Food Antioxidants & Cancer

Food Antioxidants & Cancer
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Antioxidant intake from foods (not supplements) is associated with lower cancer risk.

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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.

The USDA recently removed their online antioxidant database of foods, concerned that “ORAC values [were] routinely misused by food and dietary supplement manufacturing companies to promote their products.” Supplement manufacturers were getting into my-orac-is-bigger-than-your-orac pissing contests, comparing their pills to the antioxidant superfood du jour, like blueberries. And, we know there’s lots of bioactive compounds in whole plant foods that may help prevent and ameliorate chronic diseases in ways that have nothing to do with their antioxidant power. So, I understand their decision.

So, should we just eat lots of whole healthy plant foods, and not worry about which ones necessarily have more antioxidants? Or, does one’s dietary antioxidant intake matter? We have some new data to help answer that question. “Dietary total antioxidant capacity and [the risk of stomach cancer],” the world’s second leading cancer killer. A half-million people studied, and
“[d]ietary antioxidant capacity intake from different sources of plant foods [was] associated with a reduction in risk.” Note; they say dietary intake. They’re not talking about supplements.

Not only do antioxidant pills not seem to help; they “seem to increase overall mortality.” That’s like paying to live a shorter life. Just giving high doses of isolated vitamins may cause “disturbances” in our body’s own natural antioxidant network. There’s hundreds of different antioxidants in plant foods. They don’t “act in isolation.” They work synergistically. Mother Nature cannot be trapped in a bottle.

Similar results were recently reported with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The more ORAC units in food we eat per day, the lower our cancer risk may drop—though, antioxidants or not, greens were particularly protective. Look at that. Going from eating like one serving of green leafy vegetables per week to more like a serving per day may cut our odds of lymphoma in half.

Should we be worried about antioxidant intake during cancer treatment, since that’s how most chemo drugs work—by creating free radicals? According to some of the latest reviews, there’s “no evidence of antioxidant interference with chemotherapy.” And, in fact, they may actually “improve [treatment] response [and] patient survival.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Nicola since 1972 and Capn Kroaker via flickr

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.

The USDA recently removed their online antioxidant database of foods, concerned that “ORAC values [were] routinely misused by food and dietary supplement manufacturing companies to promote their products.” Supplement manufacturers were getting into my-orac-is-bigger-than-your-orac pissing contests, comparing their pills to the antioxidant superfood du jour, like blueberries. And, we know there’s lots of bioactive compounds in whole plant foods that may help prevent and ameliorate chronic diseases in ways that have nothing to do with their antioxidant power. So, I understand their decision.

So, should we just eat lots of whole healthy plant foods, and not worry about which ones necessarily have more antioxidants? Or, does one’s dietary antioxidant intake matter? We have some new data to help answer that question. “Dietary total antioxidant capacity and [the risk of stomach cancer],” the world’s second leading cancer killer. A half-million people studied, and
“[d]ietary antioxidant capacity intake from different sources of plant foods [was] associated with a reduction in risk.” Note; they say dietary intake. They’re not talking about supplements.

Not only do antioxidant pills not seem to help; they “seem to increase overall mortality.” That’s like paying to live a shorter life. Just giving high doses of isolated vitamins may cause “disturbances” in our body’s own natural antioxidant network. There’s hundreds of different antioxidants in plant foods. They don’t “act in isolation.” They work synergistically. Mother Nature cannot be trapped in a bottle.

Similar results were recently reported with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The more ORAC units in food we eat per day, the lower our cancer risk may drop—though, antioxidants or not, greens were particularly protective. Look at that. Going from eating like one serving of green leafy vegetables per week to more like a serving per day may cut our odds of lymphoma in half.

Should we be worried about antioxidant intake during cancer treatment, since that’s how most chemo drugs work—by creating free radicals? According to some of the latest reviews, there’s “no evidence of antioxidant interference with chemotherapy.” And, in fact, they may actually “improve [treatment] response [and] patient survival.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Nicola since 1972 and Capn Kroaker via flickr

Doctor's Note

But should we take a multivitamin? See Should We Take a Multivitamin?

What about fish oil supplements? See Is Fish Oil Just Snake Oil?

I recently covered how and why we should strive to eat antioxidants with every meal in an important three-part series:

  1. Minimum “Recommended Daily Allowance” of Antioxidants
  2. How to Reach the Antioxidant “RDA”
  3. Antioxidant-Rich Foods with Every Meal

Preferentially getting one’s nutrients from produce, not pills is a common theme in the nutrition literature. See, for example:

Antioxidants may also slow aging (see Mitochondrial Theory of Aging), reduce inflammation (see Anti-Inflammatory Antioxidants), improve digestion (see Bulking Up on Antioxidants), and help prevent COPD (see Preventing COPD with Diet).

So, where are antioxidants found? See my series that begins with Antioxidant Content of 3,139 Foods and Antioxidant Power of Plant Foods vs. Animal Foods.

What about the role of antioxidants in other leading causes of death? That’s the subject of my next video: Food Antioxidants, Stroke, & Heart Disease.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

80 responses to “Food Antioxidants & Cancer

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  1. “Mother nature cannot be trapped in a bottle.” – Michael Greger.
    I like that one. Isn’t it beautiful ? And more important, it’s true !




