Can Green Tea Help Prevent Cancer?

Tea consumption is associated with a reduced risk of [heart disease], stroke,” and premature death in general, with each additional cup of green tea a day associated with a 4% lower mortality risk. So, maybe, “drinking several cups of tea daily can keep the doctor away”—as well as the mortician. But, what about cancer?

“There is growing evidence from laboratory, [population], and human intervention[al] studies that tea can exert beneficial disease-preventive effects,” and further, may actually “slow cancer progression.” Let’s review some of that evidence.

Not only do those who drink a lot of tea appear to live years longer than those who drink less; drinking lots of tea may delay the onset of cancer. Now, these are in Japanese tea cups, which only contain half a cup; so, the highest category here is greater than or equal to five full cups of tea, not ten. The women that did get cancer appeared to get it seven years later if they had been drinking lots of tea compared to those who consumed less, whereas men had a three-year delay, the difference male versus female due, potentially, to their smoking habits.

Green tea may be able to interfere with each of the stages of cancer formation: the initiation of the first cancer cell, promotion into a tumor, and then, the subsequent progression and spread. Cancer is often initiated when a free radical oxidizes our DNA, causing a mutation. But within 40 minutes of drinking green tea, you can get a nice “spike” in the antioxidant power of your bloodstream. “This increase…, in turn, [may] lower oxidative damage to DNA and so decrease [the] risk of cancer.”

Furthermore, in terms of “genoprotective effects”—protecting our genes—”pre-existing oxidation-induced DNA damage was…lower” after drinking green tea, suggesting that it can boost DNA repair as well. But, we didn’t know for sure, until now.

There’s a DNA-repair enzyme in our body called OGG1, and within one hour of drinking a single cup of green tea, we can boost its activity—though after a week of tea drinking, we can boost it even higher. So, “regular intake of green tea [may have] additional benefits in the prevention and/or repair of DNA damage.” Tea is so DNA-protective, it can be used for sperm storage for fresh samples until they can be properly refrigerated.

And so anti-inflammatory, it can be used for pain control as a mouthwash after wisdom tooth surgery. And, in terms of controlling cancer growth, at a dose of green tea compounds that would make it into someone’s organs after drinking six cups of tea, it can cause cancer cells to commit suicide—apoptosis (programmed cell death)—while leaving normal cells alone.

There’s lots of chemo agents that can kill cancer through brute force. But, that can make normal cells vulnerable too. So, “green tea appears to be potentially an ideal agent” for cancer prevention: “little or no adverse side effects,” efficacious for multiple cancers “at achievable dose levels,” and can be taken orally.

We have a sense of how it works: by stopping cancer cells from growing and causing them to off themselves. It’s cheap and has a history of safe, acceptable use. But this was all based on in vitro studies in a test tube. It needs to be evaluated in human trials: give people with cancer green tea to see if it helps—which we’ll explore, next.

Doctor’s Note

Sorry about the cliffhanger! I just wanted to offer a good backgrounder on the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Stay tuned for Can Green Tea Help Treat Cancer?

You don’t have to wait for info on prostate cancer, though. See my recent videos: Preventing Prostate Cancer with Green Tea and Treating Prostate Cancer with Green Tea.

I also have a few older videos:

That wisdom tooth thing is so interesting. It can also just be used as an anticavity mouth rinse (see What’s the Best Mouthwash?).

Is Caffeinated Tea Dehydrating? Watch the video!

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous “meat defamation” trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United

Should Women at High Risk for Breast Cancer Avoid Soy?

Five studies have been performed on breast cancer survival and soy foods, involving more than 10,000 breast cancer patients. And, those who eat more soy live longer, and have a lower risk of the cancer coming back. But, what about women who carry breast cancer genes? Fewer than 10% of breast cancer cases run in families. But, when they do, it’s most likely mutations to one of the tumor suppressor genes—BRCA1 or BRCA2—that defend the integrity of our genes. They are involved in DNA repair, and so, if either one of them is damaged, or has mutations, chromosomal abnormalities can result, which can set us up for cancer.

This idea that we have tumor suppressor genes goes back to famous research in the 60s that showed that if you fuse together a normal cell with a cancer cell, the cancer cell doesn’t turn the normal cell malignant. Rather, the normal cell suppresses the cancerous one. Tumor suppressor genes are typically split up into two types. There are gatekeeper genes that keep cancer cells in check, and caretaker genes that keep the cell from going cancerous in the first place. And, BRCA genes appear able to do both—that’s why their function is so important.

breast-cancer-and-soy-concernsUntil recently, dietary recommendations for those with mutations focused on reducing DNA damage caused by free radicals, by eating lots of antioxidant-packed fruits and vegetables. If your DNA-repair capacity is low, you want to be extra careful about damaging your DNA in the first place. But, what if we could also boost BRCA function?

