The Plant Rx

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Archive for the ‘Cancer Prevention’ Category

Vegan on the silver screen

Posted by Jenn on March 3, 2011


Vegan on the silver screen. @ CNN

Posted in Arthritis, Cancer Prevention, Diabetes, Heart Disease, In the Media | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How does a plant-based diet prevent disease? A short lesson

Posted by Jenn on January 31, 2011


There is an ever-growing mountain of evidence substantiating the numerous health benefits that a plant-based diet provides.

This colorized scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of red blood cells in an artery shows a layer of endothelial cells (beige) surrounded by muscle (pink). by: Steve Gschmeissner / Photo Researchers Inc.

Peer-reviewed medical paper after peer-reviewed medical paper published in the most well-respected of journals have shown that a plant-based diet free of meat and dairy products is the single most powerful tool we have at our disposal to prevent and fight disease.

Not only can heart disease and diabetes be prevented but the disease progression can be stopped and reversed. If that wasn’t enough there is a multitude of research showing how the consumption of a plant-based diet’s can prevent cancer, dramatically reduce cancer recurrence rates, reduce cognitive impairment as we age (Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia) and reduce osteoporosis in addition to a myriad of others. This being the case, how exactly does something as seemingly simple and low-tech as one’s diet manage to do these things?

The short answer is this: via a gas called nitric oxide which is produced by our endothelial cells.  The problem with this very brief explanation is that most people have never heard of nitric oxide, much less endothelial cells. Consequently, that probably isn’t going to help most people understand how the very important the daily decision to eat a plant-based diet is able to accomplish such incredible feats.

What the heck are endothelial cells? and what the heck is Nitric Oxide (NO)? and how do they accomplish the mammoth task of keeping us healthy?

Endothelial cells are the thin single-layer of cells that line the interior surface of all blood vessels.  They are the cells that come in direct contact with blood flowing through our cardiovascular system.  A “healthy” endothelium can be best described as having like a Teflon coating on the vessels’ inner walls; this non-sticky quality enhancing the flow of blood.  An “unhealthy” endothelium, by contrast, acts like Velcro, grabbing white blood cells, platelets and cholesterol and packing them against the inner wall of the blood vessels narrowing them = causing the vessels to thicken over time, thereby inhibiting the flow of blood. This accumulation of “material” leads to the formation of  what are called atherosclerotic “plaques”.

healthy vs unhealthy endothelium

A healthy endothelium is not being covered by any plaque and therefore has the ability to release many beneficial substances into the blood stream.  An unhealthy endothelium  eventually narrows and thickens and resultantly loses flexibility.  The vessels can no longer expand as they should when the heart pumps blood through them. Pumping blood into stiff arteries containing plaque increases resistance to blood flow causing the heart to work harder. Your blood pressure must increase to pump the same volume of blood through these vessels.

That being said, what then determines the overall health of our endothelial cells that make up our endothelium? In other words what makes our endothelium non-stick or sticky?

That is where Nitric Oxide (NO) comes in. Remember, a healthy endothelium is able to release many beneficial substances into our blood stream.  (Note: we are born with a very healthy endothelium which means until we create an environment in which plaques are created, our vessels are healthy, slick and without plaque)  Nitric oxide is one of these substances.  Nitric oxide has a number of important functions.  One of its primary functions according to Dr. Louis J. Ignarro, the 1998 Nobel Prize winner in Medicine,

“…is to help keep the arteries and veins free of the plaque that causes stroke and to maintain normal blood pressure by relaxing arteries, thereby regulating the rate of blood flow and preventing coronaries (heart attacks)”.

He goes on to explain that,

“Nitric oxide is the body’s natural cardiovascular wonder drug”.

NO accomplishes this by controlling muscle tone of the blood vessels which directly impacts blood pressure control, inhibiting the aggregation of platelets and other particulate such as cholesterol and white blood cells.

