Study Suggests Mechanism of Vegetables' Anti-Cancer Activity--REVISITED

Yesterday DiseaseProof received an interesting comment. Paul had some concerns about the information discussed in a previous post, Study Suggests Mechanism of Vegetables' Anti-Cancer Activity. Dr. Fuhrman offered this response:

You can always reduce your risk of lung cancer by quitting smoking at any point before cancer begins. We can look at dropping lung cancer rates comparing smokers who start smoking young and then quit compared to those who keep smoking. If you quit after 30 years of smoking your risk of lung cancer is half that of a person who continues to smoke (after 10 years), but it does not drop to zero where it would be if you never smoked. Likewise, you can reduce your risk of a variety of cancers with nutritional excellence, even if it is too late to maximally protect yourself or totally eliminate the risk at this age. It is important to note that a much more radical change to nutritional excellence is needed to see a significant reduction in risk at this later age.

But don't forget, even people who have cancer have been shown to live longer eating the healthful, anti-cancer dietary style I recommend in my books. Beneficial dietary changes have been shown in studies to prolong life for people with breast and prostate cancer.

It is important to keep in mind that heart disease and stroke (clots) are the leading cause of death in the modern world. It kills more individuals than all those cancers added up together. If you are still alive you can make a decision right now to never have a heart attack or stroke and make sufficient changes in your eating habits to guarantee this never happens. Utilizing medications to lower cholesterol into the favorable range or utilizing natural substances to lower cholesterol to that favorable range (LDL below 100) is not enough. That will only reduce your risk of a heart attack about 30 - 40 percent. To really knock out the possibility of heart disease you must combine effective cholesterol management with nutritional excellence. Furthermore, when you follow my nutritional guidelines you should protect yourself against dementia as well.

I don't know about you, but it is not enough for me to lower my risk of sudden cardiac death by a mere 30 to 40 percent. I want to drop that risk down one hundred percent if possible. If you study my dietary advice I claim you can achieve dramatic reduction in cholesterol levels, triglycerides and cardiac risk that simply cannot be achieved by (medical) cholesterol lowering alone.

You can retard the aging process now, maintain a healthy weight, lower your blood pressure, prevent or reverse diabetes, protect yourself against stroke and the so-common mental decline seen with aging and overall live a better quality, healthier and longer life from making these improvements in your eating habits. Too many people suffer and die needlessly, and I'm sure millions of people at all ages would adopt a healthier diet-style if they learned the profound benefits they would receive.

For more information on this topic check out Dr. Fuhrman's book Disease Proof Your Child.

The Keystone State Acts to Reduce Mercury Emissions

Amy Worden of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Pennsylvania will soon announce a plan demanding a further reduction in mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants over the next decade. This move will make Pennsylvania the fifth state to enact guidelines stricter than those imposed by the federal government. The hope is to cutback emissions by 10%:

The Pennsylvania proposal would require the state's 36 coal-fired plants to reduce emissions by 80 percent in four years and 90 percent by 2015. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered a 70 percent cap on emissions by 2018, although full compliance is not expected until years later.
Mercury emissions pollute water supplies, leading to increased levels of mercury in aquatic animals like fish. Consuming contaminated fish can pose catastrophic health risks for humans beings, especially young children and fetuses, as we have discussed in detail on DiseaseProof. In the following posts Dr. Fuhrman shares his opinions on the topic: Fishing For The Truth, Toxic Chemicals in Seafood, Is Organic Food Safer, and Dr. Fuhrman Discusses DHA for Children.

Government Panel Declares Chemical in Teflon Carcinogenic

Associated Press writer Randall Chase reports that an FDA panel is making official its concerns about the chemical perfluorooctanoic acid, which is also known as C-8:

A group of scientific advisers to the Environmental Protection Agency voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a recommendation that a chemical used in the manufacture of Teflon and other nonstick and stain-resistant products should be considered a likely carcinogen.

