Doctor's Note

What is TOR? Check out these two backgrounder videos—fascinating stuff:

More on dairy and prostate cancer in Prostate Cancer and Organic Milk vs. Almond Milk

This story continues in my next video: Saving Lives By Treating Acne With Diet.

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  • Wegan

    Got TOR? Don’t you mean going OFF TOR?

    • Prevent Cancer FROM Going on TOR

      means the same thing as

      Prevent Cancer BY Going Off TOR

  • guest

    let’s hope the pill people don’t try to squeeze this into a bottle. You would have thought they’d have learned their lesson after (most) all the other vitamin and supplement fiascoes.

    • Actually, there’s a very interesting pill angle here. Metformin, the drug used to control Type 2 diabetes, actually inhibits mTORC1 signaling. No wonder it’s showing so much promise in cancer. http://www.jscimedcentral.com/Endocrinology/endocrinology-spid-antidiabetic-drug-metformin-1029.pdf

      • Psych MD

        Great link. I started taking metformin a couple months ago after spending hours researching articles such as this one. My blood sugar is fine. I am taking it for the widespread health and longevity benefits. The fact that it is derived from the French lilac plant and has been used safely in Europe since the 1950’s was no small factor in my deciding to use it. The DEA tends to frown upon physicians prescribing drugs to themselves so I write the RX for my wife for the max dosage and cut it in half. It costs about three bucks a month.

        • Alan A

          What age would be a good age to consider metformin? I’m 42 and considering taking this medicine for this very reason. My mom is also pre-diabetic but now focusing on lifestyle changes. Should consider metformin as well?

      • dorange

        That’s one more reason to try metformin. I am considering a cocktail of repurposing drugs for cancer treatment, and one of them is metformin, but I only knew of its role as a glycolisis inhibitor and maybe its anti-estrogen effect: http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/74/19_Supplement/4229.short

        • Metformin does come with potential side effects, so please talk with your doctor about that. You might also want to look at this work on doxycycline, a common antibiotic. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25625193 If you have cancer, you should also consider all the plants that inhibit cancer cells from metabolizing glucose and glutamine as fuels and from turning glucose and glutamine into fatty acids that they then use as fuels. I’m compiling a list.

          • dorange

            Yeah, I know about metformin side effects – but I don’t do anything without my oncologist being aware of it. That’s exactly why I am looking for a doctor who can understand how these drugs can hellp battle cancer, how they interact with each other and how to control side effects.
            I am already on doxycycline… ;) and I do follow your blog, now anxiously waiting for this promising list!

          • Email me privately, and I’ll send you the most recent draft. hsugarmill@sympatico.ca

      • Yeah but metformin inhibits absorption of VitaminB12, increases homocysteine blood level and RBC anemia.

  • Mary in Texas

    Hey Dr.Broccoli! Very interesting. I learn something new everyday by watching your videos. thank you

    • Dylan

      Dr. Broccoli! That’s a good one Mary! Very well suited.

  • Got milk? Got prostate or ovarian cancer? Here’s a simple review of the evidence. http://eatandbeatcancer.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/anti-cancer-diets-whats-the-deal-with-dairy/

  • val

    yay for “skin of cucumbers”…I *always* include skin of cucumber (organic as much as possible to avoid the wax on conventional cukes) in my salads or as a hummus dipper! thanks Doc AGAIN for your life-saving work here! All respect and love to you! ♥ !

  • Zpaulo Carraca

    Can I keep munching on leucine rich almonds ?

  • dogulas

    So, what are the leading preventable causes of death for people who eat whole food plant based diets? They live longer, but I’m curious as to what does eventually cause death among them?

    • Auntie M

      I read that they suffer much less long-term illness and more often die of catastrophic injury or illnesses such as influenza, pneumonia, etc.

      • Plantstrongdoc M.D.

        That people who eat whole food plant based diets should die more often from influenza and pneumonia makes no sense. People who die from influenza and pneumonia typically have a chronic condition such as heart disease, diabetes, rheumatic disease, which a WFPD prevents, and a WFPD is typically lower in calories (and maybe have CR mimetic properties), which probably reduce the decline in immunefunction as you age.

        • Han

          You appear to be missing the context. People die of something eventually. What do vegans die of?

          • 4Baccurate

            They die, for example, of some malnourished, fuzzy-brained, meat-eating atherosclerotic person backing over them in a parking lot. Something that has nothing to do with their own diet.

          • Han

            I’m glad I’m a vegan. Sounds like a great way to go.