Other functions worthy of note include: facilitation of proper kidney function, aiding in the transmission of messages between nerve cells, helping the immune system fight  viral, bacterial and parasitic infections as well as tumors, peristalsis, regulating inflammation, lowering of cholesterol levels and penile erection. Let’s discuss one of these functions in more detail to illustrate.

For example, erection of the penis during sexual excitation is mediated by NO release from the endothelial cells lining the blood vessels of the penis.  The NO release from the endothelial cells cause the blood to pool in the adjacent blood sinuses producing an erection.  Thus, if NO cannot be produced (or produced in sufficient amounts) as the result of a damaged endothelium, then an erection cannot occur. This is why difficulty getting or maintaining an erection is indicative of impending or active heart disease (= ample accumulation of plaque).  If you are currently experiencing impotence, it would be a very good idea to see your doctor such that he or she can discern the cause.

How a poor diet results in poor erections

Causes of endothelial damage  and resultant plaque formation:

  • Smoking – it decreases good cholesterol (HDL) and increases bad cholesterol (LDL) that damages your endothelial cells. Further, nicotine directly damages endothelial cells and the carbon monoxide from cigarette smoke damages the endothelium too.
  • A high fat, high cholesterol diet (particularly animal fat from meat and dairy products; plants do NOT have cholesterol) – LDL directly damages endothelial cells.
  • A diet low in fiber content (animal products do NOT contain any fiber) – High fiber foods absorb bile salts that your body uses in digestion.  Your liver manufactures bile from cholesterol.  Thus, high fiber foods are a natural way to reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol.
  • Diabetes – When blood sugars are beyond the normal range it causes oxidative stress to the endothelial cells resulting in damage to them.
  • Being overweight or obese – Fat cells store vitamin D and vitamin D inhibits vessel calcification (plaques eventually get harder as a result of calcification). Thus, losing weight or being at a healthy weight keeps the vitamin D in your system allowing for utilization thereby preventing plaque calcification. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Alzheimer's Disease, Cancer Prevention, Cholesterol, Dementia, Depression, Diabetes, Heart Disease, In the Media, Inflammation, Stroke, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Preventing Breast Cancer: A plant-based diet

Posted by Jenn on January 30, 2011


Awareness is the key to breast cancer prevention. If you have a family history of breast cancer, it is essential that you have regular medical tests and mammograms. Don’t omit to check your breasts every month. Breast Self Examination can help in early detection of cancer. Women who have their children while in their mid-thirties run added risk of developing breast cancer. Breastfeeding the child reduces the risk of developing breast cancer.

Read on to find out how you can make dietary and lifestyle changes to prevent breast cancer.

Preventing breast cancer

  • It is essential to maintain healthy body weight; with BMI less than 25. With extra fat tissue, you run the increased risk of estrogen circulating in the body. Women with higher body weight are more predisposed to breast cancer.
  • Consequently a regular fitness regimen would aid in maintaining ideal body weight. This could help keep cancer at bay. Moderate aerobic activity boosts body’s protection against breast cancer.
  • Studies have shown a definite correlation between high intake of dietary fat and incidence of breast cancer. Keep away from saturated fats and trans-fats. Monounsaturated oils have tremendous cancer-fighting properties. Enrich your diet with nuts and seeds that provide selenium. Add Omega-3 fats and soy products. Lowering the fat intake can go a long way in helping you maintain good body weight. Lowered fat intake also helps in reducing the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  • Your diet must contain many servings of breast cancer prevention foods – from broccoli and cabbage to brussel sprouts and dark leafy greens. Go in for carrots and berries and don’t omit the cruciferous vegetables. Avoid foods with high glycemic index and instead opt for whole grains, beans and legumes. Eat fruits high in phytochemicals, fiber and antioxidants. Include carotene-rich food such as mango, spinach, pumpkin, sweet potato, yams, chili peppers and greens.
  • Limit alcohol intake to not more than a drink of wine, beer or liquor a day. Increased alcohol intake has been linked to increased risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Certain types of breast cysts are known to increase the chance of breast cancer. Avoid Hormone Replacement Therapy as far as possible.