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    1. You are correct Adrien! Every time we try to outdo Mother Nature she simply sits back and waits patiently for us to come back to her for the answers.
      This is what Socrates knew 2500 years ago and our Father of Medicine, Hippocrates knew quite well, which led to his statement (which always bears repeating),
      “Let Medicine be thy food, and food be thy Medicine.”




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  2. Dr.Gregor, should vegans who take vitamin supplements just stick to taking B12 or are multivitamins ok? I take a multivitamin because I figured why not cover all bases. But I’m a little worried about too much Iron.




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  3. Hello Dr Greger,
    I´m taking the Vega One supplement from Sequel Naturals ( http://myvega.com/product/vega-one-nutritional-shake/ ) and I would like to know your opinion about these supplements. Their sources are plants and I think their minerals and vitamins are not isolated. Anyway, do you think this particular supplement could cause troubles in our health like the ones described in your video? I really feel great when I´m supplementing with these one scoop a day, but I would also like to hear your opinion about Vega One. Thanks very much for your time. You are a great inspiration for me after I have decided to become vegetarian.




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  4. Thanks Doctor G. Another angle on this: One who takes their antioxidants in pill form, & _not_ in food form, must therefore eating unhealthy food. Much of the advantage for fruit-&-vegetable-eaters is what they _didn’t_ eat!




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    1. I second that Amen! This video does NOT tell the entire story. If one just takes antioxidant pills and continues to eat unhealthy food, there is no benefit whatsoever from the pills. However, eating as healthy and organic as possible and added targeted nutrients can help. There are just way too many positive studies showing this or that supplement intake reducing this or that disease risk to let select studies which are not necessarily well controlled turn you off to targeted supplement intake. Watch the video “How to Optimize your nutrition for vibrant health” by Functional Medicine Physician Mark Hyman on you tube to get the full picture on supplement use.




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        1. Uh, MacSmiley. Dr. Hyman MD is the chairman of the board of Directors of the Institute for Functional Medicine. Pretty good credentials as far as I am concerned. I also have 625 UK and US Accredited Nutrition hours under my own belt comprising 4 Fully government accredited (UK and US) Clinical and other Nutrition Diplomas. (Most doctors get no more than 25 hours of nutrition, IF and only IF they elect to take those hours. They are not mandatory to become an MD.)

          Having said the above, I would be hard pressed to label Dr. Hyman a low carb shill considering that he states in his video on You Tube entitled “How to Optimize Your Nutrition for Vibrant Health” the following:

          “What I am about to share might be a little shocking. Carbohydrates are the single most important food for long term health and well being. This may be a shocking statement given the low carb movement and the carbophobia in America but its true. Of course I don’t mean the overprocessed sugary refined white food we commonly think as carbohydrates such as donunts, breads, bagels, muffins, colas, juices, and most junk food. And I don’t mean the cheap super sweet government subsidized high fructose corn syrup that is driving our epidemic of obesity and chronic disease. The carbohydrates that I am talking about are the real whole nourishing plant foods the the human species has thrived on from the dawn of evolution…(snip). What are they? Vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts seeds, herbs and spices.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNX–ZqCOQU)

          His blog on Eggs not causing heart attack but sugar doing so is right on!

          Dr. Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology in his video put out by University of California Television (UCTV)

          (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM) states that both traditional high carb and low carb diets of real whole foods both have low incidents of cardiovascular disease because they have one some very important things in common. They omit sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and nutritionally deficient white processed foods. The fat content not withstanding. And he takes you right through the relevant biochemistry and studies involved.

          So while I subscribe to Dr. Gregor’s Nutrition facts, and sometimes get some good information here, I don’t totally always agree with many of his views, and I ALWAYS do my own homework on any subject. Too many people subscribe to these blogs and by default believe everything that the blogger states just because he or she is an MD. Thus you might want to do your own homework on some of these issues as well.




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          1. “Some of the claims in this program have not been verified.” – Dr Mark Hyman’s “The Blood Sugar Solution” disclaimer at beginning of show.

            I’m glad Hyman has changed his dietary recommendations since I last saw him on PBS. However, my assessment about him mixing unsubstantiated claims with sound advice, making it difficult for the average layperson to sift the chaff from the wheat. I have better things to do than wading through it all.

            That goes for Robert Lustig as well. They are both guilty of inaccuracies.

            Yes, I did read that entire blog post before I posted my comment. I agree that isolated, added sugars are harmful, that they contribute to calorie over consumption and obesity, and in turn, heart disease.

            However, that does not negate the veracity of the lipid hypothesis, which is what both he and Lustig are claiming.




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  5. Can you suggest a brand or brands of B12 vitamins that are good and in reasonable amounts? I have been taking Solaray B-Complex 100 for a long time, but just noticed that it has B12 in a %1667 daily value.
    Is there something better we can take?




