Galactose metabolism and ovarian toxicity.

Author information

  • 1Center for Women’s Health, Cedars-Sinai Burns and Allen Research Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center/University of California Los Angeles, School of Medicine, 8700 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048, USA.

Abstract

Galactose is an energy-providing nutrient and also a necessary basic substrate for the biosynthesis of many macromolecules in the body. Metabolic pathways for galactose are important not only for the provision of these pathways but also for the prevention of galactose and galactose metabolite accumulation. Problems with galactose metabolism can cause a variety of clinical manifestations in animals and humans. It has been found that the mammalian ovary is particularly susceptible to damage from the accumulation of galactose and galactose metabolites. The galactose metabolites Gal-1-P, galactitol, and UDPgal are all considered to be important in this toxicity and proposed mechanisms include interference with ovarian apoptosis and gonadotrophin signaling. This review addresses the most recent scientific findings regarding the possible mechanisms of galactose-induced ovarian toxicity and also the possible protective role of hormonal and antioxidant therapy. In addition, the available epidemiologic and scientific evidence linking galactose intake with risk of ovarian cancer is discussed.

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Preventing Skin Cancer From the Inside Out

Preventing Skin Cancer From the Inside Out
LATEST NUTRITION VIDEO

Preventing Skin Cancer From the Inside Out

Eating antioxidant-rich foods can bolster skin protection and reduce sunburn redness by 40%, whereas alcohol can dramatically drop the level of antioxidants in the skin within 8 minutes of consumption.

The 6 Cancer-Fighting Superfoods You Should Eat Every Day

SAVE 

The average American eats about 1,100 meals every year. Unfortunately, much of what they eat is drawn from the Standard American Diet (SAD): foods that are high in animal products, saturated fats, and refined carbohydrates. This kind of diet is destructive and dangerous, increasing your risk of cancer, leading to weight gain, and contributing to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. In short, this nutritionally deficient diet is — pardon the pun — a recipe for disaster.

But people don’t need to die from diseases brought on by poor eating habits. For this reason, I developed the nutrient-dense, plant-rich Nutritarian eating style, which harnesses the power of superior nutrition to prevent diseases such as cancer, and prevent and even reverse diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

One of the key components of the Nutritarian diet is what I call the immune system’s “Anti-Cancer Special Forces” division: greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries, and seeds, which you can remember using the acronym “G-BOMBS.”

The G-BOMBS are foods that have incredible anti-cancer properties, and they should make up a significant portion of your daily diet. Let’s take a look at each component in the G-BOMBS lineup and examine its benefits to your overall health.

Photo Credit: Stocksy

G: Greens

Raw, leafy greens are the most nutrient-dense of all foods. They contain substances that protect blood vessels, and are associated with reduced risk of diabetes. Several leafy greens and other green vegetables belong to thecruciferous family of veggies, which contain compounds with potent anti-cancer properties.

About half of the calories in green vegetables, including leafy greens, come from protein, and this plant protein is packaged with beneficial phytochemicals: folate, calcium, and small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.

B: Beans

Beans and other legumes are the most nutrient-dense carbohydrate source. They act as an anti-diabetes and weight-loss food because they are digested slowly, having a stabilizing effect on blood sugar, which promotes satiety and helps to prevent food cravings.

They are rich in soluble fiber, which lowers cholesterol levels, as well as high levels of resistant starch, which are not broken down by digestive enzymes. Fiber and resistant starch not only reduce the total number of calories absorbed from beans but are also fermented by intestinal bacteria into fatty acids that help to prevent colon cancer.

O: Onions

Onions, along with leeks, garlic, chives, shallots, and scallions, make up the allium family of vegetables, which play a powerful role in fighting cancer, as well as being anti-diabetic and having beneficial effects on the cardiovascular and immune systems.

Allium vegetables are known for their characteristic organosulfur compounds, which are released when onions are chopped, crushed, or chewed. Studies have found that increased consumption of allium vegetables isassociated with lower risk of gastric and prostate cancers because they contain compounds that detoxify carcinogens, halt cancer cell growth, and block angiogenesis.

M: Mushrooms

White, cremini, Portobello, oyster, shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms all have anti-cancer properties. Some are anti-inflammatory; others stimulate the immune system, prevent DNA damage, slow cancer cell growth, cause programmed cancer cell death, and inhibit angiogenesis.Mushrooms contain aromatase inhibitors, which can limit the production of estrogen and protect breast tissue from excess estrogen stimulation. There are other anti-cancer compounds in mushrooms that collectively account for their powerful effects against breast cancer.

Note that mushrooms should always be cooked before you eat them: they contain small amounts of a mild toxin called agaritine, which is greatly reduced in the cooking process.

B: Berries

Blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are true super foods. Berries are low in sugar and high in nutrients, and their vibrant colors mean that they are full of antioxidants, including flavonoids and antioxidant vitamins.