In my last video on the topic, I showed how, in vitro, soy phytoestrogens could turn back on BRCA protection suppressed by breast cancer, upregulating BRCA expression as much as 1,000% within 48 hours. But, does that translate out of the petri dish and into the person? Apparently so.

Soy intake was only associated with 27% breast cancer risk reduction in people with normal BRCA genes, but a 73% risk reduction in carriers of BRCA gene mutations. So, a healthy diet may be particularly important in those at high genetic risk. Meat consumption, for example, was linked to twice as much risk in those with BRCA mutations—97% increased risk, instead of just 41% increased risk of breast cancer in those with normal BRCA genes.

Doctor’s Note

What about for women without breast cancer genes, or for women who have already been diagnosed? That was the subject of my last video, Is Soy Healthy for Breast Cancer Survivors?. The older video I referred to is BRCA Breast Cancer Genes & Soy.

What is in meat that may increase risk? See, for example:

Featured Image From Authority Nutrition and Livestrong.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous “meat defamation” trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United

Is Soy Healthy for Breast Cancer Survivors?

is-soy-healthy-for-breast-cancer-survivorsSoyfoods have become controversial in recent years,…even among health professionals,…exacerbated by misinformation found on the Internet.” Chief among the misconceptions is that soy foods promote breast cancer, because they contain a class of  phytoestrogen compounds called isoflavones. Since estrogens can promote breast cancer growth, it’s natural to assume phytoestrogens might too.

But, people don’t realize there are two types of estrogen receptors in the body—alpha and beta. And, unlike actual estrogen, soy phytoestrogens “preferentially bind to and activate [estrogen receptor beta]. This distinction is important, because the 2 [types of receptors] have different tissue distributions…and often function differently, and sometimes in opposite ways.” And, this appears to be the case in the breast, where beta activation has an anti-estrogenic effect, inhibiting the growth-promoting effects of actual estrogen—something we’ve known for more than ten years. There’s no excuse anymore.

The effects of estradiol, the primary human estrogen, on breast cells are completely opposite to those of soy phytoestrogens, which have antiproliferative effects on breast cancer cells, even at the low concentrations one gets in one’s bloodstream eating just a few servings of soy—which makes sense, given that after eating a cup of soybeans, the levels in our blood cause significant beta receptor activation.

So, where did this outdated notion that soy could increase breast cancer risk come from? The concern was “based largely on research that showed that [the main soy phytoestrogen] genistein stimulates the growth of mammary tumors in [a type of] mouse.” But, it turns out, we’re not actually mice. We metabolize soy isoflavones very differently from rodents. The same soy leads to 20 to 150 times higher levels in the bloodstream of rodents. The breast cancer mouse in question was 58 times higher. So, if you ate 58 cups of soybeans a day, you could get some significant alpha activation, too. But, thankfully, we’re not hairless athymic ovariectomized mice, and we don’t tend to eat 58 cups of soybeans a day.

At just a few servings of soy a day, with the excess beta activation, we would assume soy would actively help prevent breast cancer. And, indeed, “[s]oy intake during childhood, adolescence, and adult life were each associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer.” Those women who ate the most soy in their youth appear to grow up to have less than half the risk.

This may help explain why breast cancer rates are so much higher here than in Asia—yet, when Asians come over to the U.S. to start eating and living like Americans, their risk shoots right up.  For example, women in Connecticut—way at the top of the breast cancer risk heap—in their fifties have, like, ten times more breast cancer than women in their fifties living in Japan. But, it’s not just genetic, since when they move here, their breast cancer rates go up generation after generation, as they assimilate into our culture.

Are the anti-estrogenic effects of soy foods enough to actually change the course of the disease? We didn’t know, until the first human study on soy food intake and breast cancer survival was published in 2009 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggesting that “[a]mong women with breast cancer, soy food consumption was significantly associated with decreased risk of death and [breast cancer] recurrence.” Followed by another study, and then another, all with similar findings.

That was enough for the American Cancer Society, who brought together a wide range of cancer experts to offer nutrition guidelines for cancer survivors, to conclude that, if anything, soy foods should be beneficial. Since then, two additional studies have been published, for a total of five, and they all point in the same direction. Five out of five, tracking more than 10,000 breast cancer patients.

