Too much Ultraprocessed Food Makes you sick

A Lancet study published on Nov. 13, 2023 found that too much ultraprocessed food makes you sick. Researchers noted that ultraprocessed animal products and sweetened beverages were linked to an increased cancer risk as well as other diseases such as strokes or diabetes.

In Europe more than half of the food intake consists of ultraprocessed food. In the US a 2019 study found that 71% of the food supply is ultraprocessed.

Details of the study

The details of the study were summarized in a CNN report. Researchers of the study collected nutritional data from 266,666 men and women (60% were women) from 7 European countries between 1992 and 2000. The researchers followed the participants for 11 years. During that time they observed the participants for the development of chronic diseases and cancer. During the observation time 21,917 primary cancers, 10,939 cardiovascular events, and 11,322 type 2 diabetes cases developed. On entry into the study participants were questioned about their food intake in the past 12 months. This was matched with the NOVA classification system. It became clear that not all ultraprocessed foods were detrimental to the health of the participants. Animal products and sugar-sweetened drinks and foods caused chronic diseases in the participants of the study. However, ultra-processed breads, cereals or alternative plant-based products were neutral in terms of health risks.

Main findings of the study: too much ultraprocessed food makes you sick

The main findings of the study were that ingesting mostly ultraprocessed food leads to a 9% increase of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and cancer. This is in comparison to controls who ate very little ultraprocessed food. However, when you reduce your intake of ultraprocessed food your risk of developing these diseases reduces. The key is to eat more fruit and vegetables and concentrate on eating minimally processed food.

Other studies with similar findings

In 2022 the British Medical Journal published two studies that documented a higher colorectal cancer rate and cardiovascular disease rate when subjects were eating larger amounts of ultraprocessed foods (UPF). Specifically, when men had exposure to a high percentage of UPF in their diet they developed 29% more colorectal cancer after 28 years of observation in comparison to men who ate a low percentage of UPF. A related study that went on for 14 years showed a 32% higher risk for death from cardiovascular disease for men who ate a high UPF diet in comparison to men on a low UPF diet.

French study 2019

A French study in 2019 followed 44, 551 French adults 45 years or older for 7.1 years. A 10% increase of consumption of ultraprocessed food caused a 14% higher risk of all-cause mortality. The authors stated that 80% of all premature deaths from noncommunicable disease are due to cardiovascular disease (CVD), respiratory disease, cancer, and diabetes. The authors discussed in detail the problems with overconsumption of ultraprocessed food.

Some of the contents of ultraprocessed food

Ultraprocessed food contains:

  • High salt content, and high sodium intake has been associated with cardiovascular deaths and increased stomach cancer risk.
  • Excessive amounts of added sugar. There is an association between added sugar consumption and an increased risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease.
  • Ultraprocessed foods contain very little fiber. More dietary fiber in one’s diet has an association with lower death rates.
  • Studies have estimated that reducing saturated and trans fats, salt, and added sugar in the diet prevent cardiovascular deaths.
  • High temperature food processing produces acrylamide. Acrylamide is a known carcinogen.
  • Consumption of processed meat products causes a higher risk of colorectal cancer and stomach cancer.
More ingredients of ultraprocessed food
  • Artificial sweeteners can alter microbiota and can cause the onset of type 2 diabetes and metabolic diseases.
  • With bisphenol A coating in food packaging endocrine disruptors enter the food. Bisphenol A causes endocrine cancers and metabolic diseases, such as diabetes and obesity.
  • The food industry uses additives frequently in their formulations. Some studies raised concerns about the health consequences of food additives. For instance, the food industry uses titanium dioxide widely. There is an association of titanium dioxide and increased risk of chronic intestinal inflammation and carcinogenesis.

It is easy to see that when we expose our bodies to a mix of these ingredients this can cause cardiovascular diseases, cancers and diabetes. The final outcome is that this leads to premature deaths.

Too much Ultraprocessed Food Makes you sick

Too much Ultraprocessed Food Makes you sick


Too much ultraprocessed food (UPF) makes you sick. This is the conclusion of a large study, which the Lancet published on Nov. 13, 2023. Researchers followed 266,666 men and women (60% women) for 11 years. The main findings of the study were that ingesting mostly ultraprocessed food leads to a 9% increase of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and cancer. This is in comparison to controls who ate very little ultraprocessed food. Other studies going back to 2019 and 2022 showed very similar findings.

Other studies

A French study from 2019 noted that a 10% increase of consumption of ultraprocessed food caused a 14% higher risk of all-cause mortality. Several studies in 2022 showed that men who had an exposure to a high percentage of UPF in their diet developed 29% more colorectal cancer after 28 years of observation in comparison to men who ate a low percentage of UPF. A related study that went on for 14 years showed a 32% higher risk for death from cardiovascular disease for men who ate a high UPF diet in comparison to men on a low UPF diet. It follows from this data that a simple diet consisting of vegetables, fruit, nuts and lean meat (chicken turkey, fish) with minimal amounts of UPF protects you from premature death.


Colorectal Cancer in a younger Population

There seems to be a trend that physicians see colorectal cancer in a younger population. In the past colorectal cancer was almost solely confined to people above 50. But now some people get diagnosed as early as 35 years or 40 years.

On March 10 CNN published a report from Sara Stewart, a film and culture writer.

Example of person who was diagnosed with colorectal cancer at age 45

She describes that she was diagnosed at age 45 with a stage 3 colon cancer. She thinks that the medical profession does not pay enough attention to toxins that may be  causing colorectal cancer. Statistics show that colorectal cancer among younger patients than colorectal cancer among younger patients than 55 increased increased from 11% in 1995 to 20% in 2019.

At the same time colorectal cancer has decreased from 66 per 100,000 in 1985 to 35 per 100,000 in 2019. This means the incidence of colorectal cancer almost halved in 34 years.

Since the 1980’s doctors did colonoscopies on a large scale, which contributed to the rates of colorectal cancer decreasing. With a colonoscopy the doctor removes any identified polyps, which otherwise convert into colorectal cancer. It is a preventative procedure, which is very effective in preventing this cancer.

Colonoscopy screening

Earlier on the medical profession recommended screening with colonoscopy at age 50 and beyond; now the recommendation is from 45 onward. But more and more people are coming down with colon cancer at younger and younger ages, like 30 to 35. With a screening colonoscopy at the age of 30, the doctor can prevent these cancers because he/she removes colorectal polyps that are precursors of cancer. If the physician does not find a polyp at the age of 30, the next screening could take place at age 38 or 40. With a positive polyp test further screening could take place every 3 years. This would prevent a lot of colorectal cancers.

Statistics of colorectal cancer in a younger population

Newer cancer statistics show the following:

  • In the US from 2011 to 2019, colorectal cancer rates increased 1.9% each year in people below the age of 55.
  • In younger than 50-year-old patient death rates from colorectal cancer climbed 1% each year. At the same time the overall death rate of colorectal cancer fell 57% between 1970 and 2020 (largely due to the effect of doing colonoscopies).
  • There are huge differences in cancer rates of colorectal cancer in different states: Utah colorectal cancer rates were lower: 27 cases per 100,000 people; in contrast, the number was 46.5 per 100,000 in Mississippi. This points to environmental/industrial factors playing a larger role in causation of colorectal cancer.

Causation of colorectal cancer in a younger population

In 2020 the National Cancer Institute reported about scientists “examining factors in the environment as potential causes of early-onset colorectal cancer. Such factors include air and water pollution, chemicals in soil and food, and pesticide use.” In some cases, there may be adverse lifestyle factors at play like poor diets (too much fat, too much meat and junk foods), excessive weight and lack of exercise. Dr. Kimmie Ng, director of the Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, told NBC News the following.

