Apr
07
2013

Caution, Processed Food Ahead

During the last month there have been three large studies that drew media attention regarding healthy food intake. The first study dealt with processed meats (sausages, ham, bacon). Over 12.7 years those consuming 160 Gm per day (=5.64 oz.) were 44% more likely to die prematurely than those who ate only 20 Gm (=0.7 oz.) of processed meat per day. The study included 10 European countries including about 500,000 people over almost 13 years; nearly 10,000 people died from cancer and 5,500 from heart problems.

Then there was the Harvard study that analyzed 114 national dietary surveys around the globe and came to the conclusion that every year there are 180,000 obesity related deaths from overuse of sugary drinks. The US stands third highest on the ranking list regarding deaths from drinking sugary soda pops. The deaths are due to heart attacks, strokes and diabetes, which associate with obesity.

As if this was not enough the third bad news story was published shortly after regarding salt overuse: At a cardiology conference in New Orleans Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, the main author regarding the sugar study mentioned above, revealed a long-term study regarding salt intake between 1990 and 2010 .  He determined that 15% of all deaths that occur around the world every year (which translated into 2.3 million people) are the result of salt overuse. The recommended salt limit is 1500 mg per day. But many people in the study consumed 4000 to 6000 mg of salt per day or more. This led to hypertension, heart attacks and strokes with the yearly mortality rates indicated.

Caution, Processed Food Ahead

Caution, Processed Food Ahead

 

What do these studies have in common and why is processed food so devastating?

All these studies pointed out that processed foods are dangerous to your health. Sausages, ham and bacon contain a lot of fat and salt; they are full of extra calories and they elevate your fatty substances in your blood (triglycerides, cholesterol). The extra salt raises your blood pressure. Processed meat is also poor in omega-3-fatty acids. No wonder that they can cause heart problems and cancer.

Next we have the sugary soda drinks, but also the hidden sugar in starchy processed foods like cookies, bagels, bread and cakes. Dough and pasta digests within 30 minutes into sugar, which your gut absorbs and your liver processes as extra calories to be stored as fat. Where? As visceral fat and subcutaneous fat,  and the end result is obesity. At the same time the sugar from soft drinks and the sugar from starches stimulate the pancreas to produce extra insulin, which leads to hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance. This is known as metabolic syndrome and was found to be an independent risk factor for heart attacks apart from high LDL cholesterol and high triglycerides. We know for quite some time that obesity, diabetes, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome are all associated with a higher rate of deaths from heart attacks and strokes.

Finally, there is the salt overuse story. In 2009 the same Harvard group that gave us the world data on salt mortality now, stated that 102,000 Americans die every year from salt overconsumption. The same study cited that 82,000 Americans die needlessly every year due to their love affair with deep fried foods (due to high trans fatty acids) , and 84,000 die from a lack of omega-3-fatty acids in their diet, which when present in the diet protects from heart attacks and strokes. What does food processing do? It reduces or eliminates dietary omega-3-fatty acids, adds cheap oils containing omega-6-fatty acids (the fatty acids that lead to inflammation), adds salt, sugar and starch. It is the perfect recipe to die from strokes and heart attacks. The same research group from Harvard University did a study in India, published in 2010, where they established that salt overconsumption caused insulin resistance and this was the cause of higher mortality from heart attacks and strokes.

Other studies pointing to the dangers of processed food

Deficits in cognitive function (dementia or Alzheimer’s disease) have been linked to dietary habits, particularly sugar and starch overconsumption. Research has established that hyperinsulinemia or insulin resistance is responsible for the degenerative changes in the brain of Alzheimer patients. This study also pointed out that these diets are typically very low or deficient in omega-3-fatty acids, which is necessary for normal nerve cell metabolism in the brain. The lack of it leads to brain cell disease like Alzheimer’s and a lack of omega-3 fatty acids in nerves leads to damaged nerves which in turn cause excruciating pain.This condition is also known as neuropathy. Here is a good blog about why you should avoid processed foods, if you want to keep a clear mind as you are aging.

In the middle ages it was first observed that overindulging in red meat and sausages caused gout attacks.Gout was known as a disease of the rich. Higher uric acid levels, which are found in gout have been linked to higher mortality rates from heart attacks and stokes. A low purine diet can lower the risk for gout and also the risk for heart attacks and strokes. It is interesting that this type of a diet is also devoid of processed food at the same time.

What can we do to reduce dangers to our health?