These antioxidants provide cardio-protective and anti-cancer effects, and stimulate the body’s own antioxidant enzymes. Berry consumption has been linked to reduced risk of diabetes, cancers, and cognitive decline, and have been shown to improve both motor coordination and memory.

S: Seeds And Nuts

Seeds and nuts contain healthy fats and are rich in a spectrum of micronutrients including phytosterols, minerals, and antioxidants. Countless studies have demonstrated the cardiovascular benefits of nuts, and including nuts in the diet aids in weight maintenance and diabetes prevention.

Seeds are similar to nuts when it comes to healthy fats, minerals, and antioxidants, but seeds are also abundant in trace minerals and are higher in protein than nuts. Flax, chia, and hemp seeds are extremely rich sources of omega-3 fats, and flax, chia, and sesame seeds are rich in lignans, which have strong anti-cancer effects.

One study on flax that followed a group of women with breast cancer for 10 years found a 71 percent reduced risk of breast-cancer-related deaths in the group that consumed the most lignans. The healthy fats in seeds and nuts also aid in the absorption of nutrients when eaten with vegetables.

Sweet Potato Proteins vs. Cancer

on November 19th, 2015

Anti Cancer Potential of Sweet Potato Proteins

Sweet potatoes can be considered a superfood. They are one of the healthiest and cheapest vegetables on the planet. (And one day, perhaps, even off the planet, as NASA haschosen the sweet potato for space missions.) A study out of the University of Washington aimed to identify which vegetables provided the most nutrients per dollar. In my video,Anti-Cancer Potential of Sweet Potato Proteins, you can see a graph of affordability versus nutrition for different foods. The healthiest foods, like dark green leafy vegetables, may also be the cheapest, and the highest nutrient-rich food scores per dollar were obtained for sweet potatoes.

Sweet potatoes are not just packed with nutrition but may also have special cancer-fighting properties. In 1931, a unique protein was discovered in sweet potatoes. It turns out that 80% of the protein in sweet potatoes is a type of protease inhibitor with potential anticancer effects. These proteins were originally tested against leukemia and appeared to suppress the growth of leukemia cells in a petri dish.

But how would a sweet potato protein ever get into our bloodstream? As soon as most proteins hit our stomach, they start getting digested. To get around the digestion issue, researchers tried sweet potato protein against tongue cancer cells (sweet potato proteins certainly come in contact with our mouth!). Tongue cancer is often treated with chemotherapy, and most of the chemo drugs for tongue cancer have adverse effects; so, it is indispensable for us to find other therapeutic strategies. Sweet potato protein rapidly diminished viability of the cancer in vitro within a matter of days, leading the researchers to propose that sweet potatoes may be useful for human tongue cancer. But could they possibly help with other cancers as well?

Remarkably, this special class of proteins doesn’t just survive digestion, but may also be absorbed into the bloodstream intact (in at least two of the nine women with advanced cervical cancer researchers tried giving them to).

Most recently, sweet potato proteins were tried on colorectal cancer cells, one of our most common and deadly cancers. Normally, we just surgically remove the colon, but that only works in the early stages since there are often “micrometastases” outside the colon that can subsequently lead to cancer recurrence and death; so, we’ve been searching for anti-metastatic agents. Not only does sweet potato protein slow down the growth of colon cancer cells, but it may also decrease cancer cell migration and invasion.

Sweet potato consumption has also been associated with lower gallbladder cancer rates, but it has never been directly put to the test, but what’s the downside?

Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite snacks. During the harsh Boston winters during my medical training, I used to put two freshly microwaved sweet potatoes in my coat pockets as natural hand-warmers. When they cooled down, my hand-warmers became instant healthy snacks!

More videos on getting the most nutrition for one’s dollar:

What other vegetables might contain cancer fighting properties? See #1 AntiCancer Vegetable.

Are sweet potatoes best steamed? Should we eat the skin? Find out in my video: Best Way to Cook Sweet Potatoes.

-Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live year-in-review presentations Uprooting the Leading Causes of DeathMore Than an Apple a DayFrom Table to Able, and Food as Medicine.

Image Credit: thebittenword.com / Flickr

Better Than Chemo: Turmeric Kills Cancer Not Patients

Better Than Chemo

About one hundred times less toxic than chemotherapy, turmeric extract (curcumin) was found more effective at killing colorectal cancer stem cells from patients than a popular combination of conventional drugs.

Researchers from the United Kingdom have just made a major breakthrough in cancer research by demonstrating for the first time in patient-derived colorectal cell lines that a turmeric extract (curcumin) is not only an effective adjunct agent to enhance conventional chemotherapy, but that it may be even more effective on its own.

