Should We All Take Aspirin to Prevent Cancer?

Should We All Take Aspirin to Prevent Cancer?
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The aspirin compounds naturally found in plant foods may help explain the lower cancer rates among those eating plant-based diets.

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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.

In people without a personal history of cardiovascular disease, the “risks of aspirin [may] outweigh [the] benefits.” But, aspirin may have additional benefits, as well.

“We have long recognized the preventative role of daily aspirin for patients with [heart] disease; however, it now appears that we can [hatch two birds from one egg].” Daily low-dose aspirin may also help prevent certain forms of cancer, as well.

In an analysis of eight different studies “involving more than 25,000 [people], the authors found a 20% decrease in risk of death from cancer among those…randomized to [a] daily aspirin.” You know, the search for effective and safe treatments for cancer remains an enormous, burdensome challenge. “If only we could stop cancer in its tracks—prevent it before it strikes.” Well, “[p]erhaps we can,” with this plant phytonutrient—salicylic acid—found in aspirin.

How does it affect cancer? Well, the Nobel Prize in Medicine went to the team that discovered how aspirin works. Enzymes named COX, cyclooxygenase, take the pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid that our body makes—or, we get directly in our diet, from mainly chicken and eggs—our enzymes take the arachidonic acid and turn it into inflammatory mediators, like thromboxane, which produces thrombosis (clots), and prostaglandins, which cause inflammation.

Aspirin suppresses these enzymes, though. So, less thromboxane means fewer clots. And, less prostaglandin means less pain, swelling, and fever. But, prostaglandins can also dilate the lymphatic vessels inside tumors, allowing cancer cells to spread. So, one of the ways cancer tries to kill us is by boosting COX activity.

That’s one of the ways we think aspirin can help prevent cancer—by counteracting tumor attempts to pry open the lymphatic bars on its cage, and spread throughout the body—because “the reduction in mortality due to some cancers occurred within 2 to 3 years after [aspirin was started].” That seems “too quick to be accounted for by an effect only on” the genesis (formation) of cancer. Cancer can take decades to develop.

So, the only way aspirin could save us that fast is by suppressing the growth and spread of tumors that already exist. Aspirin appeared to cut the risk of metastases in half—particularly for adenocarcinomas, like colon cancer.

So now, what about everyone taking a daily baby aspirin? Previous risk/benefit analyses did not consider the effects of aspirin on cancer, instead just balancing cardiovascular benefits with bleeding risks. But, these new cancer findings may change things.

If this was just the reduction of colon cancer risk, then the benefits might not outweigh the harms for the general public. But, now we have evidence that it works against other cancers, too. Even a 10% reduction in overall cancer incidence “could tip the balance” in favor of benefits over risks.

So, how does the cancer benefit compare?  As we saw before, using aspirin in healthy people just for cardiovascular protection is kind of a wash. By contrast, the cancer prevention rates might save twice as many lives. So, the benefits may outweigh the risks. If you put it all together, heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and bleeding, aspirin comes out looking protective overall—potentially extending our lifespan.

Yes, higher risk of major bleeding, even at low-dose aspirin, but fewer heart attacks, clotting strokes, and cancers. So, it may be beneficial overall.

Now, note these age categories only go up to 74 years old, though.  That’s because the risk of bleeding on aspirin increases steeply with age; and so, may tip the balance the other way. But, in younger folks, these data certainly have the research community buzzing. “The emerging evidence on aspirin’s cancer protection highlights an exciting time for cancer prevention.”

“In light of low-dose aspirin’s ability to reduce mortality from both vascular events and cancer to a very notable degree, it is tempting to recommend” low-dose aspirin for nearly everybody. However, aspirin pills, even at low doses, have “a propensity to damage [the lining of our stomach and intestines], and increase [the] risk for gastrointestinal bleeding; this fact may constrain health authorities from recommending aspirin for [the general population].” Recent meta-analyses estimate that just a single “year of low-dose aspirin therapy will induce major gastrointestinal bleeding…in one…out of 833 [people].”

If only there were a way to get the benefits, without the risks. Those who remember this video already know the answer.  The aspirin phytonutrient isn’t just found in willow trees, but throughout the plant kingdom. This explains why the active ingredient in aspirin is found normally in the bloodstream even in people not taking aspirin.

Here’s the levels of aspirin in people that eat fruits and vegetables, and here’s the levels found in those that don’t. Then, just drink one fruit smoothie, and within an hour and a half, your levels rise. As you can see, one smoothie ain’t going to do it; you need regular, daily fruit and vegetable consumption.

But, are these kinds of aspirin levels sufficient to suppress the expression of that inflammatory enzyme implicated in cancer growth and spread? Well, using umbilical cords and foreskins—where else are you going to get human tissue?—they found that even those low levels caused by smoothie consumption significantly suppressed the expression of that inflammatory enzyme at a genetic level.

Well, if this aspirin phytonutrient is made by plants, we might expect plant-eaters to have higher levels. And, indeed, not only did they find higher blood levels in vegetarians, there was an overlap with people taking aspirin pills. Some vegetarians had the same level in their blood as people actually taking aspirin. Vegetarians pee out as much of the active metabolite of aspirin as aspirin-users do, just because they’re eating so many fruits and vegetables.

“Because the anti-inflammatory action of aspirin is probably the result of [this active ingredient in aspirin—salicylic acid—], and the concentrations of [salicylic acid] seen in vegetarians [have] been shown to inhibit [that inflammatory COX enzyme] in vitro, [it’s] plausible that dietary salicylates may contribute to the beneficial effects of a vegetarian diet, although [they say] it seems unlikely that most omnivores would be able to achieve sufficient dietary intake of salicylates to have a therapeutic effect.” Though, they could certainly eat more fruits and veggies, too.

With effectively all that aspirin flowing through their systems, plant-eaters must have high ulcer rates, right? Aspirin can just chew through our gut. But no, vegetarians appear to have a significantly lower risk of ulcers, for both men and women.

So, for the general population, by eating plants instead of taking aspirin, we may not just get the benefits without the risks, we can get benefits—with benefits! How is that possible? Because in plants, the salicylic acid may come naturally pre-packaged with gut-protective nutrients.

For example, nitric oxide from dietary nitrates exerts stomach-protective effects by “boosting blood flow” and protective “mucus production” in the lining of the stomach—”effects [that] demonstrably oppose the pro-ulcerative impact of aspirin…”

“Dark green leafy vegetables…are among the richest dietary sources of nitrate.” But, of course, the researcher goes on to say that, “Since it may be unrealistic to expect people to eat ample servings of [greens] every day,” we should just give people pills with their pills, right? Nitrate pills with their aspirin pills.

But, why not just eat our greens? People who’ve had a heart attack should follow their physician’s advice, which probably includes taking aspirin every day. What about everyone else? I think everyone should take aspirin—but, in produce, not pill form.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credits: Curtis Gregory Perry, 100777ragesoss, and SciTechMuseum via flickr. Images have been modified.

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.

In people without a personal history of cardiovascular disease, the “risks of aspirin [may] outweigh [the] benefits.” But, aspirin may have additional benefits, as well.

“We have long recognized the preventative role of daily aspirin for patients with [heart] disease; however, it now appears that we can [hatch two birds from one egg].” Daily low-dose aspirin may also help prevent certain forms of cancer, as well.

In an analysis of eight different studies “involving more than 25,000 [people], the authors found a 20% decrease in risk of death from cancer among those…randomized to [a] daily aspirin.” You know, the search for effective and safe treatments for cancer remains an enormous, burdensome challenge. “If only we could stop cancer in its tracks—prevent it before it strikes.” Well, “[p]erhaps we can,” with this plant phytonutrient—salicylic acid—found in aspirin.

How does it affect cancer? Well, the Nobel Prize in Medicine went to the team that discovered how aspirin works. Enzymes named COX, cyclooxygenase, take the pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid that our body makes—or, we get directly in our diet, from mainly chicken and eggs—our enzymes take the arachidonic acid and turn it into inflammatory mediators, like thromboxane, which produces thrombosis (clots), and prostaglandins, which cause inflammation.

Aspirin suppresses these enzymes, though. So, less thromboxane means fewer clots. And, less prostaglandin means less pain, swelling, and fever. But, prostaglandins can also dilate the lymphatic vessels inside tumors, allowing cancer cells to spread. So, one of the ways cancer tries to kill us is by boosting COX activity.

That’s one of the ways we think aspirin can help prevent cancer—by counteracting tumor attempts to pry open the lymphatic bars on its cage, and spread throughout the body—because “the reduction in mortality due to some cancers occurred within 2 to 3 years after [aspirin was started].” That seems “too quick to be accounted for by an effect only on” the genesis (formation) of cancer. Cancer can take decades to develop.

So, the only way aspirin could save us that fast is by suppressing the growth and spread of tumors that already exist. Aspirin appeared to cut the risk of metastases in half—particularly for adenocarcinomas, like colon cancer.

So now, what about everyone taking a daily baby aspirin? Previous risk/benefit analyses did not consider the effects of aspirin on cancer, instead just balancing cardiovascular benefits with bleeding risks. But, these new cancer findings may change things.

If this was just the reduction of colon cancer risk, then the benefits might not outweigh the harms for the general public. But, now we have evidence that it works against other cancers, too. Even a 10% reduction in overall cancer incidence “could tip the balance” in favor of benefits over risks.

So, how does the cancer benefit compare?  As we saw before, using aspirin in healthy people just for cardiovascular protection is kind of a wash. By contrast, the cancer prevention rates might save twice as many lives. So, the benefits may outweigh the risks. If you put it all together, heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and bleeding, aspirin comes out looking protective overall—potentially extending our lifespan.

Yes, higher risk of major bleeding, even at low-dose aspirin, but fewer heart attacks, clotting strokes, and cancers. So, it may be beneficial overall.

Now, note these age categories only go up to 74 years old, though.  That’s because the risk of bleeding on aspirin increases steeply with age; and so, may tip the balance the other way. But, in younger folks, these data certainly have the research community buzzing. “The emerging evidence on aspirin’s cancer protection highlights an exciting time for cancer prevention.”

“In light of low-dose aspirin’s ability to reduce mortality from both vascular events and cancer to a very notable degree, it is tempting to recommend” low-dose aspirin for nearly everybody. However, aspirin pills, even at low doses, have “a propensity to damage [the lining of our stomach and intestines], and increase [the] risk for gastrointestinal bleeding; this fact may constrain health authorities from recommending aspirin for [the general population].” Recent meta-analyses estimate that just a single “year of low-dose aspirin therapy will induce major gastrointestinal bleeding…in one…out of 833 [people].”

If only there were a way to get the benefits, without the risks. Those who remember this video already know the answer.  The aspirin phytonutrient isn’t just found in willow trees, but throughout the plant kingdom. This explains why the active ingredient in aspirin is found normally in the bloodstream even in people not taking aspirin.

Here’s the levels of aspirin in people that eat fruits and vegetables, and here’s the levels found in those that don’t. Then, just drink one fruit smoothie, and within an hour and a half, your levels rise. As you can see, one smoothie ain’t going to do it; you need regular, daily fruit and vegetable consumption.