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  6. Perhaps Nutrition Facts would consider amending its information regarding antioxidant-rich plant foods to state organically-grown and non-GMO antioxidant-rich plant foods. The reasons truly are legion, but for starters how about this: chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides abound in non-organically-grown crops thereby adding more pro-oxidants to foods, so how can those foods be considered antioxidant-rich? Furthermore, GMO crops result from transgenic and cisgenic genetic engineering that mandates more toxic chemicals like glyphosate be used on growing crops. Don’t believe that? Check out the facts at “Pesticide use ramping up as GMO crop technology backfires: study”

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/02/us-usa-study-pesticides-idUSBRE89100X20121002




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    1. Catherine: I thought you might be interested in a blog posting Dr. Greger has done which touches on the topic of pesticides:

      Dr. Greger has a great blog post where he puts pesticide consumption into perspective. :

      “A new study calculated that if half the U.S. population ate just one more serving of conventional fruits and vegetables, 20,000 cases of cancer could be prevented. At the same time the added pesticide consumption could cause up to 10 extra cancer cases. So by eating conventional produce we may get a tiny bump in cancer risk, but that’s more than compensated by the dramatic drop in risk that accompanies whole food plant consumption. Even if all we had to eat was the most contaminated produce the benefits would far outweigh any risks.”

      to read more: http://nutritionfacts.org/2013/06/25/apple-peels-turn-on-anticancer-genes/

      I translate this bit of info into: Eat organic when you can, but don’t stress about it when you can’t – because you still get plenty of benefit from the plants even when they have pesticides on it.




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      1. There is something about pesticides on my apple that just turns me off.

        Local farmers markets are overflowing with well priced organic fruits and veggies. We need to support our organic farmers as much as possible. As has been stated here before–we send an important message with our spending power.




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        1. Unfortunately for many of us, we do not have any farmers markets for most of the year. In the summer I do join the only CSA available in my area, though I consider it mostly charity on my part, because it’s very slim pickins even then. There’s one farmers market close by (for a few months per year), and again I pretty much shop there as a novelty since they don’t offer much. But I agree about supporting this type of business if possible.

          So for me, if I wanted to buy everything organic this time of year, I’d have to scale way back on variety, pay at least twice as much if not more (and since my weekly grocery list is almost entirely produce this would have quite an impact), and (a pet peeve of mine) have to buy individual fruits and vegetables wrapped in saran wrap.

          So I’ll be enjoying my daily pesticide covered apple in just a few minutes here… ;) As an extreme analogy, that book “Alive” came to mind about that plane crash in the Andes in the 70s… until you’re in a situation you don’t really know what you’d do!




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  7. What about taking several grams of pure ascorbic acid or sodium ascorbate? Could it be bring problems also? It seems to be the safest supplement.
    Very nice that the new videos have french subtutles from now! Thank you.




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    1. Fasting plasma levels of ascorbate peak at daily intakes of about 400 mg (the amount in 8 oz of sweet peppers or 11 oz kale). One plausible reason why bodies limit plasma ascorbate concentrations to under 70 μM is that high levels may increase free radical generation by free iron. Transient peaks from large supplemental vitamin C doses could easily be doing more harm than good, through increasing iron-catalysed ROS generation, interfering with radicals used in normal signaling, and from suppressing endogenous antioxidant responses. Some papers of particular interest:

      A new recommended dietary allowance of vitamin C for healthy young women
      Vitamin C-driven free radical generation from iron
      Oral administration of vitamin C decreases muscle mitochondrial biogenesis and hampers training-induced adaptations in endurance performance
      Vitamin C supplements and the risk of age-related cataract: a population-based prospective cohort study in women
      Do antioxidants impair signaling by reactive oxygen species and lipid oxidation products?

      I went into more detail in in past video discussions (esp here) exploring why food “antioxidants” are probably better than supplemental ones.




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        1. He didn’t fail that much, living to a ripe age of 93, but I’m not convinced that 18 g of ascorbate daily was responsible.

          From the 1960s to 1990s, oxidative stress was the dominant model of aging damage, and we knew little about signalling via reactive species, endogenous antioxidant systems (which antioxidants interfere with), or the role of other more important mechanisms (chronic inflammatory and growth signalling) that now appear to play a larger role. Most importantly, we didn’t have the massive cohort studies (with results issued especially since 1998) that have shown no benefit and in some cases harm from antioxidant supplements (reviewed here). These results, and their contrast with results from dietary antioxidants, have stimulated a lot of research into how exogenous antioxidants can do harm, and how how food compounds like the polyphenols achieve superior outcomes (largely because they don’t act primariliy as antioxidants in vivo).




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      1. does the same general logic hold for mineral supplementation as opposed to minerals through diet? I take mineral supplements because I figured they were more basic forms and so could be absorbed similarly. Also, is the K2 vitamin also bod in large doses? I’ve heard you simply urinate out any unneeded amount harmlessly.