Environmental factors causing early colorectal cancer

“It isn’t just diet and lifestyle, there is something else. We see so many young patients with colorectal cancer who follow very healthy lifestyles and diets.” Dr. Folasade P. May, an associate professor of medicine in the University of California, Los Angeles Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases added: “When something is affecting people who have their birth years in common, then we know it’s something in the environment that has led this whole group of people to have higher rates.  Among industrial poisons benzene, asbestos, vinyl chloride, radon, and arsenic are examples of toxic substances that can increase the risk of cancer to those who are exposed.”

Colorectal Cancer in a younger Population

Colorectal Cancer in a younger Population


On the one hand colorectal cancer has decreased in frequency by almost 50% between 1985 and 2019. But on the other hand, colorectal cancer in the younger population has a much earlier onset, way before the previously common age of 50. Doctors find the cancer at a later stage, which has a higher mortality rate. Experts expect environmental factors to play a role like exposure to benzene, asbestos, vinyl chloride, radon, and arsenic. In addition, air and water pollution, chemicals in soil, food, and pesticide use could play a role. In some cases, there may be adverse lifestyle factors at play like poor diets (too much fat, too much meat and junk foods), excessive weight and lack of exercise.

Start initial colonoscopy screening at age 30

The solution to this problem could be a very early colonoscopy screening around the age of 30. In the case of an examination that is negative for polyps at age 30, the next screening could take place at age 38 or 40. With a positive test for polyps at age 30 further screenings could take place every 3 years. This would prevent a lot of colorectal cancer in the younger age population.


Replacing Part Of Red Meat With Fish Shows Health Benefits

A Danish study has shown that replacing part of red meat with fish shows health benefits.

The research was done by a PhD student and pointed out that men above the age of 50 were particularly benefitting from fish substituting part of red meat in their diet. Women in the childbearing age also benefitted greatly. On this diet pregnant women as well as the unborn children become healthier.

Risk versus benefit analysis

Sofie Theresa Thomsen, the PhD student who conducted this study did risk-benefit assessments regarding partial substitution of beef with low-mercury fish. Red and processed meat contains saturated fat, which is added to the other saturated fat in the Danish diet. Red meat and processed meats have been associated with colorectal cancer and some other cancers. But red meat also contains beneficial iron. In contrast, fish contains a lot of omega-3 fatty acids that are anti-inflammatory and also contains vitamin D. But one has to be careful about methylmercury content in fish. I reviewed fish, mercury contamination and the benefits in this link.

In her calculations Sofie Theresa Thomsen replaced 350 grams of beef per week with 350 grams of low-mercury fish per week.

If all the Danish households would do this partial beef/fish exchange, the Danes would gain 7,000 healthy years of life annually. This includes, among other health conditions, the prevention of 170 deaths from coronary heart disease.

What kind of fish can you eat?

As the link above shows, there are low, medium and high methylmercury contaminated fish. The higher the fish is in the predator chain, the higher the methylmercury content. This is of particular concern for pregnant women as mercury is toxic for the fetal brain tissue. But they consume low mercury fish and shellfish, like mackerel, herring, wild salmon, shrimps or clams, pregnant women benefit greatly from the beef/fish exchange. Tuna is too high in methylmercury to be included in the beef/fish exchange. If you were to include tuna in this, you would experience a health loss.

Vitamin D and iron

The study showed further that a partial exchange of beef by fish would reduce the number of Danes who are vitamin D deficient. The 350 grams of fish per week are sufficient to significantly raise the vitamin D blood level. Conversely, replacing a part of the beef intake with fish does not cause iron deficiency problems.

Who benefits most from replacing part of red meat by fish?

Sofie Theresa Thomsen asked who would benefit most from such a beef/fish exchange diet.

On the one hand it is the older than 50 year male population who is at a significant risk of developing heart attacks. The fatty fish with omega-3 fatty acids reverses some of the plaque in the arteries and keeps coronary arteries open. This prevents heart attacks and strokes.

On the other hand pregnant women and their children benefit greatly from the beef/fish exchange diet. The women will feel more energy and their offspring will have healthy brains.

Replacing Part Of Red Meat With Fish Shows Health Benefits

Replacing Part Of Red Meat With Fish Shows Health Benefits


A study from Denmark analyzed what happens when a person exchanges 350 grams of beef with low mercury fish or shellfish per week. The conclusion was that Danes would gain 7,000 healthy years of life annually. Among these is the prevention of 170 deaths from coronary heart disease. But the most lives saved would be among men older than 50 years due to heart attack and stroke prevention. Pregnant women are also benefitting tremendously, not only for themselves, but for their children. The fish needs to be low mercury fish, as mentioned above, as mercury is a central nervous system toxin. Tuna is too high in mercury.

I have cut out red meat and meat products from my diet since 2015, when the WHO came out with the statement that red meat causes colorectal cancer. As a result I eat a lot more low mercury seafood and shellfish.


Obesity Fuels Cancer Development

A recent review by the American Cancer Society found that obesity fuels cancer development. As a matter of fact, what the researchers found was that younger millennials are more in danger of both getting obese and of getting obesity related cancers. Also, the rates of baby boomers with respect to obesity-related cancer were much lower than rates from millennials.

Results of the study showing obesity fuels cancer development

In like manner, as the summary by CNN shows, there is an increase of obesity and also an increase of various cancers of the population of millennials versus the same age group among baby boomers. As an illustration, take pancreatic cancer, one of the obesity related cancers. Normally it occurs in people above the age of 65. Here is the increase of frequencies according to age group:

Ages 25 to 29: 4.34% increase.

People aged 30 to 34: 2.47% increase.

Age bracket 35 to 39: 1.31% increase.

Those aged 40 to 44 years: 0.72% increase.

With this in mind you can see clearly that the younger age group is at a higher risk for developing pancreatic cancer. Certainly, the problem is that obesity in children has become more rampant and this has led to early obesity by the age of 35. The other side of the coin in this case is an increased pancreatic cancer rate.

Other cancers that are obesity-related

Indeed, 6 out of 12 obesity related cancers have shown an increase in frequency because of increasing obesity. These cancers are: multiple myeloma, colorectal cancer, uterine cancer, gallbladder, kidney, and pancreatic cancer.

Notably, people born around 1985 had a higher rate of multiple myeloma and kidney cancer than people born around 1950. Multiple myeloma was 1.59-fold higher and kidney cancer 4.91-fold higher in the group of people born around 1985 in comparison to people born around 1950.

Cancer associated with obesity, but may not be caused by obesity

MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Dr. George Chang, who was not associated with the analysis cautioned: “The study was not set up to establish causation. We know there are many factors that have an association with both obesity and cancer, such as lack of exercise and poor diet. How much each of those factors contribute to cancer is less clear.” Specifically, the study found that the rate of obesity-related cancers in millennials now is about double the rate of what it was in baby-boomers at the same age.

Discussion of the obesity and cancer problem

  1. First of all, obesity is now starting in childhood, teenagers and young adults. 5 of the 6 obesity related cancers (colorectal, uterine, gallbladder, kidney and pancreatic cancer) have increased in the younger population. These require mostly surgery and according to Dr. Chang, who is an oncological surgeon, complication rates are higher among obese patients. Dr. Chang added that chances are also that complications will be more severe.
  2. Secondly, we need government-sponsored programs to reverse the obesity trend. This should include changing the diet from the Standard American diet (essentially junk food) to a Mediterranean diet. There should be an elimination of sugar and starchy foods or the use should be just a bare minimum. Reducing or even eliminating red meat is definitely necessary. The WHO has determined that beef, pork and lamb are causing cancer, because they contain weak carcinogens.  Coupled with this is the necessity to initiated regular exercise programs.
  3. Thirdly, fatty tissue in obese patients release growth factors and proteins that function as hormone-like factors stimulating cell growth. These factors stimulate any carcinogenic process. Researchers are still actively working on analyzing this process further.
Obesity Fuels Cancer Development

Obesity Fuels Cancer Development


Childhood obesity has already had the result that obesity-related cancers (multiple myeloma, colorectal cancer, uterine cancer, gallbladder, kidney, and pancreatic cancer) occur at a younger age and more frequently. The cancer rate among obese millennials now is already double the number of what the baby-boomers was at the same age. The key is to treat obesity aggressively with regular fitness programs and with a major diet shift. We know what caused the obesity wave. It is overconsumption of sugar, junk foods, starchy foods, processed foods and fat overuse.