But, are these kinds of aspirin levels sufficient to suppress the expression of that inflammatory enzyme implicated in cancer growth and spread? Well, using umbilical cords and foreskins—where else are you going to get human tissue?—they found that even those low levels caused by smoothie consumption significantly suppressed the expression of that inflammatory enzyme at a genetic level.

Well, if this aspirin phytonutrient is made by plants, we might expect plant-eaters to have higher levels. And, indeed, not only did they find higher blood levels in vegetarians, there was an overlap with people taking aspirin pills. Some vegetarians had the same level in their blood as people actually taking aspirin. Vegetarians pee out as much of the active metabolite of aspirin as aspirin-users do, just because they’re eating so many fruits and vegetables.

“Because the anti-inflammatory action of aspirin is probably the result of [this active ingredient in aspirin—salicylic acid—], and the concentrations of [salicylic acid] seen in vegetarians [have] been shown to inhibit [that inflammatory COX enzyme] in vitro, [it’s] plausible that dietary salicylates may contribute to the beneficial effects of a vegetarian diet, although [they say] it seems unlikely that most omnivores would be able to achieve sufficient dietary intake of salicylates to have a therapeutic effect.” Though, they could certainly eat more fruits and veggies, too.

With effectively all that aspirin flowing through their systems, plant-eaters must have high ulcer rates, right? Aspirin can just chew through our gut. But no, vegetarians appear to have a significantly lower risk of ulcers, for both men and women.

So, for the general population, by eating plants instead of taking aspirin, we may not just get the benefits without the risks, we can get benefits—with benefits! How is that possible? Because in plants, the salicylic acid may come naturally pre-packaged with gut-protective nutrients.

For example, nitric oxide from dietary nitrates exerts stomach-protective effects by “boosting blood flow” and protective “mucus production” in the lining of the stomach—”effects [that] demonstrably oppose the pro-ulcerative impact of aspirin…”

“Dark green leafy vegetables…are among the richest dietary sources of nitrate.” But, of course, the researcher goes on to say that, “Since it may be unrealistic to expect people to eat ample servings of [greens] every day,” we should just give people pills with their pills, right? Nitrate pills with their aspirin pills.

But, why not just eat our greens? People who’ve had a heart attack should follow their physician’s advice, which probably includes taking aspirin every day. What about everyone else? I think everyone should take aspirin—but, in produce, not pill form.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credits: Curtis Gregory Perry, 100777ragesoss, and SciTechMuseum via flickr. Images have been modified.

Doctor's Note

To see the pros versus cons for people trying to prevent or treat heart attacks and stroke, see my previous video, Should We All Take Aspirin to Prevent Heart Disease?

If the COX enzyme sounds familiar, I talked about it in my Anti-inflammatory Life is a Bowl of Cherries video.

Where does one get “dietary nitrates” from? See: Vegetables Rate by Nitrate.

Do some plant foods have more aspirin than others? Definitely. In fact, some foods have the same amount as a “baby” aspirin. Check out my next video: Plants with Aspirin Aspirations.

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

185 responses to “Should We All Take Aspirin to Prevent Cancer?

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  1. Hurray for whole plant diet. May explain low level of inflammation seen typically in whole plant eaters (very likely not the only cause but among many beneficial nutrients).

    1. The key is that the WFPB diet both reduces inflammatory insults AND supplies a continuous dose of many anti-inflammatory compounds, not just salycilates.

      1. Or just take this tasty cocktail of chemicals DAILY to prevent Cancer and lower your risk of Heart Attacks by a minuscule amount. Kind of ironic that this is “cancer preventative.” I’m sure these chemicals are also very helpful in reducing cancer risk. These might make the crap Monsanto is dumping on Food Crops look benign (Not really). Pick your poison. This is from Bayer Low Dose Aspirin.

        Inactive ingredients black iron oxide, brown iron oxide, carnauba wax, corn starch, D&C yellow #10 aluminum lake, FD&C yellow #6 aluminum lake, hypromellose, methacrylic acid copolymertype C, polysorbate 80, powdered cellulose, propylene glycol, shellac, sodium lauryl sulfate,
        triacetin, triethyl citrate

  2. 7:16 But it looks like overall prevalence of surgery is exactly the same for
    vegetarians and non-vegetarians? (Even ever so slightly higher for
    vegetarians when adjusted for age, smoking and education!!) Look at the
    bottom of this statistic. And what about the higher number of hernia,
    appendix, tonsil and prostate surgeries in vegetarian men? Eh? I eat a
    plant-based diet but this surprises me. Am I overlooking something? I
    would very much appreciate it if NutritionFacts would respond to this.

    1. This was comparing Adventists to Adventists. It’s not like the omnivore group is eating KFC every day. I wonder if surgeries included “dental adjustment” surgeries and similar.

    2. #Anone
      I agree with Rebecca Cody by mention “dairy products” – remeber, vegetarians consum dairy products. That include animal protein, animal fat and it is a high industrial product. Some of the vegetarians also consum (sometimes) eggs. ;-) This all has nothing to do with a whole, plant-based, low-fat diet… with other words: vegetarian is a bit better then omnivore but earns not the whole benefit of the plant world.

      1. Adventist vegetarians rely a lot on cheese of all kinds, eggs, milk and meat analogs. They also eat plenty of desserts, whip topping, ice cream etc. I’ve been to many of their fellowship meals over the years. Since turning WFPB I find it difficult to find anything to eat there and no longer go.

        1. #Jean: I like to ask may be a silly question but I’m a German and not familiar with the life at the USA. ;-) Where do you get this information? Do you know “Adventist People” personal? I ask for the reason because I read at the moment the new position of the AND and they put vegetarians and vegans in on pot. What, I think, is not really correct even the dairy products and the fat intake…

    3. People have difficulty self reporting what they ate for breakfast the day before. How many billions of variables are effecting an individuals personal health at any given time. Eggs are bad… really? What kind of eggs? What is the source? How were they prepared? How many consumed? etc. But it’s okay to trend a result from data that really isn’t data collected in any real scientific way (Feel free to disagree). All we can do is look at each Doctors/Nutritionist/PHD’s conclusion of what they pull from “Data” and apply it to our own belief system. I know many many many (A whole lot) of people (relatives) that have lived well past the expected Life Expectancy by drinking Coffee and eating bacon and eggs daily. But they also had the benefit of Pre 1980 foods which were not so heavily laden with chemicals and so nutritional void due to the rise of companies like Monsanto. That’s my opinion. Salicylates also cause many problems in people with sensitives. I’m all for eating real foods. I find it funny that hardcore vegans justify their diets as long as Cyanocobalamin is supplemented. Because you know the Cyan stands for what exactly? Methylcobalamin is available. And BOTH are completely natural. If only humans were in fact evolved as Herbivores which Humans are NOT. which is also interesting because most Christians believe man is only 6,000 years old. So I guess that Paleo Christian is an Oxy Moron. Our “Caveman” ancestors ate whatever they could find. We have the advantage of World Wide Shipping. For the record I appreciate and really enjoy Dr. Greger’s biased viewpoint and I find it as VALID as anyone else who studies nutrition. I find Paleo a bit entertaining for it’s very strange belief that CAVEMAN knew what they were doing.

  3. My wife age 80 is on blood thinner (Pradaxa) and cannot take asprin as blood thinner. I guess Pradaxa is the blood thinner. But not the same benefit as asprin. Is this a wash?

    1. I don’t have any medical knowledge but after watching all these NF videos on blood clots and bloodthinning, I have to wonder if she eats a WFPB diet recommended by Dr. Greger?

    2. There are multiple pathways that thin the blood so one has a type of check and balance when it comes to bleeding vs. clotting. Pradaxa is what is known as a direct Thrombin inhibitor which is the factor in the clotting cascade where the two pathways come together and inhibit clotting. The advantage of these sorts of inhibitors is that they don’t require the constant monitoring that warfarin did. Salicylates – like aspirin inhibit platelet clumping which occurs not only late in clotting but in very microvascular areas of bleeding. Think nose bleeds and paper cuts. If one pathway is inhibited it’s very important to not inhibit the other as you no longer have the balance between the two. The other effects of salicylates that have been seen in cancer prevention have not been completely elucidated but there is speculation that it is due to the anti-inflammatory effects of the drug. Several researchers have attributed the etiology of cardiovascular disease to inflammation and it may well be that the positive effects of aspirin is the decrease in clots coupled with the decrease in inflammation. In this regard your wife’s Pradaxa is covering the clotting but not the anti-inflammatory benefits that aspirin users receive.

  4. It appears that the Michael Greger “Pop-Up” videos have run there course which is a good thing because now we can get back to the business of improving health through the benefits of plant based nutrition education.
    BTW, I give today’s video two big thumbs up…

      1. Au contraire mon ami!

        I am devoted to Dr. Greger’s work. I have watched every video blog posted on this site at least once, and I anticipate Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings so I can watching the next insightful installment.

        I see from your posting history that you have been “concerned” for the last two hours at the time of my response where I have been Joe Caner for as long as I can remember.

        To bring you up to speed in case you may have missed it, there has recently been a whole spate of prior video blogs where Dr. Greger has made pop-up cameo appearances that has generated many comments in these discussion postings. I generally enjoy reading the responses generated by Dr. Greger’s videos. This is the first time, well now it’s the second time, that I have post about these pop-up cameo appearances. I am glad to see them discontinued chiefly because I thought that entirely too much attention and energy was being lavished on them as apposed to content of the messaging itself.

        Perhaps in that context, you may find my prior post less “snarky,” and then again, perhaps not.

        1. I really don’t want to continue the discussion but for me it’s simple: popups are an example of the triumph of form over substance. I think the time spent on preparing them could be better used for research or simply for some time off (I don’t know how the good doctor is finding time to take care of all this). And the need to research is a great demand because it is increasingly difficult to make connections between different research papers. So who cares about form if the content is what matters.

          1. I find the pop-up of Dr. Gregor distracts from my listening to the message. I prefer the videos without the pop-ups. I love your website, Dr. Gregor and encourage anyone who will listen to me to start getting your emails.

      2. I can’t figure it out either. But it seems the overwhelming majority didn’t like the popups. I loved them from day one! I read the arguments but didn’t understand the mindset. I think they should make both versions and then people can choose which one they want to watch. It could be set in your NF profile whether you want popups or not.

        1. I am sympathetic with Mick’s recent post, “…who cares about form if the content is what matters.” I believe that one should be able to look past it if they don’t like it and focus on the messaging…

          But the proper presentation of idea’s are important if for no other reason than that one may find that they’ve alienate a portion of their target audience for not taking their expectations and preferences into account.

          I got a sense from reading the negative feedback that the over riding attitude was that health related issues are a serious matter, and while the humorous, witty and satirical comments made about the subject under examination by Dr. Greger as part of a narrative were acceptable and desirable, having him do so as part of a pop-up cameo was a bit too whimsical to be taken seriously, and many seemed to believed it detracted from the credibility of message and messenger alike.

