Meat & Multiple Myeloma

Meat & Multiple Myeloma
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Meat consumption may increase one’s risk of a variety of blood cancers.

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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 NIH-AARP study also looked at diet, lifestyle, and acute myeloid leukemia. Two things seemed to do it: smoking and total meat intake—which included all beef, chicken, fish, pork, bacon, etc.

Since they measured the effect of both smoking and meat intake, we have a rare opportunity to actually compare the two in terms of cancer risk. So, in terms of our risk of getting this rare—but deadly—blood cancer, this much meat—two boneless chicken breasts’ worth—may increase our leukemia risk as much smoking ten cigarettes.

So, what if we don’t eat any meat? The most comprehensive study of cancer rates in vegetarians was published last year. No surprise that vegetarians had significantly less cancer than meat-eaters.

Perhaps the most striking finding was how low the risk was for lymphoma and leukemia among vegetarians. Just a quarter of the risk of multiple myeloma in vegetarians compared to meat-eaters; an aggressive incurable cancer of the bone marrow. Potential mechanisms include the mutagenic compounds in meat, and the viruses.

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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 NIH-AARP study also looked at diet, lifestyle, and acute myeloid leukemia. Two things seemed to do it: smoking and total meat intake—which included all beef, chicken, fish, pork, bacon, etc.

Since they measured the effect of both smoking and meat intake, we have a rare opportunity to actually compare the two in terms of cancer risk. So, in terms of our risk of getting this rare—but deadly—blood cancer, this much meat—two boneless chicken breasts’ worth—may increase our leukemia risk as much smoking ten cigarettes.

So, what if we don’t eat any meat? The most comprehensive study of cancer rates in vegetarians was published last year. No surprise that vegetarians had significantly less cancer than meat-eaters.

Perhaps the most striking finding was how low the risk was for lymphoma and leukemia among vegetarians. Just a quarter of the risk of multiple myeloma in vegetarians compared to meat-eaters; an aggressive incurable cancer of the bone marrow. Potential mechanisms include the mutagenic compounds in meat, and the viruses.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Doctor's Note

Check out these other videos on blood cancers:
Hot Dogs & Leukemia
EPIC Findings on Lymphoma

And check out my other videos on meat

For more context, also see my associated blog posts: Poultry Paunch: Meat & Weight Gain; and Harvard’s Meat & Mortality Studies.

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

19 responses to “Meat & Multiple Myeloma

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    1. I’ve been vegan for 6 years. I had some bloodwork done at the Dr. All came back fine but my monocytes absolute were low. 139 (200-950) cells/mcL. And they made he take another blood test. And gamma globulin was lower then normal. ( I forgot the amt.when they called). Now they want me to take an -Immunofixation urine test. For monocytopenia. I’m starting to freak out. Well y cholesterol is still high 223 but it’s been that way for a long time. I can’t get it to lower. I even started eating Brazil nuts!!! Should I worry about the blood work? And should I get the urine test? Btw my mom passed away from multiple myeloma .

      1. Hello Nan,
        Thank you for your question. I am a family doctor with a private practice in lifestyle medicine and also a volunteer moderator for this website. You raise several issues. Let me try to address each one.

        1) Your blood test showing that your monocyte count was low. Monocytes are one type of white blood cell (WBC); they “eat up” cells that your body wants to get rid of. If you had a high monocyte count that would mean your body is trying to fight an infection or some type of inflammation. Your count of 139 is only a little bit low. You didn’t say what your total WBC count is, but I’m guessing that it’s also on the low side. A very important fact for you is that having a slightly low total WBC count, or a slightly low count of any of the 5 types of WBCs is probably a GOOD thing. Here are two videos by Dr. G that explain why:
        a) https://nutritionfacts.org/video/what-does-a-low-white-blood-cell-count-mean/#comment-295036
        b) https://nutritionfacts.org/video/What-Is-the-Ideal-White-Blood-Cell-Count/

        2) Your low gamma globulin. I’m guessing this was also only slightly low. Gamma globulins are also known as antibodies (although they’re not exactly the same). They are produced by a certain type of WBC called a B-lymphocyte. Having slightly low gamma globulin is also probably a good thing, for the same reasons Dr. G mentions in the above videos.

        3) The “immunofixation” urine test they want you to get. This is not enough information for me to know exactly what this test is. However, having a urine test is certainly easy for you. If it will cost a lot, I would ask your doctor to explain exactly what disease (s)he’s looking for, and how likely (s)he thinks that is for you.

        4) Your high cholesterol. This is an entirely different issue. Your level of 223 is definitely high, but not extremely high. How bad that is depends somewhat on the amounts of the various sub-types of cholesterol. Having a high LDL is bad. Here is a great article about what vegans with high cholesterol should do: https://nutritionfacts.org/questions/what-can-i-do-to-lower-my-cholesterol-it-seems-ive-tried-everything/

        5) The question of multiple myeloma. This is a disease in which you produce way too MUCH of one particular type of globulin, known as Bence-Jones protein. You can find these proteins in the blood and in the urine. You should talk with your doctor about whether or not you need to worry about this. (I doubt it).