We have identified the suspects; it is sugar, starchy foods, salt and processed meats. Instead of just buying precooked meals, boxed foods and other processed foods from the center of the grocery store or from a fast food place, look for original ingredients more at the periphery of the grocery store.  Read food labels and look for sugar, fat and salt content. Start buying organic food and buy the ingredients you need to prepare a meal by yourself. When you start preparing your own meals with organic ingredients, you may as well avoid the toxins that I described in a recent blog.

By buying organic foods, you largely avoid these toxins. Don’t exceed your daily limit of 1500 mg of salt, as your kidneys are not able to process this and would cause you to get high blood pressure. Personally I cut out all sugar and starch from my diet since 2001. This includes potatoes, pasta, bread, bagels, French fries, toast etc. However, you will get enough complex carbohydrates (from vegetables and greens), which get absorbed much slower and do not cause the insulin surge by the pancreas as highly processed carbs would do. You want to eat foods rich in omega-3-fatty acids, but there are problems with seafood (even salmon) as it is often contaminated with mercury. You can circumvent this by taking three capsules of high potency, molecularly distilled omega-3 per day. This is free of toxins and protects your brain and nerves from the dangers mentioned above. Your organic vegetables and greens have enough natural minerals in them that you will hardly ever require to add salt to your food. Do not add extra salt when you cook or when you eat your prepared meals. Use spices instead. Also avoid eating out too often. Restaurants are notorious for overusing salt.

More information on nutrition: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/nutrition/

Here is a useful blog that helps you to identify the problems with processed food and what you need to do to improve your food intake. http://www.healthy-eating-politics.com/processed-foods.html

Other links:

1. Processed meat: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/07/processed-meat-cancer-heart-disease-death-risk_n_2829092.html

2. Sugary drinks: http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/19/health/sugary-drinks-deaths/index.html?hpt=he_c2

3. Alzheimer’s and pre-diabetes with insulin resistance: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/10/17/carb-diet-alzheimers/1637481/

Last edited Nov. 6, 2014

Apr
01
2013

My Experience With Cancer Research

April is cancer awareness and fundraising month. I thought it would be interesting to analyze what’s going on behind the scenes of cancer research. I was a cancer researcher for over 3 years at the Ontario Cancer Institute (OCI) from 1972 to 1975 and I will share some insider experiences here.

1. Publish or perish

We were told by our supervisors to “publish or perish”. In other words all the experiments we did needed to fit into the larger picture the group was working on, and the results should be different and interesting and most of all publishable. There had to be significant differences between experimental groups and controls, so that publishers of medical journals would accept them for publication. There were often two or three manuscript revisions where the content was “massaged” (proper wording, comparing or opposing the results with other publications) so that it was considered “publishable”.

2. Fund raising awareness

One of the major fund sources for cancer research in Canada was the MRC (Medical Research Council of Canada), which has been replaced by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) in 2000. Without money there is no cancer research, so everybody was aware of the policies and expectations of the fund source.

3. Mouse model versus human tissue based research

I was working in the immunology section of the biophysics department, where basic medical research at the OCI is done. In this department much research had already been performed separating cell populations in a mouse model to determine what cell types were needed to initiate an immune response. The B cells in mammals are antibody-producing cells of the immune system that protect from viruses. T cells are thymus-processed cells that turn into killer cells, which can attack parasites and also cancer cells. I was working in this area. We did cell separation experiments where the cells were separated according to cell size and collected in vials. Subsequently remixing experiments were done to find out what cell types were needed to mount an immune response to a mouse tumor cell line as targets. I started questioning whether a mouse model would be the appropriate model to study human cancer biology. But this was not met with approval, as the “holy grail” was that what worked in a mouse model (mouse mammalian cells) should also work in the human situation (human mammalian cells).

My Experience With Cancer Research

My Experience With Cancer Research

4. Non-medical researchers in cancer research

This is a thorny issue, but a reality. My immediate supervisor in cancer research had a PHD in physics, which was perfect for sorting out density issues for cell separation experiments. His colleague and co-chair of the immunology department had a PHD in biology, which was a good fit for mouse experiments. Both of them felt somewhat insecure when I asked probing questions about relevance of mouse experiments for the human cancer condition. As I needed to publish my experiments, which were done under the supervision of these supervisors, I had to quiet down and concentrate on the mouse model the team was working on. For a while this could even be exciting as we were studying the cell interaction between macrophages and T cells to mount a cell-mediated immune response.

