My perspective on diets and cancer is based on my training as a biologist, not as a nutritionist, nor a doctor. I did my nutrition/diet studies in the mid 1960s, which were based on old-school perspectives of cultural diets our forefathers ate, and although I have studied modern ‘science-based’ nutrition/diets, I still support the old-school ideas.
It is also worth noting when considering diet advice and cancer, that when the adaptive (https://www.billgiles.com.au/working-with-the-immune-system/) immune system is scarred in its ability to accurately identify the natural plant toxins found in all plant foods to varying degrees, and these are regularly eaten, the toxins can assist the progress of a healthy cell into a cancer cell.
Human diets and cancer
The advice about what is a healthy diet has been slowly changing away from high carbohydrate, plant-based, fast-food commercial diets, to more balanced diets, primarily based on animal fats and proteins, along with sensibly-cooked vegetables and salads (along with a reduction in eating fruits). This is the old-school dietary advice of pre-Ancel Keys influence –https://www.billgiles.com.au/blogbook-review-how-weve-been-duped-thinking-fats-are-bad/
There is also now more and more reports questioning the popular advice about ‘Anti-cancer Diets’. For decades now, healthy diet ideas have been based on vegetarian philosophies with extensions to being ‘balanced’ with some proteins and no saturated fats. These ideas had suggested consuming an extended variation of juiced raw drinks, high carbohydrate vegetable meals and fruits several times a day. These ideas also advocated using vegetable oils instead of saturated animal fats, and a total reduction or even elimination of all red meats.
The beginnings of more common-sense ‘Anti-cancer Diets’ is now starting to show up on the conservative sites on the internet and in more conservative publications. For example, here is a quote from ‘The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’, about what constitutes an ‘Anti cancer Diet: ‘… high in vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, and beans, to help protect against stomach and esophageal cancer. Eating oranges, berries, peas, bell peppers, dark leafy greens and other foods high in vitamin C to protect against esophageal cancer. (http://www.pcrm.org/media/news/six-dietary-guidelines-for-cancer-prevention).
However, The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is representative of many conservative systems that are having challenges in changing their advice about animal products. They suggest that: each 50-gram daily serving of processed meat, equivalent to two slices of bacon or one sausage, increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent. Each 120-gram daily serving of red meat, equivalent to a small steak, increases risk of colorectal cancer by 28 percent.
Conservative approaches to eating animal products are still suggesting (with associated jargon) that a person with cancer should: ‘Avoid grilled, fried, and broiled meats to reduce the risk of cancers of the colon, rectum, breast, prostate, kidney, and pancreas. Four types of heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are associated with cancer of the colon and rectum. HCAs form from creatine and amino acids when cooking meats at high temperatures. When ingested, HCAs can disrupt DNA synthesis. In addition HCAs are also associated, to a weaker extent, with cancers of the breast, prostate, kidney, and pancreas’.
Not only is this advice skewed, but it needs to be put in perspective. The latest research is showing that the carcenogenic chemicals called: heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, are formed when the meats are cooked quickly at high temperatures. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are also found in cigarette smoke and emissions from diesel fuelled-engines. Both of these chemicals have been found to be mutagenic and carcinogenic in rodents, but the biological evidence for a connection with human cancers has not been established, principally because no human cancer-inducing studies have been performed and a human has a vastly different gastrointestinal tract, immune system and liver to a rodent. (http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/cooked-meats-fact-sheet).
My advice on eating all meats is to slowly cook your meats as much as possible, invest in a slow cooker or crock pot or slow roast in the oven. However, we all know how delicious a steak is when the fatty parts are caramelised, so create really tasty meats for very special occasions only.
Heme in red meats
What is heme? Heme in red meat is an iron-containing chemical which gives red meat its red colour. While dietary iron is crucial to good health, heme is considered slightly toxic. Although the jury is still out on the effects of heme and its link to human cancers, organisations and people in positions of authority make exaggerated and alarming statements about foods such as heam in red meats and its links to cancer. For example, the organisation mentioned above also indicates: ‘Note, the heme iron, nitrites, heterocyclic amines, and overabundance of essential amino acids in red and processed meats are all believed to contribute to cancerous cell growth in the body’.
