Animal Protein May Play a Role in Cancer Risk

In the two decades between 1990 and 2010, the leading causes of death and disability remained relatively constant. Heart disease remains the leading cause of loss of health and life, but among the diseases whose incidence has increased the most over the past generation is chronic kidney disease. The number of deaths has doubled.

Our “meat-sweet” diet has been implicated in this escalation. Excess table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup consumption is associated with increased blood pressure and uric acid levels, both of which can damage the kidney. The saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol found in animal products and junk food are also associated with impaired kidney function, and meat protein increases the acid load to the kidneys, boosting ammonia production and potentially damaging our sensitive kidney tissue. This is why a restriction of protein intake is often recommended to chronic kidney disease patients to help prevent further functional decline.

Is all protein created equal? No—not all protein has the same effect on your kidneys. Our kidneys appear to handle plant protein very differently from animal protein. Within hours of consuming meat, our kidneys rev up into hyperfiltration mode, dramatically increasing the kidneys’ workload. This is true of a variety of animal proteins—beef, chicken, and fish appear to have similar effects. But an equivalent amount of plant protein causes virtually no noticeable stress on the kidneys. Eat some tuna, and within three hours, your kidney filtration rate can shoot up 36 percent. But eating the same amount of protein in the form of tofu doesn’t appear to place any additional strain on the kidneys.

Why does animal protein cause the overload reaction while plant protein doesn’t? Researchers discovered that after giving subjects a powerful anti-inflammatory drug along with animal protein, the hyperfiltration response disappeared, suggesting the hyperactive response was triggered by inflammation.

Animal protein may also play a role in cancer risk. IGF-1, insulin-like growth factor 1, is a cancer-promoting growth hormone that is released in excess when we eat animal protein. This is presumably why those who eat less meat, egg white, or dairy proteins have significantly lower levels circulating within their bodies within weeks of making the dietary switch. This lowering of IGF-1 levels is thought to be why the blood of men and women eating plant-based diets suppresses prostate and breast cancer growth in vitro significantly better than those eating the Standard American Diet.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

Dr. Michael Greger on Breast Cancer Authority Blog

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 States.

Learn What Locally Grown Vegetables Are In Season Plus Recipes

Use The Seasonal Food Guide to learn when & where locally grown produce is in season. Use this guide to pick the best cancer fighting superfoods and add them to your menu this week. Late September features Avocado as an in season superfood and we have included six avocado recipes featured in past on Breast Cancer Yoga Blog.

Avocado Cancer Fighting Information:
Antioxidants and Phytochemicals found in avocados include: Carotenoids: beta carotene, alpha carotene, zeaxanthin shown to inhibit the growth of prostate, breast and head and neck (oral) cancers. Vitamin E is an antioxidant. However, according to Food For Breast Cancer avocados may pose a risk for breast cancer.

Avocado Recipes For A Cancer Free Lifestyle Diet:

  1. Super Delicious Avocado Lime Cake – Dairy & Sugar Free Recipe
  2. Avocado Toast With Veggies & White Bean Salad
  3. Summer Salad Recipe – Quinoa, Spinach & Tomatoes Stuffed Avocados
  4. Easy Sweet Potato, Kale & Avocado Salad Recipe
  5. Kale and Avocado Salad Recipe
  6. Tomato Avocado Soup For Breast Cancer

Eat a Plant-Based Diet of Fruits and Vegetables For Breast Cancer:
make your diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables that are full of micronutrients and bioflavonoids which are duly noted to help prevent breast cancer or other cancers. Five or more servings per day is recommended by the American Cancer Institute. Red and blueberries hold a significant amount of the necessary cell builders and anti-cancerangetic properties that are a necessity on our tables.

  • Look for free recipes on the internet
  • Start by adding healthy food choices to diet –  http://www.healthranger.org/healthtips.html
  • Begin transition to a healthy diet with meatless Monday
  • Begin to eliminate cancer causing foods from your diet

A combination of a healthful diet and physical activity seems to be particularly important, as was shown in the Women’s Healthy Eating and Living Study, which included 3,088 women previously diagnosed with breast cancer. Women who had at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day and averaged 30 minutes of walking 6 days per week had roughly half the risk of dying from breast cancer, compared with women who ate fewer vegetables and fruits or who were less active.

So a healthful plant-based diet helps in many ways. It makes weight control easier, helps you avoid unhealthful fats, and keeps fruits and vegetables front and center. This combination, along with regular exercise, helps prevent cancer and also reduces the risk of recurrence.