Published this month in Cancer Letters and titled, “Curcumin inhibits cancer stem cell phenotypes in ex vivo models of colorectal liver metastases, and is clinically safe and tolerable in combination with FOLFOX chemotherapy,” the study evaluated the so-called “diet-derived agent” curcumin — the primary polyphenol in turmeric — as a possible adjunct to enhance conventional treatment of colorectal cancer with chemotherapy.

The primary role of cancer stem cells in contributing to cancer malignancy as well as resistance to conventional treatmentis addressed in the study. Whereas traditional cancer research methods focus on a treatment’s ability to reduce tumor volume (or the number of cells in a cancer cell culture), the cancer stem cell theory acknowledges that treatments have highly differential effects on the different cell types that comprise the tumor; namely, whereas the relatively benign daughter cells of a tumor may die when exposed to chemotherapy, the relatively chemotherapy-resistant cancer stem cell population (so-called “mother” cells) can actually increase in number as the tumor volume decreases, resulting in creating an albeit smaller but far more dangerous, treatment-resistant tumor.

The study design and results were summarized in the abstract below:

Here, we utilised patient-derived colorectal liver metastases (CRLM) to assess whether curcumin may provide added benefit over 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and oxaliplatin (FOLFOX) in cancer stem cell (CSC) models. Combination of curcumin with FOLFOX chemotherapy was then assessed clinically in a phase I dose escalation study. Curcumin alone and in combination significantly reduced spheroid number in CRLM CSC models, and decreased the number of cells with high aldehyde dehydrogenase activity (ALDHhigh/CD133−). Addition of curcumin to oxaliplatin/5-FU enhanced anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic effects in a proportion of patient-derived explants, whilst reducing expression of stem cell-associated markers ALDH and CD133. The phase I dose escalation study revealed curcumin to be a safe and tolerable adjunct to FOLFOX chemotherapy in patients with CRLM (n = 12) at doses up to 2 grams daily.”

As you can see above, the researchers discovered that curcumin is both a safe and effective adjunct in the treatment of colorectal cancer. They noted the significance of these findings by pointing out that this was “the first time that curcumin may enhance oxaliplatin/5-FU-based chemotherapy in models derived directly from patients for whom the treatments are ultimately intended.” Specifically, the curcumin was able to inhibit what is known as “spheroid formation,” a 3-dimensional configuration of cells that indicates cancer stem cell driven cancer progression. Curcumin was also found to down-regulate cancer stem cell associated markers (e.g., CD44 and CD166 and ALDH activity), and various other chemical signals associated with carcinogenesis (e.g., epidermal growth factor, insulin-like growth factor and Notch). All these activities, taken together, indicate that curcumin is capable of targeting the stem cells at the heart of cancer malignancy. You can learn more about this in a previous article we wrote documenting curcumin’s ability to kill cancer stem cells: “Turmeric Extract Strikes To the Root Cause of Cancer Malignancy.” We also featured turmeric extract’s ability toselectively target cancer cells while leaving healthy ones intact in a previous article titled, “Turmeric’s ‘Smart Kill’ Properties Put Chemo & Radiation To Shame.”

But what is even more remarkable about the new study is that the researchers found curcumin outperformed the combination chemotherapy treatment (5-FU/oxaliplatin) in decreasing the cancer stem cell linked spheroid formation: “In addition, curcumin alone decreased spheroid number to a greater extent than the 5-FU/oxaliplatin treatments.”

This tremendously provocative finding is given only brief mention in the paper. When you look at the toxicological risks associated with chemotherapy agents like 5-FU, which have an oral LD50 in rats of only 230 milligrams/per kilogram, and compare it to curcumin, with an LD50 in rats of 12.2 grams/per kilogram, you can begin to appreciate the revolutionary implications of this research. [Note: An LD50 is the dose required to kill 50% of a test population of animals, i.e. the lethal dose 50%.] Technically, therefore, 5-FU is 53 times more toxic than curcumin, yet according to this research, less capable in combination with oxaliplatin of killing cancer spheroids than curcumin. Oxaliplatin itself has an oral LD50 in rats of about 100 mg per kilogram, making it 122 times more toxic than curcumin. For additional information on the relative toxicity and ineffectiveness of chemotherapy in comparison to natural substances, you can also read:Research: Pineapple Enzyme Kills Cancer Without Killing You.

Clearly, findings like these reveal the conventional chemotherapy paradigm for what it is: a toxicological nightmare offering only questionable efficacy relative to food-derived compounds. The authors of the study acknowledge that, “Curcumin may provide added benefit in subsets of patients when administered with FOLFOX, and is a well-tolerated chemotherapy adjunct.”