Source: http://www.targetwoman.com/articles/preventing-breast-cancer.html

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New Study Finds Plant-Based Diets Play Critical Role in Breast Cancer Survival

Posted by Jenn on December 28, 2010


(Source: http://cancerfocus.org/new_study_finds_plant_based_diets_play_critical_role_in_breast_cancer_survival/493)

Submitted by Dross on Fri, 2007-06-15 21:24. Cancerfocus.org

New Study Finds Plant-Based Diets Play Critical Role in Breast Cancer Survival

A new study in the “Journal of Clinical Oncology” reinforces existing evidence showing that women with breast cancer can greatly reduce their risk of recurrence by eating a healthy plant-based diet rich in fruits and vegetables and making other healthy lifestyle choices, according to nutrition experts with The Cancer Project.

“Women coping with breast cancer deserve to know that plant-based diets and regular exercise can spell the difference between life and death,” says Jennifer Reilly, R.D., senior nutritionist with The Cancer Project. “In the battle against breast cancer, fruits, vegetables, and other low-fat vegetarian foods may be our most powerful weapons. Doctors must let women know that diet changes and exercise can help them beat this terrible disease.”

The new study, conducted by researchers with the University of California, San Diego, tracked dietary patterns and exercise habits among about 1,500 women who were diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer between 1991 and 2000. It found that the death rate for women who consumed a high-fiber diet rich in fruits and vegetables and practiced good exercise habits was 44 percent lower than the rate for women who exercised little and ate few plant-based foods.

There are more than 2 million breast cancer survivors in the United States, but many of these women eat fewer than five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, consume too much fat, and lead sedentary lifestyles. But science has repeatedly shown that a plant-based diet composed of legumes, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can help prevent cancer and cancer recurrence.

A 2005 National Cancer Institute study found that breast cancer patients in the study who reduced their fat consumption lowered their risk of tumor recurrence by as much as 42 percent. High-fat foods, including beef, vegetable oils, and chicken, can boost the hormones that promote cancer cell growth. But most plant-based foods are naturally low fat and offer people a healthy way to stay slim. Maintaining a healthy weight is another key to preventing cancer recurrence.

In 1982, the National Research Council linked eating habits-particularly high-fat, meat-heavy diets-to cancer of the breast and other organs. The “Journal of the National Cancer Institute” recently reported that the rate of breast cancer among premenopausal women who ate the most animal (but not vegetable) fat was a third higher than that of women who ate the least animal fat.

The Cancer Project is a collaborative effort of physicians, researchers, and nutritionists who have joined together to educate the public about the benefits of a healthy diet for cancer prevention and survival. Based in Washington, D.C., The Cancer Project is an affiliate of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

RELATED LINKS

http://www.cancerproject.org/

Posted in Cancer Prevention, Exercise, In the Media, Research/Data, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

A Plant-based Diet as a Breast Cancer Treatment Option

Posted by Jenn on December 24, 2010


I read an article in Saturday’s Portland Press Herald about U.S. Rep. Tom Allen’s (D-Maine) wife Diana just being diagnosed with breast cancer. Dr. Marsha O’Rourke, medical director of the breast-health program at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Lewiston, told the paper that knowing the stage of a cancer is key to choosing a treatment option. The article refers to the American Cancer Society Web site, which notes that “Most women with breast cancer undergo surgery” and that “surgery is often combined with other treatments such as radiation therapy, hormone therapy and/or biologic therapy.”

I hope to one day soon see dietary therapy alongside these treatment options … on the top of the list for prevention and treatment of breast cancer. Allow me to explain, with plenty of important scientific data (and personal experience) to back up this assertion:

Lower the fat and animal food content of your diet and live longer.
Women who eat a plant-based diet live longer than those who eat more animal foods. This is just one of the findings that have come out of the research of Dr. James Herbert and his colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Herbert showed that diet greatly influences whether a breast cancer will recur, or reappear, after it has been forced into remission after treatment.