Pooling all the results, soy food intake after breast cancer diagnosis was associated with reduced mortality (meaning a longer lifespan) and reduced recurrence—so, less likely the cancer comes back. Anyone who says otherwise hasn’t cracked a journal open in seven years.

And, this improved survival was for both women with estrogen receptor negative tumors and estrogen receptor positive tumors, and for both younger women, and for older women. Pass the edamame.

Doctor’s Note

This is probably the same reason flax seeds are so protective. See Flax Seeds & Breast Cancer Survival: Epidemiological Evidence and Flax Seeds & Breast Cancer Survival: Clinical Evidence.

What about women who carry breast cancer genes? I touched on that in BRCA Breast Cancer Genes & Soy, and it’s the topic of my next video, Should Women at High Risk for Breast Cancer Avoid Soy?

What about genetically modified soy? I made a video abut that too; see GMO Soy & Breast Cancer.

Who Shouldn’t Eat Soy? Glad you asked. Watch that video too! 🙂

Not all phytoestrogens may be protective, though. See The Most Potent Phytoestrogen is in Beer and What are the Effects of the Hops Phytoestrogen in Beer?

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous “meat defamation” trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United

Quickest & Easiest Way To Decrease Depression Symptoms For Breast Cancer Patients

exercise-for-depression-cancer-treatment-protocolWe’ve known for decades that even a single bout of exercise can elevate our mood, but could it be enough to be used as a treatment for major depression?

We’ve known that physical activity has been associated with decreased symptoms of depression. For example, if you look at a cross-section of 8,000 people across the country, those that exercised regularly were less likely to have a major depression diagnosis. That’s just a snapshot in time, though. In that study, the researcher openly acknowledges this may be a case of reverse causation. Maybe exercise didn’t cut down on depression, maybe depression cut down on exercise. The reason depression may be associated with low physical activity is that people may feel too lousy to get out of bed. What we’ve needed was an interventional study where you take people who are already depressed and randomize them into an exercise intervention.

That is what researchers from Duke University Medical Center did. They randomized men and women over age 50 with major depression to two groups: one who did an aerobic exercise program for four months and another that took an antidepressant drug called Zoloft. In my video Exercise vs. Drugs for Depression you can see a graph of their changes. Before exercise, their Hamilton Depression scores were up around 18 (anything over seven is considered depressed). Within four months, the drug group came down to normal, which are exactly what the drugs are supposed to do. What about the exercise-only group, though? Exercise had the same powerful effect.

The researchers concluded that an exercise training program may be considered an alternative to antidepressants for treatment of depression in older persons, given that they’ve shown that a group program of aerobic exercise is a feasible and effective treatment for depression, at least for older people.

Not so fast, though.

A “group program?” They had the exercise group folks come in three times a week for a group class. Maybe the only reason the exercise group got better is because they were forced to get out of bed and interact with people—maybe it was the social stimulation and had nothing to do with the actual exercise? Before you could definitively say that exercise can work as well as drugs, what we would need to see is the same study, but with an additional group who exercised alone with no extra social interaction. And those same Duke researchers did just that,

They created the largest exercise trial of patients with major depression conducted to date, and not just including older folks, but other adults as well with three different treatment groups this time: a home exercise group in addition to the supervised group exercise and the drug group as before.

And they all worked about just as well in terms of forcing the depression into remission. So we can say with confidence that exercise is comparable to antidepressant medication in the treatment of patients with major depressive disorder.

Putting all the best studies together, researchers indicate that exercise at least has a moderate antidepressant effect, and at best, exercise has a large effect on reductions in depression symptoms and could be categorized as a very useful and powerful intervention. Unfortunately, while studies support the use of exercise as a treatment for depression, exercise is rarely prescribed as a treatment for this common and debilitating problem.

Exercise may compare favorably to antidepressant medications as a first-line treatment for mild to moderate depression, but how much is that really saying? How effective are antidepressant drugs in the first place? Check out my video Do Antidepressant Drugs Really Work?

For dietary interventions that may improve mood, see:

Exercise can also help with ADHD (Treating ADHD Without Stimulants) and improve immunity (Preserving Immune Function in Athletes With Nutritional Yeast), not to mention extend our lives (Longer Life Within Walking Distance). But what we eat matters: Paleo Diets May Negate Benefits of Exercise.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous “meat defamation” trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United

Best Ways To Eat Flax Seeds For A Breast Cancer Diet

flax-seed-recipes-for-breast-cancer-dietFlax seed is one of the original health foods, treasured for its healing properties throughout the Roman Empire, and was one of the original medicines used by Hippocrates.  Mahatma Gandhi himself was right when he said, “Wherever flax seeds become a regular food item among the people, there will be better health.” Dr. Andrew Weil, one of the more reputable alternative medicine physicians, says that if we can make only a single dietary change, it should be to add flax seeds to our diet. Okay, but where do we find them, and how should we eat them?