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Study Suggests Mechanism of Vegetables' Anti-Cancer Activity

Georgetown University Medical Center issued this press release on February 9th claiming that consuming certain vegetables can enhance DNA repair in cells, promoting protection against cancer:

In a study published in the British Journal of Cancer (published by the research journal Nature) the researchers show that in laboratory tests, a compound called indole-3-carbinol (I3C), found in broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, and a chemical called genistein, found in soy beans, can increase the levels of BRCA1 and BRCA2 proteins that repair damaged DNA.


Although the health benefits of eating your vegetables—especially cruciferous ones, such as broccoli—aren't particularly new, this study is one of the first to provide a molecular explanation as to how eating vegetables could cut a person's risk of developing cancer, an association that some population studies have found, says the study's senior author, Eliot M. Rosen, MD, PhD, professor of oncology, cell biology, and radiation medicine at Georgetown's Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

"It is now clear that the function of crucial cancer genes can be influenced by compounds in the things we eat," Rosen says. "Our findings suggest a clear molecular process that would explain the connection between diet and cancer prevention."

Research: Yes, Diet Has a Huge Role In Health

Last week The New York Times printed an article featuring a study claiming that a low-fat diet does little to prevent cancer and heart disease. Dr. Fuhrman responded with ten reasons to keep eating healthy food despite the headlines.

Today New York Times reporter Gina Kolata continues to further the notion that what you eat might not shape your medical fate:

It's one of the great principles — no, more than principles, canons — of American culture to suggest that what you eat affects your health.

It's this idea that you control your own destiny and that it's never too late to reinvent yourself. Vice gets punished and virtue gets rewarded. If you eat or drink or inhale the wrong things you get sick. If not, you get healthy. Says James Morone, a professor of political science at Brown University.

Her article cites the rise and fall of numerous fad diets. Dr. David Altshuler, an endocrinologist and geneticist at Massachusetts General Hospital is quoted urging caution when making dietary suggestions:
We should limit strong advice to where randomized trials have proven a benefit of lifestyle modification.
Of course, fad diets have never been the answer. And health care professionals should be exceedingly careful in what they recommend--because a lot of common assumptions about food are not supported by science. (T. Colin Campbell's revolutionary research showing the dangers of too much animal protein was born out of his conviction that getting more animal protein to the malnourished of the developing world was the key to good health--instead he found that reducing animal protein in his own diet was the biggest lesson.)

But if you look at the science, there is not a serious case to be made that diet is not tied to health. Just as there are studies showing smoking is not good for you, so are there studies showing certain foods are not good for you, while others can play a huge role in combating chronic disease.

Dr. Fuhrman's dietary recommendations are based on many thousands of studies. Click "continue reading" to see references and summaries to 19 of them that, together, should go a long way to convincing anyone that yes, it does matter what you eat.

Continue Reading...

Cancer Deaths Decline, but the War is Not Yet Won

Today CBS Health Watch posted an Associated Press article pointing out that cancer deaths were down last year, while proclaiming a turning point in the war on cancer.

The number of cancer deaths dropped to 556,902 in 2003, down from 557,271 the year before, according to a recently completed review of U.S. death certificates by the National Center for Health Statistics.
Dr. Fuhrman does not take this as evidence we are winning the war on cancer.
If you look closely at the statistics the decrease is insignificant. With the lowering of smoking rates we should have seen a large drop, this tiny decrease is a joke.

Bottom line, in spite of modern medical care, we are still losing the war on cancer. It may not be cigarettes any more, but our growing waistlines show food addiction is just as serious as cigarette smoking because as we are smoking much less, yet cancer has hardly budged in 75 years.

Dr. Fuhrman's book Disease-Proof Your Child presents extensive research showing that that many adult cancers are largely caused by the unhealthy diets most American children eat. Read more about diet and cancer in childhood and in general.

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Ten Reasons to Keep Eating Healthy Foods Despite Today's Headlines

Today's newspapers are blaring with crazy headlines. The New York Times, for instance, says that a "Low-Fat Diet Does Not Cut Health Risks, Study Finds."

Dr. Fuhrman draws no such conclusions. "This study compared two groups that both ate unhealthy diets," he says. "Look closely and you will see that the researchers compared a typical, disease-causing American diet, with one that was just marginally better, but still terribly unhealthy."