          I’m sorry for your loss of the popups, but I should imagine that bifurcating NF videos into content with and without popups would be burdensome if one consider just producing video’s for English speakers, but it becomes even more complicated as more languages are added.

          NutritionFact.org interested in reaching as many people as possible with this life saving messaging. They are currently recruiting Spanish and German speakers to jumpstart an outreach to those communities.
          http://nutritionfacts.org/volunteer/

          1. Well, I really don’t see how “we” as in a tiny scientifically educated subpopulation is, or should be, the target audience. If you have the background to understand this stuff at some level and if you base your decisions on reason then you’re going to go with the science whether popups or not.

            It might just be me, but the huge majority of people I know wouldn’t have a good idea what a “study” even is, let alone what statistically significant results are. Even the college educated ones, I’m sorry to say. As far as reading anything technical, I know some people that don’t even read all that well period. Actually, if they don’t think in terms of reason and logic, of which I know many people that don’t, then I don’t see any reason why they would find NF any more attractive than Dr. Atkins. Probably much less.

            Oh wait, one look at the internet headlines and I guess it isn’t just me.
            People are looking for entertainment and amusement. I think a bit of goofiness would make the message more attractive to the general public. “Hey, there’s that crazy Dr. Greger again…….”

            Just one man’s thoughts.

  5. Wow, what great news! I was wondering about taking aspirin and now I will just keep doing what I am doing. What a great thing to know that my food is my medicine and I am well. Thanks Dr. G!

    1. Even though the risk of hemorrhagic stroke is “outweighed” by aspirin’s cardiovascular and anti-cancer benefits, I think this is too high a price to pay. My dad died from a CVA at age 90. Not a bad way to go, but it may have been hastened by his many years of aspirin consumption, and I am certain that he would have been healthier at the time of his death if he had been WFPB.

      1. hi plant_this_thought, I had to read the transcript over a couple of times to be sure, but dr greger did say that all things considered, aspirin may be beneficial overall, up to the age of 74. (due to higher likelihood of bleeding ). My dad did suffer a brain hemorage at age 74, but he did not die of it.
        In this link from the sources se tion, I found something interesting (to me) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23265354 about diets heavy in nitric oxide ameliorates the risk of bleeding in gastric ulcers in aspirin takers. This would mean I think they are saying is that in the context of a wfpb diet, aspirin could be a win win, reaping the benefits while lessening the risk of bleeding?

      2. ” It turns out that aspirin not only increases the function of mitochondria, it also increases the number of mitochondria. Using a staining method called MitoTracker Green dye, the researchers discovered that aspirin increased the total concentration of mitochondria by two to three times. Since the most notable hallmark of aging is decreased numbers of mitochondria with decreased mitochondrial function, this data makes aspirin look like the best anti-aging substance that has ever come along.

        So should we all run out and start taking aspirin every day? I think there is a better way. It turns out that within a matter of less than 15 minutes, the liver converts aspirin to another substance called salicylic acid. So the researchers reasoned that the effects of aspirin might be from salicylic acid instead of from aspirin itself. So to test for that, they repeated the same experiments using salicylic acid instead of aspirin. And guess what? The results were the same! The salicylic acid did just as well as the aspirin. And salicylic acid does not have the side effect baggage that aspirin has. So how can we take advantage of this new information? It’s quite easy.

        Willow bark is an herb that contains the substance salicin. And when we eat willow bark, our livers convert the salicin to salicylic acid. So by taking willow bark, it is possible to get the same mitochondrial-stimulating effects that come from aspirin. ”

        Dr. Frank Shallenberger

    2. The article below is a good reference for increased bleeding risk. It primarily focuses on gastrointestinal foci of bleeding. Bleeding should usually be thought of as a balance between bleeding and clotting. Have you increased your propensity to bleed either by taking drugs that make you bleed more / clot less? Have you gained sites that tend to bleed e.g. an ulcer? a vascular malformation? As the years accumulate all of these variables start to pile up and make the balance between bleeding and clotting shift it may increase one’s risk of bleeding later in life.

      1. The video is not promoting laetrile as a cancer treatment. It is listing a number of studies done and promoting the consumption of a fruit seed. I do not think Wikipedia is the go to source for medical or nutritional advice.

    1. Thanks for the video, John. It seems there are a fair number of studies around the world on this that have found positive results in vitro. As a fruit seed, apricot kernels would likely be nutritious and beneficial for health, regardless of the degree of cancer-fighting potential. Since we are encouraged by Dr, Greger and others to consume nuts and seeds daily, why not apricot seeds, if they are available and not too expensive?

        1. Yes of course, everything is a potential safety hazard, and like aspirin also potentially useful. B17 or amygdalin has helped many with cancer. Webmd will shill for Big Pharma, not a good source for info…

            1. Again, the video is about eating a few “apricot kernels” Not Laetrile. Can you please stop with the apricot kernel scare tactic dogma Thea, I expect a more open mind from you about whole plant seeds. Any Big Pharma produced medical articles slamming a few apricot kernels is being blatantly industry protective. I eat 5-6 apricot kernels a day for the last 10 years. I’m fine, healthy as an ox, no cancer. Please stop with the witch hunting of Apricot Kernels. We get it, Big Pharma doesn’t want anyone eating seeds that can’t be profited from by the pharmaceutical industry.

              1. guest: I don’t understand your perspective. Suppose someone said the following to you: “I smoke 5-6 cigarettes a day for the last 10 years and I’m healthy as an ox, no cancer.” Would you think that proved anything?
                .
                While, I haven’t delved into the topic in great detail and can’t say the following for sure, another poster pointed out that apricot kernels are likely to contain various amounts of the potential poison. So, mileage will vary. I’m glad you have been OK so far.
                .
                A bit of perspective is in order when you respond to this topic: I can’t imagine that anyone knowing my beliefs would accuse me of supporting Big Pharma. Quite the opposite. Just because I disagree with you that people need to be warned about possible side effects (like death) doesn’t mean that I’m close minded or witch hunting. You can promote your own beliefs without attacking my motives about warning people. We want the NutritionFacts forum to be a place where people get evidence based information. The page I linked to is backed by what I consider to be compelling evidence for caution.

                1. You are right that cyanide poisoning is a recognised risk eg

                  https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/160427

                  One of the reasons why some people show no ill effects from apricot kernel consumption, may be the type of apricot the kernels/seeds come from. Apparently there is little or no amygdalin content in sweet apricot kernels. However, the content is quite high in bitter apricot varieties.
                  http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf00050a018?journalCode=jafcau

                  Of course if people are eating lots of these safe sweet apricot kernels, they are not ingesting amydalin (at least not in meaningful quantities). Yet they are still claiming a benefit from apricot kernel/seed consumption and attributing that supposed benefit to amygdalin consumption! It makes no sense to me.

                  1. Thanks Tom! Sounds like you nailed it. This is just like the different cinnamons: One has potential benefits regarding blood sugar control for diabetes. But that is the one that also comes with potential harm. The one without potential harm has none of the benefits. Sigh.
                    .
                    Thanks for chiming in! This is great info.

                    1. Thanks. Another point worth making is the potential consequence of long term consumption of amygdalin even when acute toxicity is avoided.
                      “Humans taking amygdalin orally in the hope of preventing cancer are likely to be exposed to levels of cyanide in excess of that associated with the development of tropical ataxic neuropathy in people of underdeveloped countries where food containing cyanogenic glycosides is a staple part of the diet.”
                      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1272529/

                    2. oh great ! now I will have to look up cinnamon.
                      I have tried eating a kernel out of apricot and they are really bitter , plum kernels kind taste good though.
                      Good to know apricot kernels have a potential serious problem, thanks

                    3. Only if you eat them in big quantity. 5 to 10 a day you will not have any side effect and it is a safe amount. I know of people taking 35 every day and have not side effect but I stick to 7-8 daily one every so often as I remember.

                    4. That’s why I put just a few sprinkles of cassia but use mostly ceylon. So ceylon doesn’t have any blood sugar control effects?

                    5. nc54: I haven’t seen those videos in a long time. But if memory serves, you got it right.
                      .
                      To share my thoughts with you on this: We are so used to having win-win with plants in so many areas, it can be disappointing when a plant doesn’t give us an easy win. :-( Maybe we are just spoiled. ;-)

                    6. Hi Thea, After watching the April 2013 video again that you referenced, I’m now wondering which sources of cinnamon are safe. (I’m not really interested in the blood sugar control aspects, but I just like the taste and other benefits.) The brand I’ve been buying is labeled as sourced in Saigon. Does anyone know if that source has been tested for safety?

                    7. Thanks for the reference to the comment. It looks like the Saigon is even much worse than the Cassia (Chinese)! Guess I’ll have to look for the Ceylon sourced, which seems to have the least coumarin of all the sources/kinds.

                    8. Type of Cinnamon
                      Coumarin Content

                      Ceylon Cinnamon, True Cinnamon. Mexican Cinnamon
                      0.017 g/kg

                      Indonesian Cinnamon, Korintje Cinnamon, Padang Cassia
                      2.15 g/kg

                      Saigon cinnamon, Vietnamese cassia. Vietnamese cinnamon
                      6.97 g/kg

                      Cassia Cinnamon or Chinese Cinnamon
                      0.31 g/kg

                  2. there are a number of common-garden variety compounds that can kill cancer cells . Trouble is, the required dose kills the patient in the process. Laetrile has had sufficient time to prove its efficacy at safe doses, and has generally failed to do so. There are more promising anti-cancer compounds out there, including Metformin – a relatively safe drug with its origins in the French Lily. http://mct.aacrjournals.org/content/9/5/1092, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3800579/

            2. Yes of course, one could track them down one by one and there may be some merit but as often as not
              they prove useless or inconclusive. This contrasted against those who have used it safely, especially when
              compared to doctor prescribed death sentences… It is not useful to sound this warning bell, not useful at all.

              1. You are right. It is not useful. It is essential.

                Promoting these sorts of therapies based on personal testimonies and without scientific evidence of efficacy, is dangerous. People have died eating these things. They need to be warned of the risks before adopting useless ‘”therapies”, the use of which appears to be largely justified by idiotic conspiracy theories.

                1. Tom, you obviously have not researched the millions of people around the globe that consume apricot kernals for health and to reduce the risk of cancer. You tried to scare me with your statements a few months ago, but I have been eating a handful of kernals everyday now with no problems. I give them to my family with no problems. You need to go back and look at the videos and read the scientific research instead of just blowing out nonsense.

                  1. Sorry John but it is exactly the other way around. And I am not trying to scare you off. You are a big boy and can make your own decisions. However, I am trying to present the information that is on the scientific record so that people will not think that your claims of benefit and safety are actually valid or consistent with the evidence – because they aren’t.

                    You have been seduced by snake oil merchants and unreliable personal testimonies. The science shows that this therapy is useless and potentially dangerous. If you want to look at the research, check out the references I gave you last time and the references quoted in my response to Thea below.