5. Regulation of the cancer research industry

After playing with cell cultures for 2 ½ years it was time for me to reach out to get a job in the cancer research field or else go back to medicine. In1975 there was no equal opportunity legislation in place that would have protected me as a landed immigrant from discrimination. The reality in 1975 was that only Canadian born physicians who attended a Medical School in Canada could become a director of a cancer research facility in Canada. The rules for me (I had left Germany right after my rotating internship) were that I had to go through further medical training and pass the Canadian licensing exam (LMCC), which I did eventually at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. One final attempt to shed light on my options was an interview with the “big boss” at the Ontario Cancer Institute at the time, a physician cancer researcher, Dr. Ernest A. McCulloch, for whom I had great respect. He was a sharp thinker and had vision, and he was a fellow physician. I asked him what he would do on the long-term, if he was in my place. He said that in the long-term with my medical background it would be a lot more satisfying for me to get back into medicine and practice medicine. However, he wanted me to go on for another 1 or 2 years and publish more papers together with my supervisors. I decided for myself right there that I would leave cancer research and I prepared quietly for my exit. Within a short time I got a position to work as an intern at a hospital at McMaster University and in the spring of 1978 I passed the LMCC (licensing) exam. As a fully licensed physician in Canada I was no longer interested in “slave work” in cancer research. I also left the cold winters of Ontario behind and went to the west, to British Columbia.

6. Future vision of medical cancer research

Research has come a long way. Recently I came across a new breast cancer protocol, which is non-toxic, without chemotherapy and without radiation. It is so unconventional that the US research team, aware of the politics in the US, decided to do the initial trials in the Caribbean. I wrote a blog about this new breast cancer treatment protocol, which I believe will become the future standard for breast cancer therapy and perhaps even for other cancers.

In Germany and Switzerland there is an alternative breast cancer treatment with a non-toxic plant-based chemotherapy involving mistletoe extracts. It has a dual action, namely a chemotherapeutic effect, but at the same time an immune system stimulating effect. Here is a study going back to 2001, which is still relevant. There was a 40% long-term survival benefit in the Iscador group when compared to a control group without treatment. Normally, oncologists would jump at such an excellent chemotherapeutic agent as even chemotherapeutic agents that show a 25% beneficial survival effect would be considered a good treatment option. However, as the medication is a simple mistletoe extract and cannot be patented, Big Pharma is not interested in marketing this. As a result cancer treatment protocols in Europe are significantly different from those in North America.

In the future I would expect that non-toxic treatment methods for any type of cancer will be more successful than any chemotherapeutic or radiation treatment approaches as both interfere with the immune function, which is what will kill the patient at the end. As cancer is a disease where the immune system fails, cancer patients need to be shown how to stimulate their immune system, as this is the only thing, which can control cancer on the long-term.

You will hear more about epigenetic switches as often a cancer producing substance will turn off a gene (epigenetic switch) and this causes cancer.  Remove what throws that switch into the off position or introduce a healing agent that resets the switch and the cancer will get eliminated.

7. Prevention of cancer

The most powerful cancer preventatives are found in herbs, spices, vitamins and minerals. Did you know that curcumin, derived from the Indian spice turmeric, prevents a number of cancers? Similarly, vitamin D3 at high enough doses (4000 to 5000 IU per day) has been shown to prevent cancers. Linus Pauling showed long time ago that vitamin C at high enough dose would be an antioxidant and would stimulate the immune system and thereby be a cancer preventative. It works together with a detoxifying antioxidant, glutathione in the liver to neutralize any free radicals, which are aggressive chemicals that cause cancer. There are many other vitamins and minerals that I have explained elsewhere, which are needed together with organic food to give you the building blocks for a stable cell metabolism. This in turn will strengthen the immune system to defend you from toxins of the environment. A simple step like a daily exercise routine can cut your cancer risk down to 50% compared to those who elect to not exercise. Did I mention the importance of quitting smoking and cutting out alcohol? The “quit smoking” part has been known for some time. I learnt about cancer being caused by smaller doses of alcoholic beverages over a long period of time at the Anti-Aging conference in Las Vegas in December 2011. First I thought it would be a big deal to quit alcohol entirely. But since I have quit the modest few drinks per month that I thought I would miss, I actually have not missed them at all! I strongly believe in cancer prevention, so quitting alcohol completely was only one small step in this overall objective. In view of the recent statement by the WHO that 70% of all deaths are caused by smoking and drinking of alcoholic beverages, it behooves us to change our lifestyles, if we are at all interested in a healthy long life.

Conclusion

From reading about cancer research now, nothing has changed in cancer research circles since the time when I was part of it. Basic cancer research involving animal experiments is necessary. But in my opinion cancer research should be more human-centered using human cell lines in culture and using clinical trials. Ultimately cancer research needs to invent and develop new non-toxic cancer therapies to cure cancer patients.

More on cancer in general and on specific cancers: http://nethealthbook.com/cancer-overview/

Last edited Nov. 6, 2014

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