We concur that this is true, especially considering that curcumin has been found to reduce the side effects caused by conventional treatment. But is that all? Shouldn’t curcumin be considered a first-line treatment itself? While the researchers do mention in their concluding remarks that, “Greater pro-apoptotic [inducing cancer suicide programs] and CSC [cancer stem cell] targeting efficacy was observed for curcumin than for oxaliplatin and 5-FU in a small patient subset, warranting further investigation to determine factors that influence response to curcumin,” this doesn’t seem strong enough. We believe that given the great burden not only of cancer, but cancer treatment-related morbidity and mortality, it is ethically imperative that curcumin should be investigated as the active intervention in future clinical trials compared with conventional treatment. We can no longer pretend that the reason why curcumin is not studied on par with patented chemical medicines is because of a lack of compelling research. This study proves it exists. The key is breaking through the mile high paywall (approximately 800 million dollars needed to fund the requisite clinical trials) that separates natural non-patented substances from FDA-drug approval. In the meantime, a growing population is taking their health into their own hands, and finding ways to prevent and even treat cancer through dietary interventions and related natural approaches.

For those doubtful that curcumin possesses significant anti-cancer properties, please review our curcumin database which contains over 1500 studies showing it’s value in over one hundred different types of cancer here:Curcumin research. You can also look at our research and article on Turmeric, which includes even more research on the value of this ancient healing spice: Turmeric Health Guide. Finally, use our Cancer Research Health Guide for an even more comprehensive set of data on natural interventions for a variety of cancers.

Animal Protein as a Carcinogen

Answer to a Reader’s Question:

Although there are many arguments favoring the nutritional imbalance explanation of cancer, one of the more striking for me was the experimental animal studies discussed in Chapter 3 in my book, The China Study. Namely, aflatoxin is a very potent carcinogen for the rat. However, after the Indian researchers showed that decreasing protein (casein) intake from the usual level of consumption of 20% to 5% completely prevented this very powerful carcinogen to cause cancer, we then began our work (references in our book). We explored that finding in great depth and eventually confirmed their initial observation. That is, simple adjustment of dietary protein (casein) within very normal ranges of protein intake controlled cancer growth and it worked not by one mechanism but by a large array of mechanisms. In other words, we proved this association beyond any doubt.

Further, over the years, this research required a lot of funding and our applications for funding were reviewed by other researchers highly experienced in this field. Every time we got high marks for the quality of the research. Then, when we submitted the results for publication, they were again reviewed by peers and these papers were published in the very best cancer research journals. Among the people who know the most about cancer, our work was entirely convincing.

Very simply, normal adjustment of protein intake was capable of enormously influencing the ability of a chemical carcinogen’s ability to promote cancer. Dietary protein trumped a very powerful carcinogen in a species that was exceptionally sensitive to this carcinogen.

Then we did much the same thing with a cancer caused by a virus, the hepatitis B virus.

If we follow the criteria of determining what is a carcinogen and what is not, these findings should shake up the entire world of cancer research and education because this is the way that other carcinogens (Alar, dioxin, DDT, etc.) also work–except the evidence favoring their carcinogenicity is far less than it is for aflatoxin!

But I was not comfortable taking the usual path of declaring that casein is a carcinogen that was far more powerful than aflatoxin (“the most potent carcinogen ever discovered” according to the people who favor the chemical carcinogen hypothesis). Instead, I was more interested in asking broader questions, involving the role of animal protein based foods in their association with human cancer, as well as to study the comparative associations of aflatoxin consumption and protein consumption in humans–this was the China Study.

I have given this story to many of the very best–and most critical audiences — that I can find (Harvard, Berkeley, Cornell, Emory, Yale, Duke, NIH, etc.) and I get no serious criticism. The only comment that seems to surface more than a few times is ‘I am taking on some very powerful interests and they won’t listen — regardless of the veracity of the evidence’, or words to that effect. In other words, this issue — first narrowly defined but later expanded into a much larger issue — is mostly about politics, economics, personal bias, etc., and not about rational science. Quite honestly, it depresses me because there is so much at stake for human health. Corporate America, who controls the agenda in this health research business, is more interested in their own health than they are in the health of the public!!

Dr. T. Colin Campbell has been at the forefront of nutrition research for over forty years. His legacy, the China Project, has been acknowledged as the most comprehensive study of health and nutrition ever conducted. Dr. Campbell is the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University. Dr. Campbell also serves as the President of the Board for the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and is featured faculty in our highly acclaimed, Plant-Based Certificate and our online heart course, Nutrition for a Healthy Heart.

USDA “Beefing” Up Special Interest Marketing Funds

It's What's for Dinner

Remember the old “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner” advertisements? Those were sponsored by the beef checkoff program.

Red meat production and sales have declined as the public has become increasingly aware of the link between meat consumption and chronic disease. For consumer health, this is progress. However, the USDA is now proposing a new “checkoff” program to allocate additional funds—potentially totaling $160 million—towards the promotion and marketing of beef in 2015. And since the USDA also issues national dietary recommendations, this creates a clear conflict of interest.