The study, published in the journal Breast Cancer Treatment (September 1998) found that consumption of foods high in fat, including dairy products, was associated with shorter survival among women with breast cancer. Butter, beef, liver and bacon are especially dangerous, Herbert found. Pre-menopausal women with breast cancer who ate butter, margarine and lard had a 67 percent greater chance of cancer recurrence than women who abstained from these foods.

On the other hand, women who ate more plant foods tended to live longer. Simply eating more vegetables each day was associated with lower rates of recurrence, Herbert found. The women who ate the most vegetables had the fewest occurrences and lived the longest, while those who ate the fewest had the shortest survival on average. Post-menopausal women who ate broccoli, collard greens, kale and citrus fruit lived longer than those who abstained from these foods. Each additional 100 milligrams of vitamin C over the amount eaten on the standard diet reduced the risk of recurrence by 43 percent.

Reduce excess calories to increase your chances of recovery.
Another UMass study in the Journal of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment (February 1999) found that women who ate an additional 1,000 calories above their optimal calorie levels experience an 84 percent increase in the risk of recurrence.  It’s easy to get 1,000 extra calories by eating a few processed foods each day. On the other hand, whole foods — such as whole grains, fresh vegetables, beans and fruit — are low in calories. A diet made up mostly of these foods is a low-calorie diet.

The reason that calories are important is that the higher the calories, the higher the insulin levels and the greater the weight gain. Insulin is the hormone produced by your pancreas to make blood sugar available to your cells. Cells use blood sugar as their primary fuel. The more processed foods you eat the higher your insulin levels. And the higher your insulin levels the greater your risk of recurrence. Many scientists now believe this combination — high-calorie diet, overweight, and high insulin, now referred to as syndrome X — is the underlying cause of much of the breast cancer we see today.

Estrogen and breast cancer
Estrogen can act like a growth hormone. The larger and more numerous the fat cells, the more estrogen a woman’s body produces. Estrogen can trigger the over-production of tissue and inflammation inside the breast and uterus. This combination can block the milk ducts and the blood and lymph vessels within the breast causing waste products to stagnate, creating conditions for fibrocystic breasts and breast cancer.

To keep your estrogen levels low, eat a high-fiber diet.  Fiber acts like a sponge. It soaks up excess estrogen and eliminates it through the feces. High-fiber diets speed intestinal transit and promote elimination, thus keeping the blood and lymph cleaner – which in turn keeps your breast tissue cleaner. Fiber is the reason that vegetarian women who eat lots of plant foods eliminate two to three times more estrogen than than non-vegetarians, according to a study published in The New England Journal Of Medicine (1982). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cancer Prevention, Research/Data, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Interview: Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn on Heart Health

Posted by Jenn on December 21, 2010


Green Heart (And the Green Grass Grows All Aro...

Image by CarbonNYC via Flickr

(Source: By- Maryl Celiz on 11.04.10:  Original URL: http://hlifemedia.com/2010/11/htalk-dr-caldwell-esselstyn/)

As an internationally known surgeon, researcher and clinician at the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D., made the case for a plant-based as a cure to cardiac trouble, a feat he explains in his book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. Yes, you read right – prevent AND reverse. But you don’t have heart disease (yet), you say? Read on. In this revealing interview, Dr. Esselstyn, who will soon be talking plant-based heart health on the big screen in the groundbreaking film Forks Over Knives, speaks about the surprising young age we start to develop heart disease, how grave the situation is, and how we can completely avoid it.