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        1. Healthy bodies do imperfectly regulate plasma levels of the minerals our ancestors commonly encountered in excess. Some, like calcium, are regulated in absorption and excretion, iron in plasma chelation and excretion, others just in excretion. Evolution provided few warranties
          against adverse effects of high supplemental intakes, particularly past our fertile years.
          calcium: CVD mortality in women and in men
          phosphorous: CVD
          iron: cancer, CVD, diabetes, mortality
          copper: Alzheimer’s
          manganese: neurodegeneration
          iodine: subclinical hypothyroidism and
          autoimmune thyroiditis

          selenium: poor total/LDL
          As you can see, megadoses of minerals are to be avoided, and the therapeutic index between adequate intakes and toxicity from excess is very narrow with some like copper and manganese. Moderate magnesium and zinc supplementation appears to offer the best benefit/risk ratio. Those avoiding iodized salt might consider a kelp supplement, those living in low selenium areas should eat a brazil nut or two, and premenstural women (esp vegetarians) may benefit from iron.

          Menadione-7 (K2 mk7) from natto or supplements: unlike K2 mk4, does increase plasma levels, and appears of potential benefit in osteoporosis and vascular calcification. Its plausible this mechanism is responsible for reduced CVD mortality in populations with higher intake of the longer menaquinones (the “French paradox”). No toxicity with K1 or K2 has been observed, but K3 (menadione) in pet foods does have concerns.




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          1. In relation to the two studies linking calcium supplements with an increased risk of CVD, those were performed in general population of old age, so presumably most participants already presented atherosclerotic plaques at some degree. I doubt that such correlation would have been found had their participants enjoyed of healthier arteries. In this context, you should consider that the pre-agricultural diets were notoriously more abundant in calcium, yet, CVD was probably a very rare pathology.




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            1. Pre-agricultural diets were also far higher in vitamin K, which may counter arterial calcification.

              I’m not convinced age-adjusted CVD was rare in preagricultural societies. Few lived to ages where CVD is a/the major mortality risk, while arterial plaques have been found in frozen/mummified precontact hunter-gatherer arteries.




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        2. I am a health journalist and cancer survivor and for the past few years, have been researching and writing a blog and soon -to-be-published guidebook about diet and cancer. Certain minerals are definitely problematic–particularly copper, iron, boron and perhaps iodine. (People who have cancer and have low thyroid function tend to survive longer than those with cancer and active thyroids.) On the other hand, zinc and selenium are protective.

          Copper clearly drives angiogenesis. While plant-based diets are in general protective, one of the pitfalls is that they can be high in copper and low in zinc. (Phytates in plants bind zinc and other minerals but do not interfere with human copper absorption.) This means we should watch our consumption of high copper plant foods –and perhaps even supplement with a little (not much) of high zinc, low copper animal foods. (I’ll be publishing a blog post on copper and cancer soon, with practical advice on food choices.)

          As for selenium, Brazil nuts from certain parts of Brazil are a good but not the only source and in fact, are relatively high in copper. At the recent conference of the American Institute of Cancer Research, several scientists I spoke with suggested we turn to broccoli and garlic for selenium because it’s highly bioavailable when bound to their molecules of sulfur. Broccoli, in fact, was the superstar of this year’s conference and was recently shown to target cancer stem cells. http://zesterdaily.com/cooking/how-to-prepare-broccoli-to-fight-cancer/

          For more on foods that target cancer stem cells, see
          http://eatandbeatcancer.wordpress.com/2014/01/11/anti-cancer-diet-which-foods-target-cancer-stem-cells/
          .




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    1. agreed. we are in summer and the garden is full on. I have been drying kale, silverbeet and other green leafys as fast my cheap dehydrator will take them. Any idea of how nutritious these are after that kind of treatment = 50 C for about 18 hours usually.




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  8. This may not be the right place to ask, but if anyone is presently fighting cancer with whole foods diet I would very much like to compare notes. I don’t have cancer but a friend does and I’m sending her as much info as I can sort out. She’s been a responder to tamoxifen for a dozen years but somehow it has lost its effectiveness. Now she is getting some very powerful chemo…powerful as in **** you up…I sent her this webpage’s URL. She’s a fighter. She listens but I sense that she finds the whole Plant food idea strange and counter intuitive Maybe there is a forum devoted to cancer fighters using this way of eating? Any ideas would be well received. Let food be thy medicine.

    If you are in this fight, you can win. Ruth Heidrich and others have beaten cancer. Why? One thing they did was fight Fight, FIGHT! The power of positive thinking and some fresh whole plant foods just might be the ticket, as it was for me and my badly abused plumbing. Let me know if you want to talk. I’ll put my email up.




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    1. time ago on a blog i saw a sentence that sounds like this: “Western medicine tries to cure sick people with substances that would sicken healthy people”… to me the chemo option is not a good idea… and for cancer, maybe correct nutrition could be the best way to try to regain health (it depends, it depends)… i found this lecture about cancer really interesting and fascinating:

      http://digivisionmedia.com/lectures/acam/cancer-as-a-metabolic-disease-impaired-mitochondrial-function-and-tumorigenesis-thomas-seyfried-phd/

      i search the book on amazon and found this review (the second from the top):

      “I am a board-certified medical oncologist with 30 years experience in caring for cancer patients and another 20 years of research in cancer medicine dating back to 1963. Seyfried’s “Cancer as a Metabolic Disease” is the most significant book I have read in my 50 years in this field. It should be required reading of all cancer specialists, physicians in general, scientific researchers in the field of cancer and for medical students. I cannot overstate what a valuable contribution Thomas Seyfried has made in writing this masterpiece.

