Why We Are Losing the War on Cancer: Causes vs. Results

From the January 2005 edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times:

For those of us who live in developed countries with running water, flush toilets, electricity, refrigeration, and modern transportation methods, the three leading causes of death for the past seventy-five years have been heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Recently, cancer has been declared the leading cause of death for people under eighty years old.

Infectious disease incidence and death rates from infections plummeted in developed countries soon after refrigeration, plumbing, and flush toilets were introduced. Dramatic increases in average life span in many developed nations also occurred as a result of the decline in deaths of women in labor and the decline in deaths from infant and early childhood deaths that came about with advances in sanitation, obstetrical, and perinatal medical care.

It is critical to note that heart attacks, stroke, and cancer are not causes of death. They are the terminal results of a disease process that began years earlier. The primary causes of these three deadly diseases are poor diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, and physical inactivity.

A 1993 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association1 ranked the actual causes of death in the 1990s as follows: 1) tobacco, 2) poor diet and physical inactivity, and 3) alcohol consumption. Fast forward 15 years to the present, and we have even greater problems, with an explosion of obesity, diabetes, and other diseases of nutritional ignorance.

The problem we are seeing today is the occurrence of obesity and diabetes at an earlier age and in much greater proportions of our population. It forebodes an explosion in heart disease and cancer in upcoming years. This will likely be the first generation of children in modern history whose average life span will be significantly shorter compared with their parents. With the dramatic increase in soft drinks, cheese, convenience foods, and fast foods, the future health of America and our economic system could be severely compromised due in part to rapidly sky rocketing medical costs. Many American companies are already in financial difficulties and are being forced to move overseas secondary to rapidly escalating health-care costs.

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High Blood Sugar and Cancer

The Diabetes Blog relays new research linking high blood sugar to cancer risk:
Researchers identified 2,478 incident cases of cancer from records of 33,293 women and 31,304 men who participated in the study. Participants were recruited in the mid-1980s at age 40, 50 and 60 and the study covered a 13-year period. The records included levels of glucose in the blood when fasting and after receiving an infusion of glucose. Researchers calculated the cancer risk relative to blood glucose while adjusting for: age, year of enrollment, fasting time and smoking status. Women with blood sugar levels higher than normal have a total higher risk for cancer while for men the risk was unchanged at higher blood sugar levels. The overall risk of developing cancer for women in the top 25% of fasting blood glucose levels was 26% higher than those in the bottom 25%. Women with high fasting glucose levels had a higher risk of pancreatic, breast and endometrial cancers, while the increase in risk for malignant melanoma was two times higher.

More Low-Carb Junk

Have we entered a parallel universe or something? Because why the heck have low-carb diets been in the news so much lately? Maybe the early daylight savings time is throwing off people’s better judgment. Any way, get a load of this new study singing the praises of the low-carb fad. Reuters is on it:

After 12 weeks on the low-carb plan, study participants had lost an average of 4.9 kilograms (10.8 pounds), compared to 2.5 kg (5.5 pounds) for their peers on the low-fat diet.


However, after the weight-maintenance phase of the study, which lasted another 24 weeks, differences between the two groups in weight loss and fat mass remained, but were no longer statistically significant.

The findings confirm that the low-carb diet tested in the study is a "reasonable alternative" to cutting fat and controlling portions in order to maintain a healthy weight, Dr. Kevin C. Maki of Radiant Research in Chicago and colleagues conclude.

The approach Maki's team tested -- a reduced-glycemic-load (RGL) diet -- required people to restrict their carbohydrate intake and eat more low glycemic index (GI) foods, meaning foods that produce a relatively small, gradual increase in blood sugar levels. Low GI foods generally are rich in fiber, consist of more complex carbohydrates, and include vegetables, beans and whole grains.

What amazes me about low-carb news is you never get the whole story. For example, according to Dr. Fuhrman high-fat low-carb diets like the Atkins fad come with an increased risk of cancer, funny how you never hear about this. More on this from Increased Risk of Cancer Associated with The Atkins Diet:

Atkins recommends that you eat primarily high-fat, high-protein, fiberless animal foods and attempt to eliminate carbohydrates from your diet. Atkins's menus average 60-75 percent of calories from fat and contain no whole grains and nor fruit. Analyses of the proposed menus show animal products make up more than 90 percent of the calories in the diet.


