Doctor's Note

The “difficult to avoid” line reminds me of the cop-out in the Dead Meat Bacteria Endotoxemia video. This is the second of a four-part video series on heterocyclic amines—carcinogens such as PhIP—that are formed when meat is cooked. In Estrogenic Cooked Meat Carcinogens, I noted that, in addition to being able to cause the initial DNA damage that may trigger breast cancer, these chemicals may act as potent estrogens, promoting the growth of such tumors as well.

The growth hormone IGF-1 may also promote tumor progression and invasion (see IGF-1 as One-Stop Cancer Shop). IGF-1 is released by our liver in response to animal protein consumption. Why? See Higher Quality May Mean Higher Risk.

On the other hand, broccoli and Indian gooseberries may have both anti-proliferative and anti-invasive properties: Lung Cancer Metastases & Broccoli, and Amla vs. Cancer Cell Invasion.

In Reducing Cancer Risk In Meat-Eaters, I’ll note some ways for non-vegetarians to mediate their risk.

For further context, be sure to check out my associated blog posts: Estrogenic Chemicals in MeatAvoid Cooked Meat Carcinogens; and Foods that May Block Cancer Formation.

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  • Thea

    Woo-hoo! Since I almost never suck on a tail pipe and haven’t touched meat in decades, I might be OK on this one! Yeah.

  • Mary Irving

    I’m not going to stop eating meat because my body and brain function much better when I eat animal protein. (And many indigenous people have almost no incidence of cancer eating high meat protein diets) I would like to see the next video however on reducing cancer risk in meat eaters but the link doesn’t work. Where can I see this video?

    • I had to watch it directly on Dr. G’s YouTube channel today.

      • *waves at MacSmiley* Fancy meeting you here! About your comment: can you clarify? Do you mean you were able to view “Reducing Cancer Risk in Meateaters” by going to Dr. G’s YouTube channel? (I’m not seeing it over there at his channel, so I’m puzzled.) Or did you misunderstand Mary’s question? She was asking about the next video in the sequence. Not today’s.

        • *Waves back* My bad. I had problems accessing today’s video PhIP: The Three Strikes Breast Carcinogen on with my iPhone. The video said it was unavailable, so I thought that was the commenter’s question.

    • Should be up on Monday (Jan 21).

    • Anne

      That’s interesting, I found the opposite to be true for me. I’ve always been big into fitness and bodybuilding so of course I fell into the mindset of putting protein on a pedestal, consuming massive amounts of chicken breast, eggs, etc. I switched to a plant-based, ‘vegan’ diet, and for the first week, yes, I felt very hungry and just all around bad (bloated, etc.). I assume this was my body detoxifying itself because after the second week I felt my energy levels sky rocket and performed better at work and at the gym. (At the time I worked a job with 24 hour shifts so energy levels were VERY important.) I’ve eaten a strictly plant-based diet for over a year now and I’ve never felt better. My skin looks amazing, energy levels still great, my weight has stayed the same even when I wasn’t able to work out for a lengthy period of time due to work related injury, which is really impressive for me. (usually w/o exercise I quickly can’t fit into my pants).

      I guess everyone’s bodies are different, but keep an open mind about eating a plant-based diet. I never in my life imagined I would switch over, but am grateful I did.

      Just my 2 cents, hope you enjoy Dr. Greger’s videos. They’ve changed my life-Thank you Dr. Greger!!!

      • Dagmar Dvorska

        I would suggest that instead of calling it a detox it was the change of the strains of your intestinal microflora, which suddenly got plenty of resistant starch and started to thrive on it, bringing you a healthier colon over time.

    • d1stewart

      You like to eat meat, and want to continue to do so. Saying that your “body and brain function much better” when you eat it is nonsensical rationalization. They don’t. You just like your meals better and look forward to them because you’re used to it and don’t want to change it. Your brain uses pure glucose, not animal protein. How can it “function much better when [you] eat animal protein”? It can’t and doesn’t. It just relieves you of the struggle of not eating it but wanting to eat it because of your habituation to eating it.