      Stephen B. Strum, MD, FACP

      Medical Oncologist, Member of ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology) since 1975″




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        1. For what i understood, if you take a cancer cell, take the nucleus and inoculate an healty cell that lack nucleus (in fact it have a normal cytoplasm a so mithocondria), the new cell (cancer nucleus + healty citoplasm) do not develop cancer whatso ever… but if you take the mithocondria from a cancer cell and put in another cell it’s a total different story… you have cancer development…

          in fact from the theoretical point of view of the lecture, if you took a cancer cell, free it from his bad mitochodria and put some new ones, well maybe the cell recover…

          i do not know if i’m right, got to look at the studies… anyway if i’ll say those things to my pathology professor, well, she will problably call me “crazy”… sorry to have not much time to get deeper, i got a dissertation to prepare… maybe the next week i would add stuff to this post…




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          1. Thank you! that’s what I though he was saying. Also, is this theory just for brain cancer? He seems to suggest that…but at the end maybe not? Are brain mitochondria somehow different in their ketone metabolism? Exciting stuff. I’ve got to get that book.

            Merio, could I please impose on you when you have some time would you please send me an email:

            cambria at xtra dot co dot nz

            I promise not to bother you with too much writing. Just some little ideas.

            Yes, by all means get the dissertation written!

            toto corde
            Wayne




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            1. i think it works where the cell thrives only/mainly on glucose, brain cells are that kind of cell (and brain cancer is one of the worst, many times impossible to surgically removed) and many kind of cancers really need glucose to survive… for others tissue i do not know, for example liver could make his own glucose, so maybe that diet isn’t much helpful… i’m sorry for the book that is not at a low price, that’s a pity… of course you could “bother” me with every question you want :-) … wait just a week and i will send you a mail…
              Best regards!




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      1. Here’s a discussion of Seyfried’s ideas simplified for us layfolks: http://eatandbeatcancer.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/anti-cancer-strategies-fats-and-fasting-a-revolutionary-weapon-for-an-aggressive-enemy/

        an interview with Seyfried:
        http://cancer-insights.asu.edu/2012/05/asu-psoc-worksop-wednesday-march-21st-friday-march-23rd-2012-2/#interviews

        and a video of a talk in which he lambasts the current treatments for brain cancer. (That’s at the end of the video.)

        http://vimeo.com/54866497




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    2. I get the sense that a whole food plant-based diet is very effective for both treating and preventing atherosclerosis, like you had, and plays some role (though not as big as we’d like to think – there is chance mutation and genetics after all) in preventing cancer, but once cancer is established, it may only slow the process down.

      In that case, I would opt for radical solutions (burn it, cut it out, poison it), and if this didn’t work, come to peace with it.

      Yes we only have one life to live but banging one’s head against the wall is wasting precious time. Acceptance, acceptance. I have never seen anyone with late stage malignancy who survived their disease, although spontaneous remission can occasionally occur (it has certainly been reported in the medical literature). I wouldn’t put my hopes on any diet if I had late-stage cancer. Instead, I would come to terms with it and start planning how I would want to live the rest of my life, and then do it. Go on with it. Fighting wastes so much precious time.




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    3. Hi Coacervate, I am sorry to hear about your friend’s cancer fight. I don’t know of any online communities specific to cancer and whole plant-based food diets, but one may exists. It sounds like an opportunity for you to create this space for others!




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      1. Thanks anyway. I’ve never “created space” before. I’m told that I waste a bit of it though ;) I’d need a 13 year old to show me with my addled gob. You’re talking about starting a website right?




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    4. Check out Food for Breast Cancer.

      That site somewhat misses that the major benefit of diet in slowing cancer proliferation may be from what it doesn’t include – high methionine & leucine protein and insulinogenic food combinations result in avoidable growth signalling, saturated fats stimulate inflammation, etc. Rural Chinese have (or had) markedly lower rates of Western cancer on a diet of mostly white rice starch. Ruth Heidrich’s low calorie, low protein diet and marathon training would result in really low insulin/IGF-1 signalling and activate the hell out of AMPK, even if she didn’t eat so many high phytochemical veggies.

      See a past comment for some useful reviews of dietary factors that may be central to slowing cancer proliferation.




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      1. Thank you very much. That site is particularly good for this person because it lists specific foods. That is really what she will repond to. Calorie restriction sounds so appealing but it scares me too because she is already quite lean. I’ve got to catch up on all of this.

        Can I ask, what would you eat…how would YOU change your diet, in addition to what i assume is already WF/PB. Would you try something like a ketogenic-calorie restricted diet?

        I am very interested in the concept of hormesis too. Do you think it is sound?