Hundreds of scientific studies have documented the link between animal products and various cancers. Though it would be wrong to say that animal foods are the sole cause of cancer it is now clear that increased consumption of animal products combined with the decreased consumption of fresh produce has the most powerful effect on increasing one's risk for various kinds of cancer. Atkins convinces his followers that he knows better than leading nutritional research scientists who proclaim that "meat consumption is an important factor in the etiology of human cancer."1

So then, what foods decrease your risk of cancer? I’ll let Dr. Fuhrman explain, more the from post:

Atkins devotees adopt a dietary pattern completely opposite of what is recommended by the leading research scientists studying the link between diet and cancer.2 Specifically, fruit exclusion alone is a significant cancer marker. Stomach and esophageal cancer are linked to populations that do not consume a sufficient amount of fruit.3 Scientific studies show a clear and strong dose-response relationship between cancers of the digestive tract, bladder, and prostate with low fruit consumption.4 To the surprise of many investigators, fruit consumption shows a powerful dose-response association with a reduction in heart disease, cancer, and all-cause mortality.5 There is also a striking consistency in many scientific investigations that show a reduction in incidence of colorectal and stomach cancer with the intake of whole grains.6 Colon cancer is strongly associated with the consumption of animal products.7 And these researchers have concluded that the varying level of colon cancer in the low-incidence population compared with the high-incidence population could not be explained by "protective" factors such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals; rather, it was influenced almost totally by the consumption of animal products and fat.

 

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Fruits and Veggies vs. Diabetes and Colon Cancer

In this age of modern medicine patients and doctors alike are quick to throw themselves at the altar of prescription drugs and invasive procedures, often ignoring rudimentary causes and cures for many of the common afflictions that plague this country.

Take diabetes and cancer for example, big pharma has indoctrinated us into believing that lifelong dependency on medication and chemotherapy are our only hopes. Now, if you read this blog you know, this is foolhardy to say the least. And Dr. Fuhrman makes it very clear. You have other options.

Does a diagnosis of Type-II Diabetes mean a life sentence of insulin shots? Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t think so. From Understanding the Development of Type 2 Diabetes:
How can diabetics safely lower the high glucose levels that are slowly destroying their bodies? How can they lower their lipids and blood pressure, lose weight, and avoid taking dangerous drugs, such as insulin and sulfonylureas? They need to adopt a diet based on nutritional excellence.


Fortunately, the best diet for good health and longevity is also the best diet for diabetics. It is a diet with a high nutrient per calorie ratio, as carefully described in my book, Eat To Live. When you eat a diet consisting predominantly of nature's perfect foods—green vegetables, beans, eggplant, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, garlic, raw nuts and seeds, and limited amounts of fresh fruit, it becomes relatively easy to eat as much as you want and still lose your excess weight. In my experience, those who follow my nutritional recommendations find that their diabetes disappears astonishingly fast, even before most of their excess weight melts away.
And what about cancer? In Diet, Chemotherapy, and the Truth: How to Win the War on Cancer Dr. Fuhrman talks about how vegetable-based nutrition hits cancer where it hurts:
While fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of nutrients, the consumption of vegetables is more helpful in reducing cancer because they contain much higher amounts of cancer-protective compounds-- especially green vegetables. Among these green vegetables, the cruciferous family has demonstrated the most dramatic protection against cancer. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, collards, arugala, watercress, and cabbage) contain a symphony of phytonutrients with potent anti-cancer effects. Isothiocyanates (ITCs), which are perhaps the best studied, have been shown to provide protection against environmental carcinogen exposure by inducing detoxification pathways, thereby neutralizing potential carcinogens.


These vegetables also contain indole-3- carbinol (I3C). Indole-3-carbinol has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer by decreasing estrogen activity. Important recent studies have shown that cruciferous vegetables and the compounds they contain can do the following:
  • Halt the growth of breast cancer cells1
  • Dramatically reduce the risk of colon cancer2
  • Prevent the replication of prostate cancer cells and induce death of cancerous cells3
  • Inhibit the progression of lung cancer4
Now, Dr. Fuhrman has been talking about this for years, but it’s still cool to read about it in the news. Like this report from Reuters. Apparently a new study has determined avoiding meats and fatty foods and eating plenty of salads and cooked vegetables reduces the risk of developing Type-II Diabetes. Michelle Rizzo explains:
There was an inverse association observed between the Salad and Vegetable pattern and diabetes. The Meat pattern was positively associated with diabetes. No association was observed between the Fruit pattern and diabetes risk.


"Our results suggest that avoiding an eating pattern including meat and fatty foods, and favoring a pattern high in salad and cooked vegetables could reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes," Dr. Allison Hodge, of the University of Melbourne, Australia, said in an interview with Reuters Health.
Okay, call it coincidence, but here’s another Reuters report worth checking out. It seems new research has determined that people who eat a diet high in fruit and low in meat reduce their risk of developing colon cancer. Have a look:
Gregory Austin and colleagues analyzed the answers and found there were three groups -- people who ate a lot of fruit but little meat, people who ate a lot of vegetables and a moderate amount of meat, and people who simply ate a lot of meat.