                2. I believe the video is a person attempting to make you aware of scientific evidence of efficacy. Of course, I haven’t looked at any of the studies, but I do know that the US is famous for neglecting studies done in other parts of the world if they do not conform to US medical orthodoxy.

                  1. No. It is a fanboy video discussing in vitro experiments (and one peculiar experiment involving mice). The fact is that bleach, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, baking soda, beer, camel’s urine and human blood have also been shown to kill cancer cells in vitro. I dare say that alcohol and nicotine do too. None of this means hat they are “suppressed cancer cures”.

                    These papers aren’t evidence of clinical efficacy in humans. The experimental evidence we have with humans is that laetrile/B17/apricot kernels are useless as cancer cures and actually dangerous because cyanide is a poison.

                    1. Thanks. Yes, I realize that laetril is toxic to humans, but so is virtually every cancer treatment currently in use. Since most scientific studies of such substances are originally in vitro and animal studies, I hardly think that is reason to dismiss them out of hand. However, as with any of these things, delivery is crucial. If a substance is efficacious in destroying cancer cells, it doesn’t matter unless an effective delivery system is possible. So thanks for your responses. I have learned some things from this discussion.

                1. A scam? Because you do not belive or you do not know does not mean they do not work. Apricot kernels have been used for centuries by the Hunza population and it is the single ingredient they use like religion against many problems. They all live to be 100 or so. The Hunza Is the longest lived and healthiest population in the world and has been studied by many western doctors and specialists. They are completely free of cancer and many other diseases of our world. Their diet of course is mostly plant based but also they eat tons of apricots and their kernels which they use to make many culinary products. Nobody there has ever been recorded to have died of apricot kernels and so from cancer. You just need to use them as you use other products. With moderation and knowledge. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fb01975cb827fe2ad020d8973696d609931cc8b47622fc7729c945a70ed33b74.jpg

                2. hahahaha that reminds me of when I watched some vedeo about cheese industry history and how it is made. when they make cheese they have this leftover byproduct-stuff and they decided to sell it to people under the name of casein.

                  1. i mistyped: this is the correction == ” whey”) is a byproduct produced during the making of acid types of dairy products such as cottage cheese or strained yogurt. ” = https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whey

                    another: = “Cheesemaking involves coagulating the casein protein in milk and then separating the milk into solid curds and liquid whey. The liquid whey is drained away, … ” = http://biotechlearn.org.nz/focus_stories/cheesemaking/the_science_of_cheese

        2. Thank you for the link. I have long known about Laetrile, but I didn’t know that it converts to cyanide in the stomach. Rather akin to apple seeds in that way, it seems.

          1. Cyanide is what kill cancer cells. Cyanide is combined to a molecule of sugar called cyanogenic glycoside. Cancer cells lives on sugar and once they feed with this glycoside they also intake the cyanide that is poison to them. Of course too much of one thing can be dangerous in many plant products. Few kernels a day will cause not side effects.

    2. I agree with your statement whole heartedly with respect to the superiority of whole plant foods. But only in general. It really doesn’t look like our evolutionary ancestors would have eaten these things. They look more like a peach pit or plum stone or something like that. Not very appetizing. I don’t eat fresh apricots myself. Are these things good eating like a almond or walnut? If they’re hard, then most animals wouldn’t eat them.

  6. For many decades aspirin has been built up from petrochemical substrates. Take one aspirin, cut in 4 parts , put on spoon, put lighter under spoon for a minute or so.
    As it melts the black tarry residue gives a great indicator for its origins. The fumes are acrid enough to clear an auditorium as we learned from Bernard Jensen way back in 1988. Making a case for using it has always been academic musing. People were gobbling up to 10-12 a day under advice from their docs for pain. Companies got rich, people got sick-er.
    As Dr. G mentions there “may be” other protective nutrients in plants having salicytic acid.
    There is nothing natural about ingesting caustic little white pills and it skirts common sense begging us to believe we should be accept the concept for anything but the perversion it is.
    We are far better served by a solid basic health philosophy, that will not save us from the inevitable, but will prevent much suffering.
    Modern medicine, always at the beckon call of Big Pharma, are advocates for better living through chemicals. They are useful for emergency medicine and surgery. Eat plants lots of them. Avoid GMO’s like the scourge they are.

  7. The testing of anything or the use of illegally harvested foreskins is medically unethical unless you have the permission from the donor, not the donor’s parents.

  8. OK, I am a little confused. Here is my understanding. COX-2 is what we would like to suppress and we would like to not suppress COX-1 at all. COX-2 is the variant that is involved in the inflammatory and thrombotic pathways. COX-1 is not and is in fact involved in other very necessary process, like mucus production in the stomach and small intestines to protect the lining from stomach acid. So we want to suppress COX-2 but not COX-1. The trouble is that salicylic acid suppresses both by a ratio of 170:1 (COX-1:COX-2) (1). Not good. It is also my understanding that the salicylic acid found in synthetic form in aspirin is the same chemical as found in plant foods. As such the “aspirin” in plants would have the same negative impacts on COX-1 that the synthetic version does. The saving grace, as covered in the video, is that plants have protective nutrients like nitrate that help offset the negative effects by stimulating mucus production even in the face of suppressed COX-1 activity. But the ideal would be substances that exclusively or at least preferentially inhibit COX-2

    And that is what made Celebrex and Vioxx such blockbuster drugs. Celebrex flips the COX-1:COX-2 inhibition ratio with a ratio of 1:30. For Vioxx the ratio is even higher at 1:300. The trouble is that at least in the case of Vioxx is that it while it did a great job of inhibiting COX-2 and leaving COX-1 alone, it also inhibited other things that were critical to things like keeping your heart beating. Eventually it was pulled when large trial data was correctly examined and found a 4 to 5 fold increase in risk of heart attack. Celebrex doesn’t seem to carry as much of a risk, and is still on the market.

    But what if there were natural substances found in food that did that and there is, turmeric. Turmeric acts to inhibit COX-2 with subsequent suppression of VEGF (vascular epithelial growth factor) important to angiogenesis in tumors (2). In addition the polyphenol EGCG in green tea and resveratrol in grapes both have effects that suppress COX-2 (3). Also sweet cherries suppress both COX-2 and COX-1, but COX-2 more strongly than COX-1 (4).

    So given that, I would say that while there is a benefit from getting salicylic acid as a part of whole foods, I wouldn’t think that we should make this aspect of the whole food a significant reason to search out whole foods. I think that a better focus would be emphasize the consumption of foods like turmeric which preferentially goes after COX-2 and so doesn’t require any mediation of the undesirable inhibition of COX-1.

    1. Nice post, Jim. Let me add to it the reason that long term use of COX-2 specific drugs isn’t a good idea. That is to say, COX-2 drugs were pulled from the market in 2004 because some people taking the drugs suffered heart attacks and strokes. The biological explanation wasn’t revealed … until now! Well, until 2012 anyway.

      Cox-2 is expressed in vascular endothelial cells and produces prostacyclin (PGI2), which is cardioprotective via its effects on vasodilation and inhibition of platelet activation. COX-2 inhibition reduces the levels of PGI2 and increases the incidence of high blood pressure (hypertension), blood clotting (thrombosis), and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Further, COX-2 inhibition in vascular endothelial cells depresses the expression of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), which mediates vasodilation via nitric oxide production.

      These studies were achieved in COX-2 inducible knockout mice where COX-2 expression was knocked down 95% postnatally. It was necessary to knock out COX-2 postnatally because COX-2 plays an important an role in fetal and neonatal development. In addition, atherogenesis was accelerated in the offspring of ApoE-deficient hyperlipidemic mice breed with COX-2 knockout mice.

      [Note: I am not saying to avoid foods that contain natural COX-2 inhibitors. I am saying that long term use of COX-2 specific drugs should be taken with care and for good reason. Pregnant and nursing mothers should research the topic. For example, about 25% of the mother’s dose of celecoxib reaches the infant via breast milk (adjusted for body weight).]

      News release with two links to the original research papers:
      http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/news_releases/2012/05/risk/

    2. Jim Felder:

      Medicine often sees natural body processes, such as the operation of the COX-2 enzyme, as primary problems. When we only concern ourself with suppressing the body’s reaction, we often ignore the underlying cause. We forget that the whole inflammation cascade evolved as more and more desperate lines of defense against some injury. We confuse proximate cause with cause-in-fact, to use the legal terminology. Thus we have statin drugs, anti-depressants, opiates, and the many drugs that are increasingly often prescribed for the rest of a person’s life.

      Also, nature is parsimonious, and a given molecule will often have multiple (unrelated, or even seemingly antagonistic) functions in the body. Drugs that are given systemically will therefor often have unintended consequences.

      I think we in the WFPB community are often guilty of a mellower version of this kind of thinking, substituting natural food x for nasty drug y, but nonetheless thinking mechanistically in terms of anti- this or that. Mea totally culpa!

  9. I’ve read that some people have salicylate reactions, and are put on low salicylate diets. Has anyone else ever heard of this? Is it similar to people being put on bland diets for gastrointestinal ailments? Thanks!

    1. There are people that have been diagnosed as highly sensitive to salicylates and it affects many aspects of their lives but it is primarily treated with dietary changes and of course, avoidance of salicylate containing medications. Interestingly, since the salicylates in fruits and vegetables are there to wade off predators the concentrations of salicylates in food is highest in the unripe fruits and vegetables as well as closest to the skin. So, they can eat some fruits and vegetables but they need to be completely ripe and should be peeled.

  10. …outstanding presentation on a fascinating subject. However, sal. acid is not the only natural Cox2 inhibitor our there. Granted, bioavailability is an issue, but turmeric/curcumin is a powerful and (unlike Celebrex – which killed many users) safe Cox2 inhibitor.
    Other natural cox 2 inhibitors include fish oil, resveratrol, and the flavanoid quercetin (citrus, apples, onions, parsley, tea, red wine, olive
    oil, grapes, dark cherries, and dark berries such as blueberries,
    blackberries, and bilberries). However, one caution. This latest study suggests flavanoids are protective in small amounts but may damage DNA in excess:

    Nutrients

    Volume 8, Issue 12, Pages 785, doi:10.3390/nu8120785

    “Polyphenols and DNA Damage: A Mixed Blessing”

    Authors: A. Azqueta, A. Collins

        1. Well.. until proven otherwise, we can presume just after Jobs learned about his cancer, someone sent him a similar meme, and he took it seriously, and the rest is history.

          “for nine months he refused to undergo surgery for his pancreatic cancer – a decision he later regretted as his health declined. Instead, he tried a vegan diet, acupuncture, herbal remedies, and other treatments he found online, and even consulted a psychic.” (wikipedia)

            1. Thanks for the link, Thea.
              Watching this lecture of McDougall reminds me of a quote of Clay Shirky: “The internet means we can now see what other people really think. This has been a huge, huge disappointment.”
              I guess this says it all about my opinion on McDougall’s lecture.

              1. I have no idea who Clay Shirky is but that is a very funny (and) accurate quote. On the other hand, I sometimes think that your favourite drink is vinegar.
                While not a fan of McDougall – he does not exactly suffer from low self-esteem – his views are often worth listening to. What are your specific criticisms?