Maryl Celiz: What in your practice prompted you to think of a plant-based diet as a treatment for heart disease?
Caldwell Esselstyn: It was sort of an evolution for me. I started out as a surgeon, and it was halfway through my surgical career when I was chairman of our breast cancer task force that it was apparent that no matter how many patients for whom I was doing breast surgery, I wasn’t doing one single thing for the next unsuspecting victim. In other words, why were people developing breast cancer, was the question. And I began sort of a global research pattern and it was striking to me that in the late 70s early 80s, even in Kenya and Africa, for instance, breast cancer was something like 20-30 times less frequently seen than in the United States. In Japan, in the early 1950s, it was very infrequently seen. But as soon as the Japanese would migrate to the United States, the second and third generation of Japanese-Americans began to have the same rate of breast cancer as their Caucasian counterpart. Perhaps even more compelling was cancer of the prostate, which, in the entire nation of Japan, in 1958 how many autopsy common deaths were there from cancer of the prostate? Eighteen – in the entire nation. Very striking public health figure. By 1978 they were up to about 137, which still pales in comparison to the over 28,000 that will die this year from prostate cancer in this country. About that time I began to feel that my bones would long be dust before I really had the answers to nutrition and cancer, although in hind sight I’m not sure that’s true. But the decision was made at that time to get at cancer through heart disease, because it was quite striking that in this global review, there were a number of cultures that were plant-based, where cardiac disease was virtually unknown. I mean, even today, if you want to look at rural China, the Papuan islands and New Guinea, central Africa, the Tarahumara indians in northern Mexico, heart disease is virtually non-existent. So, it was really very powerful epidemiological evidence, and there was some experimental evidence with animals to suggest that, if they did have a diet that was plant-based, they would be absolutely free of heart disease, and perhaps if we employed this on patients who are ravaged with heart disease, we could actually not only halt it but reverse it.

MC: How and why does a plant-based diet work to reverse heart disease?
CE: Well, to answer that question, all experts I think would agree that the initiation of heart disease, and the build up of plaque in the arteries is caused by injury to the inner lining of the artery. It’s the inner lining of the artery that has the amazing capacity to make a molecule called nitric oxide, which protects us. As long as we have absolutely lots and lots of nitric oxide being made by the lining of our artery, we’re fine. But, sadly, the typical Western diet we’ve now learned over the last 15-18 years that, every time these certain foods pass our lips, they impair, they compromise, and they injure the lining of our artery, so that it’s making less and less and less of this wonderful protective nitric oxide.  So much so that by, let’s say, age 20, the average age at which our GIs were autopsied in Korea and Vietnam, and even without a microscope, 80% of those GIs autopsies had evidence of coronary artery heart disease. That’s a pretty darn young age to have this. Now, they weren’t far enough advanced in the disease yet to have the heart attacks or the clinical events, which were probably still several decades away. But there it is, already established in people who are that young. And we thought for some time that it might be due to the stress of the military. So, another study was done 40 years later, where they looked at thousands of adults between the ages of 17 and 38, who were dying of accidents, homicides, and suicides. And low and behold, they found that the disease is now ubiquitous: everybody had it. This is pretty powerful evidence that it is the Western foods that are doing it.

MC: What are the Western foods that are causing heart disease?
CE: Studies have shown that it’s these processed oils. Olive oil – yes, even sacred olive oil. Corn oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil – all these processed oils injure our endothelium – our lining of our artery. So do dairy products. So do meat, fish, and chicken. We found that when we took patients who were absolutely ravaged with heart disease and had them completely eliminate those foods that injured their arteries, not only did they begin to lose weight, lose their high blood pressure, and also lose their diabetes, but most importantly, their chest pain would go away – and it would go away often extremely promptly. And also, when we did the follow up angiograms, a number of these patients had shown striking reversal of disease. And I think the ultimate proof was, how so many of them lived well beyond 20 years.

MC: The body heals itself.
CE: It certainly does.