Now population-based cohort studies, have found low-grade, but mixed-evidence, between the dietary consumption of heme and an increased incidence in cancer when laboratory rats eat excessive amounts of red meat (rats in nature only consume a minute amount of red meat in their diet, and this is from small reptiles)—but there still has been no concrete link between heme and cancer in human studies (possibly because humans have consumed predominantly meat in our diets for more than four million years).
In 2015 I wrote about the research on red meat and cancer. (https://www.billgiles.com.au/red-meat-and-cancer-theres-much-more-to-the-story/ ). The research shows that red meat may contribute to cancer because ‘carcinogenic by-products occur when red meats are cooked at high temperatures’ and this is exacerbated when commercial additives, in the form of nitrites and nitrates, are added to processed meats, such as bacon, sausages, and hot dogs. We could also add that the effects of red meat contamination is contributing to cancer, due to the growth hormones fed to cattle, and the commercial insecticide sprays used in high-intensity farming.
Because red meats in most countries are now contaminated with hormones, pesticides, heavy metals, petrochemicals and other industrial chemicals, the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, has classified ‘red meat—including beef, pork, lamb and goat—as probable carcinogens, and has added them to its group 2A list, which also includes the active ingredients of many weedkillers’.
In my clinical experience with electro-dermal testing of the effects of all types of foods on clients, I believe that good Australian beef, lamb, and pork are not predisposing Australians to gastrointestinal tract cancers. Rather, I believe that the commercial additives, flavourings, preservatives, colourants, sweeteners, herbs and spices added to red meats, along with fast, high temperature cooking methods, have a greater influence on predisposing Australians to cancers.
What to do?
I see no reason to avoid red meats but rather to source the best quality you can afford. Find a local butcher who you can talk to you about where the animals are sourced, and ensure that high quality farming methods are being employed. Even better is to find some organic farmers who will sell and butcher a whole beast for you—this may seem a costly outlay, but it takes time to consume an entire cow-pig-sheep. It also can reduce your visits to the supermarkets, and eventually it will be an economical choice, especially if you split the costs with friends.
Human evolution and foods
Of the 650,000 species of plant foods on this planet, our ancestors only ate a few hundred after cooking them to denature their natural defense toxins. Understand that if you attempted to consistently eat grass because herbivores such as horses, cattle, sheep, kangaroos and goats eat it, then in all probability, besides making you forever sick, you would predispose yourself to some form of cancer!
Understand that the foods our hunter-gatherer ancestors in Africa ate during the paleolithic era, from about 2.6 million years ago to the beginning of the agricultural revolution about 13,000 years ago, are those to which today’s humans are mostly adapted. My personal experience, having lived with true hunter-gatherer Australian aborigines in the 1970s, agrees with evolutionary biology that hunter-gatherers ate predominantly red meats (from freshly killed land animals), birds, fish and crustaceans; and in lean times reverted to tubers (yams and corms); water bulbs, select legumes and select seeds-nuts which were ground into flours and baked in ground ovens, like today’s bush damper. Occasional valued condiments for entertainment, were seasonal, and these included honey, eggs, some non-toxic fruits and berries, and occasional vegetables such as bush carrots. Medicine foods were taken in very small doses, and were made from hundreds of toxic, leaves, herbs or water weeds—similar to the medicinal herbs we use today for healing.
In our modern world we now eat a few hundred species of plant foods (fruits, salads, vegetables, herbs, spices, nuts, seeds) gathered from all four corners of the earth. Of the 650,000 species of plants on this planet, we still only eat a few hundred types, because just about all plants are too toxic and poisonous for our organs to denature, even with extensive cooking. Note: infants need to have their vegetables super-cooked and Granny in her great age, also cooks the ‘buggery’ out of her vegetables—because if she eats them raw it could bring on her arthritis!