      • Linda Illingworth,RD

        You both are right. The key piece here is glycemic load….high protein and Paleo-ish eaters often have lower glycemic meals…something the brain loves. Yes it uses glucose for energy, but communication within the brain, and the rest (sleep) phase of the brain is better with lower glycemic loads. Its the sugar spike/crash cycle that is often prevented in a protein heavy diet. A high protein diet also provides more amino acids that can support good neurochemistry and each brain is a bit different in its needs. That said, vegetarians, pescatarians, and vegans must be careful to not ‘carb out’ as I call it. We plant eaters can easily consume a very carb heavy diet if not thoughtful about how we put together meals. Every plant source of protein has some carbohydrate in it contributing to the carb load. If not put together right, there might not be enough protein to balance blood sugar in some. So more vegetables, modest grains if you choose to eat them and be thoughtful to include legumes, nuts and seeds daily (ideally throughout the day), eggs/dairy if you choose to, or fish (for my pesce friends) to provide adequate protein. Don’t be fooled by the “avocado has tons of protein” and other claims we vegetarians like to espouse. There is only 3 g protein in 1 cup of avocado but tons of healthy fat fuel that the brain also loves. Yes, the brain likes fat fuel too!

        • Toxins

          A high carbohydrate diet from whole food sources is not unhealthy. In fact, high carbohydrate diets from whole plant foods are the healthiest. This is evident from population studies.

          Here is some information shared by Jeff Novick.
          The Tarahumara Indians of Mexico are a population considered to be very healthy for reasons to be explained. Their diet is 75-80% carbohydrates and unlike their American counterparts, only 6% of calories came from added sugars as opposed to 20%. They ate mostly corn, beans and peppers. Their total fat was 12% of calories, and saturated fat was 2% of calories.

          Their life expectancy is statistically drawn down to to high infant mortality but it is noted in another study on them that they have very low levels of cholesterol, no obesity and no age related serum rise in cholesterol. They were also adequate in all nutrients and their diet was very high carbs.

          Interestingly, when they were put on the standard American diet for 5 weeks that is also very high in carbs, but likely wrong kinds, their results were as follows:

          31% increase in Cholesterol

          Increase in LDL and HDL 39% and 31% respectively

          Triglycerides increased 18%

          body Weight increased 7%

          Lets look at another native diet, the “Hawaiian Diet”. This study took 20 Hawaiians who were consuming a high carb standard American diet and put on a diet for 21 days that was the traditional pre western Hawaiian diet. This diet had 7% of calories from fat and 78% from complex carbohydrates. they were allowed to eat however much they wanted to. Low and behold, the average weight loss was 22 lb’s and cholesterol decreased 15%.

          The weight loss was extreme for the 21 days, notably because the participants were quite overweight (average 264 lbs). Another study with more humble results took another group of people and put them on the hawaiian diet for 21 days. The results were as follows

          11 lb weight reduction

          Systolic BP 136 to 124

          Diastolic BP 82 to 78

          Total cholesterol went from 205 to 156

          LDL from 125 to 94.9

          HDL from 38 to 31

          Triglycerides from 238 to 152

          blood sugar from 112 to 91

          Now lets look at a very high fat diet, the famous Inuit diet. They consume copious amounts of animal protein and fat and have a very low carb diet. This diet is not one to model after, “The data collected through this new investigation shows that Eskimos do have a similar prevalence of [coronary artery disease] CAD to non-Eskimo populations, and in fact, they have very high rates of mortality due to cerebrovascular events (strokes). Overall, their life expectancy is approximately 10 years less than the typical Danish population and their overall mortality is twice as high as that of non-Eskimo populations.”

          And lastly as presented by Jeff Novick, the Okinawans.

          Back in the 1950’s the Japanese rural Okinawan group of people had the most centenarians per capita. How did they live so long? Here is their diet

          Caloric Restriction, the Traditional

          Okinawan Diet, and Healthy Aging

          The Diet of the World’s Longest-Lived People and Its Potential Impact on Morbidity and Life Span

          Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1114: 434–455 (2007).

          TABLE 1. Traditional dietary intake of Okinawans and other Japanese circa 1950

          Total calories 1785

          Total weight (grams) 1262

          Caloric density (calories/gram) 1.4

          Total protein in grams (% total calories) 39 (9)

          Total carbohydrate in grams (% total calories) 382 (85)

          Total fat in grams (% total calories) 12 (6)

          Saturated fatty acid 3.7

          Monounsaturated fatty acid 3.6

          Polyunsaturated fatty acid 4.8

          Total fiber (grams) 23

          Food group Weight in grams (% total calories)


          Rice 154 (12)

          Wheat, barley, and other grains 38 (7)

          Nuts, seeds Less than 1 (less than 1)

          Sugars 3 (less than 1)

          Oils 3 (2)

          Legumes (e.g., soy and other beans) 71 (6)

          Fish 15 (1)

          Meat (including poultry) 3 (less than 1)

          Eggs 1 (less than 1)

          Dairy less than 1 (less than 1)


          Sweet potatoes 849 (69)

          Other potatoes 2 (less than1)

          Other vegetables 114 (3)

          Fruit less than 1 (less than 1)

          Seaweed 1 (less than 1)

          Pickled vegetables 0 (0)

          Foods: flavors & alcohol 7 (less than 1)

          Data derived from analysis of U.S. National Archives, archived food records, 1949 and based on survey of 2279 persons.