A major change in diet

This means the kids need to cut out sugar. An alternative is to sweeten only with stevia, if they need a sweet taste. They also need to cut out starchy foods like potatoes, pasta, rice, bread and processed food. Processed food contains a lot of sugar and gluten from wheat. Gluten and sugar both stimulate the appetite center. This is what we want to avoid. What remains is a Mediterranean diet without the junk from the North American diet. You end up eating a lot of vegetables, salads and fruit. Fish is a good protein source, poultry as well. Implementing these changes will show positive results for the health of the entire population, not only the millennials.

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Magnesium Is Essential To Life

Magnesium is an important co-factor in many biochemical reactions, so magnesium is essential to life.

Many diverse diseases and cancers can develop from magnesium deficiency. The key is to supplement with magnesium regularly to get more than the government recommended daily allowance (RDA). The RDA for magnesium is 420 mg a day for males and 320 mg a day for females.

In the following I will review the diseases that occur without enough magnesium on board.

A lack of magnesium can cause heart disease

In this 2014 study 7216 men and women aged 55-80 with at high risk for heart attacks were followed for 4.8 years. The risk of death from a heart attack was found to be 34% lower in the high tertile magnesium group when compared to the lower magnesium tertile group.

The protective mechanism of magnesium was found to be as follows. Magnesium counteracts calcium and stabilizes heart rhythms. Magnesium helps to maintain regular heart beats and prevents irregular heart beats (arrhythmias). It also prevents the accumulation of calcium in the coronary artery walls. This in turn is known to lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Another study, which was part of the Framingham Heart Study, examined calcification of the heart vessels and the aorta as a function of magnesium intake.

There were 2,695 participants in this study. For each increase of 50 mg of magnesium per day there was a 22% decrease in calcification of the coronary arteries. For the same increase of magnesium the calcification of the body’s main artery, the aorta, fell by 12%. Those with the highest magnesium intake were 58% less likely to have calcifications in their coronary arteries. At the same time they were 34% less likely to have calcifications of the aorta.

In a Korean study a group with low magnesium levels was at a 2.1-fold higher risk of developing coronary artery calcifications compared to a group with normal magnesium levels.

Low magnesium increases your stroke risk

In a 2015 study 4443 subjects, men and women aged 40-75 were followed along.

928 stroke cases developed. The researchers compared the group with the highest 30% of magnesium intake with the lowest 10% of magnesium intake. They had significantly lower blood pressure (7 mm mercury) and lower total cholesterol levels. They also had 41% less strokes than those with low magnesium intake.

In a 2015 study that lasted 24 years the authors investigated 43,000 men.

Those with the highest magnesium supplement had a 26% lower stroke risk. Those with the lowest magnesium intake served as a control.

Among women low magnesium levels were shown to cause 34% more ischemic strokes than in controls.

This study included 32,826 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study. Examiners followed them for 11 years.

It is clear from all these studies that supplementation with magnesium can prevent strokes.

Magnesium protects kidney function

This study examined 13,000 adults for 20 years to see how kidney function was dependent on magnesium levels. Those with the lowest magnesium levels had a 58% higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease. It makes sense when you consider that magnesium is necessary to keep arteries healthy, blood pressure low, and blood sugars stable. When diabetics do not control their blood sugars optimally their kidneys develop kidney disease. The term for this is diabetic nephropathy. In the presence of magnesium supplementation and a low sugar diet people are less likely to develop diabetes or kidney disease.

Magnesium helps blood sugar control

A metaanalysis showed that magnesium supplementation was able to improve blood sugar control. This occurred in both diabetics and borderline non-diabetics within 4 months of supplementing with magnesium.

An important factor in helping control blood sugar is magnesium. Here is an article as an example.

Magnesium good for bones and teeth

Magnesium is important for calcium metabolism and this is helping your bones and teeth to stay strong. The bones store half of the body’s magnesium. Another location for magnesium are in our teeth.

Low levels of magnesium lead to osteoporosis, because one of the two structural components of bone (calcium and magnesium) is missing. In addition low magnesium causes inflammatory cytokines to increase. These break down bones. The Women’s Health Initiative showed that when daily magnesium intake exceeded 422.5 mg their hip and whole-body bone mineral density was significantly greater than in those who consumed less than 206.6 mg daily.

With regard to healthy teeth magnesium is important as it prevents periodontal disease.

This study found that there was less tooth loss and there were healthier periodontal tissues in 4290 subjects between 20 and 80.

Those who took magnesium supplements had healthier teeth.

Migraine sufferers improve with magnesium

A double blind randomized study showed that magnesium supplementation can reduce migraines. The researchers in this trial used 600 mg of magnesium supplementation for 4 weeks.

This reduced migraines by 41.6% in the magnesium group compared to the non-supplemented control group.

Another study showed that both intravenous and oral magnesium are effective in reducing migraine headaches.

Intravenous magnesium showed effects on improving migraines within 15 – 45 minutes. The authors concluded that one could supplement other migraine treatments with both oral and intravenous magnesium.

Too little magnesium can cause cancer

It may surprise you to hear that magnesium can even prevent some cancers. Two cancers have been studied in detail. I will limit my discussion to these two.

Pancreatic cancer

One study found that pancreatic cancer was reduced. Researchers recruited 142,203 men and 334,999 women between 1992 and 2000 and included them in the study. After 11.3 years on average 396 men and 469 women came down with pancreatic cancer. On the male side they found that when the body mass index (BMI) was greater than 25.0 there was a 21% reduction of pancreatic cancer for every 100 mg of added magnesium per day. There were a lot of smokers on the female side, which interfered with the study as confounding factors undermined statistical validity.

In another study, the US male Health Professionals Follow-up Study was examined after 20 years of follow-up. Those with a BMI of above 25.0 on magnesium supplementation had a reduced risk of pancreatic cancer. The pancreatic cancer rate in the higher magnesium group was 33% lower than in the lower magnesium group. The higher group consumed 423 mg of magnesium daily, the lower group 281 mg per day. It is significant that in both studies it was the heavier patients who came down with pancreatic cancer. It is common knowledge that obesity is a pancreatic risk factor.

Colorectal cancer

A study done on Japanese men showed that magnesium could protect them significantly from colon cancer.

Men who consumed the highest amount of magnesium developed 52% less colon cancer over 7.9 years. Researchers compared them to the group with the lowest 20% intake of magnesium. The women in this study did not reach statistical significance.

A study from the Netherlands examined colon cancer in patients. They found that only in patients with a BMI of greater than 25.0 magnesium did have protective effects. For every 100 mg of magnesium per day increase there was a 19% reduction of colon polyps. And there was also a 12% reduction of colorectal cancer for every 100 mg increase of magnesium per day.

Magnesium plays an important role in genome stability, DNA maintenance and repair. It also prevents chronic inflammation and reduces insulin resistance, all factors contributing to cancer reduction.

Live longer with magnesium

Consider that magnesium is the fourth most common mineral in the body. Add to this that magnesium is a co-factor of more than 300 enzymes in the body. Magnesium is an important co-factor in the conversion of chemical energy from food that we ingest. Magnesium is regulating blood sugar, blood vessel health and our brain electrical activity. 50% of our stored magnesium is located in our bones, which helps the strength and integrity of them.

Because of the distribution of the enzymes to which magnesium is a co-factor, virtually every cell in the body depends on our regular intake of magnesium.

Magnesium deficiency develops in older age

Since the 1950’s soils have lost magnesium where farmers grow vegetables and raise fruit trees. We simply do not get enough magnesium from food.