Healthy young people up to their mid 30s, should be able to eat almost all human foods, even raw, and not get poisoned. And this is because their liver, kidneys and immune system function normally with a perfect ability to denature poisons and toxins. Most of the raw-vegan diets are promoted by super healthy looking young people! However, as people age they will be more likely to develop intolerance to the naturally occurring defense toxins and poisons in plants.
Trans-fatty-acids are made from plants
We now know that to reduce our likelihood of getting cancer, we should not eat trans-fatty-acids. However trans-fatty-acids are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid—to be then used in commercial baked goods and deep-fried foods. This is another reason to put into perspective, the questionable role some plant foods have in our diet. And it is my advice to avoid ANY vegetable oils (and limit virgin olive oil) in your diet. Cook with lard, butter, ghee, tallow, duck-fat.
Pesticides are mostly made from plants
Science has shown that many pesticides are carcinogenic. Thousands of years ago in the Middle East, Rome, and China, the crushed petals of the pyrethrum (a type of chrysanthemum), sulfur, and arsenic were used as pesticides. A pesticide consists of an active ingredient coupled with inert ingredients. The active ingredient kills the pests, while the inert ingredient facilitates spraying and coating the target plant.
Although active ingredients were once distilled from certain plants and other substances, now they are largely synthesised in a laboratory and almost all are hydrocarbons derived from petroleum (a fossil fuel formed from the remains of ancient algae and other plants). Liquid pesticides mostly use kerosene (derived from petroleum) as a carrier, although water has recently begun to replace kerosene. Powdered pesticides typically contain vegetable matter such as ground up nut-shells or corn cobs, clays such as diatomite, or powdered minerals such as talc or calcium carbonate, as a carrier. Limit your eating of salads, vegetables and fruits that have been sprayed with pesticides.
Foods that feed cancer cells.
Ask yourself these questions to gauge your understanding of the foods that fuel cancer cells.
Which foods would be more likely to feed cancer cells:
1. Complex carbohydrates such as potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, beetroot—or protein animal foods, eggs, butter? ……………………..
2. Complex carbohydrates such as grains (wheat, corn, rice, oats)—or compex carbohydrates such as legumes (peas, soya, beens, quinoa, amaranth)? ……………………
3. Which commercial bakery foods are more likely to feed cancer cells; normal white breads—or Deek’s grain-free breads? ……………………..
‘The Warburg Effect’
The Warburg Effect describes the observation that all cancer cells ferment glucose to energise themselves, even when adequate oxygen is present for normal cellular respiration. The ‘Warburg Hypothesis’ indicates that ‘The Warburg Effect’ is the root-cause of cancer. Otto Warburg won the Nobel Prize in Physiology-Medicine in 1931 for this research—which is still well accepted today.
And so, if you have a diet which provides elevated blood glucose, this will allow cancer cells to feed and proliferate. However, while understanding that sugar directly fuels the growth of cancer cells, it can also create confusion and stress in many people as they come to realise that an ‘Anti-cancer Diet’ is one that is low in carbohydrates (both simple and complex) and high in fats, and moderate in proteins. Often this is going against all the messages we are given from a young age, by our parents, teachers, and government endorsed dietary professionals.
While the recommended balanced diet incorporates low fat and protein with a high carbohydrate diet of fruit and vegetables, all carbohydrate foods you eat are broken down to simple sugars in the intestine, where they are absorbed into the blood stream to raise blood glucose levels. Of course the rate of rise of blood glucose is dependent on the amounts of dietary fibre, water, protein and fat in a meal.
Most people normally attempt to eat every piece of food on their plate, and this tends to cause people to overeat. Also satiation varies with the types of foods we eat and the way they are prepared. We can get higher volumes of liquid foods into our stomach more quickly than we can of solid foods. We can eat soft foods more quickly than hard foods, and tender foods more quickly than tough foods.
