be your chief concern:

The effects of ingesting pesticides in the very small amounts present in vegetation are unknown. Bruce Ames, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Center at the University of California at Berkeley, who has devoted his career to examining this question, believes these minute amounts pose no risk at all.

He and other scientists support this view because humans and other animals are exposed to small amounts of naturally occurring toxins with every mouthful of organically grown, natural food. The body normally breaks down self-produced metabolic wastes and naturally occurring carcinogens in foods, as well as pesticides, and excretes these harmful substances every minute. Since 99.99 percent of the potential carcinogenic chemicals consumed are naturally present in all food, reducing our exposure to the 0.01 percent that are synthetic will not reduce cancer rates.

These scientists argue that humans ingest thousands of natural chemicals that typically have a greater toxicity and are present at higher doses than the very minute amount of pesticide residue that remains on food. Furthermore, animal studies on the carcinogenic potential in synthetic chemicals are done at doses a thousand-fold higher than what is ingested in food. Ames argues that a high percentage of all chemicals, natural or not, are potentially toxic in high doses—"the dose makes the poison"—and that there is no evidence of possible cancer hazards from the tiny chemical residue remaining on produce.

Senior Journal: Certain Foods May Save Men from Prostate Cancer

The Senior Journal has an article about the important role certain foods can play in the fight against prostate cancer. The article highlights broccoli and turmeric, but those two foods are merely the tip of the anti-cancer iceberg.

To understand better the effects of diet on cancer in general from Dr. Fuhrman's perspective, read this blog post about diet and cancer. And read this example of how one of Dr. Fuhrman's patients addressed his prostate cancer scare.

Study: Healthy, Restricted Calorie Diet Helps to Prevent Heart Disease and Cancer

The next issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology will include research comparing 25 members of the Calorie Restriction Society (aged 41 to 64)--who consume 1,400 to 2,000 nutrient-rich calories per day--with the same number of people who eat a typical Western diet of 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day.

They found that those on the restricted diet had significantly healthier hearts. Jim Salter describes it this way in an Associated Press article about the study:

"This is the first study to demonstrate that long-term calorie restriction with optimal nutrition has cardiac-specific effects that (delay or reverse) age-associated declines in heart function," said Luigi Fontana, lead author and assistant professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis.

The study will be published Tuesday in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Fontana said simply consuming less food is not the answer. Members of the study group eat food resembling a traditional Mediterranean diet, focusing on vegetables, olive oil, beans, whole grains, fish and fruit. They avoid refined and processed foods, soft drinks, desserts, white bread and other sources of "empty" calories.

For the general public, the researchers recommend a moderate reduction in calories, combined with moderate, regular exercise.

Research on mice and rats indicated that life span can be stretched by about 30 percent with stringent and consistent caloric restriction. That research also suggested that restricting calories can help prevent cancer.

Heart attacks and strokes cause about 40 percent of deaths in Western countries, researchers said. Cancer causes another 30 percent. Fontana said those deaths are attributable to "secondary aging" from high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure and other often-preventable conditions.

While it has long been known that a healthy diet and exercise can reduce risks, the study suggests that caloric restriction combined with optimal nutrition can do even more.

Prostate Cancer Screenings: an Imperfect Science

The Associated Press reports that two widely used tests for prostate cancer failed to save lives in a new study; 1,002 men underwent a blood test that measures prostate specific antigen, or PSA, and a digital rectal exam, the rubber-glove test in which a doctor feels for abnormalities in the prostate through the rectal wall. Study co-author Dr. John Concato, a clinical epidemiologist at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System comments:

For now, doctors should tell men that screening tests for prostate cancer are not perfect, and men should decide for themselves whether to get screened.

Dr. Howard Parnes of the National Cancer Institute adds:

We should tell patients about the uncertainty. All too often we behave as if we know screening is a good thing.

A 1999 study published by the Archives of Internal Medicine yielded similar results is mentioned:

In the study, published in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers compared two groups of men treated at 10 Veterans Affairs medical centers.

One group consisted of 501 men who were diagnosed with prostate cancer and later died of that disease or other causes. Researchers chose 501 men who matched the first group for age and other factors, but who remained alive.

The researchers found that the men who were alive were no more likely to have been screened than the men who died of prostate cancer. The study was based on data from 1991 through 1999, the early years of PSA screening.

The findings support an earlier review by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. That agency said in 2002 that it found "insufficient evidence" for a recommendation that men be screened.

Thankfully, diet gets attention as a method to combat prostate cancer.
Research did show that a diet high in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

In an August 2005 DiseaseProof post Dr. Fuhrman addresses prostate cancer screening:

Almost all men who eat the Standard American Diet (SAD) or something like it will develop prostate cancer. There is no point in screening for it because if you are over 60 you most likely already have some prostate cancer cells in your prostate. If you choose screening, screen for the rise in PSA (PSA velocity) and ignore the total PSA number.

The good news is that even if you already have prostate cancer, it can be induced to grow faster or grow slower based on your diet-style. If you have a slow-growing, less-aggressive cancer, dietary excellence alone can offer tremendous assurance that your cancer never will become aggressive. I have observed numerous patients who have prostate cancer significantly drop and maintain lowered PSA readings through nutritional interventions.