        I hope this helps.
        Dr.Jon
        PhysicianAssistedWellness.com
        Volunteer moderator for NutritionFacts.org

  1. my mother in law got diagnosed with multiple myeloma 2 years ago, she has been vegan for over 2 decades and  her cancer markers in her blood are still going up. she reads a lot of information about cancer everywhere but it is mostly information about the more common cancers like breastcancer. since myeloma is quite rare its hard to find specific information about it. 
    I was wondering where i could gather some more reliable information about this cancer and maybe its possible treatment

  2. I have just recently found out that my mom is going in for chemo because the doctors think she has this kind of pretty much to them “rare” dis-ease. But I´m a planteater myself and found this highly valuable supporting my own values. Do you think that it is possible to save her without getting through chemo, and putting her on strict diet and lifestyle?

  3. I am a CML patient for about 11 yrs and soon will undergo transplant. Can you suggest food that I should be eating more of. I have been a vegan for the last 1 year and always regret why I haven’t consider going vegan earlier. Your website have been very helpful for over the years. Thank you for all your videos and discussions.

    1. Shaila, I’m not a doctor and don’t have specific recommendations for you. However, I thought I would note that a whole plant food based diet seems to be very good for making a healthy immune system. Surely that would be a good idea for someone facing a transplant.

      I just wanted to wish you good luck with your procedure. And to say that I am totally with you on your thought about, why didn’t I go vegan earlier!? I sure wish I had.

      Best of luck to you.

  4. I have MGUS. I’ve gone on a plant based low fat high starch diet and feel great but its always like the sword of Damocles with the possibility of Multiple Myeloma hanging over me. I read some studies out of Australia that showed some promise of preventing or delaying Multiple Myeloma using Tumeric and black pepper combination and started taking that. Any other suggestions?

    1. Here is a few things for you to try:
      http://www.cancerforums.net/forums/17-Multiple-Myeloma-Forum?s=a68d10a7a5543861a68f3bbe48646c5f
      https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/cancercured/search/messages?query=Multiple+Myloma&submit=Search&charset=ISO-8859-1
      http://www.cancercenter.com/multiple-myeloma/survivors.cfm
      http://www.cancercenter.com/multiple-myeloma/nutritional-therapy.cfm
      The Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) is an inexpensive drug with no side effects that has worked for some people. http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/lowdosenaltrexone/
      http://www.ldndatabase.com/
      http://forum.ldnresearchtrust.org/index.php?/forum/55-cancer-ldn-experiences/
      http://curetogether.com/blog/2010/09/13/new-study-low-dose-naltrexone/

      I have a few reports that I can email to you, if you five me your email address
      Important things that you need to do
      Change your diet !!!!!!!!!!!
      Take wheatgrass everyday & a green drink every day
      Know & believe this is a temporary problem and it will go away.

  5. Meat is bad. At the very least, meat ingestion will increase insulin levels (beyond a diet without meat) which is a known cancer promoter.

    Dr. Ben

  6. So do you really think a small amount of fish or chicken or turkey every night if you have mgus is not a good idea, even if you also have a lot of vegetables and salad along with it?

  7. There is no way to quantify the risk, but the risk does appear dose dependent in the published studies, so why take the risk? There is no known benefit to eating animal products. Its like asking: “do you really think having just one puff on a cigarette every night is not a good idea?” My opinion? No, its not a good idea to eat any animal products (or smoke).

    Dr. Ben

  8. Hi I want to thank you all for your help and advice on myoloma 2016 I was diagnosed took chemotherapy for 6 months and after all my research I went on plant based diet I am in remission 8 months now vegetarian is the way to go

  9. Hello Michael,

    I have recently discovered yourself and your site and love the progression of information. I was just watching a couple of your videos on antioxidants yesterday.

    Sorry yes question.

    My father has just been through chemo for myeloma and last month was officially in remission which is great.

    I understand that it is something that can get bad again in the future so he has to be careful.

    He is eating more healthfully than.before but still eating meat and dairy.

    ¿How much would you say a plant based diet could prevent his chances of having it recurring?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi, Elliot! I am one of the health support volunteers on nutritionfacts.org. Thank you for your question. That’s wonderful news that your father is doing better! Yes, evidence shows that the one unifying diet found to best prevent and treat many diseases like cancers such as myeloma is a whole-food plant-based diet, defined as an eating pattern that encourages the consumption of unrefined plant foods and discourages meats, dairy products, eggs, and processed foods. For more information, check out the cancer topics page and this article on preventing myeloma through diet: https://nutritionfacts.org/2017/05/11/best-food-for-mgus-to-prevent-multiple-myeloma/

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