How quickly we can fill our stomach can have an effect on subsequent blood glucose levels. The ‘Anti-cancer Diets’ attempt to starve cancer cells by not letting blood glucose rise above ‘normal’ levels. Protein and fat foods do not change blood glucose, however all carbohydrate foods do. In order to reduce the possibility of glucose spiking when eating plant-based foods, the volume eaten in time has to be restricted, and yet we still need to feel satiated.
Some foods will more easily contribute to a feeling of fullness (satiety) than others. The quickest satiating responses are experienced by eating meals with water and protein/fat that require extensively chewing (Green SM, Delargy HJ, Joanes D, Blundell JE (1997) A satiety quotient: a formulation to assess the satiating effect of food. Appetite 29, 291-304). The amount of chewing, and the force required to chew the protein in these meals, along with the distention effects on the stomach of drinking water with the meal, have the quickest satiation responses for most people—and there will be no rise in blood glucose. This is an adequate, if boring, ‘Anti-cancer Diet’.
Carbohydrate-rich foods (pasta, rice, wholegrain breads and cereals) potatoes and pumpkins, etc also have a high satiating response by simply filling the stomach quickly without forceful chewing, but they will elevate blood glucose well above normal for some hours. Because there is not a great deal of forceful chewing, satiatity is achieved more by blood sugar elevation, and this will take from several minutes to as much as 40 minutes to occur in most people. Because of this, most people overeat these rich-in-carbohydrate foods and provide good feed for cancer cells.
Then there are the carbohydrate ‘fast’ foods that we can ‘eat-on-the-run’. These give rapid increases in blood glucose levels for a small time—before insulin spiking eliminates the elevated blood glucose and stores the glucose as body fat—and we feel hungry again, forcing us to snack several times a day to feel intermittent satiation. This is a very effective diet to feed cancer cells.
Plant derived foods and drinks such as vegetables, salads, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, alcohol, coffee, tea and sugars are entertaining and for this reason are a necessary part of our modern diets. But how do you still eat these, and yet not increase your blood-glucose levels to feed cancer cells? The ‘Interrupted-eating Model’ can simplify food choices and reduce the stress of having to select between eating a protein-fat-water ‘Anti-cancer Diet’ and an entertaining carbohydrate dominant diet—and it’s related to the style of eating.
The Interrupted-eating Model
Take a 180 mm plate and prepare your meal with the following ratio’s:
Fill 50 percent with a variety of vegetables, 30 percent with animal proteins (meat, fish etc) and 15 percent with saturated fats such as avocado, butter, including the fat associated with meats.
Firstly, without eating any of the carbohydrate vegetables, eat the protein meats and any protein vegetables, such as mushrooms and salads, as well as all the fats. Drink a glass of water. Then eat two fork-fulls of the carbohydrate vegetables and then stop eating—go for a walk or wash the dishes. Do something that would take 15 minutes or so, to allow your blood glucose levels to rise. This will make you feel less hungry.
Come back to your meal (heat it up if you need to) and take another two fork-fulls of vegetables. Drink a little tea if you wish. Following this, go away again for 15 more minutes. With most people, they will feel satiated by this stage, and with minimal discipline, will stop eating any more of the carbohydrate foods, which can be prepared for inclusion in another meal as ‘bubble and squeak’.
Try the Interrupted-eating Model, and you should find that you feel much fuller (and for longer). There will also be a benefit in twice cooking your vegetables, as this will further assist in denaturing their natural defense toxins.
As part of our ‘Healing From Cancer Support Program; We take people through ‘Signature Diet Trials’ which enables them to determine which plants are causing stress to their immune system. They then experiment with the Interrupted-eating Model, during their recovery. Following full recovery they can then experiment with a normal entertaining ‘balanced’ diet.
Creating their individual ‘Signature Diet’ enables them to know and trust which foods ‘work’ for them and their body—there is no more confusion about adhering to ‘join-the-club’ diets or eating foods and then waiting to see what affects they have with no forewarning.