MC: Can a single meal have a negative effect?
CE: Yes. That’s how the evidence against the Western diet was discovered. There was a classic experiment that was done by Robert Vogel, who was a wonderful cardiologist at the University of Maryland. There’s a special test called the brachial artery tourniquet test, which can show how the artery can dilate in a normal situation. They put a tourniquet in the upper arm for about five minutes and measure the diameter of the artery after you put on the tourniquet and after it’s released, and you can see a striking dilatation – that is to say, the artery will widen greatly when the tourniquet is released after having been on for five minutes. That’s due to nitric oxide. However, when they took a group of healthy young people to a fast food restaurant, one half of the group got corn flakes, and they had a wonderful normal artery response. The other half had the hash browns and sausages, and within 120 minutes after that meal, they were unable to dilate the artery. It had so injured and so compromised the endothelium. Now, being young, a couple of hours later, that slowly began to recuperate somewhat. But you can just imagine the next morning for breakfast – scrambled eggs and bacon – and lunch, they might have white bread, mayonnaise and cold cuts, and at supper time, a baked potato with sour cream, lamb chops, vegetables soaked in butter, ranch dressing on a salad, and ice cream. In other words, we in Western civilization just hammer and hammer, injure and injure, repetitively, the lining of our blood vessel – and the vessel becomes diseased.

MC: So what is your recommendation – the rules of your program? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cancer Prevention, Heart Disease, In the Media | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Improvements in Nutrition and Lifestyle Increase Telomerase Activity

Posted by Jenn on December 21, 2010


Animation of the structure of a section of DNA...

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(Source: Longevity Medicine Review; lmreview.com; by Lara Pizzorno, MDiv, MA, LMT)
Introduction

Telomeres, the protective DNA–protein complexes at the end of chromosomes, are required for DNA replication and to protect chromosomes from nuclease degradation, end-to-end fusion, and the initiation of cellular senescence. Since telomeres shorten with each cell division, telomere length is a key indicator of mitotic cell aging and viability.

Telomere length has emerged as a prognostic indicator of disease risk, progression, and premature mortality in humans. Shortened telomeres are a precursor to the initiation of many types of cancer and are predictive of increased risk of bladder, head and neck, lung and renal-cell cancers; poor clinical outcomes in breast and colorectal cancer; recurrence of prostate cancer in patients undergoing radical prostatectomy; and decreased survival in patients with coronary heart disease and infectious disease1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8.

However, even cells with shortened telomeres can remain genetically stable if the enzyme telomerase, which adds telomeric repeat sequences to the chromosomal DNA ends preserving telomere length and healthy cell function, is fully operational.1 9 10

The converse is also true. Decreased telomerase activity alone has been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, independent of chronological age. In a study involving healthy women, telomerase activity, but not telomere length, in immune cells (specifically, peripheral blood mononuclear cells or PBMCs) was inversely associated with six major cardiovascular disease risk factors.11 Telomerase activity is also adversely affected by obesity and insulin resistance, another way in which both result in decreasing telomere length.12 Thus telomerase activity may offer an earlier prognosticator of genomic stability and long-term cellular viability than telomere length.

Can telomerase activity be increased by improvements in diet and lifestyle?

Published in the November 2008 issue of Lancet Oncology, Dr. Dean Ornish‘s latest research, a pilot study on the effects of dietary and lifestyle changes in 30 men with low risk prostate cancer, suggests the answer is a resounding “Yes!” PBMC telomerase activity in these men increased 29.84% within just 3 months of making significant, yet simple, changes in diet and lifestyle.1

Telomerase-Enhancing Diet, Supplement and Lifestyle Program

After a 3-day intensive residential retreat, the men were placed on a low-fat (10% of calories from fat), whole foods, plant-based diet, centered on vegetables, fruits, unrefined grains, and legumes. Intake of refined carbohydrates was minimized. The diet was supplemented with soy (one daily serving of tofu plus 58 grams of a fortified soy protein powdered beverage), fish oil (3 grams daily), vitamin E (100 IU daily), selenium (200 μg daily), and vitamin C (2 grams daily).

In addition, subjects participated in moderate aerobic exercise (walking 30 min/day, 6 days/week); stress management (gentle yoga-based stretching, breathing, meditation, imagery, and progressive relaxation techniques 60 min/day, 6 days/week), and a 1-hour group support session once per week. Participants also met with staff 4 hours per week and had one weekly telephone contact with a study nurse.

