If you are reading this blog, you probably already recognize what I am about to report and have read about why it is so important that we make wise eating choices. However, most Americans are not like the average DiseaseProof reader and I’m willing to bet many people believe still believe that whether or not we get cancer depends on the genes we are dealt or even luck. Most will agree that smoking is a cause of cancer, but what about what we eat? Will most people agree that our food choice make a difference in whether or not we get cancer down the road? Well, interestingly nutritional research scientists are now coming to the same conclusion as my father, indicating that, yes, our diets can be just as disease-promoting as smoking cigarettes.
These findings were published by the World Cancer Research Fund in an article entitled, “Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective.” The report was the most comprehensive and systematic of its kind and involved 286 specialists who went through 500,000 scientific articles concerning 17 different types of cancer. The uncontestable findings were that 40 percent of all forms of cancer can be prevented by eating a well balanced diet, maintaining a normal body weight and participating in a moderate amount of physical activity. Head researcher, Jan Erik Paulsen, noted that the evidence shows that a bad diet is more likely to be a cause of cancer than smoking tobacco.
The specialists on Paulsen’s team found that low carbohydrate diets that recommend red meat such as beef, pork, lamb and game, were particularly disease-promoting. People who consume large quantities of red meat in order to keep their weight in check can end up getting cancer instead.
What properties of red meat make it so dangerous? The researchers believe it is the combination of nitrates, heme iron and other substances found in red meats. Nitrate reacts with heme iron to form a compound called nitrosyl hemoglobin, which can trigger certain types of cancer.
Paulsen declared, “My theory is that heme iron is so stable that it survives the digestion of meat in the small intestine and goes on undamaged to reach the colon. Here it reacts with the metabolites (intermediate and end-products of metabolism), which are produced by the bacterial flora and forms nitrosamines, which are known to cause cancer.”
However, it is not just red meat that we should be wary of. Unprocessed meats can be just as dangerous because they can use nitrite already in the stomach (produced from other foods) and form nitrosyl hemoglobin. Combine our diets of processed foods with animal products and limited quantities of vegetables and we’ve created the perfect cancer forming stew.
Of course my father, Dr. Fuhrman disagrees, because he does not recommend a “balanced diet” to reduce cancer rates by 40 percent. He recommends a nutritarian diet specifically designed with a portfolio of the world’s most powerful anti-cancer foods. Dr. Fuhrman suggests that superior nutrition can decrease cancer death rates by 90 percent, not merely 40 percent. This is because the dietary intervention he suggests is more rigorous and effective at preventing cancer and it is supported by tremendous evidence and clinical experience. There are multiple studies on optimal consumption of super foods and cancer (his G-BOMBS list), and the statistics on very low rates of cancer in parts of the world that ate better more than 50 years ago before fast food and processed food became ubiquitous. These populations had less than 10 percent of the cancer we see today.
Cancer rates are now predicted to climb in the next few decades and the numbers aren’t pretty. Globally, cancer rates are projected to rise by as much as 75 percent by the year 2030, while cancer rates in the poorest countries are predicted to double as more people are consuming a Western diet style. These numbers are sad, yet what is even sadder is that many of them would have been prevented with changes in lifestyle. I think we need to begin to take responsibility as a country and begin accepting that our junk food lifestyle can no longer be acceptable. We can make healthy eating taste great and we have the knowledge now to know which foods promote cancer and which foods prevent it. It’s up to all of us to take care of our own bodies, but also to spread the word about eating healthfully to those we care about. Until our nation declares that the salad should be the main dish or that we can reduce our risks of cancer by eating foods like mushrooms, cruciferous greens, and onions, we need to take this matter into our own hands and do our part. Every little bit counts.