  • EdK

    Unlike methionine, plant proteins in general and animal proteins in general do not differ all that much in % leucine content. For example, as far as leucine as % of total protein goes, egg protein has 8.5%, milk protein 9.7%,and beef protein 7.9%, while soy protein has 7.6%, pumpkin seeds about 8.4%, and rice protein 8.3% (I did some calculations using the tables in Bowes & Church). I know Dr. Greger wants to push the plant based diet, but eating plant based protein will profide about the same amount of leucine as eating he same amount of animal based protein. It looks to me that if one wants to reduce leucine intake, one would need to eat less protein, period.

    • b00mer

      …and an effective way to do that would be to eat plant-based.

      1 cup rice with chicken breast: 500 Cal, 58 g protein, 4.4 g leucine
      1 cup rice with 1 cup beans: 460 Cal, 19 g protein, 1.6 g leucine

      Unless people on a non-vegan diet restrict their food intake overall, or are in fact limiting their meat consumption (i.e. making their diet closer to a plant-based one), they will most likely consume excessive amounts of protein and subsequently of leucine. An advertisement for a plant-based diet in the context of this subject appears quite reasonable to me.

  • gigi

    I am wondering about something mentioned in this video. I had anorexia nervosa for many years in my 30’s (I am now in my 40’s and still have struggles)-I guess that may offer me some protection (which would be the only good thing that came from that illness). Now that I am trying to fully recover, I am being encouraged to eat low fat dairy yougurt–it seems like this is not a good thing based on the video. I normally mix it with fruit and hemp seeds–what should I be doing instead. I apologize for my ignorance as I am new to all of this.

    • Jessy R.D.

      Maybe try mixing those good items in soy yogurt?

    • b00mer

      Hi gigi, could you share why you were being encouraged to consume yogurt? If it’s an issue of calcium, you can easily get more than enough calcium from plant foods, particularly beans and green vegetables, and even seemingly “low” calcium plant foods like fruits, whole grains, etc all add up over the course of the day. Add in a serving or two of fortified non-dairy milks, tofu, etc, and your levels will quickly skyrocket above the recommended intake. If the idea of supplements bothers you, keep in mind the calcium in most dairy products comes from a supplement given to the cows in their feed.

      If it’s a matter of protein, know that it’s mathematically impossible to consume less than your rda for protein on a whole foods plant based diet, provided your caloric intake is sufficient. On my simple diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes, I consistently consume no less than 150% of the recommended amount for my weight.

      Of course if you enjoy your yogurt habit, you can very easily switch to any non-dairy yogurt. If you find it cost prohibitive (it’s quite expensive where I live), you can make your own for much less, either with a cheap yogurt maker (~$20), a crockpot, or a pressure cooker.

    • William Dwyer

      You don’t need dairy for the calcium, if that’s why your eating the yogurt, but I would make sure to include kale every day as one of your vegetables, as it has a good amount of absorbable calcium as well as vitamin K. You could also take a calcium supplement, but you don’t really need more than about 800 mg of calcium per day; the body can’t absorb more than about 500 mg at a time anyway. You should also get at least half as much magnesium as calcium.

      With anorexia nervosa, you have to worry about osteoporosis, caused by lack of estrogen from amenorrhea due to low body fat (less than 16%), and also by insufficient weight bearing on your bones. So make sure to get enough weight bearing exercise as well as enough vitamin D and vitamin K.

      You also need to keep your diet sufficiently alkaline by including plenty of fruits and vegetables and enough protein (from beans and grains) to help rebuild and maintain bone density. If necessary, I would also include a potassium bicarbonate supplement (“Potassium Basics” which can be purchased online) to ensure that your urinary pH remains at 7 or higher. Otherwise, your body will take calcium from your bones to raise the pH. You can purchase pH test strips online to determine your urinary pH. If it’s lower than 7 to 7.25, I would take the potassium bicarbonate to raise it

      In order to ensure that you get enough calories, you could also include high calorie foods like avocados and nuts.

      Hope this helps.

    • Thea

      gigi: re: “…it seems like this is not a good thing based on the video.” I agree. In fact there are a large number of videos on this site which indicate that dairy is not a good thing.

      I think b00mer was right on when she said that you would want to find out *why* they recommended yogurt. That will help you figure out a more healthy alternative.

      I am not an expert, so I have no idea why they would have made that recommendation. But in addition to what b00mer suggested, I was thinking that maybe they were looking for food that would have a high calorie density. In that case, you could try to figure out the calorie density of the yogurt you eat and find comparable whole plant foods to eat instead. Just an idea.