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        1. Hormesis is the general term for stresses (exercise, calorie restriction, heat, cold, hypooxia, chemicals incl. food, even radiation) that, in moderate doses, induce beneficial homeostatic responses to restore redox and energy balance. The scientific debate is not whether hormetic dose responses mediated by biological stress responses exist, but whether its truly general, particularly with respect to environmental toxins (even dioxin) and radiation. I suspect it is, as the cellular mechanisms from yeast to human are known and increasingly well characterized. Many of the beneficial plant compounds we discuss on this site are natural pesticides or pest deterrents (in fact, our exposures to carcinogenic pesticides is 99.9% all natural).

          With respect to the Nrf2 inducing phytochemicals, this may be primarily of use in preventing carcinogenesis, and be a mixed blessing with preexisting cancers: cancer cells may become more resistant to cell-killing therapies. On the other hand, Nrf2 activation does inhibit downstream NF-kB inflammatory signalling and angiogenesis.

          In this study, while cancer mortality is lowest for those with BMIs of 18.5-20 among those with no cancer or CVD at baseline (ie primary prevention), when including the already sick the optimum for women for all mortality rises to 22.5-25, so there’s probably a benefit to some meat on the bones when one’s sick / old. Perhaps exercise in the context of a low-complete protein but satiating diet is a better idea than any sort of CR.




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          1. Regarding ketogenic diets (based on animal products), I am sure you have come across the claim that they are anti-inflammatory. What are your thoughts on this claim?




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    5. I don’t have cancer, but by memory, the three foods that countered cancer the most were: Amla, Cranberries and Lemons. Also, women who have breast cancer and who drink soy milk have a better chance of surviving than women who drink milk.

      I have created a document with all the most important topics on Nutritionfacts dot org . If you want it, I can send it to you. Also, I have a simple recipe to make cranberries palatable. All the best to your friend.




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      1. Yes, how kind of you to offer. I do feel “all over the place” trying to draw some logical path forward. For example, to enter the ketogenic state that Dr. Seyfried shows is detrimental to some cancers, he says one must eat fat. How much, what kind? But fat is inflammatory right? I’m pretty sure a person’s ketone bodies increase just by restricting calories.

        so I’m not giving anyone advice until all of this makes sense to me.

        Ruth Heinrich’s site has some meal plans. Something that has worked for others seems most pragmatic/workable.




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    6. Coacervate,

      Would you like to have the diet and cancer discussion over on my blog, http://www.eatandbeatcancer.com?

      The American Institute of Cancer Research, a consortium of researchers throughout the world who study and analyze the studies on diet and cancer, agree that a plant-based diet is important. You can download their thousands of pages of reports at http://www.dietandcancerreport.org.

      Some plants, however, are more protective than others. Alliums, crucifers, dark leafy greens and herbs and spices appear to top the list, for example.

      And how you prepare plants and what you pair them with are key. Broccoli sprouts lighlty steamed and paired with radishes have more cancer-fighting sulforaphane than raw sprouts, for example. http://zesterdaily.com/cooking/how-to-prepare-broccoli-to-fight-cancer/ ( Sulforaphane is one of those rare dietary components that appears to target cancer stem cells. http://eatandbeatcancer.wordpress.com/2014/01/11/anti-cancer-diet-which-foods-target-cancer-stem-cells/)

      Plus, all plant diets have several pitfalls to watch out for:

      –carb overload from too many whole grains

      –omega 6 overload from too many nuts, seeds, beans, and insufficient long chain omega 3s (available from fatty fish and grass fed or wild land animals) , and

      –copper overload and insufficient zinc. Copper drives angiogenesis, and many plant foods are high in copper. Zinc, on the other hand, is protective–but it’s hard to absorb zinc from plants due to their phytic acid. The most bioavailable zinc-rich, copper-poor foods are dark meat from animals.

      The bottom line may thus be that the best diet for fighting cancer is vegetable-based, supplemented with a little (not much) animal meat, all of them properly prepared.




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      1. Eating meat, cheese, dairy, and eggs THREE times a day EVERY day is not the answer, regardless of quality, sorry. Watch more videos on here. The way of eating you prupose is marginally better when compared to the Standard American Diet but still vast room for improvement. Getting closer to Blue Zone way of eating (were MAX 5% of total daily calories come from animal and animal products) all the way to whole food plant based vegan would be optimal.




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  9. I think some supplements are absolutely essential on a vegan or even vegetarian diet. I think of – B12, iodine and vitamin D (D2 or D3). Yes you can get your iodine from seaweed (if you like the flavor of seaweed and make the point of consuming it regularly) and you can get your vitamin D from sunlight (unless you live in Canada!). The literature would also suggest that vegans do not convert ALA into sufficient quantities of DHA, although I am suspicious that DHA is really necessary for optimal human health. So, by my count, that’s already four micronutrients that are worth supplementing with.

    (In addition, just anecdotally, my diet seems to be low on other B vitamins, not just B12, but riboflavin, pyridoxine, niacin, pantothenic acid and thiamine. I am certain this is why I occasionally get angular stomatitis, whereas I didn’t get this before I went vegan. These vitamins tend to be found a bit more in grains and some of them (but not all) in nutritional yeast. I am experimenting now with seeing if I can get rid of my B100 complex and just replace it with ‘isolated’ B12, but because I tend to minimize my grain intake [because of metabolic syndrome], I may end up with stomatitis again. I find that conventional websites for counting my nutrients from food often miss important food sources and thus are not completely accurate.)