According to the study's authors, the "low fat diet" they told the women in the study to eat is as follows:

...postmenopausal women in the intervention group were advised to reduce total fat intake to 20% of energy and to consume at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables and 6 servings of grains daily; women in the control group continued their usual eating pattern.
As it turned out, the women in the low fat group actually ate just about one more serving of fruit or vegetable per day, fell far short of the even the modest 20%-of-energy-from-fat goal, and consumed the same number of calories as the women who did not modify their diets. As Gina Kolata reports in The New York Times:
In the first year, the women on the low-fat diets reduced the percentage of fat in their diet to 24 percent of daily calories, and by the end of the study their diets had 29 percent of their calories as fat. In the first year, the women in the control group were eating 35 percent of their calories as fat, and by the end of the study their dietary fat content was 37 percent. The two groups consumed about the same number of calories.
Preventing tough diseases like heart disease and cancer with diet requires an approach that is aggressive, multi-faceted, and nuanced. Dr. Fuhrman says research has already shown that simple interventions like those studied here are not effective:
The studies published this week in JAMA are nothing new. Those who conducted those studies should already be aware of hundreds of others studies that demonstrate "low fat" is not the key factor in disease causation. High phytochemical intake, including critical antioxidants in (high-fat) nuts, seeds and avocados contain heart disease and cancer fighting compounds. Eating more low-fat foods such as egg whites, chicken, and pasta does not expose us to the disease-fighting compounds in berries, seeds, nuts, cruciferous vegetables, tomatoes and carrots.
Here are ten reasons why it still makes sense to eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds:
1. Fruits and vegetables are the right things to eat, and among the best things they could have studied. But an increase of roughly one serving of vegetables and fruits per day--which is what was found in the study--does little to ward off cancer or heart disease. As described on DiseaseProof yesterday, I advocate a diet in which vegetables are 30-70% of calories, and fruit is 20-50% of calories.

2. A fixation on fat content is misleading. I do advocate little to no animal fats or oils (including olive oil). The fat from nuts and avocados is healthy and necessary, and for most of my patients I do not restrict it.

3. In this study, participants were encouraged to eat more grains, when in my diet--largely to achieve the potent anti-cancer and anti-heart disease benefits--I advocate replacing grains with vegetables as the basis of the diet.

4. Children were not included in this study. As we have discussed in greater detail previously, the best way to see the effects of diet on cancer is to examine the diets of children.

5. Even with this non-optimal diet, this study did find a correlation between diet and breast cancer. As The New York Times reports: "The women on low-fat diets had a 9 percent lower rate of breast cancer; the incidence was 42 per thousand per year in women in the low-fat diet group, compared with 45 per thousand per year in women consuming their regular diet."

6. The most important factor in preventing heart disease is LDL cholesterol. In this study, minor dietary changes were studied--and were found to make minor reductions in this all-important statistic. Imagine if they had studied serious dietary improvements.

7. Eating a diet heavy in bread, pasta, white meat, and processed foods can be low in fat, but is a very poor source of the micronutrition, especially phytonutrients, that contribute mightily to overall health. Many of the most important dietary interventions that we recommend were simply not studied.

8. The study was of post-menopausal women. The later in life they are started, the smaller effects dietary interventions can have.

9. Every time very healthy diets have been studied, they yield tremendous results. Consider the references below, as well as this evidence about diet and cancer, and diet and heart disease. In addition, the anecdotal evidence of my 15-year medical practice shows that not one of my active patients has had a heart attack.

10. For you hardened skeptics: there is no downside whatsoever to eating healthy food like fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Try it for six weeks. (The details are in Eat to Live.) You'll feel great.

Dr. Fuhrman has day-to-day experience helping people prevent cancer and heart disease with diet. He sees it working every day in his practice, and says this study fails to focus on some of the most important findings in nutrition research.

To win the war on cancer; these positive diet change must occur when we are young.