Dawn Breast CancerAbout Dawn Bradford Lange:  Co-founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Dawn is making a difference with Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products designed to support you emotionally and physically during breast cancer . We want to give you the attention and personal service you need so please email us at info@breastcanceryoga.com if you have questions.

Is Soy Healthy for Breast Cancer Survivors?

Soyfoods 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?

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

How to Block Breast Cancer’s Estrogen-Producing Enzymes

The vast majority of breast cancers start out “hormone-dependent,” meaning the primary human estrogen, called “estradiol plays a crucial role in [breast cancer] development and progression.” That’s one of the reasons why soy food consumption appears so protective against breast cancer—because soy phytoestrogens, like genistein, act as estrogen-blockers. They block the binding of estrogens, like estradiol, to breast cancer cells.

But, wait a second. “The majority of breast cancers occur [after menopause], when the ovaries have [stopped producing estrogen].” What’s the point of eating estrogen blockers if there’s no estrogen to block? It turns out the breast cancer tumors themselves produce their own estrogen from scratch to fuel their own growth.

Estrogens may be formed in breast tumors by multiple pathways. The breast cancer takes cholesterol, and, using the aromatase enzyme, or two hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase enzymes, produces its own estrogen.

So, there’s two ways to stop breast cancer. One is to use “antiestrogens,” estrogen-blockers, like the soy phytoestrogens, or “the anti-estrogen [drug] tamoxifen…However, another way to block estradiol is by using anti-enzymes” to prevent the breast cancer from making all the estrogen in the first place.

And, indeed, there are a variety of anti-aromatase drugs in current use. In fact, inhibiting the estrogen production has been shown to be “more effective” than just trying to block the effects of the estrogen—”suggesting that the inhibition of estrogen synthesis is clinically very important for the treatment of estrogen-dependent breast cancer.” It turns out soy phytoestrogens can do both.

Using ovary cells taken from women undergoing in vitro fertilization, soy phytoestrogens were found to reduce the expression of the aromatase enzyme. What about in breast cancer cells, though? Breast cancer cells, too—not only suppressing aromatase activity, but the other estrogen-producing enzyme, too.

But, this is in a petri dish. Does soy suppress estrogen production in people too Well, circulating estrogen levels appear significantly lower in Japanese women than American white women. And, Japan does have the highest per capita soy food consumption. But, you don’t know it’s the soy until you put it to the test. Japanese women were randomized to add soymilk to their diet—or not—for a few months. Estrogen levels did seem to drop about a quarter in the soymilk-supplemented group. Interestingly, when they tried the same experiment in men, they got similar results: a significant drop in female hormone levels, with no change in testosterone levels.

These results, though, are in Japanese men and women that were already consuming soy in their baseline diet. So, it’s really just looking at “higher versus lower…soy intake.”

What happens if you give soymilk to women in Texas? Circulating estrogen levels cut in half. Since increased estrogen levels are a “[marker] for high risk for breast cancer,” the effectiveness of soy to reduce estrogen levels may help explain why Chinese and Japanese women have such low rates of breast cancer.

And, what was truly remarkable is that estrogen levels stayed down a month or two, even after they stopped drinking it. This suggests you don’t have to consume soy every day to have the cancer-protective benefit.

Doctor’s Note

Wait, soy protects against breast cancer? Yes, in study after study after study. Even in women at high risk? See BRCA Breast Cancer Genes & Soy.

Even if you already have breast cancer? See Is Soy Healthy for Breast Cancer Survivors?

Even GMO soy? See GMO Soy & Breast Cancer.

Okay, then, Who Shouldn’t Eat Soy? Watch that video too! 🙂

What else can we do to decrease breast cancer risk? See:

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

How Much Soy Should You Eat To Lower Breast Cancer Risk?

So, we know 7 to 18 servings of soy a day may neutralize some of the beneficial effects of avoiding animal protein. At the same time, studies have repeatedly found that women who eat lots of soy appear to have a lower risk of getting breast cancer, and a better risk of surviving breast cancer than those who don’t eat soy. So is there some magic number of soy food servings we should shoot for?

So far we know that somewhere between 7 and 18 may not be so good, so more than 18 definitely gets the axe. This two year study found no effect on IGF levels of adding two servings of soy foods daily, whether they were tofu, soy milk, soy nuts, or the concentrated soy isolate found in plant-based meats, protein bars, or protein powder; still fine.

Still got a big range here. This study suggested 5 to 10 servings a day was bad— increased IGF—so we’re kind of slowly but surely narrowing down the safety window. Same year in Japan; three servings a day cleared the IGF radar. And then, that’s it. That’s all the science we have so far.