Compliance was excellent for both lifestyle and dietary recommendations. After 3 months, subjects reported consuming an average11.6% of calories from fat per day, exercising an average of 3.6 hours each week, and practicing stress management techniques an average of 4.5 hours each week. All medications remained unchanged throughout the 3-month trial, with the exception of participant whose statin drug dosage was decreased. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Aging Prevention / Anti-Aging, Cancer Prevention, Dementia, Diabetes, Exercise, Heart Disease, Parkinson's Disease, Research/Data, Telomerase | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Plant-based Diet Cuts Breast Cancer Odds

Posted by Jenn on December 21, 2010


Diets high in vegetables, fruits, and soy might cut the risk of developing breast cancer by 30 percent, new research suggests.

In a study, Dr. Lesley M. Butler, of Colorado State University and colleagues, noticed a trend of “decreasing breast cancer risk with increasing intake of a vegetable-fruit-soy dietary pattern” in the 34,000 Chinese women studied.

Even though the researchers identified and analyzed dietary patterns among Chinese women from Singapore, Butler believes the findings are relevant for American women.

The diets “aren’t that different from patterns seen in U.S. populations,” the lead investigator told Reuters Health.

“There’s usually a bad food pattern of meat and lots of starch and saturated fat. And then there’s the good pattern — a prudent pattern in our case — the vegetable-fruit-soy pattern,” she said.

For their study, reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Butler and her colleagues used data collected between 1993 and 1995 from 63,257 men and women in the Singapore Chinese Health Study (SCHS).

The large health study used in-person interviews to gather information about diet, weight, education, smoking, exercise habits, and hormone use.

Previous research focusing on individual foods or nutrients has been inconsistent, the authors note.

The SCHS data, however, allowed Butler’s group to identify two dietary patterns: the meat-starch-saturated-fat based “meat-dim sum” pattern and the “vegetable-fruit-soy” pattern characterized by lots of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, and bok choy.

Based on their self-reported intake of 165 foods, participants were assigned a score for the vegetable-fruit-soy and the meat-dim sum dietary patterns.

Butler’s group identified 34,028 women with no history of breast cancer in the data. All women were between the ages of 45 and 74. For the most part, they were thin, they exercised, had gone through menopause, and few smoked or used hormone replacement therapy.

By the end of 2005, 10 years after the enrollment interviews, 629 breast cancer cases had been identified in the Singapore Cancer Registry among study participants.

After analyzing the data, the study authors found that the greater the intake of vegetables, fruits, and soy, the lower the breast cancer risk among post-menopausal women. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cancer Prevention, Women's Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Lifestyle changes, including a plant-based diet, improve activity of a useful enzyme,Telomerase

Posted by Jenn on December 21, 2010


Scheme of a Chromosome. (1) Chromatid. One of ...

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Telomerase is an enzyme that helps to protect chromosomes, the structures that hold our genes. If chromosomes aren’t adequately protected, the risk of getting certain cancers and of having the cancer progress more rapidly seems to be higher. Additionally, telomerase repairs the part of the chromosome, the telomeres, that controls longevity. We know that a healthy lifestyle can reduce risk of many chronic diseases, including cancer.

A recent small study suggests that lifestyle changes may improve the activity of the telomerase enzyme and that this could, at least partially, explain the relationship between diet and cancer risk. Dean Ornish, MD, Head of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, studied 30 men with low-risk prostate cancer. These men did not receive surgery or radiation therapy because their prostate cancer did not appear to be progressing and was not causing symptoms. For three months, the men followed a program that required them to make significant lifestyle changes. They ate a lowfat, near-vegetarian diet (Subjects did use fish oil supplements.) rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, dried beans, and soy products. They exercised moderately and practiced techniques, such as yoga, to reduce stress.

Following this three-month period, the men’s blood level of telomerase was 29 percent higher than at the start of the study. According to Ornish, this is the first study showing that lifestyle changes can increase telomerase. Since this enzyme may play an important role in reducing risk of cancer development and progression, larger studies will probably be conducted to confirm these potentially important results.