But chelated magnesium is freely available in health food stores. Take 250 mg twice per day, and you will have enough.

Because our metabolism slows down, there is a critical age where magnesium deficiency becomes more obvious than when we are younger. By the age of 70 there are 80% of men and 70% of women who do not get the minimum of magnesium-required amount they should get (350 mg for men and 265 mg for women).

Proton pump inhibitors lowering magnesium levels

At this age many people are on multiple drugs. For many proton pump inhibitors (PPI) are used to suppress acid production in the stomach. PPI’s have been associated with low magnesium blood levels. This link explains that when a patient takes PPI’s the total time of taking the medication should not exceed 1 year.

Low magnesium levels accelerate the aging process on a cellular level. Low magnesium levels increase senescent cells that can no longer multiply. Some of them could cause the development of cancer. These senescent cells also can no longer contribute to the immune system. This causes more infections with an adverse outcome.

Remember to take chelated magnesium capsules or tablets 250 mg twice per day and you will be protected from low magnesium levels in your body.

Here is why we live longer with magnesium supplementation

Our blood vessels will not calcify as early; they keep elastic for longer, preventing high blood pressure. Our kidneys will function longer with magnesium, preventing end-stage kidney disease. We need our kidneys to detoxify our system! More than 300 enzymatic reactions all over our body help that we have more energy and also help to prevent cancer. When there are fewer strokes and less heart attacks this helps reduce mortality. Magnesium supplementation helps to lessen the risk for Alzheimer’s disease and also reduces insulin resistance. Researchers have shown that this prevents Alzheimer’s disease.

The bottom line is we live longer and healthier; that is the meaning of longevity.

Magnesium Is Essential To Life

Magnesium Is Essential To Life


Magnesium is a key essential mineral. It balances calcium in the body and participates in many enzymatic reactions in the body as a cofactor. As long as we have enough of this mineral we won’t notice anything. It is with magnesium deficiency that things go haywire. Heart disease or a stroke could affect you . You could get kidney disease. And you could even get pancreatic cancer or colorectal cancer. If this is not enough, magnesium deficiency can cause diabetes, osteoporosis and bad teeth. You may suddenly die with no obvious cause. But, if balance your your magnesium blood level by taking regular supplements, you will carry on living and eliminate a lot of health problems.


Forty Percent Of Premature Deaths Can Be Prevented

A new report from the CDC (Center of Disease Control) in the US has revealed that up to 40% of premature deaths could be prevented by simple lifestyle changes. As this link shows every year about 900,000 premature deaths occur in the US, which are due to 5 major diseases that in the opinion of the CDC can be prevented by 20 to 40%. Here are the diseases that kill: cancer, heart disease, COPD/emphysema, stroke and accidents/injuries. These conditions were responsible for 63% of all deaths in the US in 2010.

Let’s discuss each of these conditions and how one could lower the risk of dying from them.

1. Cancer:

The Framingham Heart Study has shown that smoking and cancer are closely related. Smokers who quit can significantly reduce their risk of getting cancer. We also know that exercise and prophylactic supplements like fish oil and vitamin D3 have cancer preventative effects.

Antioxidant supplementation that included beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E daily or on alternate days for 1 to 12 years, along with selenium supplementation reduced the incidence of cancer of the esophagus, colon, pancreas, stomach or the liver. Insulin resistance due to sugar and starch overconsumption is causing cancer, particularly breast cancer, colorectal cancer and endometrial cancer. I have discussed this in a recent blog.

Pollution has been linked to increased lung cancer risks as discussed here.

2. Heart disease:

Heart disease can be caused by several factors in combination. Lifestyle issues are important: Smokers need to quit smoking as the Framingham Heart Study has shown more than fifty years ago that smoking causes heart attacks. Obesity and diabetes also contribute significantly to the risk of heart disease. Often these are connected to faulty nutrition, which is another lifestyle issue that comes to mind when too much sugar and starchy foods are taken in; your liver will convert these into fatty acids, triglycerides and elevated, oxidized LDL cholesterol, which gets deposited under the lining of the arteries. A lack of exercise adds to this problem as a lack of exercise lowers the protective HDL cholesterol and fat is deposited under the lining of the arteries. Start exercising and your protective HDL cholesterol will rise, your total cholesterol to HDL ratio will lower to healthier levels and your risk for hardening of the arteries and for getting a heart attack will fall. If you have diabetes, it is important that you manage your blood sugars well; this means that if you inject insulin, you want the blood sugar tests to be within the normal range and the hemoglobin A1C values to be below 5.5%. Poorly controlled diabetes is an important cause of heart attacks and strokes. High blood pressure is also an important cause of developing heart attacks and strokes. It is important to control your blood pressure by taking blood pressure lowering pills and also by exercising regularly. Exercise seems to send a signal to relax the blood vessels thus lowering the blood pressure, which in turn prevents heart attacks.

Forty Percent Of Premature Deaths Can Be Prevented

Forty Percent Of Premature Deaths Can Be Prevented


3. COPD/emphysema:

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or emphysema is mostly caused by chronic exposure to cigarette smoke from smoking. The earlier you can quit, the better your chances that your breathing will not be the limiting factor when you age. But it is also important to avoid exposure to other noxious gases, such as from welding and from exposure to pollution. This may involve a decision to move to a less polluted area. Or it might involve a job retraining. Those who are suffering from COPD can be helped to a certain extent by a portable oxygen tank with nasal prongs.

4. Stroke:

As mentioned before, quitting smoking, controlling high blood pressure and controlling blood sugar, if you suffer from diabetes have been shown to stabilize your blood vessels including the ones that supply your brain. The key is to prevent hardening of the arteries by a healthy lifestyle. Exercising and keeping your weight under a body mass index of 25.0 have been shown to be effective stroke prevention. Healthy nutrition as indicated above under “heart disease” is equally important for stroke prevention. Go green (eat more vegetables, consume more green smoothies), cut down grains, sugar and starchy foods and you will live longer without strokes and heart attacks. Remember, what’s good for your heart is good for your brain!

5. Unintentional accidents/injuries:

Wearing helmets when bicycling, wearing seat belts when driving in a car, avoiding risky behaviors are all measures that save lives. One factor stands out in all of this: if you drink too much, you run the risk of being involved in unintentional accidents or injuries. People may not like to hear this, but your brain lacks the natural inhibitory impulses when you are under the influence of alcohol, so you become more daring and you may not pay attention for the split second that could have prevented an injury or accident. People react very differently to alcohol. Some people feel inebriated after only ½ a glass of wine or beer whereas others can drink more before they make mistakes. The best is to be sober when you drive, ski, use power tools or walk in traffic. Even climbing ladders requires a clear mind!


As the CDC said 20 to 40% of premature deaths (deaths that occurred before the age of 80) could have been prevented, if the above-mentioned recommendations were followed. Let me rephrase this: 180,000 to 360,000 premature deaths every year in the US before the age of 80 could have been prevented! Curative medicine cannot help with these statistics as a heart attack or stroke has happened when it has struck you. Cancer and end stage lung disease are similar conditions that you are suddenly faced with when they occur and unintentional accidents just seem to happen. This is where the importance of prevention can be seen, because these little baby steps every day are adding up to something formidable, a force to be reckoned with. Be part of the solution, think prevention!

More information on:

1. Cancer mortality:

2. Higher vitamin D3 intake lowers mortality from heart attacks, strokes, cancer, fractures due to osteoporosis:

Last edited Nov. 8, 2014


Sugar As A Cause Of Cancer

It has been known for a long time that cancer cells can survive without the ordinary aerobic pathways of energy production. They can get energy from a metabolic pathway, which bypasses normal cell metabolism (aerobic glycolysis). But many attempts of designing a cancer therapy to exploit this difference have so far been unsuccessful.

This Mayo Clinic website even explains that it would be a myth that cancer would grow better with sugar. The following pieces of research question this myth.