Flax seeds are almost always in the bulk section of any natural food store. For about a dollar a pound, you’ve got like a two-month supply. There are brown ones and golden ones. They’re the same nutritionally, so pick your favorite color, I guess. They come with nature’s own finest packaging: a hard natural hull that keeps them fresh for up to a year, in an airtight container. Unfortunately, nature’s packaging is actually a little too good; if we eat flax seeds whole, they are likely to pass right through us, come out the other end, and not do us much good. So chew them really well, or grind them up in a coffee or spice grinder, a mini food processor, or a good blender. After they’re ground, store them in the refrigerator, and they’ll last a few months.

An easy way to get our daily intake is with a morning smoothie. Just put two tablespoons of flax seeds in a blender, grind them to powder, throw in some frozen berries, maybe half a frozen banana, some soy milk or almond milk (any of the so-called “motherless milks”). Flax seeds have this binding quality that makes for these thick, rich kind of milkshake-y type smoothies. In fact, you can use ground flax seed to replace eggs in baking. Just blend one tablespoon of ground flax with three tablespoons water, until it gets all kind of gooey, for each egg in the recipe.

Ground flax is better than the flax seed oil. The seeds are little nutrition powerhouses, and we lose much of the nutrition when we just press out the oil. Not only are flax seeds the richest source of lignans, they are a great source of iron, zinc, copper, calcium, protein, potassium, magnesium, folate, soluble fiber—which can lower our cholesterol and triglycerides—even boron, a trace mineral important for optimum bone health. We don’t get any of those, though, with just the flax seed oil. Another example of the importance of eating whole plant foods.

Flax seeds are incredibly powerful at dampening the effects of estrogen. Eating just a single tablespoon of ground flax seeds a day extends the length of a woman’s menstrual cycle—not the menses itself, but the whole month-long cycle—by an average of about one day. So you have fewer periods throughout your life, which means less estrogen exposure, and lower breast cancer risk.

There’s an interesting story behind this; we’ve known for a long time that young women who have frequent bladder infections were at an increased risk for breast cancer. Frequent bladder infections tied to breast cancer? It seems strange, and used to be a big mystery, but now we think that repeated antibiotic treatments for the bladder infections were probably wiping out all the good bacteria from the colon, which take the lignans in our diet, and turn them into these powerful anticancer compounds. So eating flax, the world’s best source of lignans, may indeed help prevent breast cancer.

It’s good for men, too. Flax seeds were recently compared to a leading pharmacological treatment for enlarged prostates. The standard drug costs about $300 a year versus only about $10 for daily flax. This new study found they both work just as well as each other. But what about the side effects? Well, the drug can cause headaches, dizziness, diarrhea, and all sorts of abnormalities. Flax has some side effects too, though: it improves our cholesterol and blood sugar, controls our blood pressure, and helps control hot flashes—though that’s not usually a big problem in sufferers of enlarged prostates.

More about flax seeds in the prevention and mediation of breast cancer:

And for a few of the latest videos on flax seeds and prostate health:

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Breast Cancer and DietIs Caffeinated Tea Really Dehydrating?Stool Size and Breast Cancer RiskVitamin B12: how much, how often? Treating an Enlarged Prostate With Diet; and Flax Seeds for Prostate Cancer.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous “meat defamation” trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United

How to OPEN Your Mind and Body to Change During Breast Cancer

breast-cancer-psychological-help-openToday is a good day to contemplate OPENING UP. The diagnosis of Breast Cancer and its treatment can cause you to close down, withdraw, and pull your body inward. Do some things today that help you OPEN yourself to healing and working with your body to heal itself. OPEN your arms and stretch to the sky. Stretch as far as you are comfortable, take a big inhale and stretch a little further. OPEN your mouth and stretch it as the face often holds each of our fears. Fear is an interesting phenomena as the more closed we are, the bigger fear grows. The more OPEN we become the more courage we create. Being OPEN is one of the best ways to conquer fear. Practice with your body and OPEN it to new possibilities.

OPEN your heart to love and acceptance. You did not cause this breast cancer, it is not your fault. So, let go of self-blame and use that energy to OPEN yourself to new possibilities. OPEN your mind and body to change. Most of us now know that our foods are full of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), but we are just learning that fact. So be OPEN to eating differently and buying organic. OPEN yourself to positive changes in your life regarding food and exercise.