The people who recalled eating large or moderate amounts of meat were 70 percent more likely to have had a polyp than those who said they ate a lot of fruit but little meat.
So then, all this begs the question. Why don’t more doctors and patients seek out this kind of information? Oh, that’s right, there are no pushy sales reps and million dollar advertising campaigns behind your local farmers market.
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Aspirin and Colon Cancer

The Cancer Blog is all over new research discouraging the use of aspirin for colon cancer prevention:
The risk of intestinal bleeding, stroke, kidney failure, and other health problems led the US Preventative Services Task Force to conclude that taking more than 300 milligrams per day of drugs like Motrin, Advil, and Aleve is just too risky to outweigh the potential benefits of preventing cancer. And while taking less than 100 milligrams of such drugs can reduce the risk of heart disease, it does nothing to lower the rate of colon cancer.

Dairy Soon to be Even Scarier

How do you feel about dairy? Personally, I don’t like it. Of course this wasn’t always the case. As a kid I loved my morning cereal, but, puking it up ten minutes later was no picnic. Yes, it took a while before the family realized I was lactose intolerant. Now I barely touch the stuff, actually I can’t remember the last time I knowingly ate any dairy.

But for lots of people avoiding dairy is total blasphemy. After all, just last week it was reported that diary foods help with fertility. Not to mention people like BellaOnline's Low Carb Editor Lisa Shea consider foods like cheese to be a delicious and nutritious snack:
Cheese is a delicious, nutritious food. It is in essence milk from a cow (or sheep, goat etc.) that has been processed and solidified. Therefore, cheese is full of calcium and can make just about any meal very tasty. It's a perfect snack, too! Just don't put it on bland bread. Try it on a slice of cucumber, or on a pepperoni ring!
So then, how can dairy be bad for us? Come on, America grew up on dairy. Cookies and milk, whip cream on pumpkin pie, and what about sharing a strawberry shake with your sweetheart? Not a good idea according to Dr. Fuhrman.

Maybe it’s our emotional connection with milk and ice cream, but it sure seems like people ignore the dangers dairy. In a previous post Dr. Fuhrman points out the link between Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, ovarian cancer, and dairy consumption. From Milk: Does It Do A Body Good:
The relationship between Parkinson’s and milk consumption has been suspected for decades1 and was first reported by researchers a few years ago. Chen’s and other recent prospective studies have confirmed the earlier, less definitive findings…


…The researchers also concluded that the non-fat aspects of milk have atherogenic effects (plaque-building) both biochemical and immunological, and the simultaneous attack from all these directions explains why milk was found to have such a strong effect on death rate2…

…A recent study of 61,000 women found that those who consumed more than 2 glasses of milk per day had twice the risk of serous ovarian cancer than women who consumed fewer than two glasses. The risk of those who drank two glasses a day was double that of women who rarely drank milk.3
Dr. Fuhrman is especially worried about cow’s milk and children. In Disease-Proof Your Child he explains that consuming milk puts children at risk for a whole bunch of issues, including Crohn's disease and multiple sclerosis. Here’s a bit of the book:
Milk and cheese are the foods Americans encourage their children to eat, believing them to be healthy foods. Fifty years of heavy advertising by an economically powerful industry has shaped the public's perception, illustrating the power of one-sided advertising, but the reality and true health effects on our children is a different story. Besides the link between high-saturated-fat foods (dairy fat) and cancer, there is a body of scientific literature linking the consumption of cow's milk to many other diseases.
When I read stuff like this I don’t feel ashamed about not eating dairy. Although my friends still think its weird that I can walk into a pizzeria and not order a slice. In fact, I’m probably the only full-blooded Italian that orders a salad at the local pizza joint.

So, if all this daunting research isn’t enough to make you think twice about downing that glass of milk, check out this report by The Washington Post. Apparently the FDA is about to approve a cattle drug that could put humans at risk. Rick Weiss has more:
The American Medical Association and about 12 other health groups warned the Food and Drug Administration that giving cefquinome to animals probably would speed the emergence of microbes resistant to that important class of antibiotic, as has happened with other drugs. Those supermicrobes could then spread to people.


Echoing those concerns, the FDA's advisory board last fall voted to reject the request by Intervet of Millsboro, Del., to market the drug for cattle.

Yet by all indications, the FDA will approve cefquinome this spring. That outcome is all but required, officials said, by a recently implemented "guidance document" that codifies how to weigh threats to human health posed by proposed new animal drugs.
You’ve got to love the FDA. They’ve always got our best interests at heart—that was sarcasm folks.
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