Transcript: Boosting Sex-Hormone Binding
Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.
Two years ago, I presented a mystery. Long-term adherence to a diet that includes meat—even just once a week or more—was associated with a 74% increase in the odds of getting diabetes, relative to long-term adherence to a zero-meat diet. Just a single serving of any type of meat or more a week was associated with dramatically increased risk. This makes sense, though. Eating vegetarian helps you lose weight; losing weight helps you avoid diabetes, so what’s the mystery?
Even after controlling for weight, controlling for weight change, weekly meat intake remained an important factor for diabetes. So even at the exact same weight, eating meat weekly significantly increases our risk of diabetes. So there must be a more direct factor. And this year we got closer to an answer.
Your body’s smart. It knows that high levels of circulating steroid sex hormones in the bloodstream can be deleterious—increasing our risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer, and other disorders, like diabetes. So our bodies produce a sex hormone-binding globulin, a protein your body makes that takes excess hormones out of circulation. The more hormone-binding proteins we have, the lower our risk of these diseases. That’s where a plant-based diet comes in.
Sex-hormone binding levels were significantly higher—by more than half—in vegetarian women compared to omnivore women. And higher concentrations have been shown to be associated with a favorable metabolic profile, as well as reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. So this may explain why even when vegetarians are overweight, they don’t suffer the same rate of diabetes that meat-eaters do.
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