OPEN your heart to new relationships and healing relationships that have become difficult. OPEN your heart to letting others be there for you and allowing people to be present to you on this journey. Be OPEN to asking for help. Be OPEN to offering help to others who can use your beautiful smile even though you have breast cancer right now. OPEN yourself to all possibilities and take steps to move on with your life.

Dr. Robin Dilley

Dr. Robin B. Dilley, author of In A Moment’s Notice: A Psychologist’s Journey with Breast Cancer is a licensed psychologist in the State of Arizona. Her eclectic practice allows her to cross diagnostic barriers and meet clients in their need assisting them to respond to life in healthy and empowering ways rather than react to life’s circumstances.

Should We All Take Aspirin to Prevent Cancer?

In people without a personal history of cardiovascular disease, the “risks of aspirin [may] outweigh [the] benefits.” But, aspirin may have additional benefits, as well.

“We have long recognized the preventative role of daily aspirin for patients with [heart] disease; however, it now appears that we can [hatch two birds from one egg].” Daily low-dose aspirin may also help prevent certain forms of cancer, as well.

In an analysis of eight different studies “involving more than 25,000 [people], the authors found a 20% decrease in risk of death from cancer among those…randomized to [a] daily aspirin.” You know, the search for effective and safe treatments for cancer remains an enormous, burdensome challenge. “If only we could stop cancer in its tracks—prevent it before it strikes.” Well, “[p]erhaps we can,” with this plant phytonutrient—salicylic acid—found in aspirin.

How does it affect cancer? Well, the Nobel Prize in Medicine went to the team that discovered how aspirin works. Enzymes named COX, cyclooxygenase, take the pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid that our body makes—or, we get directly in our diet, from mainly chicken and eggs—our enzymes take the arachidonic acid and turn it into inflammatory mediators, like thromboxane, which produces thrombosis (clots), and prostaglandins, which cause inflammation.

Aspirin suppresses these enzymes, though. So, less thromboxane means fewer clots. And, less prostaglandin means less pain, swelling, and fever. But, prostaglandins can also dilate the lymphatic vessels inside tumors, allowing cancer cells to spread. So, one of the ways cancer tries to kill us is by boosting COX activity.

That’s one of the ways we think aspirin can help prevent cancer—by counteracting tumor attempts to pry open the lymphatic bars on its cage, and spread throughout the body—because “the reduction in mortality due to some cancers occurred within 2 to 3 years after [aspirin was started].” That seems “too quick to be accounted for by an effect only on” the genesis (formation) of cancer. Cancer can take decades to develop.

So, the only way aspirin could save us that fast is by suppressing the growth and spread of tumors that already exist. Aspirin appeared to cut the risk of metastases in half—particularly for adenocarcinomas, like colon cancer.

So now, what about everyone taking a daily baby aspirin? Previous risk/benefit analyses did not consider the effects of aspirin on cancer, instead just balancing cardiovascular benefits with bleeding risks. But, these new cancer findings may change things.

If this was just the reduction of colon cancer risk, then the benefits might not outweigh the harms for the general public. But, now we have evidence that it works against other cancers, too. Even a 10% reduction in overall cancer incidence “could tip the balance” in favor of benefits over risks.

So, how does the cancer benefit compare?  As we saw before, using aspirin in healthy people just for cardiovascular protection is kind of a wash. By contrast, the cancer prevention rates might save twice as many lives. So, the benefits may outweigh the risks. If you put it all together, heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and bleeding, aspirin comes out looking protective overall—potentially extending our lifespan.

Yes, higher risk of major bleeding, even at low-dose aspirin, but fewer heart attacks, clotting strokes, and cancers. So, it may be beneficial overall.

Now, note these age categories only go up to 74 years old, though.  That’s because the risk of bleeding on aspirin increases steeply with age; and so, may tip the balance the other way. But, in younger folks, this data certainly has the research community buzzing. “The emerging evidence on aspirin’s cancer protection highlights an exciting time for cancer prevention.”

“In light of low-dose aspirin’s ability to reduce mortality from both vascular events and cancer to a very notable degree, it is tempting to recommend” low-dose aspirin for nearly everybody. However, aspirin pills, even at low doses, have “a propensity to damage [the lining of our stomach and intestines], and increase [the] risk for gastrointestinal bleeding; this fact may constrain health authorities from recommending aspirin for [the general population].” Recent meta-analyses estimate that just a single “year of low-dose aspirin therapy will induce major gastrointestinal bleeding…in one…out of 833 [people].”