Sugar makes cancer grow faster (activates oncogenes) in fruit flies

In this study from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City fruit flies were used as an animal model. You may ask, why fruit flies; we are not fruit flies, we are humans! As incredible as it sounds, on a cellular level our cell metabolism and the cell metabolism of fruit flies is identical. But the generation time of fruit flies is much shorter and results can be seen in days and weeks. To achieve the same in human trials would take months and years. Also, researchers could breed a strain of fruit flies that was susceptible to develop tumors. When they were fed sugar, the fruit flies developed insulin resistance within a short time. This model was chosen by the researchers as it is known for some time that in humans insulin resistance from diabetes, obesity, and other metabolic diseases leads to a higher risk of developing breast cancer, liver cancer, colon cancer and pancreatic cancer. The researchers wanted to sort out what the metabolic advantage of the cancer cells was under these conditions.

The researchers found that the sugar in the diet activated silent cancer causing genes (called “oncogenes)” in the fruit flies that in turn helped to promote insulin resistance and the development of tumors. Because of the insulin resistance sugar could not enter into the normal body cells, but the tumor was using up all of the sugar allowing the tumor cells to multiply at a rapid rate. The end result was that the sugar from the diet fed the cancer cells directly making them grow faster. Interestingly, when these flies that had developed tumors on a high sugar diet were switched to a high protein/low sugar diet, the tumors stopped growing and were contained.

In this fruit fly example the researchers were subsequently able to block cancer cell growth by special cancer suppressing drugs (acarbose, pyrvinium and an experimental drug AD81), which were given in combination. 90% of the flies given the triple-drug treatment survived to adulthood while control flies not treated with this regimen all died of their tumors.

Although this model was only done in fruit flies and one could question whether or not this was relevant to what is happening in human cancer patients, the following piece of research puts this fear to rest.

Sugar As A Cause Of Cancer

Sugar As A Cause Of Cancer

Human breast cancer cell study in vitro

In January 2014 the American Society for Clinical Investigation published a collaborative study between the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California, CA and the Hokkaido University Graduate School of Medicine, Japan, which used human breast cells in tissue culture showing that sugar could cause breast cancer.

The original papers of this US/Japanese research team are quite technical and I do not expect you to understand this link where it is published. I posted it for those who want in depth information. The researchers used a simple tissue culture model where they could observe tumor growth in cell cultures under the microscope using a gel where the breast tissue samples were placed side by side with normal breast cells that served as controls. The cell cultures of both normal cells and malignant cells were obtained from the same reduction mammoplasty tissue samples. This way the cell cultures mimicked a situation as close to the reality of what is going on in a woman’s body when breast cancer develops.

The normal breast epithelial cells were seen in culture to get organized as a roundish cell formation (an acinus formation) while the cancer cells were growing as irregular cell clumps. This visual effect was reproducible and is depicted in the paper. With high sugar concentrations in the growth medium breast cancer cells multiplied at a faster rate, not so the normal cells. But some normal cells underwent a transformation into abnormal and cancerous cell types. On the other hand, when sugar concentrations were severely restricted, morphological changes took place where cancer cells slowed down their growth or stagnated while some of them even changed into the normal cell formation (acinus formation). Using various known oncogene stabilizers the investigators could show that the same effect was noted as with the low sugar concentration in the growth medium.

The investigators tested whether other cell lines of breast cancer would show similar results as to the effects of sugar feeding or restriction. They were able to show that high sugar feeding activated cancer cells, no matter where the cancer cell lines originated. The authors discussed that metformin, which is known to control the metabolism in diabetic patients and lowers blood sugar levels, has also been shown to calm down growth of cancer (due to stopping oncogene stimulation), which improves the survival rates of many different cancer types in diabetic patients; it also reduces the risk of developing cancer in those who are taking metformin.

Other investigators have shown in mouse experiments that an impressive lowering of cancer rates could be achieved with low carb diets.

Human evidence for cancer causation and cancer prevention

Several clinical studies seem to indicate that there is a higher cancer rate in diabetics where insulin resistance can lead to activation of cancer producing genes (called oncogenes) and cause various cancers. In this link colorectal cancer and pancreatic cancer are discussed in relationship to diabetes and insulin resistance. High glycemic foods (sugar, starchy foods) were associated with breast cancer, colorectal cancer and endometrial cancer. The majority of trials showed this association although not all. The more obese patients were, the more pronounced the insulin resistance was and the more the relationship to these cancers became apparent. A diet that is high in starchy foods like potatoes, rice and bread is causing pancreatic cancer as was shown by researchers at the Dana-Faber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard School of Public Health. High glycemic diets have shown to cause colorectal cancer, diabetes and being overweight. The Standard North American Diet (SAD) is a pathway to many chronic illnesses due its high load in refined carbohydrates. Ironically the abbreviation for it is “SAD”, which in my opinion reflects adequately its sad influence on health and well being. We know now that sugar and starchy foods lead to insulin overproduction, which in turn causes the metabolic syndrome (also known as “insulin resistance”). This causes the immune system to weaken and fat to be deposited as visceral fat in the stomach area. Visceral fat is metabolically very active as it secretes cytokines like tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF alpha), COX-2 enzymes and others. Insulin and growth factors from the visceral fat gang up together with the elevated blood sugar, which activates tumor-producing genes (oncogenes) to cause cancer.

While cancer rates are higher in patients with insulin resistance, they were lower in patients who did have normal insulin levels. It is important to concentrate your efforts on normalizing weight, which will normalize insulin sensibility and avoid the development of cancer. Sugar avoidance and avoidance of cereals and starchy foods will help you achieve this goal.


Although the idea that sugar could cause cancer has been around since 1924 (Dr. Warburg), it has taken up to now to be proven in animals and humans.

The purpose of this blog was to show how there is a connection between the consumption of sugar and starchy foods and various cancers in man. Animal experiments are useful in suggesting these connections, but many clinical trials including the Women’s Health Initiative have shown that these findings are also true in humans. It is insulin resistance due to sugar and starch overconsumption that is causing cancer.

We are now in a position to know why people who consume a low carb diet, develop less cancer than people who consume a high carb diet. I have followed such a low carb diet (also known as low-glycemic index food diet) since 2001 and find it easy to follow. However, I do not dispute that it takes some discipline to change the old way of eating to the new one. The benefits are definitely worth it: you are feeling well now and you are staying well as you age.

More information about hyperinsulinism that can cause breast cancer:

Last edited Nov. 7, 2014

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Early Alcohol Use Will Result In Memory Loss Later In Life

Researchers found that heavy alcohol use in males during midlife paves the way to memory loss from dementia later in life.

I thought that this would be a good topic to review the effect of alcohol in general. Alcohol is a known cell poison, yet cardiologists keep on referring to the beneficial effects of that 1 glass of wine per day that will prolong your life. I will attempt to explain these diverse effects, where small amounts are supposed to be good for you while high amounts can be very damaging.

Review of the effects of alcohol

50% of the world population drinks alcohol, 10% to 20% have chronic alcoholism (Ref.1).  Just recently a Guardian news study was released showing that an astounding 25% of Russian men die before reaching the age of 55, compared to only 7% of men in the United kingdom and less than 1% of men in the US. The study looked at the effects of consuming large amounts of vodka.  There are about 10 million chronic alcoholics in the US. Chronic alcohol consumption leads to 100,000 deaths every year in the US. More than 50% of these deaths are from traffic accidents, the rest from medical problems caused by alcohol (Ref.1). Most of the alcohol gets detoxified through the liver cells and is metabolized into acetaldehyde. This involves the cytochrome P-450 system. That means that when a person also takes narcotics, sedatives or psychoactive drugs that are also metabolized through this liver enzyme system drugs and alcohol are taking much longer to be metabolized. This can lead to lethal overdoses that we hear about on TV all the time, hence the warning that you must not mix alcohol with drugs.