The bottom line is that legumes should be a part of everyone’s daily diet, which means lentils, peas, and/or beans, ideally with each of our meals—of which soy is an excellent choice. But, I recommend that we should probably stick to no more than 3 to 5 servings a day.

Doctor’s Notes

This is the fourth in a string of videos on the role plant and animal proteins play in determining levels of the cancer-promoting growth hormone IGF-1. Also see IGF-1 as One-Stop Cancer ShopProtein Intake and IGF-1 ProductionHigher Quality May Mean Higher RiskAnimalistic Plant Proteins; and Too Much Soy May Neutralize Benefits. For the role soy plays in extending breast cancer survival, see Breast Cancer Survival and Soy. And, I’ve got dozens of other videos on soy.

For further context, be sure to check out my associated blog posts: How Much Soy Is Too Much? and Why Less Breast Cancer in Asia?

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

Prevent Breast Cancer With These 5 Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Healthy Lifestyle Choices To Prevent CancerNecessary Lifestyle Choices for Optimum Health
An anti-cancer lifestyle will include a variety of exercise, organic foods, clean pure water and air. There are a few easy steps to keep the body safe and healthy. It is important to cultivate an awareness of what feels and taste right going into your body. It is equally important to stop and take notice of bad choices. Ask yourself “Is this good or bad for me? “Will it make me feel better or worse?” We all want to feel alive and vital.

1. Exercise – Yoga
Practicing Restorative Yoga For Breast Cancer Recovery has shown through studies to encourage and improve sleep and to enhance overall quality of life. (Reuters Health) – About one third of breast cancer survivors experience fatigue that affects their quality of life. A new study found that doing yoga might help restore some lost vitality. (bit.ly/sSZeZZ)

There are some simple suggestions to start exploring a change in vitality:

2. Cancer Prevention Foods – Vegetarian/Vegan Diet
It is suggested to eat a plant base diet of fruits and vegetables: make your diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables that are full of micronutrients and bioflavonoids which are duly noted to help prevent breast cancer or other cancers. Five or more servings per day is recommended by the American Cancer Institute. Red and blue berries hold a significant amount of necessary cell builders and anti-cancinogens that are a necessity on our tables.

Here are some simple choices to select from to start improving your health:

3. Water Therapy – Alkaline Water
Alkaline water (referred to as ionized water) can neutralize or decrease the acidity of the body’s pH caused by stress, modern diet, and air pollution. We suggest trying this water and feeling the possible positive effects.

Find a water store and get alkaline water by the gallon (it usually stays charged with negative ions for up to 48hours)
Purchase if possible a home alkaline water system that filters pollutants as well as charging the water with negative ions and anti oxidants

  • Benefit from the many ways to use alkaline water like necessary hydration for the body’s cells

4. Manage Stress – Learn to breathe
Deep breathing is vital in that it encourages the release of body toxins, rebuild healthy tissue which consequently increases overall energy. This true oxygen exchange stimulates digestion, assimilation and elimination. A very important function of breathing fully and slowly is that the body’s natural relaxation response is prompted. This relaxation response results in decreased tension, anxiety and fatigue.

A great place to start is with our single down-loadable breathing exercises or you could do the following.

5. Laugh Often – Emotional Balancing
It has been shown that even when manipulated to smile people in truth feel happier and joyful. Laughter can stop depression right in its tracks and boosts our immunity.

We suggest the following to bring on happiness.

  • Have a daily joke sent to your e-mail
  • Watch funny YouTube videos
  • Listen to the comedy channel on the radio
  • Download comedians from iTunes
Dawn Breast CancerAbout Dawn Bradford Lange:  Co-founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Dawn is making a difference with Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products designed to support you emotionally and physically during breast cancer . We want to give you the attention and personal service you need so please email us atinfo@breastcanceryoga.com if you have questions.

Restorative Yoga

4 Reasons Vegan Is Best For Combating Breast Cancer

Naturalist: Corissa Macklin-Rice

Naturalist: Corissa Macklin-Rice

A cancer prevention diet is one that is high in fiber, low in fat (especially animal fat), and includes generous portions of fruits and vegetables. It also minimizes or excludes alcohol. The best diets are pure vegetarian diets.