If only there were a way to get the benefits, without the risks. Those who remember this video already know the answer.  The aspirin phytonutrient isn’t just found in willow trees, but throughout the plant kingdom. This explains why the active ingredient in aspirin is found normally in the bloodstream even in people not taking aspirin.

Here’s the levels of aspirin in people that eat fruits and vegetables, and here’s the levels found in those that don’t. Then, just drink one fruit smoothie, and within an hour and a half, your levels rise. As you can see, one smoothie ain’t going to do it; you have to regularly eat daily fruit and vegetable consumption.

But, are these kinds of aspirin levels sufficient to suppress the expression of that inflammatory enzyme implicated in cancer growth and spread? Well, using umbilical cord and foreskins—where else are you going to get human tissue?—they found that even those low levels caused by smoothie consumption significantly suppressed the expression of that inflammatory enzyme at a genetic level.

Well, if this aspirin phytonutrient is made by plants, we might expect plant-eaters to have higher levels. And, indeed, not only did they find higher blood levels in vegetarians; there was an overlap with people taking aspirin pills. Some vegetarians had the same level in their blood as people actually taking aspirin. Vegetarians pee out as much of the active metabolite of aspirin as aspirin-users do, just because they’re eating so many fruits and vegetables.

“Because the anti-inflammatory action of aspirin is probably the result of [this active ingredient in aspirin—salicylic acid—], and the concentrations of [salicylic acid] seen in vegetarians [has] been shown to inhibit [that inflammatory COX enzyme] in vitro, [it’s] plausible that dietary salicylates may contribute to the beneficial effects of a vegetarian diet, although [they say] it seems unlikely that most omnivores would be able to achieve sufficient dietary intake of salicylates to have a therapeutic effect.” Though, they could certainly eat more fruits and veggies, too.

With effectively all that aspirin flowing through their systems, plant-eaters must have high ulcer rates, right? Aspirin can just chew through our gut. But no, vegetarians appear to have a significantly lower risk of ulcers, for both men and women.

So, for the general population, by eating plants instead of taking aspirin, we may not just get the benefits without the risks, we can get benefits—with benefits! How is that possible? Because in plants, the salicylic acid may come naturally pre-packaged with gut-protective nutrients.

For example, nitric oxide from dietary nitrates exerts stomach-protective effects by “boosting blood flow” and protective “mucus production” in the lining of the stomach—”effects [that] demonstrably oppose the pro-ulcerative impact of aspirin…”

“Dark green leafy vegetables…are among the richest dietary sources of nitrate.” But, of course, the researcher goes on to say that, “Since it may be unrealistic to expect people to eat ample servings of [greens] every day,” we should just give people pills with their pills, right? Nitrate pills with their aspirin pills.

But, why not just eat our greens? People who’ve had a heart attack should follow their physician’s advice, which probably includes taking aspirin every day. What about everyone else? I think everyone should take aspirin—but, in produce, not pill form.

Doctor’s Note

To see the pros versus cons for people trying to prevent or treat heart attacks and stroke, see my previous video, Should We All Take Aspirin to Prevent Heart Disease?

If the COX enzyme sounds familiar, I talked about it in my Anti-inflammatory Life is a Bowl of Cherries video.

Where does one get “dietary nitrates” from? See: Vegetables Rate by Nitrate.

Do some plant foods have more aspirin than others? Definitely. In fact, some foods have the same amount as a “baby” aspirin. Check out my next video: Plants with Aspirin Aspirations.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous “meat defamation” trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United

How To Develop & Execute A Nurturing Plan During Breast Cancer

how-to-nurture-a-breast-cancer-patient-during-treamentNURTURE is an important and essential action for you as a person with breast cancer. NURTURE usually takes a seat at the end of the “to –do” list and never gets done in our day-to-day busy lives. NURTURE is absolutely essential to growth and to healing. You must move it to the top of the list now. Your cells, your mood, your emotions and your quality of life depend on it. If you are going through all of this treatment to save your life, then NURTURE yourself through it. Massages, warm bubble baths, hot green tea, ice cold lemonade, mint, fresh flowers, and a great power nap are only a few things on the long list of NURTURING actions. Today, make a list of your top 10 NURTURING ideas and then develop a plan on how to execute one of them a week. NURTURING actions are essential to you healing well and thriving as an individual. Breast cancer forces you to change your life, thus you might as well choose positive ways to change it rather than be a victim to it.