Early Alcohol Use Will Result In Memory Loss Later In Life

Early Alcohol Use Will Result In Memory Loss Later In Life

Alcohol is a cell and nerve poison. The most vulnerable organs in the body are the liver, brain, heart, pancreas, bone marrow and stomach. So, here are a number of conditions caused by drinking alcohol:

a)    Anemia: When a person drinks heavily and regularly anemia shows up in a blood test. Alcohol has a toxic effect on the bone marrow, which interferes with the production of red blood cells. But certain vitamins required by the bone marrow to manufacture red blood cells are often also missing in the diet of an alcoholic, which contributes to anemia as well.

b)    Cirrhosis of the liver develops in 10% to 20% of heavy drinkers. With cirrhosis part of the liver cells get replaced by fibrotic tissue and in advanced cases this can lead to a hepatic coma and death. Others are developing alcoholic hepatitis. This is an inflammation of the liver with fever and jaundice where the skin and eyeballs turn yellow. It is associated with severe abdominal pain.

c)    Gastritis: Alcoholic gastritis is common, but often undetected. The affected individual may just have stomach pains for a few days, or vomit food and/or blood in addition. With continued use of alcohol it may turn chronic. Alcoholic gastritis can turn into gastric ulcers with massive bleeding that often lead to death.

d)    Pancreatitis: The pancreas is a particularly vulnerable glandular tissue, which gets damaged by regular alcohol intake and with chronic alcohol intake gets partially replaced by fibrotic tissue causing the feared and painful chronic pancreatitis. This is a condition with vomiting and severe abdominal pains that can be unrelenting.

e)    High blood pressure, seizures, dementia, depression, heart irregularities and nerve damage:

You may ask yourself how all of these conditions would be reasonably under one heading. The heading for this is “nerve damage”. Let me explain: The sympathetic nerve is very sensitive to alcohol toxicity and when the sympathetic nerve fibers are damaged, you will develop high blood pressure. You see your physician, get blood pressure medication, but the pressure is difficult to control, if you continue to drink alcoholic beverages. It does not make sense to just add blood pressure pills and hope that this will cure your problem. Seizures are due to direct nerve damage in the more sensitive parts of the brain, which will cause these areas to produce extra electrical activities, which we call seizures. Again, just treating with anti-seizure medications is not the solution. Avoidance of alcohol is the other part of the treatment schedule. Dementia from heavy alcohol use is due to direct nerve atrophy in the brain. Our brain shrinks normally 1.9% to 2.8% per decade, depending on which research papers you read. But in the presence of heavy drinking the frontal lobe of the brain is particularly vulnerable to brain shrinkage.

As this publication shows, mild and moderate drinkers did not suffer more frontal lobe shrinkage than abstainers, but heavy drinkers had a 1.8-fold higher risk of frontal lobe shrinkage on average when compared to abstainers. It was calculated that alcohol had contributed 11.3% to that frontal lobe shrinkage.

The rest of the toxic effect on the nerve tissue explains why depression would develop. The frontal brain contains most of the serotonin producing nerve cells. When serotonin-producing nerve fibers get damaged, the body does not produce enough serotonin to prevent depression from setting in; GABA producing cells often also get damaged, which causes anxiety. It’s not good enough to just prescribe anxiolytic drugs to which the patient will get addicted. The whole person needs to be treated, and abstinence from alcohol has to be part of the program.

Heart irregularities (atrial fibrillation, ventricular fibrillation) can be life-threatening complications due to the toxic effect of alcohol on the nerve fibers within the heart muscle. Emergency physicians are aware of the connection of these conditions to alcohol consumption. Some people’s hearts are more sensitive to the effects of alcohol than others. The most common cause of temporary atrial fibrillation is excessive alcohol intake (holiday heart) according to Ref. 2.

Finally there is the effect of alcohol on nerves in the body. This explains that heavy alcohol consumers can come down with painful pins-and-needles sensations in their hands and feet or with numbness or loss of muscle strength. When the parasympathetic nervous system is affected embarrassing incontinence or constipation can result. Erectile dysfunction in men is also very common. Viagra and continuing to drink is not the solution.

f)      Gout: This painful formation of uric acid crystals in joints can be precipitated in sensitive individuals by consuming alcohol in combination with eating large helpings of beef. There may be a history of gout in the family. Treatment for this is to refrain from alcohol and avoid foods that are leading to uric acid production when ingested.

g)    Cancer: When the body detoxifies alcohol in the liver, the breakdown product is acetaldehyde, which is a known cancer producing substance. A whole array of cancers are known, which come from heavy, chronic alcohol consumption: cancers in the mouth, larynx, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver and colorectal cancer have all been linked to excessive alcohol intake.

h)    Cardiovascular disease: heart attacks and strokes can be caused particularly by binging; it is thought that binging makes platelets from the blood more sticky so they clump together and cause blood clots, which in turn leads to heart attacks and strokes.

i)      Infections: Alcohol weakens the immune system, which is another effect on the bone marrow similar to causing anemia, except that this is the toxic effect on the white blood cells and lymphocytes. Heavy alcohol consumers are more prone to pneumonia, to HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, and tuberculosis.

Cardiology view of preventative alcohol

Despite all of these hair raising toxic effects cardiologists have painted the rosy picture that 1 glass of wine for women and 2 glasses of wine for men per day will prevent heart disease. What is the true story here?

Ref.2 points out that there are about 100 prospective studies that confirm that there is an inverse relationship between mild to moderate alcohol consumption and “heart attack, ischemic stroke, peripheral vascular disease, sudden cardiac death, and death from all cardiovascular causes”. It describes further that the reduction of risk in these various studies was persistent and consisted of a 20% to 45% risk reduction. Using blood tests investigators have found that this is because of an increase of HDL cholesterol, reducing blood clotting, making platelets less sticky and reducing inflammation as evidenced by a reduction of the C-reactive protein. Further research has pinpointed that it is the phenols and resveratrol that are contained in alcoholic beverages that are responsible for the beneficial effects. The bad news is that three glasses of wine or more do the opposite, so does binge drinking. Unless you are extremely disciplined and never increase your allowed limit (1 drink for women, 2 drinks for men) you will CAUSE heart disease rather than PREVENT it (Ref.2). Some people have a family history of breast cancer or colon cancer and they should avoid alcohol altogether; also people coming from alcoholic families should avoid alcohol.


Where does this leave us with regard to prevention of heart attacks, strokes and hardening of the arteries in the legs (peripheral vascular disease)? If you are disciplined and stick to the limits, you could prevent 20% to 45% of cardiovascular risk. The brain study mentioned in the beginning of the blog would also confirm that there was no difference between dementia or brain shrinkage when mild to moderate drinkers were compared to abstainers over 10 years. What is not told by the wine industry is that the same effects that prevent cardiovascular disease in mild to moderate drinkers can also be achieved by natural means: exercising regularly will raise your protective HDL cholesterol; taking ginkgo biloba, flax seed and omega-3 fatty acids thins your blood and the platelets are getting less sticky; omega-3 reduces inflammation and resveratrol elongates telomeres making you live longer. At the A4M conference in Las Vegas in December 2011 there were three speakers who pointed out that even small amounts of alcohol will poison mitochondria of your cells and interfere with normal hormone action. This was enough to make me join those who abstain alcohol completely. One thing has not yet been investigated in long-term studies, namely how small effects of alcohol may affect the body over several decades and over an entire lifetime. Despite all the promises of interest groups that red wine is a trendy drink for those interested in heart health, the fundamental long-term studies are missing. What does a guy do with a healthy heart and a brain that is not functioning too well? I just do not want to be the guinea pig in that worldwide study.

More information on alcoholism:


  1. Kumar: Robbins and Cotran: Pathologic Basis of Disease, Professional Edition, 8th ed. © 2009 Saunders
  2. Bonow: Braunwald’s Heart Disease – A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine, 9th ed. © 2011 Saunders

Last edited Nov. 7, 2014


Pollution And Soaring Lung Cancer Rates

In early 1900 lung cancer was unheard of. This was before the cigarette industry started to mass-produce and market cigarettes.