Beef is bad for your health. Physicians, researchers, and medical organizations clearly state the consequences of eating red meat. Harvard University has published numerous studies associating meat consumption with chronic disease. The World Health Organization notes the correlation between meat and colorectal and prostate cancersin its dietary recommendations. The American Heart Association published findings saying that women who had two servings per day of red meat had a 30 percent higher risk of developing coronary heart disease. Physicians Committee researchers found that eatingmeat is a risk factor for diabetesThe American Institute for Cancer Researchrecommends reducing and removing red and processed meat, as does the American Cancer Society. Even government officials in the United Kingdom have been clear in their recommendations to British citizens to cut red meat consumption.

However, the USDA has remained ambiguous when discussing red meat. In the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, the USDA recommended reducing saturated fat and cholesterol intake—neglecting to mention that a sirloin steak overloads your arteries with 155 percent of your daily maximum intake of saturated fat and 152 percent of your daily maximum cholesterol.

The USDA is accepting public comments on the proposed checkoff program until Dec. 10.Click here to take action by submitting your comments to the USDA.

Want to know more about the research? Check out this sample of studies from just the past two years linking red meat and chronic disease:

Red and Processed Meats Increase Risk of Bladder Cancer
Red Meat in Childhood Increases Risk for Breast Cancer
Breast Cancer Linked to Eating Red Meat
Iron in Meat Linked to Heart Disease
Even Modest Amounts of Meat Increase Risk for Diabetes
Meat-Eating is a Risk Factor for Developing Diabetes
Red and Processed Meat Endangers Health
Many Ways Meat Causes Colon Cancer
Red and Processed Meat Products Linked to Mortality
Cutting Out Meat Boosts Heart Attack Victims’ Chance of Survival
Red and Processed Meat Linked to Death for Colorectal Cancer Patients
Researchers Discover New Way Meat Causes Heart Disease
More Evidence That Red and Processed Meats Are Deadly

Last updated by at December 8, 2014.

Phytochemicals and the American Cancer Society

CanOrg

Phytochemicals

Other common name(s): certain phytochemicals may be called antioxidants, flavonoids, flavanols, flavanones, isoflavones, catechins, epicatechins, anthocyanins, anthocyanidins, proanthocyanidins, isothiocyanates, carotenoids, allyl sulfides, polyphenols, phenolic acids, and many other names

Scientific/medical name(s): various names

Description

The term “phytochemicals” refers to a wide variety of compounds made by plants, but is mainly used to describe those compounds that may affect human health. Phytochemicals are found in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains. Scientists have identified thousands of phytochemicals, although only a small fraction have been studied closely. Some of the better-known phytochemicals include beta carotene and other carotenoids, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), folic acid, and vitamin E.

Overview

Some phytochemicals have either antioxidant or hormone-like actions. There is some evidence that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains reduces the risk of certain types of cancer and other diseases. Researchers are looking for specific compounds in these foods that may account for these healthful effects in humans. Available scientific evidence does not support claims that taking phytochemical supplements is as good for long-term health as consuming the fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains from which they are taken.

How are they promoted for use?

Phytochemicals are promoted for the prevention and treatment of many health conditions, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. There is some evidence that certain phytochemicals may help prevent the formation of potential carcinogens (substances that cause cancer), block the action of carcinogens on their target organs or tissue, or act on cells to suppress cancer development. Many experts suggest that people can reduce their risk of cancer significantly by eating more fruits, vegetables, and other foods from plants that contain phytochemicals.

There are several major groups of phytochemicals.

The polyphenols include a large subgroup of chemicals called flavonoids. Flavonoids are plant chemicals found in a broad range of fruits, grains, and vegetables. They are being studied to find out whether they can prevent chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. The isoflavones found in foods and supplements such as soy products, red clover, garbanzo beans, and licorice and the lignans found in flaxseed and whole grains might mimic the actions of the female hormone estrogen (see Licorice and Soybean). These seemingly estrogen-like substances from these plant sources are called phytoestrogens. They may play a role in the development of and protection against some hormone-dependent cancers such as some types of breast and prostate cancer.

Other polyphenols (including some flavonoids) act as antioxidants. These are thought to rid the body of harmful molecules known as free radicals, which can damage a cell’s DNA and may trigger some forms of cancer and other diseases. These compounds are commonly found in teas and in vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower. Grapes, eggplant, red cabbage, and radishes all contain anthocyanidins — flavonoids that are thought to act as antioxidants and may protect against some cancers and heart disease. Quercetin, another flavonoid that appears to have antioxidant properties, is found in apples, onions, teas, and red wine. Ellagic acid, found in raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, strawberries, and walnuts, is being studied to see if it has anti-cancer effects (see Ellagic Acid).

Carotenoids, which give carrots, yams, cantaloupe, butternut squash, and apricots their orange color, are promoted as anti-cancer agents (see Vitamin A, Retinoids, and Provitamin A Carotenoids). Tomatoes, red peppers, and pink grapefruit contain lycopene, which proponents claim is a powerful antioxidant (see Lycopene). The phytochemicals lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids found in spinach, kale, and turnip greens that may reduce the risk of some cancers.