If you just throw something out into the world and do nothing to provide a stable and supportive environment for growth, then not much is going to happen. NURTURING is a fundamental necessity to attain your heart’s desires. Sometimes a “victim identity” keeps us in ruts of “poor me”, “I can’t do what I want to do because I have breast cancer”. That way of thinking is lazy thinking. If you want something, then it is important to work for it. Nothing just happens. Even those that win the lottery statistically lose it all within a few short years. It is our inner attitude, our psychological scripts that are just as powerful as our DNA. They must consistently be NURTURED in positive, generous, and supportive ways for your being to let go and allow you to believe that change is possible for everyone, including yourself.
So today choose to change. Get out into the sunlight, wear something you love, surround yourself in beauty, and do the things that make you smile. NURTURE yourself today and always.

Featured Image From The Truth About Cancer

Dr. Robin Dilley

Dr. Robin B. Dilley, author of In A Moment’s Notice: A Psychologist’s Journey with Breast Cancer is a licensed psychologist in the State of Arizona. Her eclectic practice allows her to cross diagnostic barriers and meet clients in their need assisting them to respond to life in healthy and empowering ways rather than react to life’s circumstances.

Here is my Thanksgiving advice for you!

happy-thanksgiving-jpgThanksgiving provides each of us an opportunity to take inventory of our lives and truly list our blessings. Thanksgiving has a way of opening the door of our hearts and souls to others, allowing the spirit of generosity to permeate to each other.

But the happy face of Thanksgiving does not always fit. For breast cancer and other cancer survivors this time can be bitter-sweet, especially if you are currently in treatment or wrestling with bad news on how your treatment is going. If you are having a difficult time emotionally or physically then this holiday can present some challenges. Rather that asking you to hide those challenges and pretend that you are just thankful to be alive, I am giving you permission to be honest with yourself and others. There is a trick to this honesty because as you probably know by now, honesty is not always well received by the general population. Most people just do not know what to say when you say you are in treatment for cancer. It is not that they are selfish, inept, or rude. They just don’t know what to say. As a result they end up saying something like, “hope you feel better soon.”

Here is my Thanksgiving advice for you:
The bottom line no one knows if he/she will be alive this time next year. Now, by telling you that truth, I have just leveled the playing field. You are really no different than your neighbor who seems to be happy-go-lucky Mr. Good Guy. The difference is that you are aware you are now mortal. That reality allows you to make a difference this Thanksgiving in ways other people can’t.

Here are some things to do as a result:

  1. Make a list of your friends, family and acquaintances. Be mindful as you do this by getting out a large notepad or even beautiful stationary. Spend time listing these people.
  2. Next, ask yourself, “Who would be my best ally or friend on this list if I allowed myself to be vulnerable with him/her?” Imagine yourself calling that person and asking them to come visit with you for a little bit. If they live far away ask for a time when you can have a brief but meaningful conversation with them on the phone. I know your anxiety is rising because I am asking you to do something for yourself. Take a breath and relax a bit because I am going to ask you to do something for all of those other people on your list in a minute. However, you must learn how to take care of your difficult emotions first.

Here is a brief script you can practice saying to the one person that you chose to be your friend on the list:

Susie (the name of your person) I am reaching out to you today because I trust you and believe I can be honest with you. You have shown me over our time together that you are genuinely interested in how I am doing. To be truthful with you, I have never really known how to answer that question. But today, I just need you to know that I am having a difficult time right now. This Thanksgiving is feeling overwhelming and I am sad. I hurt and my treatment is not going very easy right now. Because, I know you have cared about that in the past, I am letting you know that now in the most honest way I can. It feels better just to say the truth to someone. I know there is nothing you can do Susie to change anything I am going through. I just needed to get it off of my chest. Thanks so much for listening to me.”

See, that wasn’t so bad was it? That was an exercise in reaching out to get your needs met and allowing a friend to be there to listen. In most cases sharing with a friend at this level of honesty will help you feel a little better.

Now, look at that list of people. What do you know about each of them? Ask yourself, “What would I say or do for them if they were in a difficult spot this Thanksgiving?” Asking yourself that question will help you get out of your box and into his/her box, making you aware if it is not cancer, it is usually something.

Depending on your energy level, here are a few suggestions of some action you can take:

  1. If you a person of prayer, you can offer a prayer for each of them.
  2. If you have the energy and the contact information you can call them and tell them, “Happy Thanksgiving. I am just thinking about you. Hope you have a wonderful day.”
  3. You can send a note or you can just keep the list handy and look at it often to remind yourself that we really all are in this together, one way or the other.

The last suggestion for this Thanksgiving is for you to do something this day to distract yourself from you. Don’t allow yourself to dwell on your fear. Any activity out of the ordinary will help you get your mind off of yourself and be thankful that even though you have cancer you still can do some activities and be valuable to others along the way. Be thankful for that and enjoy what you can. Let go of the rest.