Ornish D, Lin J, Daubenmier J, et al. Nov 2008. Increased telomerase activity and comprehensive lifestyle changes: a pilot study. Lancet Oncol 9(11):1048-57.

Source: Reed Mangels “Lifestyle changes, including a plant-based diet, improve activity of a useful enzyme“. Vegetarian Journal. FindArticles.com. 20 Dec, 2010. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0FDE/is_1_28/ai_n31337134/

Posted in Aging Prevention / Anti-Aging, Cancer Prevention, Telomerase | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Cancer Facts – Foods for Cancer Prevention

Posted by Jenn on December 20, 2010


Logo of the United States National Cancer Inst...

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(Source: Cancerproject.org from the physicians committee for responsible medicine)

Of the many diseases that affect people these days, cancer is among the most feared. But despite a wealth of scientific data, most people remain unaware of how they can reduce their risk of developing cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, as much as 80 percent of all cancers are due to identified factors, and thus are potentially preventable. Thirty percent are due to tobacco use, and as much as 35 percent to 50 percent are due to foods. It is easy to control these and other risk factors.

What Is Cancer?

Cancer begins as a single abnormal cell that begins to multiply out of control. Groups of such cells form tumors and invade healthy tissue, often spreading to other parts of the body. Carcinogens are substances that promote the development of cancerous cells. They may come from foods, from the air, or even from within the body. Most carcinogens are neutralized before damage can occur, but sometimes they attack the cell’s genetic material (DNA) and alter it. It takes years for a noticeable tumor to develop. During this time, compounds known as inhibitors can keep the cells from growing. Some vitamins in plant foods are known to be inhibitors. Dietary fat, on the other hand, is known to be a promoter that helps the abnormal cells grow quickly.

Fiber Fights Cancer

In 1970, British physician Dennis Burkitt observed that a high-fiber diet reduces diseases of the digestive tract. He observed that in countries where diets are high in fiber (that is, plant-based diets), there were fewer cases of colon cancer. Around the world, this has proven true. The highest fiber intakes are found in nonindustrialized nations where meat is scarce and plant foods fill the menu. Animal products contain no fiber. The U.S. and other Western nations whose diets are based upon animal products have the highest rates of colon cancer.

While no one is certain exactly how fiber protects against digestive tract disorders, there are several possibilities. By definition, fiber cannot be digested by humans early in the digestive process. It moves food more quickly through the intestines, helping to eliminate carcinogens. It also draws water into the digestive tract. The water and fiber make fecal matter bulkier, so carcinogens are diluted.

Bile acids are secreted into the intestine to help digest fat; there, bacteria can change the acids into chemicals that promote colon cancer. Fiber may bind with these bile acids and evict them from the intestines.1 Also, bacteria in the colon ferment the fiber creating a more acidic environment which may make bile acids less toxic.

Fiber is also protective against other forms of cancer. Studies have shown that stomach cancer and breast cancer are less common on high-fiber diets.2,3 Fiber affects levels of estrogens in the body. Estrogens are normally secreted into the intestine, where the fiber binds with the hormone and moves it out of the body.4 Without adequate fiber, the estrogen can be reabsorbed from the intestine into the bloodstream. High levels of estrogen are linked to a higher risk of breast cancer.

In the U.S., the average daily fiber intake is 10 to 20 grams per day. Experts recommend 30 to 40 grams per day. The best sources of fiber are whole grains, beans, peas, lentils, vegetables, and fruits. Foods that are closest to their natural state, unrefined and unpeeled, are highest in fiber.

Fat Raises Cancer Risks

Cross-cultural studies have revealed that the populations with the highest levels of fat consumption are also the ones with the highest death rates from breast and colon cancer. The lowest rates are in groups with the lowest consumption of fats.5 Migration studies help to rule out the influence of genetics.6 Read the rest of this entry »

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