Another group of phytochemicals, called allyl sulfides, are found in garlic and onions (see Garlic). These compounds may stimulate enzymes that help the body get rid of harmful chemicals. They may also help strengthen the immune system.

What does it involve?

Phytochemicals are present in virtually all of the fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans and peas), and grains we eat, so it is quite easy for most people to include them in their diet. For instance, a carrot contains more than a hundred phytochemicals. There are thousands of known phytochemicals, but only a few have been studied in detail.

Many of the better-known phytochemicals can be purchased as dietary supplements. However, most available evidence suggests that these single supplements are not as good for you as the foods from which they are derived.

What is the history behind it?

Only a few years ago, the term “phytochemical” was barely known. But doctors, nutritionists, and other health care practitioners have long advocated a low-fat diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Historically, cultures that consume such a diet have lower rates of certain cancers and heart disease.

Since the passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) in the United States in 1994, a growing number of phytochemicals are being sold as dietary supplements.

What is the evidence?

The idea that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains reduces the risk of cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses is widely accepted. But only recently have researchers begun to try to learn the effects of specific phytochemicals contained in those foods.

Because of the number of phytochemicals and the complexity of the chemical processes in which they are involved, it is difficult for researchers to find out which phytochemicals in foods may fight cancer and other diseases, which may have no effect, and which may even be harmful.

Much of the evidence so far has come from observations of cultures in which the diet comes mainly from plant sources, and which seem to have lower rates of certain types of cancer and heart disease. For instance, the relatively low rates of breast and endometrial cancers in some Asian cultures are credited at least in part to dietary habits. These cancers are much more common in the United States, possibly because the typical American diet is higher in fat and lower in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains. Part of the lower risk in Asian cultures is likely due to other factors such as lower obesity rates and more exercise.

Many studies have looked at the relationship between cancer risk and eating fruits and vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Most of the evidence indicates that eating a diet high in these foods seems to lower the risk of some cancers and other illnesses.

Some of the links between individual phytochemicals and cancer risk found in laboratory studies are compelling and make a strong case for further research. So far, however, none of the findings are conclusive. It is still uncertain which of the many phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables actively helps the body fight disease.

Researchers have also shown much interest in phytochemical supplements. Some laboratory studies in cell cultures and animals have shown that certain phytochemicals have some activity against cancer cells or tumors. But at this time there have been no strong studies in humans showing that any phytochemical supplement can prevent or treat cancer.

Until conclusive research findings emerge, the American Cancer Society’s 2012 nutrition guidelines recommend choosing what you eat and drink in amounts that help you get to and stay at a healthy weight. Eating a balanced diet that includes 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day and choosing whole grains over refined grains and sugar-sweetened products should be part of this plan. Limiting intake of red meats and processed meats such as bacon, sausage, lunch meats, and hot dogs is also recommended in order to help reduce cancer risk. A good way to do this is to choose fish, poultry, or beans for some meals rather than beef, pork, lamb, or processed meats. The guidelines note that although eating fish is linked to a lower risk of heart disease, the evidence regarding cancer in humans is limited. A balanced diet with foods from a variety of plant sources is likely to be more effective in reducing cancer risk than consuming large amounts of a few phytochemicals.

Are there any possible problems or complications?

These products are sold as dietary supplements in the United States. Unlike companies that produce drugs (which must be tested before being sold), the companies that make supplements are not required to prove to the Food and Drug Administration that their supplements are safe or effective, as long as they don’t claim the supplements can prevent, treat, or cure any specific disease.
Some such products may not contain the amount of the herb or substance that is on the label, and some may include other substances (contaminants). Actual amounts per dose may vary between brands or even between different batches of the same brand. In 2007, the FDA wrote new rules to improve the quality of manufacturing for dietary supplements and the proper listing of supplement ingredients. But these rules do not address the safety of the ingredients or their effects on health.
Most such supplements have not been tested to find out if they interact with medicines, foods, or other herbs and supplements. Even though some reports of interactions and harmful effects may be published, full studies of interactions and effects are not often available. Because of these limitations, any information on ill effects and interactions below should be considered incomplete.

Phytochemicals, in the amounts consumed in a healthy diet, are likely to be helpful and are unlikely to cause any major problems. Some people assume that because phytochemical supplements come from “natural” sources, they must be safe and free from side effects, but this is not always true. Many phytochemical supplements, especially when taken in large amounts, have side effects and may interact with some drugs. Some of these interactions may be dangerous. Before taking a phytochemical in supplement form, consider talking to your doctor and pharmacist to be sure it will not interact with other medicines or herbs you may be taking. Relying on the use of phytochemicals alone and avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer may have serious health consequences

Casein: The Disturbing Connection Between This Dairy Protein and Your Health

Milk, cheese, and butter are some of the top three foods many people have a hard time giving up when transitioning to a healthy, plant-based diet. Even though the plant-based milk industry is now booming, thanks to all the varieties of options that we have, many people still do use dairy milk, cheese, and butter without abandon. But is this a coincidence? Is cheese pizza really something magical or is it addictive for so many people because of something else?