                1. A man is diagnosed with cancer, and despite doctors’ advice, he postpones the surgery for 9 months, during which he tries several alternative solutions. During surgery, they discover the cancer is in metastasis.

                  Then, you want to make a lecture on why that person died. What is it to be said? Instead of clearly stating that cancer is a deadly beast you don’t have the luxury to start experimenting with, you begin guessing and speculating about the moment the first cancer cell appeared, about the moment the cancer spread to the liver, about the cause of the cancer, about the incompetence of the doctor how didn’t discover the cancer earlier. What’s to be defended about a patient decisions to ignore the professional advice and delay his surgery for 9 months? Even the patient later on regretted it, but you still need the feel to justify his decision. Some doctors say Jobs’ delay didn’t damaged (because anyway Jobs couldn’t be saved), but none says the delay helped. The only rational decision was to make the surgery asap. Even Dean Ornish, who seems to have been his diet adviser, now claims that he told Jobs to have the surgery.

                  I really don’t understand what McDougall intended with this talk, other than fueling the same distrust in medicine, frightening people with the prospect of this global conspiracy that wants us suffering, feeding the hope that there are easy, magical fixes for very serious diseases. In other words, keeping the faith alive among his dogmatic followers.

                  1. I think McDougall’s talk was intended as a response to the keto/paleo/saturated fat crowd who made a big thing about Jobs’ death saying that it proved that a vegan diet was useless or even unhealthy.

                2. And Tom, what does this heretical medical doctor McDougall use as input data at 13:24 of his video? He wants to calculate the doubling time using as data: a tumor of 1 cm (Oct 2003) saw at the CAT scan and a tumor reaching the deadly size of 10 cm (Oct 2011). (Let’s leave aside that both are gross approximations.) The 1 cm tumor was removed in Jul 2004, when he finally accepted the surgery. Aren’t his entire calculations made irrelevant by that surgery?
                  And I don’t understand if this deadly 10 cm tumor was or nor on pancreas, but if it was on another organ than pancreas (liver?), can we really assume the same doubling time on different organs?
                  And now talking about 1 single organ, can we assume the same doubling time for a tumor during many years of the patient life? His lifestyle, diet, stress, other temporary diseases have no effect? If the doubling time is constant no matter what we eat, why does dr G tell us to eat foods that maybe have some anti-cancer effect?

                  1. Well, I don’t think Jobs was a long term vegetarian so I assume the point McDougall was making was that when the cancer started and for most of its existence, Jobs was eating an omnivorous diet
                    And that it is unreasonable to expect a vegetarian diet adopted late to reverse a late stage cancer

                    As for Greger, isn’t his point that all of us have cancers in our body but most of them get taken out by the body’s defences. And that it is really a very good idea to keep those defences operating at peak efficiency at all times. A good way of doing that is eating healthy foods.

            2. While interesting, we can we summarize from this?
              1. Job’s cancer stared much younger in his life
              2. Possible cause “may have been” carcinogens from his early job in electronics, although that’s speculation at best.
              3. There was/is no treatment or cure.
              4. Sadly, diet proved irrelevant.

              So… the different light is would be what exactly?

              1. baggman744: It’s been a while since I saw that talk from McDougall, but here’s what I remember. The popular narrative, the one hinted at by the quote from George goes like this: When Jobs found out he had cancer, he waited several months before getting surgery. Those few months in choosing not to get surgery was what likely killed him, because had Jobs got the surgery when he was first diagnosed, it would have been early enough to make a difference. The surgery might have at least extended Job’s life. You can just hear the tsk, tsk in the tone of people who talk about this.
                .
                McDougall used basic math and uncontested medical knowledge of cancer doubling rates to point out that by the time Jobs was diagnosed, the timing was not early in the cancer’s progress at all. While it is speculative that Jobs got his cancer from his early electronics job, it is not speculative that he got cancer around that time. By the time that Jobs was diagnosed, there was nothing that could have helped him. He was not foolish to choose to delay the surgery and try diet. Diet may not have worked at that late point, but it was not foolish. He had far better quality of life when he tried diet than post surgery, which did nothing for him and likely would have done nothing for him had he done it a few months earlier.
                .
                McDougall’s narrative is completely different than the popular narrative in my opinion.
                .
                Here’s something more to consider: While diet did not save Jobs from an early death, I would argue that Jobs’ diet may have given him years/decades more than he would have had otherwise. My understanding is that pancreatic cancer is usually a very fast growing cancer. Jobs had cancer for decades. NutritionFacts has at least one video somewhere showing how a plant based diet can slow cancer growth. (It’s an old one. I don’t remember the details.) That’s speculation on my part, but it seems reasonable to me. But even if you don’t buy my theory that diet gave Jobs extra decades of quality life, I would say that Dr. McDougall’s talk sheds a very different light on the situation than the one that George believes in.
                .
                You may not agree with me, but do you understand what I’m saying?

                1. Well, Thea, George believes one thing: when a patient is diagnosed with cancer and his doctor says “We need a surgery”, then that patient will say “Broccoli, turmeric, thank you very much for your companionship, you were my truly friends throughout my entire life, but please don’t be jealous that I will add the surgeon knife in my arsenal against cancer, because now a patient gotta do what a patient gotta do.” And patient Jobs should have said the same. Defending, excusing, rationalizationing his decision to ignore the medical advice is a mistake – really!

                    1. nc54: I’m curious. Did you watch McDougall’s talk? Why do you think it would have given him a chance? A chance at living longer than he did? At beating the cancer?

                  1. George: Your values tell you that the doctor’s advice is always the right thing to do for *you.* Clearly the doctor’s advice was not the right thing for Jobs given Jobs’ values.
                    .
                    And Jobs is not alone in those values. Knowing everything I know about the situation, including how it turned out, I would have refused the surgery too. I would have refused the surgery 9 months later too. Refusing the surgery both right off the bat and later on would be the right thing for me. I’ve heard many stories from other people who greatly regretted following the doctor’s advice in similar situations. The doctor’s advice to move ahead with radical surgery that doesn’t end up saving someone is not guaranteed to be the right decision for everyone or even most people. With the information we gain from McDougall’s talk about both the likelihood that the “early” surgery would do anything and Job’s values, it’s clear that Jobs made a reasonable decision for himself.
                    .
                    Here’s what I think you are missing: This is not an issue of an objective correct vs incorrect action. If a person is likely going to die anyway, the right decision is what comes out of a process of weighing a series of factors. The factors get weighed based on personal preferences and values applied to the benefits and risks of the situation. For example, my values are for a shorter but higher quality of life over adding a few weeks or months of extreme discomfort and breaking my ethics. My values are to go for the slim chance of diet working over the slim chance that a drastic surgery would do something. That’s not a right or wrong. It’s about what is right or wrong for me. No other person’s opinion, even a doctor’s matters. The right decision is the decision that I make.
                    .
                    Your perspective of, “doctor knows best no matter what and personal values are irrelevant” is exemplary of one of the main problems of our medical system. It is the doctor’s job to present the situation in an honest way (you’ve likely had this cancer for decades), to lay out the options (we can do this surgery or that or these non surgery options), to give all the benefits and risks of the various options, to give a recommendation, and then to let the patient pick the option that best meets her or his values without applying undue pressure. From all accounts, Job’s doctors failed to do this very basic duty. Even so, Jobs made a decision based on his values. Saying that Jobs made a mistake is waaaay off base in my opinion.

                    1. Thea, of course the patient should take the decision. And of course it will be based on personal preferences. (I also very much support the idea of euthanasia and I am very sure that finally it will be accepted as a very decent idea all over the world.)
                      So, if one finds out he has cancer and maybe 6 months to live, if he says “I need no surgery, I just go home and spend my last months with my family.” – it’s fine with me.
                      *But*, Jobs wasn’t that person. He wanted to live. And correctly so, he was too young.
                      Problem is in the first place he didn’t accept the single eventually working solution. Instead, he actively searched for alternative solutions (diet, acupuncture, psychic etc). Only 9 months later, he finally accepted the logical solution.
                      When you choose between solution A, 20% chances but with side-effects and B, only 10% chances of success, but no side-effects – this is indeed a personal preference.
                      But when between a surgery with 10% chances and all the alternative solutions Jobs tried with 0% (zero) chances, you choose the fake solutions – this is a stupid act.
                      Did you see my other comment where I said that even his diet guru Ornish told him to take the surgery?
                      And you talk about Jobs’ values. One person’s values may change during his life, maybe his values from a certain point in his life (when he rejected the surgery) were the same with your values, but finally his values (9 months later, when he accepted the surgery) were the same with mine. And just to be clear which are these values: if you decide to fight cancer (which is a personal choice, you may very well choose to not fight), you pick the medical advice, not the acupuncturist’s needles, and you do what you have to do asap, you don’t give cancer another 9 months to mess with your body even worse.
                      You say something like “I heard stories of doctors promoting surgeries to patients that in the end died, so the surgery was useless, it only generated suffering.” You can’t judge or rate a decision based on the final outcome. Of course with the benefit of the hindsight, I can also tell you that the suffering of that patients was useless. But when you make the decision, you only know that statistically, based on history, 20% of the surgeries will be useful, but you don’t know which. So, if you want to judge a patient’s decision which wants to fight cancer, you don’t check if he survived or not (this survival depends on many other factors than patient’s decision), but instead you check if the patient chose a surgery with 10% chances, or herbal remedies with 0% chances. Based on this, I can tell Jobs’ initial decision was wrong.

                      I’ll post below a fragment from his commencement speech at Stanford (this happened after his pancreatic surgery), and you can easily see that 1) he was a man you wanted to live, 2) his doctors proposed the surgery only when they learnt his cancer is curable with surgery (before that, the doctors “send him home to die” – if this sounds familiar :) ) and 3) he was pretty fine with his decision to have the surgery.

                      “About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.
                      I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.
                      This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades.”

                    2. nc54: I’m not remembering which video you are talking about. Can you provide a link?
                      .
                      Also, how is this question relevant?

                    3. nc54: Thanks for the link. That video/study is just looking at the Gearson therapy. That’s not really addressing the issue in my opinion. Anyway, I understand your opinion, but I completely disagree. That’s OK. This is an area this is all about individual preferences. It makes perfect sense that people would disagree on what decision is “right.”

                    4. nc54: I don’t feel you are understanding what I am saying and I don’t know how to say it any clearer. I totally agree that doing chemo would absolutely be the right thing for you. That’s all I can say. Have a good day!