4 Reasons Vegan Is Best For Combating Breast Cancer:

  1. If you can remove carcinogenicity from the would-be cancer sufferers and thereby the link between environmental and dietary exposures of a multitude of toxins, organic plant based diet would be the obvious “cure”.
  2. Controlled clinical trials to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that our bodies can benefit from the phytonutrients and antioxidants in fruits and vegetables in the prevention of cancer.
  3. Women believe prevention as doing nothing but waiting for the detection of the disease. the real preventative measures available to women to combat breast cancer, and all cancers for that matter, are available from trusted “authoritative” sources that prove plant based diets prevent cancer.
  4. Vegan diet has been promoted as the most effective weapon in the fight against breast cancer.

Nutrition Journal evidence based research says an anticancer diet would have:

• adequate, but not excessive calories,

• 10 or more servings of vegetables a day, including cruciferous and allium vegetables; vegetable juice could meet part of this goal,

• 4 or more servings of fruits a day,

• high in fiber,

• no refined sugar,

• no refined flour,

• low in total fat, but containing necessary essential fatty acids,

• no red meat,

• a balanced ratio of omega 3 and omega 6 fats and would include DHA,

• flax seed as a source of phytoestrogens,

• supplemented with ~200 μg/day selenium,

• supplemented with 1,000 μg/day methylcobalamin (B-12),

• very rich in folic acid (from dark green vegetables),

• adequate sunshine to get vitamin D, or use 1,000 IU/day supplement,

• very rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals from fruits and vegetables, including α-carotene, β-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin, vitamin C (from foods), vitamin E (from foods),

• very rich in chlorophyll,

• supplemented with beneficial probiotics,

• supplemented with oral enzymes

Nutrition research has found that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables protects against cancer. (The greatest message is that this same diet protects against almost all other diseases, too, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.) There are many mechanisms by which fruits and vegetables are protective, and an enormous body of research supports the recommendation for people to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Featured photo: Daily Mail

Dawn Breast CancerAbout Dawn Bradford Lange:  Co-founder of Breast Cancer Yoga. Dawn is making a difference with Breast Cancer Yoga therapeutic products designed to support you emotionally and physically during breast cancer . We want to give you the attention and personal service you need so please email us atinfo@breastcanceryoga.com if you have questions.

Easy To Make Vegan Dumplings

Delicious and easy to make vegan entrée recipe ideas can be hard to find, it seems like most of the vegan recipes are sides and desserts. We did however find this vegan dumpling recipe, with easy gluten-free wonton wrappers as an example of a great tasting vegan entrée. As with all cancer diet recipes please use organic ingredients when possible.

Vegan dumplings (or pot stickers) with an egg-free and gluten-free wrapper. And they are easy to make and oil-free with only 4 ingredient needed!

  • Yields 15 dumplings
  • 40 min Prep Time
  • 5 min Cook/Chill Time
  • 45 min Total Time
Ingredients

Wrappers

  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Filling

  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 cups cabbage

Sauce (*see note)

  • 2 tbsp coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
  • 1/4 tsp ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch

vegan-dumplings-for-a-beast-cancer-dietInstructions

Wrappers: Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Mix/knead to form a slightly sticky dough.
Divide into 12.
Roll out each ball between two sheets of wax paper as thin as possible.
Stack the rolled wrappers in a bowl with wax paper between each. Cover the bowl with a wet towel. This will keep them from drying out while you prepare the rest.

Sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a jar. Shake.

Filling: Add all the veggies to a non-stick skillet over medium high heat.
Once they begin to sizzle, add about 1/3 cup of water, cover the pan, and let them steam for 4-5 minutes over medium heat till soft.
Remove the cover, add the sauce mixture, and stir until everything comes together and all additional water has evaporated. About 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.

To assemble: Remove one wrapper from the bowl with the wax paper that is underneath it. Spoon about a teaspoon of filling into the center of the wrapper.
Fold in half and press the edges together firmly. Optionally crimp the edges. Using the wax paper to do this will prevent the wrapper from sticking to your finger as it is prone to do if they are even slightly wet/moist.
Repeat with the remaining wrappers.

To steam: Fill a shallow pan with enough water to completely cover the bottom. Bring to a boil. Add half of your dumplings. Cover and steam for 5-6 minutes. Remove from the pan. Repeat with the second half.
Serve plain or with dipping sauce of your choice.

Notes

For a super simple sauce option, store-bought teriyaki sauce tastes great too. I really like this soy-free one .

natalie-of-feasting-on-fruitAbout Natalie, founder of Feasting on Fruit: I am the writer, photographer, and imagination behind Feasting on Fruit. Seven years a vegetarian, five years a vegan, and barely one year a blogger, but learning and loving it! I am constantly overflowing with creative ideas for fruity vegan food, often more than I have time to make. Sharing the health and happiness of tasty recipes brings a smile to my lips and a purpose to my kitchen.