          Some points

          Their diet was 85% carb, and 6% fat. Sweet potatoes (a Japanese sweet potato) made up almost 70% of their calories. Nuts were less than 1% of calories (the equivalent of 1/10 of an ounce a day) Oil was less than 2% of calories (which is about 1 tsp a day) and sugars were less than 1% of calories (less than a tsp a day)

          The total animal products including fish was less than 4% of calories which is less then 70 calories a day. That is the equivalent of around 2 oz of animal products or less a day

          The only fat you need is essential fat, which is why it is called essential. Your body is perfectly capable of synthesizing the rest. This is the same argument people use to say that we need dietary cholesterol, when our body has full capability in producing it. Human needs for protein are low, and one can get more then enough protein on a plant based diet centered around carbs. Protein deficiency is a result of calorie restriction.

  • Love this guy! Dr Greger is one of the greats!

  • rainmaker

    link not working: In the next video Reducing Cancer Risk In Meateaters, I’ll note some ways for non-vegetarians to mediate their risk.

    • That’s just because the video isn’t up yet. My next video won’t be up until Monday–but there’s hundreds of other videos to keep you company this weekend on more that a thousand topics if you get lonely! :)

  • Scott

    Is there a video that you can put together regarding performance enhancing drugs effect on cancer rates? I might be something good to come out of the Lance drama…

  • How would you account for the high meat diet of Mongolian women and comparatively very low breast cancer rates?

    Mongolia’s breast cancer experience is of interest because of its shared genetics but vastly different diet compared with other parts of Asia.

    …Breast cancer incidence in Mongolia (age standardized 8.0/100,000) is almost a third of rates in China (21.6/100,000), and over five times that of Japan (42.7/100,000) and Russia (43.2/100,000). Rates within Mongolia appear to have increased slightly over the last decade and are higher in urban than rural areas (annual percentage increase of age-standardized rates from 1998 to 2005 was 3.60 and 2.57 %, respectively).

    …Mongolia’s low breast cancer incidence is of particular interest because of their unusual diet (primarily red meat and dairy) compared with other Asian countries.

  • hopi markin

    what about toast, fried tofu, roasted nuts, stirfry and other methods of preparing vegetarian meals.. is it now only lightly steamed or raw vegan that is safe?

  • Scott Lipscomb

    Dr. Greger,

    First off, thanks so much for all your videos; I’ve found them incredibly informative.

    I was wondering if you had any comments or response to those who claim that some groups, e.g. the Masai of Kenya, show low levels of heart disease, cancer, etc. despite eating a very meat- and dairy-heavy diet. Most of what I’m finding online seems under-researched and perhaps a bit biased.

    Thanks for any information.

    • Thea

      Scott: You might be interested in checking out “Plant Positive”‘s videos on You Tube. He directly addresses the Masai in both his old series and his new series. He gets pretty technical and detailed, but if you are willing to plug through it, you might get a lot of the information that you are looking for. Good luck.

    • Thea

      I’ll add, look up: “The Masai Model” parts I and II. These are two of the Plant Positive videos that I am talking about. They are quite good!

      • Scott Lipscomb

        Thea: thanks! I did look up his videos and watched the 2 Masai ones. I also managed to find this post which mentions some of the same issues:

        I also wonder if maybe part of the explanation may be the Masai’s life expectancy in general. I.e. if the Masai live considerably shorter lives, then heart disease and cancer, which are more likely to be lethal in middle- and old-age, may simply not affect them because they don’t live long enough to suffer from these things–but I don’t know this for sure, because so far I haven’t found any solid data on Masai life expectancy (only a more general table of Kenyan life expectancy).

  • Dagmar Dvorska

    I would rather call this a laboratory fact, if you don’t mind…

  • B Smith

    There’s always a rebuttal to science because people want to justify their (Easy Factory Made For You ) diet………..Until- they get the horrible diagnosis from a doctor then formally sucked into the AMA’s chemo program as a last resort by scaring you then you have no time to change your ways before you die. Meat eaten by indigenous people may never have been exposed to carcinogens….DO YOU LIVE IN THE BUSH OF AUSTRALIA, AFRICA OR ELSEWHERE eating Wild Meat….well We don’t! When your body is nourished properly based on your Metabolic needs it functions right. Science points to health = eating clean food!