                    5. nc54: Wait, I did think of something that might help explain it better. Sometimes something makes more sense when it comes from someone else. I just remembered that not too long ago, Tom Goff linked to a chapter from a book called “Health Care Myth Busters: Is There a High Degree of Scientific Certainty in Modern Medicine?”
                      https://disq.us/url?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.scientificamerican.com%2Farticle%2Fdemand-better-health-care-book%2F%3A-aFcu1JcuXTGfoNtOymLNuMbdJI&cuid=1365650
                      .
                      The whole chapter is worth reading, but the part that is pertinent to this discussion is one of the key take-home messages from the chapter:
                      .
                      “Even the “do’s” [i.e., recommended medical guidelines] require value judgments, and it is important to be clear about what evidence-based practice guidelines can and cannot do, regardless of the strength of their scientific evidence. Guidelines are not rigid mandates or “cookie-cutter” recommendations that tell physicians what to do. They are intended to be flexible tools to help physicians and their patients make informed decisions about their care.”
                      .
                      Again: “…require value judgments…” It’s not just me that recognizes that the patient’s values are a key part of the decision making process, even for those medical interventions that have enough clear evidence to make into recommended guidelines. Even if a medical intervention is 100% guaranteed effective (which of course, chemo and cutting out a person’s gut is not 1005), the intervention may not be the right choice for a particular person based on thier values and goals at the time. People who have extensively studied this issue of making medical decisions recognize that the patient’s values are an absolutely vital part of the medical decision making process.
                      .
                      We can not grab *our* understanding of *Job’s* values and say Job’s made a wrong decision for himself. By all accounts, Jobs was a smart and thoughtful person. It seems to me that we can assume that Jobs weighed all the pros and cons, all the data, and all his values and arrived at the decision that was right for him at the time. Since I don’t know what all of his values were nor the weight that he placed on each one, I can only assume so. It’s not my place to second guess or judge someone else’s life and death level of medical decision. It’s not my life or my death in question.

                2. Ah OK, so you were replying to George. I was unaware of what the popular theory was, never paid attention. Sadly, I know of a man diagnosed with PC in his early 40’s, went through aggressive, painful, expensive, multiple worthless surgeries and passed no later than expected. In retrospect, he too would’ve been better to skip the operations and try to enjoy what little time he had left. That’s a near impossible decision to make. Do nothing, or try something, anything. Cancer is ugly. PC is even uglier, if that’s possible.

                  1. Baggman744,

                    Although I agree life is a roulette wheel, some of the newest work on prostate immunotherapeutics may finally be turning the corner on this scourge. Coupled with both a dietary and supplement interventions, there are significant changes taking place and I agree cancer is ugly.

                    Dr. Alan Kadish Moderator for Dr. greger

                    1. Definitively, it’s just a matter of time. Unfortunately, for some will be too late. But, we’ll finally win. Remember what Voltaire said: “No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.”

                  2. I know someone who was close to death, it seemed hopeless for them, they should just give up and accept death, but actually they beat the cancer with surgery and chemo. And they were in their 70’s. And the same story with my next door neighbor, she would be dead if not for surgery and chemo. She was very close to death but now is expected to live a normal life expectancy.

          1. George, I really don’t think Jobs was the type to be swayed by the receipt of a slogan by email or simply hearing it from someone over coffee.
            On the other hand, being brilliant in business doesn’t mean you are a genius in all other aspects of life too. Look at the Arnolds.

            1. I didn’t mean that Jobs literally received an email with a similar slogan the day of his diagnostic, but definitively something in his mind (dislike for his “body to be open”, mysticism, energetic powers, maybe his practice of Zen induced him this false idea that there are 2 medicines: western and eastern, maybe his rebel spirit that made him get involved in the counterculture of the 1960s made him take an anti-establishment position also regarding mainstream medicine (the only medicine, just to be clear) etc) was strong enough to make him miss one essential thing: you never ever bet against science. He bet, he lost and he regretted.

              1. I broadly agree with you but I understand that the surgery itself has a high rate of unwanted side effects and only prolongs life about 16 months on average. If the surgery is the Whipple procedure, that is.

                So his decision may not have been completely irrational. But my point was really that nutrition is not everything, sure, but it is a factor and the Jobs case doesn’t invalidate that.

                1. Of course it is a factor, but it is much important before you have a cancer as part of your lifestyle, during your entire life, and it is maybe close to irrelevant once you have a well-established cancer.

                  But Tom, let’s remember where this thread started from:
                  our fellow posted a message (the image is cropped so we can’t see the first line, but we can deduce the first word, which is “vegan”, so, what’s the title of the image: the vegan credo? the vegan modus operandi? vegan dolce far niente?) which reads: “When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.”
                  Why nobody (other than me) reacted to this BS? Why the audience here is no allured by this idea that medicine such a bad thing, practiced by guys that made a pact with the devil, bucked up by an evil Big Pharma industry? Why this audience seems so relieved when someone tells them that we finally found a way to free ourselves from this injurious relationship we were constrained to have with medicine? Why, ironically, the trust in science is so low among the readers of a website that says it’s fact-based? Why the faith in humanity (not in every single people, because obviously there can be very nasty persons out there; but I talk in general, on average, looking at large groups of people) is so discouragingly low here?

                  1. Hey George, with no intent on offending Dr. Greger’s flock here, you’ve answered your own question when you used the word “faith.”

                    “When diet is correct…” I was surprised there wasn’t a few dozen “amens” afterward.

                  2. I fully agree with your first sentence.

                    My take on the original post was that it was simply exaggeration for dramatic effect. I don’t think that Wade really believes that all medicine is useless. I assumed that he simply wanted to underline the principle that prevention through healthy diet is better than medical cure/treatment.

                    Yes, there are people here who perhaps have a naive belief that medicine is the very devil. Some of them are even conspiracy theorists or followers of all sorts of ridiculous gurus and woo masters, whether outright charlatans or simply crackpots – frankly I find it hard to tell the difference. (As an aside, I too wish that Dr G would not allow himself to be associated with any such people even if they are ardent vegetarians.) However, there are many people here who respect the evidence.

                    Nevertheless, we should not go to the opposite extreme and equally naively believe that the usual medical approach is always correct. It is no secret that many procedures may be unnecessary
                    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/06/18/unnecessary-surgery-usa-today-investigation/2435009/

                    that polypharmacy is a real danger
                    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3864987/

                    and that less aggressive cancer care than is standard can improve survival times
                    http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1000678#t=article

                    Just because someone does not always agree with the standard mainstream medicine approaches, does not automatically mean that they are ignoring the evidence or have no trust in science. Sometimes it means exactly the opposite.

                    1. Tom, I agree.

                      And sometimes (the article is anecdotal, but still..) doctors reject for themselves the exact treatments they prescribed to their patients.

                      And without confronting the mainstream medicine and proposing new ideas/solutions/approaches, we can’t have progress – the problem is not the disagreement with the mainstream, the problem is the (lack of) data behind one’s claims.

                      And maybe without my preference to quickly challenge what seems false to me, and to ask explanations and proofs, I could have read that initial message not that literally, but, as you said, like an exaggeration for dramatic effect.
                      (Even though, if one uses such figures of speech, she should be very careful, because someone can read and accept that message literally. And we don’t want mothers that reject vaccines for their kids because kids eat a lot of broccoli.)

          2. A single person example/case, no matter how rich/famous/publicized is never a good thing to make or base decisions upon. I don’t do “normal media outlets” like “news” and all that jazz.

            Maybe if Mr. Jobs had eaten properly for the previous 10 years or 20, he would be alive now?

          3. “93% of pancreatic cancer patients will die within five years of diagnosis – only 8% will survive more than five years. 71% of patients die within the first year of diagnosis. The average life expectancy after diagnosis with metastatic disease is just three to six months.” (from pancreatic.org).

            It would have been naive of Jobs to think that diet would “cure” him of pancreatic cancer. But it is also naive to think that if he would have been cured if he had gotten the surgery a year earlier.

            Metastatic cancer is a freight train with a whole lot of momentum, and no amount of broccoli, nor probably anything else, is going to stop it. Vegan diet won’t stop a bullet either, but that doesn’t mean that, statistically speaking, one won’t be healthier and less likely to die of preventable causes on a whole foods plant based diet.

  11. it also has another effect: when you take aspririn AND vit C in pills, you get trouble with you liver. But when you take raspberry, which contains a lot of aspirin and vit C, you get no problems.
    That’s fun.
    So pills doesn’t work much, ha?

    1. Here is what is also in Bayer Low Dose Aspirin. Likes like a tasty cocktail of chemicals one should dose for health.

      Inactive ingredients
      black iron oxide, brown iron oxide, carnauba wax, corn starch, D&C yellow #10 aluminum lake, FD&C yellow #6 aluminum lake, hypromellose,
      methacrylic acid copolymer type C, polysorbate 80, powdered cellulose, propylene glycol, shellac, sodium lauryl sulfate,triacetin, triethyl citrate

    1. thanks very much for the list plant_this_thought. When I look up the foods I consume daily, ie cumin @ 45, curry @ 218, garam masala @ 33 .. and so many more.

      1. The units in the paper cited by plant_this_thought are mg of salicylate per 100 g of source. So in 100 g of curry powder there are 218 mg of salicylate. One teaspoon (5 ml) of curry powder weighs about 0.02 g. 100g/0.02g=5000. 218mg/5000=0.044mg. Thus there are about 0.044 mg (44 micrograms) of salicylate in 1 tsp of curry powder.

        1. thanks Gatherer, much appreciated. So bottom line for me in all this is to continue eating healthy, and continue taking baby aspirin for now, though my doctor is so impressed with the wfpb thing she is fine with my taking just a portion or every other day. I enjoy using the spices and herbs daily in my cooking and I’m delighted they have such healthy benefits to boot!

        2. Gatherer: I was super sloppy with my numbers and revised my comment to make it (hopefully!) more accurate. The point I was making is still valid, I think.

    2. Yes if you eat chicken & eggs like it said in the beginning of video. If you are a vegan (no meat, no dairy, no eggs), I think the need for taking aspirin pills (to fight and cancel the negative cancer causing effect of meat dairy and eggs) is less.

      1. Ray, I would agree if you had eaten plant based your entire life there should be no need for aspirin therapy. However, many people only wake up and clean-up their diet after a serious health scare, like the one that has their doctor telling that they need to take a “baby” aspirin every day for the rest of their lives. So while a WFPB diet is almost certainly going help their bodies to heal after a lifetime of dietary abuse, they are likely right at the cliff’s edge, if not already fallen off the cliff. Thus I think it is smart to continue more forceful interventions like “low” dose aspirin to assist for a short period of time as the diet heals the body and drags them back from the cliff’s edge. But eventually anyone eating something close to an 80-10-10 WFPB diet should be able to discontinue aspirin therapy, not to mention all other chronic medications for chronic diseases.

  12. how come no one has commented on whether an enteric coated aspirin can reduce the risks of bleeding? seems like an obvious question. What am I missing?

    1. Darryl answered that question in the Comments section of Wednesday’s video. He wrote: “Several studies have compared enteric coated and plain aspirin and found no benefit (1, 2).”

    2. Enteric coated aspirin works the same as other aspirin except it passes through the stomach before it is active. This way the aspirin does not irritate the stomach lining but the effects in the blood stream once absorbed in the small intestine is exactly the same.

        1. The only bleeding decrease would be in decreased bleeding stomach ulcer. The other bleeding risk is a molecular one effecting how platelets aggregate so clotting and mucosal bleeding are unchanged.