      If you find out the “why”, let us know and we maybe this group can make some helpful, specific suggestions.

      I know how overwhelming good nutrition can seem at first. I can promise that it does get easier over time as you absorb the information and learn what does and does not work for you in terms of taste, convenience, etc. Good luck to you.

  • Rod Stevenson

    Question for Dr. Greger. This video and many others note the importance of the cancer fighting abilities of cruciferous vegetables as well as tea (no doubt Matcha and Hibiscus are at the top of the list). However a simple Google search of “pesticide + tea” brings up many concerning and properly sourced news feeds, of all things, the carcinogenic properties of pesticides still on the packaged tea. not to mention if we simply steep the tea or ingesting it whole as per your practice at home). Is there enough data out there to provide the context if this is a real threat? Does the tea cancel out the negative health effect of the pesticides? Those products claiming to be organic tea at a premium price; do we get our money’s worth? For those of us who consume the tea whole (as you mentioned is a common practice with your family), should we be more worried ingesting more of the less water soluble pesticides with the whole tea?

  • Andy

    My question is… if we have cholesterol screening available to give us information about our heart health why don’t we have any tests for our cancer health?
    Many of the videos discuss dropping blood on cancer cells and seeing them either multiply or die.
    Why aren’t there tests that people could get that would tell them… we dropped your blood on some liver cancer cells (or breast or prostate etc…) and they grew or they died so things look ok.
    If things don’t look good then they can suggest dietary changes and test again? Why are we not using this? Is it due to cost?

    • b00mer

      Hi Andy, yes in vitro work is incredibly expensive, and as someone with experience in mamallian cell culture I personally would not want this to become widespread practice. The time and expertise/training, cell lines themselves, growth media, sera, enzymatic and other solutions for processing cells and all the plastic bottles they come in, all the single-use disposable plastic pipets, flasks, slides, vials, gloves, booties, the maintenance of labs and all the equipment within, etc, that are necessary to do one simple assay are perhaps justified in performing representative and informative studies, but I think it would be quite wasteful to perform as testing for individuals. I think the public would be much better served by advocacy that exposes them to the information we already have. Combined with all the other in vitro work, as well as epidemiological, clinical and interventional research that has already been done, we have quite a consensus already as far as which foods cure and which foods cause cancer. Just my two cents.

      Another thing to keep in mind, as many people who eat a plant based diet either come to it through ethical reasons, or come to care about the ethics of animal consumption as a result of dietary changes – in vitro mammalian cell culture nearly always uses fetal bovine serum. And yes, it is as awful as it sounds. Though synthetic sera have come on the market and are objectively superior in terms of consistency of composition and sterility, in the scientific world, changes in methodology come slowly.

  • Emily

    Does this apply to leucine in soymilk and almonds?

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Valid question! No, the plant-based proteins (even those higher in leucine) don’t seem to be connected to TOR in a negative way.

      • Emily

        Oh, this is such a relief! I hoped that was the case because I love my non-gmo, organic soy!

      • David Johnson

        Do you have any idea why that might be the case? Offhand, I’d think all amino acids of a certain type would behave the same way regardless of source (plant vs animal). So perhaps it’s the overall typical amino acid profile of one’s entire diet? Or perhaps there’s something else in animal products that’s the real causative agent?…

        • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

          I’m not sure. It’s a great question. I can only point to similar situations. Maybe the combined nutrients in plants give the protective effect? Kind of like the nitrites in celery or beets being beneficial vs. nitrites in meat. Or the fact when vegetables are consumed with hight fat meals it seems to reduce the harmful effects. Non-heme iron in excess can be discarded opposed to heme iron. Obviously that is a mechanical enzymatic reaction taking place, but maybe the fiber and antioxidants coupled with abundant leucine create a better atmosphere for digestion/absorption, opposed to a heavy load from animal products with zero fiber. I am speculating, just thinking how it’s possible. Perhaps there is more information in the studies themselves we can check. Fun to think about!

      • David Johnson

        Do you have any idea why that might be the case? Offhand, I’d think all amino acids of a certain type would behave the same way regardless of source (plant vs animal). So perhaps it’s the overall typical amino acid profile of one’s entire diet? Or perhaps there’s something else in animal products that’s the real causative agent?…

  • dogulas

    Since beans are the plant food with the highest methionine content, should they not be eaten too much?

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Good question, dogulas. It seems to only be a concern with the animal-based proteins/amino acids.