Considering cheese actually has a horrible smell and is rather gross when you consider how it’s made, there aren’t any magical properties behind cheese (or other dairy products) that make them anything special. The reason why they’re so addicting is largely due to a certain type of protein dairy products contain.

Meet Milk Protein: Whey and Casein

There are two types of protein found in dairy products: casein and whey protein. 38 percent of the solid matter in milk is made of protein. Of that total protein, 80 percent is casein and 20 percent is whey. Cheese is mostly made of casein, where most of the liquid whey has been filtered or strained out, but all dairy products contain casein, not just cheese. The difference between whey and casein is how they’re digested and how they react in the body. Whey protein is digested quickly and absorbed rapidly into the bloodstream, which causes an increase in insulin quickly. This process stimulates IGF-1 (insulin growth factor) which has been found to create new cancer cells and proliferate cancer cell growth. Yikes!

Casein: Your Brain and Body’s Worst Nightmare

Casein is very different from whey, though just as detrimental to your health. Casein breaks down more slowly and in the process, also wreaks havoc on your health. Casein is made of 70 percent fat and is packed with cholesterol. It’s  even been found to be a leading cause of cancer.

Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, says through his studies he has found casein to be the most relevant cancer promoter ever discovered.  Because casein digests so slowly, natural morphine-like substances in casein known as casomorphins, act like opiates in the body as they enter the bloodstream. Just minutes after you eat a dairy-based food, the casein protein begins to break down.  This releases the drug-like casomorphins, which attach to opiate receptors in the brain, and cause severe addictions to dairy products (hence the reason they keep people coming back for more.) Casomorphins trigger such an addictive response that they’ve been compared to heroine in terms of their strength to cause food addictions and mood disorders.

Casein’s slow digestion rate also puts great strain on the digestive system. Dr. Frank Lipman (an Integrative and Functional Medical expert), explains that the body has an extremely difficult timebreaking down the proteins in casein. Dr. Lipman says that common symptoms of dairy sensitivity due to casein are: excess mucus production, respiratory problems and digestive problems like constipation, gas, bloating, and/or diarrhea. It’s also known to cause skin issues like acne, rashes, and redness or irritation. Skip the casein and try eating more of these Inexpensive Vegan Foods That Brighten Your Skin instead!

Morphine in Milk- What the Dairy Industry Doesn’t Advertise on Their Products

If you still think a harmless glass of milk, a cup of yogurt, or a small serving of cheese isn’t potentially dangerous, think again. Dr. Neal Barnard, M.D. (founder of the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, a.k.a PCRM) found that in various studies, when dairy products were removed from the diet, cheese was the hardest food for people to give up. Dr. Barnard credits this finding to cheese being the most concentrated source of all dairy products. PCRM has also discovered that milk actually contains morphine, which can clearly be seen when milk is inspected under a microscope. Morphine is not added to cow’s milk; cows actually produce these opiate-like chemicals on their own.

Beware of the Sneaky Place Casein Lurks (Hint, It’s Not Just Dairy!)

The Trouble With Casein  is that it’s not just found in dairy products. In fact, this dangerous ingredient is often used in other foods, even those that are marketed as a vegan food. Casein is used in food for it’s scientific properties to thicken and congeal foods and likely for it’s addictive properties to sell more products.  Some brands of veggie cheeses, non-dairy yogurts, non-dairy, and non-dairy creamers contain casein for these very reasons. Casein is also found in some other non-food items such as: paint, adhesives, glues, fabrics, textiles, and plastics. Can you believe that? Items in your home and your clothes could even contain this toxic protein naturally found in dairy!

How to Spot Casein on a Label:

You’ll find casein listed as either of the following: casein, caseinates, calcium caseinate, potassium caseinate and sodium caseinate. Read labels thoroughly and buy products that are 100 percent vegan to be sure you’re not consuming this ingredient. If you have a question about the ingredients in your food or household product, you may also want to contact the manufacturer to inquire about it more thoroughly.

Other Problems With Dairy and Your Health

As you can see, it’s no wonder that gooey cheese pizza or bowl of dairy milk ice cream is so hard for many people to give up, but addiction isn’t the only problem dairy causes. Dairy has also been linked to brain fog and depression, which creates even more havoc to the brain and body. Lactose, a milk sugar found in dairy, is also one of the number one allergies people have in the United States.