However, ever since the arrival of the industrial revolution air quality has suffered. In China poor air quality has now reached such enormous values that the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has labeled poor air quality as one of the causes of lung cancer.

When you rank countries by average air pollution measurements, one sees that Europe, the US and South America overall have good ratings, whereas the Middle Eastern countries, China and India have poorer ratings.

However, when the pollution index of cities where the population is much denser than in the countries at large, are tabulated a much different picture emerges: Cities in Iran, India and Pakistan stand out as particularly bad followed by cities in China, Eastern Europe, Paris, London, Berlin, cities in California (the populous State), Chicago and New York.

Pollution does not stay local, but travels through the stratosphere around the globe. The result is that now 10 to 15% of lung cancer in the US occurs in patients who never smoked. This translates into 16,000 to 24,000 deaths annually of never-smokers in the US.

In certain cities such as Beijing the lung cancer rates have doubled in 9 years between 2002 and 2011. As this article shows lung cancer in never smokers can be caused from exposure to radon, to second-hand tobacco smoke, and other indoor air pollutants can also cause such cancers. But the outdoor air quality has been a problem ever since the industrial revolution, which started around Europe in the 1800’s and first part of the1900’s. In the latter half of the 1900’s much of the industrial wave has migrated to the Middle East, to India and China. But the air quality of the whole world has suffered as the jet stream and other air currents carry pollution in the stratosphere all around the globe.

Pollution And Soaring Lung Cancer Rates

Pollution And Soaring Lung Cancer Rates

History of pollution in various regions

1. In Germany’s  Ruhr district (“Ruhrgebiet”) in North Rhine-Westphalia, a highly populated industrial area, pollution reached a peak in the late 1950’s. From 1963 onward many of the coal mines, iron ore mines and other mineral mines closed down. 50 years ago the German Chancellor, Willy Brand was concerned about the environment and promised that blue skies would return to the Ruhr district again.  A special task force was initiated and maximally allowable limits were established for industries’ pollution emissions and enforced by the German government. Government and industry were co-operating in developing anti-pollution measures, which have cleared up a lot of the pollution since. With regard to car emissions lead free gasoline was introduced and carburetors ensured more complete burning of exhaust gases. This is now common and accepted anywhere except for diesel fume exhaust, which nobody wants to address despite proven carcinogenicity.

Now Germany is one of the leaders in green technology, which is also important for tourism.

2. England has its own legacy of pollution in soil and air from the industrial revolution. The soil of moorland, which soaked up acid rain for decades, is more acidy than lemon juice and it will take a long time despite industrial complexes having closed long time ago, before the soil quality will be returned to normal.

3. Hamilton in Ontario/Canada has had a longstanding pollution problem, which I witnessed from 1976 until my departure in 1978. It is well known that Stelco, the local steel plant downtown Hamilton is sending polluting emissions into the air. In 1976 a vising professor from Australia gave an interesting talk about a study that was done at that time regarding the risk of developing bronchogenic carcinoma (a synonym for lung cancer) in the immediate surroundings of the Stelco plant. He said that this was one of the first studies to show that the distance of people’s houses from the source of pollution mattered as that determined how concentrated the air pollution was (the closer the more polluted the air). This  affected cancer rates: they were much higher in the immediate surrounding of Stelco when compared to the average rate in the rest of Hamilton. This difference was very significant within a radius of 1 kilometer (= 0.62 miles) from the Stelco plant.

Just in May of 2013 the local cancer agency of Hamilton announced that the lung cancer rate in Hamilton was higher than elsewhere in Ontario because of a combination of poor air quality and of a higher percentage of people smoking. Then in August 2013 the city of Hamilton announced a new air pollution bylaw for stricter pollution measures to improve the air quality in the downtown area. It is just a pity that Hamiltonians had to wait until 2013 before the city approved an anti-pollution bylaw that could have been passed 50 years earlier like in Germany’s Ruhr district!

4. In 2008 Pittsburg, a former steel manufacturer town like Hamilton, Ont. outdid Los Angeles with regard to small particle air pollution.

Lung cancer prevention by the authorities

As mentioned before up o15% of lung cancer is caused by environmental exposure. So, we ourselves can only prevent 85% of lung cancer by not smoking and not exposing ourselves to industrial emissions or to smoke from incense. However, in many cities around the world you will get exposed to air pollutants that are well above the safe limits, so the risk of getting lung cancer from just breathing the air there can be much higher than in rural areas where there is no industry.

Technologies to control air pollution are widely available. We need to exert pressure on politicians to show leadership around the world. Government regulations to lower emission rates need to be put into place and inspectors need to ensure the rules and regulations are adhered to. Without reducing emissions of cancer producing gases and chemicals right at the source (open burning of cuttings in orchards or burning cut trees), cutting emissions of cars, planes, ships, diesel cars, locomotives, electric generator plants etc. the air quality will not improve. Despite some costs involved industry, governments and individuals have to work together to make clean air happen.

The residents of those countries that have low pollution values will not benefit, if pollution continues to occur in other parts of the world as it just travels in the stratosphere around the globe until it arrives right here at home! We need an international pollution police. Satellites can be used to monitor where pollution occurs and this can be followed up through the local regulatory bodies with penalties and remedial actions.

What can I do personally to prevent lung cancer?

1.The most obvious step is to quit smoking and ask smokers who come to your place to smoke outside (not in your home).

2.Consider moving away from the city, if the air quality is unacceptable to a place where there is low air pollution.

3.Vitamin D3 has been shown to prevent colorectal cancer, but as there are vitamin D receptors found on the surface of various cells in tissue around the body including the lungs, many researchers feel that this vitamin in higher doses (2000 IU to 5000 IU) has probably a wider applicability in preventing cancers, even lung cancer.

4.Cutting out sugar and adopting a Mediterranean type diet is a prudent thing to do; also cutting down your calories to the maintenance you need (mildly ketogenic diet). If you bought body composition scales, it would display what your daily calorie consumption is and you should not exceed this, or else you’ll gain weight. An aging man who is overweight will experience hormone changes as fat is being metabolized and the enzyme aromatase contained in fatty tissue will turn male hormones (testosterone, DHT, androstenedione) into estrogen. Estrogen (particularly estradiol) is a known carcinogen that has been proven to cause breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. However lung cancer is also being promoted in women by estrogen as discussed in this link. In men one needs to remember that lung cells have estrogen receptors and there is concern in aging men with higher estradiol levels that this can promote cell divisions in existing lung cancer. So, it is important to maintain a normal body mass index between 21 and 24 (well below 25.0 and well above 18.5, which are the official accepted limits). This way there is no problem with insulin resistance (too high an insulin level), and other metabolic substances (cytokines, growth hormone like factors and tumor necrosis factor-alpha from body fat) that are cancer promoting.

5. If testosterone deficiency is present, which is common in older men, testosterone will have to be replaced with bioidentical hormones. It is a myth that testosterone would cause prostate cancer. Testosterone in males is necessary to maintain a normal metabolism including the immune system, which then can fight lung cancer and any other cancers.

6. Exercise and reducing beef consumption are also often mentioned in terms of preventing lung cancer.

7. Here are several recommendations from the LifeExtension Foundation that I found very useful in terms of lung cancer prevention. This link shows that antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin C, alpha tocopherol, the minerals selenium and zinc are also helping to reduce the lung cancer rate. Drinking green tea has also been shown to be effective in a dose-response curve manner (more tea protecting more from lung cancer). Vitamin B12 and folate have been shown to reduce abnormal bronchial cell growth in smokers as shown by repeat bronchoscopy studies.

8. Those who have been smokers in the past and those who have been around heavy smokers for more than 10 years in the past should consider having a preventative bronchoscopy done by a lung specialist (also called respirologist or pulmonologists). This way any suspicious areas with precancerous lesions can be biopsied during the procedure and attended to.