  13. Is it a bad idea for regular consumers (not medical professionals dealing with patients) to use hand sanitizer on a regular basis? Should we be concerned about wiping out beneficial bacteria or promoting resistant bacteria?

  14. I realize the blood-type diet was debunked several years ago, but Type O’s are said to have problems with blood clotting. I’m a type O, and it seems to be true in my case (dental surgery, for instance). I drank some green tea last night at dinner time, and a little while later got a headache. Yes, it’s said that green tea can cause headaches (it “rids us of toxins” or something), and has other side effects too. Anyway, not long before going to bed I took a baby aspirin. This morning around 5 a.m. I woke up with a nosebleed. Haven’t had one in many years, and couldn’t figure out why. After doing a search, I see that nosebleeds are not at all unusual for people taking aspirin.
    http://search.aol.com/aol/search?s_it=sb-top&s_chn=prt_btest-accessible-test-g&v_t=comsearch-sbt&q=nosebleeds+and+aspirin

    1. OhYeah,

      You might want to see a hematologist and run a blood panel of clotting factors along with C and S proteins. I’d also encourage you to discuss your reactions with a knowledgeable physician, as there are other blood tests that might be appropriate. Please do more than just the PT/PTT or INR basics. Your reactions can be occurring at a low level, without the obvious nose bleeds, and be of significance.
      Dr. Alan Kadish Moderator for Dr. Greger

      1. Thanks for your take on this. I would use the word “reaction” rather than “reactions,” though. And I do think in this instance there may have been a connection with the aspirin taken not long after drinking the green tea. Yes, a side effect of green tea can indeed be headaches (which I VERY rarely get), and it could be that aspirin just doesn’t “marry” well with green tea. If I do get another nosebleed (albeit a minor one) for no apparent reason, I’ll certainly take your suggestion. (I won’t be drinking green tea anymore, that I know for sure.)

        “People with type O blood have lower Von Willebrand factor levels. That’s good for the heart because ”it means your blood is a little less likely to clot. And more heart attacks and strokes are caused by blood clots, so anything that can have a part in reducing that risk is beneficial.”

        https://www.yahoo.com/beauty/is-this-the-best-blood-type-114499507042.html

  15. Hi, It says to post questions beneath any video, so I apologize in advance that this is not related to questions about aspirin, though it was a great video. I’m relatively new to veganism. I switched from a “Grain Brain” very low carb, high fat/meat diet to a vegan diet about six months ago after finding the research on this website. I’m very glad I did – but I have a few questions: “Lectins” are frequently mentioned as a reason not to eat a lot of beans on Paleo and other websites as they supposedly can have negative effects on the digestive tract. I am curious as to whether there is any truth to that and couldn’t find it mentioned on the website. Also, I have seen articles about the heat processing necessary to turn soy and other nut foods into milks, cheeses, “meats” etc. and haven’t seen anything here about the benefits/dangers of heat processing (though I may not be using the right search terms.) Finally, while I am now eating healthier fats from nuts, avocados, olive oil, seeds and hummus (as well as a daily algal oil supplement), I am still eating quite a high percentage of calories from fat. Do I really need to try to get fats to around 10%? (I am thinking about the articles about insulin resistance.) I have low cholesterol and blood pressure. Thanks for any answers to these questions.

    1. Dietary lectins are usually disabled by cooking (the human body also makes its own lectins) – ie heat treatment. Consumption of foods high in lectins like whole grains and beans is actually associated with lower mortality and longer life

      “This meta-analysis provides further evidence that whole grain intake is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and total cancer, and mortality from all causes, respiratory diseases, infectious diseases, diabetes, and all non-cardiovascular, non-cancer causes. These findings support dietary guidelines that recommend increased intake of whole grain to reduce the risk of chronic diseases and premature mortality.”
      http://www.bmj.com/content/353/bmj.i2716

      “…. a higher legume intake is the most protective dietary predictor of survival amongst the elderly, regardless of their ethnicity. The significance of legumes persisted even after controlling for age at enrolment (in 5-year intervals), gender, and smoking. Legumes have been associated with long-lived food cultures such as the Japanese (soy, tofu, natto, miso), the Swedes (brown beans, peas), and the Mediterranean people (lentils, chickpeas, white beans).”
      http://apjcn.nhri.org.tw/server/info/articles/diets-foods/Darmadi.pdf

      All in all, as long as you cook grains and beans, and don’t eat them raw or undercooked, concern about dietary lectins would appear misplaced.

      Soy is a complicated subject. Heat processing is often an advantage because eg it disables dietary lectins, as noted above. However, more elaborate processing turning soybeans into flours and oils carries some risks. I suggest you watch the videos here on soy to begin with and then perhaps come back with further questions.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/soy

      As for the fat content of the diet, there are no hard and fast answers at this stage. However, Esselstyn and Ornish have reversed heart disease on sub 10% fat diets. The Okinawan traditional diet, famous for producing high numbers of centenarians was also sub 10% fat. However, the World Health Organization recommends a minimum of 15% fat. Animal studies suggest “The healthiest diets were the ones that had the lowest protein, 5 to 10 to 15 per cent protein, the highest amount of carbohydrate, so 60, 70, 75 per cent carbohydrate, and a reasonably low fat content, so less than 20 per cent,”
      http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-05/low-carb-diet-may-shorten-your-life-study-finds/5299284
      http://www.cell.com/cell-reports/fulltext/S2211-1247(15)00505-7
      http://www.cell.com/cms/attachment/2032903762/2049230860/mmc2.pdf

      1. Tom, let me add another question in this thread.
        AHA says:
        “AHA recommends aiming for a dietary pattern that achieves 5% to 6% of calories from saturated fat.
        For example, if you need about 2,000 calories a day, no more than 120 of them should come from saturated fats.”
        From the 2nd sentence, I understand there’s no minimum limit on sat fat consumption, if you can create for you a diet with 0 sat fat – it’s ok. (and this is what I understand from the rest of the article.)
        However, from the 1st sentence, my understanding tells me there is a minimum intake of sat fat you should meet, you should eat at least 5% and no more than 6% sat fat. They say you need to “achieve” this 5%.

        My q for you: what do you think AHA wants to say? What’s their opinion? For an hypothetical ideal diet, from their point of you, you should eat 0% sat fat or between 5% and 6%?

        1. Hi George.

          To be honest, I find that page confusing.

          I THINK it is just sloppy wording. Everywhere else they say that “the American Heart Association recommends reducing saturated fat to no more than 5 to 6 percent of total daily calories.” (with the rider that this is for people who need to lower their cholesterol) eg
          http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/PreventionTreatmentofHighCholesterol/Know-Your-Fats_UCM_305628_Article.jsp#

          Perhaps the “no more than” just got lost on this occasion. Certainly, the IOM doesn’t seem to set a minimum requirement for satfat consumption and states
          “The report doesn’t set maximum levels for saturated fat, cholesterol, or trans fatty acids, as increased risk exists at levels above zero, however the recommendation is to eat as little as possible while consuming a diet adequate in important other essential nutrients”
          https://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/Reports/2002/Dietary-Reference-Intakes-for-Energy-Carbohydrate-Fiber-Fat-Fatty-Acids-Cholesterol-Protein-and-Amino-Acids.aspx

          There is no dietary requirement/minimum for saturated fat (or cholesterol) since the body makes all it needs. This is why I assume that the AHA statement you referenced is just poor and misleading wording. It is certainly different to all the other AHA references to 5-6% saturated fat which describe this as an upper limit (based on a range of experimental studies which found significant increased risk at higher levels in certain target groups)..

    1. There are thousands of videos here ready to be watched if you haven’t seen them. Many of them will also explain how “healthy herbs, spices, veggies, PLUS fruits, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and whole grains” are the only and EASIEST way eat and thrive on this planet. No waiting.

  16. Hi Dr Greger
    Could you make a video on vegan hair loss. I’m having a bit of a problem with it, otherwise everything else is fine. I tried eating wakame, switched to iodine supplements, and the switched to eden organic beans. But the hair loss didn’t occur while eating the Wakame however I stopped using it because I could never take in the right amount. One gram was too much and as I lowered the amount to 70mg I felt better. After switching to the 150mcg iodine supplement my hair loss began and it seems that further switching to a can of eden organic beans a day made it worse. I’m only 23. So I believe this is because of the diet. I’ve been vegan for a year now. I like all of the benefits I just want to tease out this risk. Any help would be appreciated.
    Thanks

    1. Hi Brandon
      So you think the iodine is causing your hair loss? Why don’t you stop taking it then?
      Is there a reason you need it? Did you take it before becoming a vegan?

      I just eat the occasional seaweed snack package. No worries here.

    2. Brandon: Sorry to hear you are having trouble. I had a relative who went vegan and her thinned hair started to grow back! And others on this site have reported similar experiences. From what I have seen, going vegan is not a generally recognized cause of hair loss. ***But,*** the devil is in the details. I hope some of the information below will help you figure this out.

      Following is a link to an article from Jack Norris who talks about the link between thyroid problems and hair loss–and how a change in diet may bring a thyroid problem to the fore. Other potential issues are also listed. http://jacknorrisrd.com/category/hair-loss/ Specifically note: “Summary: Occasionally, women who become vegetarian or vegan report experiencing hair loss. If there is a dietary cause, the most likely are rapid weight loss, thyroid problems, or iron deficiency. Zinc deficiency and not getting enough of the amino acid lysine could also be culprits.”

      For the full article where Jack goes into lots of detailed information, check out: http://veganhealth.org/articles/hairloss

      My 2 Cents: After looking at this information, I would think that if someone feels that they are really having hair loss, then it is time to see the doctor to figure out what the specific cause is. Once the cause is known, it can be directly addressed in a healthy way. For example, if someone is short on zinc, the ideal would be to address that zinc problem, not to revert back to a diet that is otherwise unhealthy in every other way.

      I hope this helps!

  17. I have ovarian cancer recurrence and have been trying to eat whole plant since early September (3 months), having eaten seafood just a few times and one “skip” day on Thanksgiving. Yet I can’t see any change in my immune defenses–I still get one infection after another and my cancer cells seem to be increasing. I was very excited about this lifestyle, but with holiday food abounding around me, I’m feeling a bit discouraged. Is it possible that this lifestyle change is really not improving my health or survival chances?

    1. Linda Payne: I forwarded you post to our medical moderators in case someone has some good ideas for you.
      .
      In the meantime, I thought would give you my 2 cents: It’s a lot easier to prevent a health problem than to reverse it. A healthy diet is not a guarantee that you will be able to reverse a cancer problem. On the other hand, a healthy diet may help your cancer form progressing even faster and if nothing else, the diet is great insurance for helping to make sure other health problems do not pop up to plague you while you are dealing with the cancer. In other words, eating a healthy diet is a good idea for keeping you strong in other areas even if it doesn’t directly impact the cancer.
      .
      I’m not an expert, but for what it’s worth: If it were me, I would be doing everything I could to give myself the best chances of success. While it doesn’t have to be forever, I would spend the next ___ time without the cheat days. You mention a “few” days with fish in only 3 months. That seems like a lot to me. Maybe you could be a bit more strict with yourself? I would also review the videos on this website to see which foods are specifically associated with fighting cancer and tweak your diet to specifically include those foods.
      .
      It is so hard to change one’s diet. To face an uncomfortable diet change in addition to dealing with a serious disease is especially hard for some people. On the plus side, once you get over the learning curve, you could find that like other people, you are more happy with your diet than ever. Best of luck to you.