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    1. I’ve plugged my food into Cronometer and come up short on B12 and D3 on a whole-food plant-based minimally-processed no oil regimen . I use Eden organic no added salt beans and they have iodine. 2T ground flaxseed and 1 tsp. chia seeds gives me plenty of Omega 3 ALA, and studies have shown that conversion of ALA is significantly better in vegans. 2T nutritional yeast is good for all the B vitamins. Sticking to whole foods including whole grains (not the whole grain ground up into flour) is a healthier option. Take a look at the McDougall website – his Maximum Weight Loss plan works extremely well.




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  10. I’ve done some research on the effects of antioxidants and chemotherapy and in short I would not worry about the impact of your normal eating on the drugs efficacy, but not go blindly nuts with hyperdosing.

    When you start ‘super dosing’ certain antioxidants, either in plant or in pill form. As an example, cisteine (found in eggs, meat, but also in various pills) seems to negatively impact the effect of the drug cisplatin – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10391097

    If you have cancer, I urge you to research the drugs they give you and make sure you’re not inhibiting them




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  11. HELLO
    I WANT TO ASK WHAT ABOUT ASTAXANTHIN? IS IT REELY THE STRONGEST ANTIOXIDANT BETA KAROTEN? AND HOW IS RECOMENDED TO GET IT FROM FOOD OR SUPPELMENT PILLS FOR BETTER DOSE?




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  12. If we used these vitamins in the way nature intended, problems would never have been there. But, as trainers, we take the supplement that is en vogue at the time, rather than being tested to see what we have for deficiencies or excesses. If we followed Hippocrates’ advice, “use food as your medicine and medicine as your food” we wouldn’t need much in supplements. Food, for the most part, is seen as “something tasty to eat” when it is really information for the body that turns on and off genes that “express” or “cover up” diseases. http://workouttrends.com/folic-acid-promotes-breast-cancer




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  13. Some contradiction? Wikipedia says “A wide variety of foods has been tested using this method, with certain spices, berries and legumes rated highly in extensive tables once published by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), but withdrawn in 2012 since no correlation between test results and biological activity could be determined,[3] stating that no physiological proof in vivo existed in support of the free-radical theory.”
    And Wikipedia continues by saying
    “Other than for dietary antioxidant vitamins — vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E — no food compounds have been proved with antioxidant efficacy in vivo. Accordingly, regulatory agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration of the United States and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have published guidance disallowing food product labels to claim or imply an antioxidant benefit when no such physiological evidence exists.[9][10] This guidance for the United States and European Union establishes it is illegal to imply potential health benefits on package labels of products with high ORAC.”




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  14. I was reading an article about the difference between cacao and cocoa powders that mentioned the difference in their ORAC values. I knew I’d heard that term here before, but couldn’t recall (or never knew) what it meant. So I looked it up and found this: http://ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=15866, and am hoping you or someone else qualified to do so will comment on and/or explain what it means in lay terms, especially as it relates to all the information here at NF and elsewhere regarding the antioxidant content of our beloved plant foods. Thank you!




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    1. Calcium supplements are linked to heart disease. Folic acid is linked to heart disease and cancer. Excess iron, copper and zinc are linked to Alzheimer’s. Get your Omega 3 from ground flax or chia – conversion is excellent in those eating plant-based. Get all your micronutrients from the food, with the exception of B12 and possibly D3 if you are low. The RDAs are for people eating a crappy standard American diet.




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  15. Thank you for the great topics.
    I recently came across a study that show the inverse relationship between the antioxidant levels and cancers.

    How antioxidants can accelerate cancers, and why they don’t protect against them
    “Quantities of both ROS and natural antioxidants are higher in cancer
    cells — the paradoxically higher levels of antioxidants being a natural
    defense by cancer cells to keep their higher levels of oxidants in
    check, so growth can continue. In fact, say Tuveson and Chandel,
    therapies that raise the levels of oxidants in cells may be beneficial,
    whereas those that act as antioxidants may further stimulate the cancer
    cells.”

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140710094434.htm




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  16. I just finished reading “How Not to Die”. I am a big believer and I am spreading the word.

    My K9 pet has recently been diagnosed with a Sarcoma Mass on his Liver. The mass is in an inoperative place due to risk of internal bleeding. We are not sure how much longer he has but I want to do everything we can.

    There are so many scientific facts that Plant Based Eating can slow, reduce or cure cancer, why can’t this be the same for K9’s? I have done some research online but there is so much contradicting information. Is it possible to switch gears and get recommendations on optimal health for K9’s?

    I am looking for the best optimal diet to slow, reduce or cure cancer for my K9, your help is much appreciated.




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    1. David DeRousseau: I’m glad you got some good benefits from reading How Not To Die.