Hopeful research for new lung cancer treatments

Lung cancer is a disease that is best prevented. Once a person gets lung cancer, the prognosis is still very poor. However, cancer researchers are getting close to newer treatments involving genetically modified T-cells (killer cells) as was recently achieved for leukemia. Similar research is going on regarding ovarian cancer, melanoma, lung cancer and pancreatic cancer.

More information about lung cancer:


It is not acceptable to let pollution take its course , the way politicians around the globe have handled this in the past 6 decades with a few notable exceptions mentioned. We all suffer a higher risk of getting lung cancer, even if we have been life-long non-smokers. Right now up to 15% of lung cancer in most populations are of this type. However, in Beijing this number is already much higher. The technology is available; Germany has led the way in the Ruhr district in the 1960’s and beyond. In my opinion the G8 meetings should have this high on their agendas and send technological aid to all the regions that have higher than the average world pollution index under the mandate of a special UN commission. This should be supported by the major industrial players with the knowledge that they will prevent the death of millions of potential consumers down the road, which will on the long-term pay off the relatively minor investment of installing pollution controls, before lung cancer levels rise even more.

Last edited Nov. 7, 2014


March Is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, So Let’s Discuss Prevention


March is colorectal cancer awareness month, so let’s discuss prevention. Only 40 years ago cancer of the cervix was one of the major killers for women, but with the introduction of the Pap test this has all changed.  For those women who get that screening done, there is no need for fear. The mortality rate from cervical cancer since the 1970’s has steadily decreased as shown in this link.

As far as cancer of the prostate is concerned, a lot of progress with regard to early detection has been made due to the introduction of the PSA blood test, which is used as a method of screening. As a result men are diagnosed earlier with prostate cancer resulting in more cures as the cancer found is at an earlier stage. Here is a link depicting the effect of the PSA test on mortality rates from prostate cancer in time.

March is colorectal cancer awareness month, so let’s discuss prevention

March is colorectal cancer awareness month as this article explains. The key is early detection and treatment as with any type of cancer. Specifically, with rectal and colon cancer there are mostly no symptoms, as blood in stool or any other symptoms occur only late into the disease. What we do know, however, is that there is a long latent phase where precancerous mucous membrane changes lead to polyps and these will degenerate in time into cancer of the colon or rectum.

Not everyone has the same risk of developing colon cancer or rectal cancer.  There are people with a higher rate of colorectal cancer, as they carry a susceptibility gene in their families. A healthy lifestyle can also reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

March Is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, So Let’s Discuss Prevention

March Is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, So Let’s Discuss Prevention

Polyps are the precancerous precursors for colorectal cancer

It is now widely accepted that polyps are the precancerous precursors for colorectal cancer and colonoscopies done on everybody starting at age 50 (those with family risk factors much earlier) have already been shown to have decreased the frequency of the disease as the data from the CDC show. The problem is that the survival curves for colorectal cancer have only a swallow incline. A steeper decline would mean better survival of colorectal cancer patients. In the case of the mortality rates of cervical cancer and prostate cancer the slope showed a more rapid decline translating int much better survival rates.

Not enough colonoscopies are done

The incidence of colon cancer should have gone down to almost the zero point. All that has been achieved so far is a reduction of a portion of cases (those who went for colonoscopies early enough before it turned into colon cancer); this is by far not an elimination of colorectal cancer. The reason for this is the fact that in many cases people have colonoscopies too late when the polyp has already turned cancerous, or invasive colon or rectal cancer is already present at the time of the first colonoscopy.

Designating March as colorectal awareness month makes a lot of sense to me

I happen to come from a family where my mother died in 1980 from colon cancer at the age of 59. Because of this my doctor told me that I have a risk of about 3-fold higher than the population at large to also develop colon cancer. I have had colonoscopies since the age of 40 every 3 years. Ironically a few days ago right during the colorectal awareness month, I was getting my 9th colonoscopy. On three occasions polyps were removed, which tells me that the cancer-screening program works!

Why screen for colon cancer in regular intervals?

So why is it important to screen in regular intervals? One reason is that we are now exposed to more toxic chemicals in our environment and food than 100 years ago. So all cancers, but especially colorectal cancer rates have increased. We know the pathophysiology, which is the science that studies how an illness develops. We know that it takes several years between the occurrence of the first precancerous cells that form in the lining of the gut (called “mucosa”) and the formation of polyps. It takes another few years before polyps turn cancerous. This means that there is enough of a time interval to do screening. If we are not aware of this and ignore it (as unfortunately many people do), the process will run down the conveyor belt on an automatic program, which ends up in end stage colorectal cancer. The stages of colon cancer are depicted in this link.

Invasive colon cancer is deadly

As the table of my chapter on colon cancer staging shows, the invasive end stage colon cancer (stage IV or Duke D) has a 5-year survival rate of only 6%. Even when the cancer is limited to stage II (also called Duke stage B) there would be a 5-year survival of only 80% (see table in link).

What does screening really achieve? On an individual basis the gastroenterologist who does the colonoscopy can screen the whole colon for premalignant polyps and remove them during the procedure. This moves the potential cancer staging backwards to beyond any detectable cancer, as all of the potential early cancer cells would have been inside the polyp (called local “in situ” disease) and were removed by cauterizing the stalk (see above link). There is another potential factor that can help to reduce colorectal cancer incidence: Recently a connection was made between

Helicobacter pylori as a risk factor for colorectal cancer

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection of the stomach and polyps in the colon as well as colon cancer. In the past several smaller studies failed to show this correlation. It took 156,269 patients in this study to show that there was a correlation. As H. pylori is being tested for and treated more and more, this will also have a positive effect on lowering the frequency of colorectal cancer.

Mass colonoscopy screening

On a population basis with mass colonoscopy screening the incidence of colorectal cancer is reduced. The reduction of colon cancer would be much faster. Eventually it would turn into a disease similar to cancer of the cervix. Here it still matters whether you screen or not, but very few people have to suffer from it. Here is an image from a paper (look for Fig. 2, halfway down the page). It shows that survival benefits (longer lives) are registered only after 10 years or more following colonoscopy.

Colorectal cancer statistics

Every polyp that is removed will add up to the colon and rectum health of the nation at large. This shows statistically, when you sum up all of the colonoscopies done around the country year after year.  We need a nationwide and worldwide awareness that colorectal cancer screening is something worthwhile doing. This cancer is the third most frequent cancer in many parts of the world.

I am grateful that colonoscopy screening works, as I had polyps removed three times over a 29 year span and I did not have to go through all the surgical procedures that my mother had to endure. Had I lived 50 years earlier I may not have lived long enough to tell you how important colonoscopy screening is.

Here are the recommendations

      1. Let us assume there is no risk of colorectal cancer in your family. In this case screen once at the age of 50. This makes sure you are not one of the spontaneous colorectal polyp producers. If OK, screen every 10 years provided the colonoscopy is always negative.
      2. A family history of direct bloodline relative increases the risk for colorectal cancer. Direct bloodline relatives are: mother, father, brother or sister. If one of them had cancer of the colon or rectum, you have a higher cancer risk. In these individuals a gastroenterologist must do colonoscopies every 3 years.
Missed polyps during a colonoscopy
      1. There may be up to 15% of missed polyps during a colonoscopy. But with the next colonoscopy there is a high likelihood that the physician catches the abnormal polyp in time. The pathologist confirms that the subsequent screening caught them before they turn cancerous.
      2. There are special cases, families with genetic syndromes like the familial polyposis of the colon. In these families a gastroenterologist needs to screen children/young adults for polyps when they are still young. This is from the age of 20 to 25 years onwards.

Don’t complain, if you belong to category 1 or 2 as it could be much worse (category 3). Cancer is serious business. Remember, March is colorectal cancer awareness month.

More information about colon cancer.