    2. Linda, to add to what @disqus_EXJURIXKLQ:disqus said, I would add that it sounds like from your statements that your immune system isn’t rebounding that you are still in the middle of chemotherapy and/or radiation. If that is the case, I would say that even though the ability of the nutrients in plants to help heal the body to heal and recover is powerful, the effect of the chemo on your immune system might still be more powerful still. However, I think that the extra nutrient support from your diet has to be having some effect, even if that effect is to keep your immune defenses from being knocked down even more.

      Also as Thea says, you might need to try to go the extra mile. In people that aren’t struggling with something that is as damaging to their overall health and well-being as cancer and the attendant treatment, their bodies can easily withstand the minor insults of an occasional “bad”. But if the body is already hard pressed as yours is, then the effects of the additional burden of those foods is magnified because they dig deeper into the smaller reserves the body still has. So I would encourage you to at least try being “holier than the Pope” as it were for at least another 3 months and longer if you can. The great news is that a super pure version of the WFPB diet should only have positive aspects, ignoring of course the negative of not eating Christmas cookies while everybody else is enjoying them. But from a health perspective nothing in the diet should put an extra burden on your health, and will without a doubt provide extra resources which your body can draw on as it works to heal itself.

      And don’t forget the power of thought, both good and bad, to impact your health. So go for good thoughts. Picture each mouthful of nutrient dense food as another wave of tiny little defenders sallying forth to meet the invading giants. The defenders might appear tiny and are rapidly consumed in their battle having only just scratched the giants and the giants still advance seemly unaffected. But there are millions and billions of tiny defenders and after a while the scratches start to have an impact and the giants are soon covered in billions of tiny scratches and are weakened. And with time they are too weak to advance and yet the tiny defenders scratch and scratch until the giants are gone. Your job is to consume as many tiny defenders as you can as often as you can so that the giants at the gates never get a chance to recover their strength. Every bite can strike another blow, so never miss an opportunity to do so.

      As only somebody who has been there can say, I can say unreservedly that cancer sucks! I really wish you the best of health and success in your fight.

      1. @disqus_46zn8sgm7B:disqus I would also add that when battling any advanced disease of any type, I would recommend going what around here is called “Full Esselstyn” after Caldwell Esselstyn who used a particularly low version of the WFPB diet to cure people with advanced heart disease. That is not just slow down or halt the progression of the their disease, but actually reverse it. He documents his approach and details of a very low fat, very high nutrient diet in his book “Prevent and Reverse Hear Disease”.

        I am recommending this book, not because you are trying to reverse heart disease (though 95% of people who have eaten a standard diet past the age of 10 does have some degree of cardiovascular disease, so the diet will be helping there too even if you don’t know that you need help in that area), but because the same extra focus on high nutrient foods and a removal of high calorie density foods (all liquid oils, avocado, nuts) that is so powerful for reversing heart disease is also the same diet that provides the most nutritional ammunition to kick cancer tush. Once heart disease or cancer or other serious diseases are beaten into submission, then some of those foods can come back into the diet. But until then I think that this diet will do the maximum that diet can do to tilt the cards in your favor.

        Another good source is Dr. Joel Furhman and his books such as Eat To Live. Dr. Furhman, like Dr. Esselstyn, focuses on high nutrient density foods and a reduction of high calorie density foods that don’t bring enough nutrients to the fight for the number of calories they contain.

        I hope that this helps.

    3. Linda, first let me say I’m sorry that you’re in the midst of a battle with cancer and I encourage you to hang in there, continue to gain knowledge and insight and continue to fight. I couldn’t agree more with everything that has been already said by Thea and Jim Felder two of the most knowledgeable and competent voices on this site. They have both given you the same words of encouragement I would. In addition I would say that most chronic diseases and cancer in particular take years, even decades before they mature to a point where they can cause serious illness and even death. The reason for this is because our bodies are designed with so many defense mechanisms, the cancer really has to have the right set of circumstances to be able to survive and thrive. By the time a cancer is able to be diagnosed and make you sick, your immune system is already tremendously burdened. Add to that the damage done by cancer treatments (chemo, radiation and surgery) and it’s a wonder anyone ever survives cancer. This is not something that can be overcome in three months. You will need to literally overdose on good nutrition for an indefinite amount of time to beat this thing. I would encourage you to read the stories of some of the people who have actually overcome late stage cancers using nutrition. A couple come to mind here are links to the sites where you can read their stories and get a true sense for the kind of commitment it takes.
      Chris Wark- http://www.chrisbeatcancer.com/
      Dr Lorraine Day- http://www.drday.com/
      I would like to applaud you for taking the steps you have taken to this point because most cancer patients don’t even get as far as you have in terms of attempting to take responsibility for their health and overcome cancer through nutrition. You are on the right track now you just have to move further along. Continue to post your questions and gain all the knowledge you can. I will be keeping you in prayer.

    4. Linda, I just answered another question regarding cancer an it occurred to me that I should have also pointed toward this book.
      https://www.amazon.com/Definitive-Guide-Cancer-3rd-Integrative/dp/1587613581/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481596984&sr=8-1&keywords=definitive+guide+to+cancer

      I have recommended it countless times. It’s a comprehensive guide to dealing with cancer from an integrative perspective written by a naturopathic doctor who has battled cancer twice herself, and having worked for several years at Cancer Treatment Centers of America is well versed in combining natural and conventional therapies.

    5. Linda,

      I hope you get my comments as I am posting them late.

      See the attached webinar by Dr. McDougall on cancer. Go to the bottom and read all the required reading before you listen to the webinar.
      One of the them is entitled, “A Healthy Diet will slow and/or stop most cancers. Why not?” Read all these and the associated research paper.

      https://www.drmcdougall.com/health/education/webinars/webinar-09-15-16/?ct=t()

      After reading all of this along with Dr. Greger’s articles, I’ve taken the approach to try and slow the cancer growth as much as I can by diet, and try to give my body’s immune system enough time to recover from the chemo. This can take a long time as the chemo plays much havoc on your immune system. Hopefully, you can slow the cancer down for long enough time to allow your immune system to recover and maybe begin fighting the cancer itself. Most cancers may grow in our bodies for 10 or 20 years before they are discovered so it’s gonna take a little effort to get it stopped and reversed, but it has been done before, There are success stories on Dr. McDougall’s website so don’t give up. Even if all you can accomplish is slowing it down to give you a few more extra years this would be worth it which would also give your doctors more time to come up with a cure.

      I follow Dr. Esselstyn’s diet to the letter like I’m one of his heart patients eating lots of leafy green vegetables several times a day, but I also learned from Dr. McDougall’s website that you have to make starchy vegetables(i.e. sweet potatoes, rice, quinoa, legumes & lentils) as your main source of calories and then surround them with lots of green, and other colored vegetables and lots of fruits that Dr. Greger’s articles have been shown to fight cancer. I take Vitamin B-12 and Vitamin D, and ground flaxseed also. I also eats lots of whole grains. I eat no oils, refined, or processed foods. I eat raw veggies, salads, and smoothies containing fruits and greens that have been shown to fight cancer.
      I know that Dr Esselstyn doesn’t recommend smoothies, but Dr. Greger’s website shows you don’t get an insulin spike for these type of drinks so I don’t think it will hurt. This is a risk I’ve decided to take to fight the cancer. Flood my body with cancer fighting nutrients.

      Dr Esselstyn’s diet is the only diet that ever stopped and even reversed heart disease. Ornish did it as well. This is essentially the same diet that other doctors such as Dr. McDougall and Dr. Barnard recommend. I believe this same diet is best possible diet for cancer and every other chronic disease that American’s get. I believe there is “One Diet to Rule Them All” and this is it!

      One other comment, you have to make sure you eat enough calories to keep from losing too much weight or become weak, and even then you may lose weight. You need to keep your Doctor in the loop of what you are doing so he can see if you need to make adjustments to your diet. You might want to contact Dr. McDougall’s team about your situation or even attend one of his 10 day events if you are up to it.

      Last comment, you have to learn to control your stress and emotions. In order to give your immune system a chance to recover you need to get plenty of sleep, exercise, and keep stress to a minimum. Control your stress through excercise, yoga, living one at a time, accepting the reality of your situation with a resolve to endure, and leaving all things up to your God if you are a religious person. This will help control the stress.

      Try to not let anyone including cancer still your joy. All you can do is fight the good fight to the best of your ability and let the cards play out as they will.

      I wish and pray the best for you.

  18. docbeccy, I appreciate your response, It’s unfortunate we must accept the guidance of our Dr. even if he won’t take her off Pradaxa which she was put on 7 years ago and after one episode another Dr. had her take flecainide and she hasn’t had one issue of afib since, Don’t understand why it’s even necessary. That’s where we stand now.

  19. Unfortunately, I have found through trial and error that I have to follow a Paleo lifestyle for my blood type. If I stay with a strictly vegetarian lifestyle I lose too much weight, and my kidneys suffer. Can anyone recommend a plan other than the one I have mentioned? I have improved my food intake over the past 3 years, however, I’m apprehensive about switching back to strictly vegetarian. I primarily eat organic foods.

    1. Hi Dave – You might be interested in checking out this video first: NutritionFacts.org: Blood Type Diet Debunked

      Making sure you’re eating enough will help with weight maintenance if you wanted to transition back to a plant-based diet. Lighter might be a good resource for you in terms of meal planning. I would recommend checking out their “athletes” section if you want to look at a meal plan that’s higher calorie/protein.

  20. Any studies on people with Lynch Syndrome and a plant based diet vs a daily aspirin to decrease the risk of colon cancer?

    1. I attempted a search on Pub Med data base and found two studies you may want to look at. Unfortunately the first while looking at many treatments approaches for Lynch Syndrome, including aspirin, only looked at supplements, not diets. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20594533 The second study looked at fiber not Whole Food Plant based diet. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28064440 While the results did not demonstrate a significant difference compared to aspirin therapy the conclusion stated: “Longer-term trials with higher dietary fibre levels are needed to enable confident conclusion.” Certainly knowing the ability of a WFPB diet to minimize cancer risk makes adoption of this diet a wise choice, even if at this point we do not have definitive studies showing improved outcomes versus aspirin therapy. Hope that’s helpful.

  21. 1:21

    Cumulative Contribution “Grain-based desserts”. 88.5. In many cases the “Cumulative Contribution” is higher than the vilified Chicken and Eggs. Wait What? Over and over on both sides of meat is bad meat is good I see selective bias. Pick and choose the study that supports your belief system.

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