In the US, there is a one in two chance of dying from heart disease. Most people admitted to hospitals for heart attacks have “normal” cholesterol levels though; this suggests the current recommendations are not stringent enough (see here, here, here, here, here). A plant-based diet appears to reduce heart disease risk (see also here) and may improve lung function in COPD patients. Eating just one handful of nuts a day, for example, may cut the risk of dying from heart disease in half. The Pritikin, Ornish, and Essylstein low-fat plant-based dietary programs have been found to even reverse heart disease (see also here, here, here, here, here, here).

Also thought to possibly extend one’s lifespan: Vitamin D supplements (see also here, here, here, here, here), seven hours of sleep per night, again, eating a plant-based diet (see also here), severe caloric restriction, a single serving of berries every day, and coffee.

Thought to shorten one’s lifespan: Vitamin E supplements (see also here), eating just one egg a day (see also here), meat intake (see also here, here, here), iron pills, early puberty, untreated celiac disease, kombucha tea, prescription drugs (which kill an estimated 106,000 people in the US each year), and a meat-based low carb diet. And the following appear to have no effect on lifespan: Vitamin C pills, multivitamins, and moderate alcohol consumption in healthy people.

In terms of cancer mortality, lung cancer is the number one cancer killer of women in the US, but breast cancer the most common. Women with breast cancer who eat soy may cut their risk of dying and recurrence. Broccoli has been shown to improve survival rates among bladder cancer patients and lignans from flax seeds improve survival rates among breast cancer patients. Saturated fat and trans fat intake have been shown to lower breast cancer survival rates. Dietary fat of animal origin has been associated with increased pancreatic cancer risk.

When Japanese men die, many have tiny prostate tumors; but they often die with their cancer, not from their cancer, which is not the case in the United States. Also, various types of cancer occurrence and mortality rates are higher in poultry workers, when compared to the general population. One possible explanation for this is that people with high exposure to poultry oncogenic viruses may have increased risk for dying from several cancers and neurological diseases.

The top killers in the US now include Alzheimer’s disease. Saffron as well as apples and ginger may slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s.

Other dangers to watch out for: Generally the first and only symptom of an abdominal aortic aneurysm is a painful death; eating meat just a few times a month increases the risk (see here, here). Death rates from liver failure have been found to be even more closely related to pork consumption than to alcohol consumption. Sudden infant death syndrome is the leading cause of death for healthy infants after one month of age and has been associated with maternal cow’s milk consumption.

Doctors prescribe diabetes drugs regularly even though they may increase the risk of death; cinnamon has also been found to help with blood sugar, but without such side-effects. Triphala has been found to preferentially wipe out breast and pancreatic cancer cells; unfortunately, it has been found to be contaminated with lead.

Topic summary contributed by Denise
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