      The topic of dogs is near and dear to my heart. In my opinion, there isn’t enough research on dogs in just about any category to really know what is the best diet for dogs and whether or not diet can reverse certain diseases in dogs. What I can do is share with you my own experience and what little I think we know. I have no proof (including no diagnosis), but I think switching my dog to a vegan kibble may have cured him of bladder cancer. See below for my answer to people when they are potentially interested in trying a vegan diet with their dogs.

      ——————–
      It is a good question that pops up from time to time. Dr. Greger has been known to say something like, “I’m a vet of just one species – humans.” So, I don’t know if he will be tackling this topic.
      .
      I like that you asked about the science, because that is the key. To my knowledge, the science is deploringly lacking. It’s deploring because humans LOVE their dogs and dogs do great things for humans and yet proving the saying that familiarity breeds contempt, we have relatively little good science on dogs, especially when it comes to their diet.
      .
      I am aware of only one independent (ie, not paid for by a dog food company), published scientific study on dog food in regard to a vegan diet. The study was on a small number of dogs and was very short term, but the study gives us tantalizing hints. The study was on working Alaskan sled dogs, who have to be in peak condition. And the study looked at objective measures, not asking the owner “Hey, how do you think they did?” The result was that the vegan dogs did just as well as the omnivore dogs in the control group. This tiny study proves nothing. But it does hint at an answer and shows that we need more and better studies. If interested, here is the study: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayFulltext?type=6&fid=6488300&jid=BJN&volumeId=102&issueId=09&aid=6488296&bodyId=&membershipNumber=&societyETOCSession=&fulltextType=RA&fileId=S0007114509389254
      .
      In terms of anecdotes, we have many, many additional hints that dogs can thrive on a vegan diet. I understand that one of the longest lived dogs according to the Guiness Book of World Records was a vegan named Bramble. I think Bramble lived something like 27 years and was not a small dog (small dogs typically live longer relative to large ones). And then there are the many, many dogs which are thriving on vegan diets today in people’s homes. I personally know a handful of such dogs, including a lucky dog who has a vet for his human.
      .
      My own dog has been on a vegan kibble for 7 years. My dog is a 13 year old Great Dane whose blood work is still all normal and who most people think is much younger when they meet him. Great Danes usually only live 8-10 years. Certainly no one can say that my dog’s diet has hurt him. When my dog was 6, the food I had been feeding him got bought by the company, Purina. I did not trust that Purina would keep the same quality, so I started doing research, including learning about how tainted the meat supply is in the world, especially in America. So, even feeding my dog human grade meat did not seem to be the answer. After doing lots of research, I finally decided to switch to a vegan kibble. My dog went vegan before I did, and we both got a very nice surprise: My dog’s health didn’t just stay the same, it dramatically *improved*.
      .
      About a year and a half before switching diets, my dog had started peeing blood. Sometimes it was dark red and very scary to me. I had gone to multiple vets about this problem, done x-rays, etc. Nothing helped. I did not expect the diet change to fix this problem, but after a couple months on the vegan kibble, the blood in the pee magically disappeared. The cure was likely *not* just coincidence since as I said, he had been peeing blood for a long time. His coat and nails also got shinier. And his energy/play level went up. In a 6 year old Great Dane, those changes were really something and sold me for life right there on the value of a vegan diet for dogs.
      .
      One important piece to this question is to note a study that came out about 3? of years ago that showed that dogs have a significant biological difference from wolves – one that had to do with having 3 genes that help dogs digest starch. This makes perfect sense to me since one of the current leading theories about how wolves became dogs is that dogs started hanging out around human trash piles, eating human leftover food. Which as we know from NutritionFacts, would primarily have been plants, including a lot of starches. For more about the biological study of how dogs are different from wolves, check out this article from one of my favorite, nationally known dog trainer Patricia McConnell: http://www.patriciamcconnell.com/theotherendoftheleash/dogs-wolves-diet-and-sociability This information makes me believe that dogs are especially adapted to be able to tolerate (a specially designed for dogs!) vegan diet and that arguments from the other side that look at wolves diet and biology are not so valid.
      .
      FYI: V-dog is the brand I feed my pup. I did several feeding tests and my dog loves his v-dog just as much as he loved his old brand, Innova. If someone reading this post is interested in feeding their dog a vegan diet, it is worth doing some research. Like any diet for any species, there are some potential “gotchas” worth avoiding. There is a vet who speaks around the country trying to help people be successful in getting their dog on a vegan diet. And you can catch her lectures for free on the internet. Here is one example: Vegan Diets For Cats and Dogs, Risks And Benefits: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIMBX3jdYM0
      .
      I find that most of the people who believe that dogs should eat meat use the same flawed arguments that paleo proponents use for arguing that humans should eat meat. Meat proponents for dogs certainly do not have any more science to back up their assertions than I do for my vegan assertions–at least none that I have seen. Something to think about. Another philosophical point: What do we owe our non-human companions? We certainly owe them physical (as well as mental and emotional) health. And, in my opinion, we owe them a future. A world where they can exist, which will not happen if humans continue to promote the animal food industry. So, even if meat and vegan diets came out neck and neck in terms of general dog health, other factors then weigh the scales to favor the vegan diet.
      .
      After reading all that (assuming you are still with me all the way down here!), what do you think?​




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