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

Do Vitamin D Supplements Reduce the Risk of Dying from Cancer?

It all started with this famous study, published in 1980. Johns Hopkins researchers were trying to figure out why states like New Mexico and Arizona have only about half the colon cancer rates of states like New York, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Maybe it’s because they got so much sun. And so, they proposed that maybe the sunshine vitamin—vitamin D—is a protective factor against colon cancer. Since then, sun exposure has been associated with lower rates of 14 other types of cancer, too.

Vitamin D may also affect cancer survival. Higher blood levels of vitamin D were associated with lower mortality of patients with colorectal cancer. How much lower? Like nearly half the mortality. And, the higher the D levels, the lower the death rate appeared to fall. This may explain why the survival rate from colon cancer may depend, on part, on the season of diagnosis—the reason the risk of a rapid death is lowest if you’re diagnosed in the fall, after you’ve spent the summer building up your vitamin D stores.

But look; there are other risk factors that could be seasonal, too. Maybe people are taking advantage of the fall harvest, and eating healthier. Maybe that’s why the lower risk in the fall season. Or, maybe there’s more drinking in the winter. And, in the summer, running around outside, not only are you getting more sun; you’re running around outside, getting more exercise—which may itself be protective.

So, these kinds of studies just provide circumstantial evidence. Establishing a cause-and-effect relationship between colon cancer and vitamin D deficiency using observational studies is challenging, because of confounding factors like the exercise—so-called “lurking variables.” For example, there may be a tight correlation between ice cream sales and drowning deaths, but that doesn’t mean ice cream causes drowning. A more likely explanation is that there is a lurking third variable—like hot weather, summertime—that explains why drowning deaths are highest when ice cream consumption is highest.

That’s kind of a trivial example. But, this actually happened with hormone replacement therapy. Women taking drugs like Premarin appeared to have 50% less risk of heart disease. And so, doctors prescribed it to women by the millions. But, if you dig a little deeper into the data, yes, women taking estrogen had 50% lower risk of dying from heart disease. But, they also had a 50% lower risk of dying from accidents and homicide. So, it probably wasn’t the drug. See, the only way to know for sure is to put it to the test, in a randomized clinical trial, where you give half the women the drug, and see what happens.

And, a decade later, they did. And, instead of having a 50% drop in risk, within a year of being given the hormone pills, heart attack and death rates shot up 50%. In retrospect, the lurking variable was likely socioeconomic class. Poor women are less likely to be prescribed hormone replacement therapy, and more likely to be murdered, and die of heart disease. Because of the lurking variable, a drug we now know to be dangerous had appeared protective.

Besides lurking variables, there’s also the possibility of reverse causation. Maybe low vitamin D levels didn’t worsen the cancer. Maybe the cancer worsened the vitamin D levels. This may be unlikely, since tumors don’t appear to directly affect vitamin D levels. But cancer treatment might. Even simple knee surgery can dramatically drop vitamin D levels within hours, thought to be because of just the inflammatory insult of cutting into somebody. So, maybe that could help explain the link between lower D, and lower survival. And hey, if you’ve got cancer, maybe you’re spending less time running around at the beach.

So, yes, higher vitamin D levels are associated with improved survival in colorectal cancer, and in breast cancer. In fact, about double the risk of breast cancer recurrence and death in women with the lowest vitamin D levels. And, vitamin D levels also associated with longer survival with ovarian cancer, and other cancers, like lymphoma. But, bottom-line, as we learned with hormone replacement, is that you have to put it to the test. But, there weren’t a lot of randomized controlled trials on vitamin D supplements and cancer—until now.

We now have a few randomized controlled trials, and vitamin D supplements do indeed appear to reduce the risk of dying from cancer. What dose? The researchers suggest maybe getting blood levels up to at least around 75 nanomoles per liter; levels not reached by as many as three-quarters of women with breast cancer, or a striking 97% of colon cancer patients.

Getting up to these kinds of levels, 75, or perhaps even better, 100, might require about 2,000 to 4,000 international units of vitamin D a day—levels of intake for which there appear to be no credible evidence of harm. Regardless of what the exact level is, the findings of these kinds of studies may have a profound influence on future cancer treatment.

Doctor’s Note

What about just getting sun, instead? Be sure to check out my recent six-part video series:

Better, of course, to prevent colon cancer in the first place. See, for example:

For more on that extraordinary story about Premarin and hormone replacement therapy, see How Did Doctors Not Know About the Risks of Hormone Therapy?

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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