When our cells are growing they expose their DNA to the damaging effects of low nutrient and low phytochemical intake. The low consumption of fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts (only 5 percent of calories consumed by children) results in our unstoppable and growing cancer epidemic. Research scientists have been forced to accept the idea that the causes of cancer are usually set into motion more than 50 years before diagnosis. Our big artillery in the war on cancer is truly our in our kitchen; but we must start feeding our kids right to unleash the big guns.

Even though the factors initiating cancer causation cannot be eliminated with late-life dietary changes, nutritional excellence even later in life can have dramatic effects at lowering cholesterol and preventing heart disease. But a much more aggressive change in diet is required to achieve that degree of protection than what was looked at in these recent studies. It has already been established that a diet-style which contains a much larger percent of calories from unrefined plant foods (ninety percent) has dramatic effects on the occurrence of heart disease.

My vegetable-based diet was studied in the medical journal Metabolism in 2001 and was found to lower LDL cholesterol 33 percent and have dramatic effects on cardiac disease markers. Similar plant-based dietary approaches, either vegetarian or near-vegetarian containing mostly vegetables, bean, fruits, and nuts, have also been shown to offer dramatic protection against heart disease, even when adopted later in life.

And finally, some relevant studies to consider:

Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Popovich DG, et al. Effect of a very-high-fiber vegetable, fruit, and nut diet on serum lipids and colonic function. Metabolism 2001 Apr;50(4):494-503.

Hu FB, Willett WC. Optimal diets for prevention of coronary heart disease. JAMA 2002 Nov 27;288(20):2569-2578.

Campbell TC, Parpia B, Chen J. Diet, lifestyle, and the etiology of coronary artery disease: the Cornell China study. Am J Cardiol 1998 Nov 26;82(10B):18T-21T

Esselstyn CB. Resolving the Coronary Artery Disease Epidemic Through Plant-Based Nutrition. 2001 Autumn;4(4):171-177

The Chicago Tribune on Milk

The mounting skepticism about milk consumption and its effects on human health is going mainstream. A recent article in the Chicago Tribune is all over the topic:

Milk, the sacred cow of the American diet, is under attack and not just by animal-rights activists. Though federal dietary guidelines and most mainstream nutrition experts recommend that people age 9 or older drink three glasses of milk a day, researchers are examining the role of dairy in everything from rising osteoporosis rates, Type 1 diabetes and heart disease to breast, prostate and ovarian cancer.

Last March, the journal Pediatrics published a review article concluding that there is "scant evidence" that consuming more milk and dairy products will promote child and adolescent bone health. Some leading practitioners of integrative medicine, including best-selling author Dr. Andrew Weil, suggest eliminating dairy products from the diet to help treat irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, eczema and ear infections. The late Dr. Benjamin Spock reversed his support of cow's milk for children in 1998 in his last edition of his world-famous book "Baby and Child Care."

Here at DiseaseProof, we have talked about negatives of drinking milk and how some public schools are actually banning whole milk due to its high fat content. Dr. Fuhrman cites allergies, anal fissures, ear infections, and various cancers much later in life as a few potential dangers of dairy consumption.

The Tribune article encourages people not to see milk as the only viable source of calcium, and it's no secret that green vegetables are loaded with calcium (even the National Dairy Council will tell you so).

The calcium from some vegetables such as broccoli, bok choy and kale is absorbed as well as or better than calcium from milk and milk products, according to the National Dairy Council's Calcium Counseling Resource. But the report also says that to get the same amount of calcium absorbed from 1 cup of milk, one would have to eat nearly 2 1/2 cups of broccoli or 8 cups of spinach.
Of course, people are drawn to milk out of habit, because it is a quick compact source of calcium, and because it seems easier to get children to consume milk than vegetables.

But consider the total nutritional picture. Green vegetables are dense with so many kinds of nutrition beyond just calcium.

Also, if you want some pointers about how to get your kids to eat calcium-rich fruits and vegetables, you really should listen to Dr. Fuhrman's free podcast on the topic.

Finally, in his book Disease Proof Your Child, Dr. Fuhrman explains that if you insist on cow's milk nonetheless, do yourself a favor and choose skim.