  • hyperloke

    Very informative but this does concern me. As someone who has taken up a fitness regime, I take BCAAs (not certified vegan) as part of my supplementation. As we know Leucine is crucial in activating the mTOR pathway for protein synthesis but …it appears also harmful in large amounts leading to cancer? This seems like a weird irony to me since traditionally more muscle mass is favored and associated with less cancer risk. Is there an optimal amount of Leucine that should be taken by those working out to build muscle? I have recently made the switch from whey/casein protein to brown/pea protein (but event these do contain high levels of Leucine). I am very health conscious and currently am making my transition from lacto-vegetarianism to veganism. Many thanks doc, your reviews are cementing my allegiance to plant based diets.

    • David Johnson

      Do you have references for your statement “since traditionally more muscle mass is favored and associated with less cancer risk.”? Many sick people tend to be underweight, have muscle loss, etc so that could account for any association.

      The question is, why would muscle mass per se protect against cancer. Any evidence for that?

      For the record – I regularly do strength training (and supplemented with whey protein for years until I went from vegetarian to vegan so I believe it is important to build and keep good muscle mass as one ages.

    • David Johnson

      Do you have references for your statement “since traditionally more muscle mass is favored and associated with less cancer risk.”? Many sick people tend to be underweight, have muscle loss, etc so that could account for any association.

      The question is, why would muscle mass per se protect against cancer. Any evidence for that?

      For the record – I regularly do strength training (and supplemented with whey protein for years until I went from vegetarian to vegan so I believe it is important to build and keep good muscle mass as one ages.

  • Pawel Kapica

    hm
    the video seems to only adress TOR as a cancer growth stimulator. Wouldn’t plant based amino acids also boost TOR
    if consumed in large quantities? From an athlete’s perspective: can I
    boost muscle growth without boosting cancer growth risk?

    • David Johnson

      >>> From an athlete’s perspective: can I boost muscle growth without boosting cancer growth risk?

      That’s the question I’d like to see answered too.

    • David Johnson

      >>> From an athlete’s perspective: can I boost muscle growth without boosting cancer growth risk?

      That’s the question I’d like to see answered too.

  • ugamedia

    Eating more fruits on the day increases my old acne, any link between fruit en TOR ?

  • There are DOZENS of plant-based nutritional supplements that can reduce the expression of TOR. The most difficult thing is finding which one(s) work best for each individual… each month. Some supplements work better in hormetic dosages, The more decision support technology the doctor has on hand, the better.

  • dorange
  • Maria

    About metformin my dad was on it for years for his diabetes but doctors has takin him off it as he has bad kidneys from the diabetes since then he can not seem to control his sugar levels no matter how much he watches his diet .any suggestions dr G ?

    • Cathleen

      Dr. Greger has LOTS of videos on this site related to diabetes, so if you haven’t already, please check those out (you can search in the box above). If your father is already eating a WFPB diet, you may want to particularly check out the video on how adding a bit of vinegar to the diet can help control blood sugar. You can find it here: Vinegar and Diabetes

  • Judy Fields Davis

    Thank you so much

  • Hendrik

    There’s an interesting new study (on mice) which shows that even brief exposure to rapamycin can extend lifespan. See the link at
    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-08/uowh-brt082316.php
    In humans this suggests that if one has a lifestyle which downregulates mTOR for a few years only, it may extend lifespan.

  • praxeologue

    Or the reason reduced caloric intake makes life hard for cancer is the reason the Paleo /Ketosis chaps speak about.

    Dr. Dominic is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology is interviewed by Tim Ferris and as much as you pick data that suits your vegetarian premise he seems well able to pick his own data to suit a very different outcome.

    It is hard for educated members of the public to know how to decide when there appear to be highly qualified intellectually honest proponents who have opposing conclusions.

    It appears to me that you can pick a lifestyle choice and then simply troll the data to undermine any support for the opposing side. Mark Sisson does this weekly on his Dear Mark post picking apart any data that seems to undermine his pragmatic Paleo diet as you do for any non vegetarian conclusions by finding faults or contradictory studies.

    My suspicion is that the data simply isnt good enough. eg there are no large cohort data studies of people like Mark Sisson eating a sensible Paleo ish diet (eg not bacon and butterfilled coffee but quality meats, vegetables etc) over a whole life to judge.I suspect if he lived that way or a sensible vegetarian diet it wouldnt make much difference. Just look at the Blue zone studies, they werent vegetarians.

    Have you done any work on ketosis ? It is no surprise cancer struggles in a low carb environment (vegetarians are very quiet on this subject understandably).