You Don’t Need Casein or Dairy to be Healthy or Happy

Believe it or not, life does go on without dairy milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, sour cream, and butter. In fact, it gets better! Plant-based foods come with just as many satisfying properties as dairy foods do, yet they contain no morphine or other nasty chemicals found in dairy foods. Check out these 10 Reasons to Ditch Dairy if you’re still on the fence.

Here are some healthy options to buy instead of dairy products:

As you can see, there are plenty of dairy replacements to choose from, but again, when choosing processed foods, make sure they are 100 percent vegan. You can use these delicious plant-based options to recreate fabulous dishes in your recipes and change your health in the process.

Need recipes? We’ve got plenty of dairy-free options to choose from!

 Image Source: Carly Lesser & Art Drauglis/Flickr

This content provided above is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Why the Egg-Cancer Link?

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Why the Egg-Cancer Link?

August 21, 2014 by Michael Greger M.D. in News with 0 Comments

Why the Egg Cancer-link?

Two million men in the U.S. are living with prostate cancer — but that’s better than dying from prostate cancer. Catch it when it’s localized and the five-year survival is practically guaranteed, but once it really starts spreading, chances drop to one in three. “Thus, identification of modifiable factors that affect the progression of prostate cancer is something that deserves study,” noted Dr. Erin Richard and colleagues at Harvard. So, they took more than a thousand men with early stage prostate cancer and followed them for a couple years to see if there was anything in their diet associated with a resurgence of the cancer, such as spreading to the bone.

Compared to men who hardly ate any eggs, men who ate even less than a single egg a day had a significant 2-fold increased risk of prostate cancer progression. The only thing worse was poultry consumption, with up to four times the risk of progression among high-risk men. They think it might be the cooked meat carcinogens that for some reason build up more in chicken and turkey muscle than in other meats. For more on these so-called heterocyclic amines, see my videos: Heterocyclic Amines in Eggs, Cheese, and Creatine?, Estrogenic Cooked Meat Carcinogens, and PhIP: The Three Strikes Breast Carcinogen.

But what about the eggs? Why would less than once-a-day egg consumption double the risk of cancer progression? “A plausible mechanism that may explain the association between eggs and prostate cancer progression is high dietary choline,” the researchers suggested.  Egg consumption is a determinant of how much choline you have in your blood, and higher blood choline has been associated with a greater risk of getting prostate cancer in the first place. So the choline in eggs may both increase one’s risk of getting it and having it spread.

Studies have associated choline consumption not just with getting cancer and spreading cancer, but also with significantly increased risk of dying from it. Those who ate the most had a 70% increased risk of lethal prostate cancer. Another recent study found that men who consumed two and a half or more eggs per week — that’s just like one egg every three days — had an 81 percent increased risk of lethal prostate cancer.

Maybe that’s why meat, milk, and eggs have all been associated with advanced prostate cancer—because of the choline. Choline is so concentrated in cancer cells that doctors can follow choline uptake to track the spread of cancer throughout the body. But why may dietary choline increase the risk of lethal prostate cancer? Dietary choline is converted in the gut to trimethylamine (see my video Carnitine, Choline, Cancer and Cholesterol: The TMAO Connection), so the Harvard researchers speculated that the TMAO from the high dietary choline intake may increase inflammation, which may promote progression of prostate cancer to a lethal disease.

In one of my videos, Eggs and Choline: Something Fishy, I talked about what trimethylamine might do to one’s body odor.

In the New England Journal of Medicine, the same Cleveland Clinic research team that did the famous study on carnitine repeated the study, but instead of feeding people a steak, they fed people some hard-boiled eggs. Just as they suspected, a similar spike in that toxic TMAO. So it’s not just red meat. And the link between TMAO levels in the blood and strokes, heart attacks, and death was seen even in low-risk groups like those with low-risk cholesterol levels. Thus, because of the choline, eating eggs may increase our risk regardless of what our cholesterol is.

It’s ironic that the choline content of eggs is something the egg industry actually boasts about. And the industry is aware of the cancer data. Through the Freedom of Information Act, I was able to get my hands on an email (which you can view in my video, Eggs, Choline, and Cancer) from the executive director of the industry’s Egg Nutrition Center to an American Egg Board executive talking about how choline may be a culprit in promoting cancer progression. “Certainly worth keeping in mind,” he said, “as we continue to promote choline as another good reason to consume eggs.”

 

With regard to the prevention of prostate cancer progression, chicken and eggs may be the worst foods to eat, but what might be the best? See my video Prostate Cancer Survival: The A/V Ratio.

To prevent prostate cancer in the first place, see videos such as:

What about reversing cancer progression? See Dr. Ornish’s work Cancer Reversal Through Diet?, followed up by the Pritikin Foundation: Ex Vivo Cancer Proliferation Bioassay. Flax may help as well (Flaxseed vs. Prostate Cancer).

-Michael Greger, M.D.

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