Dr. Robin Dilley

Dr. Robin B. Dilley, author of In A Moment’s Notice: A Psychologist’s Journey with Breast Cancer is a licensed psychologist in the State of Arizona. Her eclectic practice allows her to cross diagnostic barriers and meet clients in their need assisting them to respond to life in healthy and empowering ways rather than react to life’s circumstances.

Why BPA (Synthetic Estrogen) Hasn’t Been Banned

“The number of new chemicals is increasing exponentially”—we’re talking 12,000 new substances a day. Yet, data aren’t available on the hazards of even some of the high volume chemicals. BPA is one of the highest volume chemicals, with billions of pounds produced each year. And, studies have “raised concerns about its possible implication in the [cause] of some chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, reproductive disorders, cardiovascular diseases, birth defects, chronic respiratory and kidney diseases and breast cancer.”

A new study on the health implications of BPA comes out nearly every week. BPA was first developed over a hundred years ago as a synthetic estrogen. But it wasn’t until the 1950s that industry realized it could be used to make polycarbonate plastic, and it rapidly became one of the most used chemicals worldwide, even though it was recognized to have hormonal effects. About a billion pounds are also used to line food and beverage cans—especially, it seems, in tuna and condensed soups.

And now, we basically all have BPA in our bodies, and our children’s bodies. But, not to worry; the government says up to 50 a day is safe; 50 micrograms per kilogram. And, even those working in Chinese BPA factories don’t get exposed to more than like 70 times lower than that safety limit. Okay, then, why did exposure seem to affect the male workers’ sperm counts?

how-to-avoid-bpaIn the U.S., the general population only gets less than like a thousand times lower than the safety limit. Yet, still, we seem to be seeing “adverse effects on thyroid function, weight control, blood sugar control, cardiovascular disease, liver function, and immune function”—even at those incredibly low doses. So, “[t]he fact that there are significant adverse effects in populations exposed to BPA at concentrations [thousands of] times lower than the [official tolerable daily limit] indicates that the safe exposure to BPA may be much lower than previously thought in humans.” Yet, the limit hasn’t been changed. It’s been banned from baby bottles and sippy cups, but nearly unlimited doses are still apparently okay for everyone else. What’s the disconnect here?

It has to do with the fascinating world of low-dose effects of hormone-disrupting chemicals. “For decades, [these chemicals] “have challenged traditional concepts in toxicology”—particularly the old adage that it’s “the dose makes the poison,” the concept “that lower exposures to a hazardous compound will, therefore, always generate lower risks.” That’s “the core assumption underlying [our] system of chemical-safety testing.” They start dosing lab animals with super high amounts, and then keep lowering the dose until whatever adverse effects disappear; then, add a safety buffer, and assume everything below that dose should be okay, assuming the curve looks like this. You know, the higher the dose, the higher the effect. But, hormone-disrupting chemicals can have all sorts of “curious curves.” Basically, how could something have more of an effect at a lower dose?

Think about a hormone, and its receptors in the body. At low levels of the hormone, like going from 0 to 1, the receptors can fill up quickly. But, once they’re almost all filled up, going from 4 to 5, adding really high doses may not change things much. Let’s use an actual BPA example. This was a study to see if BPA suppressed an obesity-protective hormone in fat samples taken from breast reduction and tummy tuck patients. As you can see, at a hundred nanomoles of BPA (I feel like a weatherman here!), but at a hundred nanomoles of BPA, you can see hormone levels are no lower than they are at 0 BPA. And, since most people have levels like between 1 and 20, then BPA must be safe. But, here’s the actual graph. So, no suppression at 0; no suppression at 100. But, right where levels are in people’s bodies, BPA appears to cut hormone release nearly in half.

learn-about-bpa-and-breast-cancerAs the world’s oldest, largest, and most active organization devoted to research on hormones concluded, “even infinitesimally low levels of exposure—indeed, any level of exposure at all—may cause [problems],” nearly three billion dollars’ worth of problems every year, just counting the estimated effects of BPA on childhood obesity and heart disease alone.

Now, there are alternatives that the industry could use; the problem, though, is that they may cost two cents more.

Doctor’s Note

BPA isn’t the only problem with canned tuna. Check out:

What can we do to avoid endocrine-disrupting chemicals? See, for example, Avoiding Adult Exposure to Phthalates, and How to Avoid the Obesity-Related Plastic Chemical BPA.

Alkylphenols are another group of endocrine disrupting chemicals. Learn more about them here:

Featured Image Source Mother Jones

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous “meat defamation” trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United

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