In April, a presentation at the American Society for Nutrition's Scientific Sessions at Experimental Biology 2016 showed that certain dietary habits are associated with increased risk for breast and prostate cancer (April 2-6, 2016; San Diego, CA). More than 3,000 adults were followed for more than 20 years. About 25% were diagnosed at some point during this time with cancer. Those who regularly consumed carbohydrate-dense foods (CDFs) such as fruit juices and other sugary soft drinks had three times as much prostate cancer as those who took in less. CDFs (foods that cause spikes in blood sugar) were associated with increased risk for prostate cancer. Men who regularly consume processed foods (bread, pizza, deli meats, hot dogs, hamburgers, etc.) had double the risk for prostate cancer.
Women whose diets were high in vegetables, whole fruits, and legumes were two-thirds less likely to develop breast cancer than women whose diets were high in CDFs like whole wheat bread, cereal, pasta, juices, and sweets.
Many studies have shown that carrying extra belly fat and diets high in CDFs or red meat increase risk for diabetes, strokes, heart attacks, sexual dysfunction, and various cancers especially of the digestive system. (British Journal of Cancer, Jan 4,2011;104 (1): 6–11 and European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2007;61(Suppl 1):S112–S121). Diets high in CDFs cause belly fat to accumulate. Belly fat, CDFs and red meat all cause inflammation and inflammation is a driver of all forms of chronic disease, including cancers.
How Inflammation May Cause Cancer
When a germ gets into your body, your immunity recognizes that the germ cells have proteins on their outer surfaces that are different from your body's own cells. Your immunity produces cells and proteins that attack and kill these invading germs. However, as soon as the invading germs are gone, your immunity is supposed to calm down and stop producing all the proteins and cells that did the attacking and killing. Chronic inflammation means that your immunity stays active and starts to attack and damage your own cells and the DNA/genetic material inside them.
Normal cells live only a certain number of days and then die. Our cells are constantly being replaced by new, healthy cells. However, if your immunity damages your DNA, the cells may be changed so they forget to die and try to live forever, which is cancer. The "immortal" cancer cells overgrow and invade other tissues to destroy them and kill you. For example, breast cancer cells do not kill you as long as they stay in the breast, but the breast cancer cells can become so numerous that they spread to your brain, lungs, bones and other tissues and kill you by destroying these essential tissues.
High Blood Sugar Causes Inflammation
The same cells and chemicals that kill germs also start the healing process, so damage to any tissue in your body turns on your immunity in the same way that infections do and therefore can cause inflammation. When blood sugar levels rise too high, sugar sticks to the outer membranes of all the cells in your body and damages them, causing sugar-protein-fat complexes called AGEs or plaques. Plaques in arteries cause atherosclerosis, plaques in joints cause arthritis, and plaques in the brain cause dementia.
All the harmful effects of diabetes, such as impotence, dementia, blindness, deafness, heart attacks and cancers, are caused by high blood sugar turning on your immunity, and you don't have to be diabetic to suffer this damage. A review of the world's literature shows that non-diabetics with high blood sugar levels suffer a marked increase in breast, colon, liver, stomach, pancreatic and endometrial cancers. (Diabetologia, September 8, 2014). Furthermore, high blood sugar levels cause high insulin levels that also increase cancer risk (JCI May 2013;4(3)). High blood sugar levels can be caused by any of the high-glycemic-load foods, including all sports drinks, protein bars, granola, fruit juices, baked goods (including whole wheat and whole grain breads, muffins, cereals), white rice, potatoes, pastas (including whole wheat and whole grain pastas), and sauces and batters made with flour (Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, March 3, 2016). Other studies show that high blood sugar levels are associated with increased risk for prostate cancer (Horm Cancer, April 2016;7(2):75-83) and breast cancer by causing inflammation through the 12-Lipoxygenase (12-HETE) pathway (Cancer Res, Jan 1, 2016;76(1);24–29).
Overweight Causes Inflammation
Full fat cells also produce the same cells and chemicals that turn on your immunity, which is why obesity is a major cause of inflammation (International Journal of Cardiology, April 14, 2016;215:318-324). Many studies show that obesity causes inflammation by increasing interleukin-6, BP and insulin insensitivity (International Journal of Cardiology, April 14, 2016;215:318-324 andJ Clin Endocrinol Metab, Mar 2001;86(3):1154-9). Overweight causes high blood sugar levels; blood sugar levels rise with increases in body weight, BMI and waist circumference (Cardiovasc Diabetol, Feb 6, 2012;11:13). Excess weight also increases risk for metabolic syndrome and diabetes (Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases, November 12, 2015). Storing fat in your belly raises markers of inflammation: C–reactive protein, leptin and insulin (Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis, February 2016;26(2):114–122) and many different cancers (Cancer Prev Res, March 2013 6; 177). Excess belly fat is directly caused by diets high in CDFs.
For two million years, humans evolved and adapted to a diet that is high in fiber, moderate in protein, low in fat, and very low in CDFs. I call this the Human Diet. For more information on the Human Diet, please contact the office and we will send you a copy of part I of my series on health: Health Part I; Nutrition which can be sent to you by email. Or simply link to the article here.