Breast Cancer Cells Feed on Cholesterol

Breast Cancer Cells Feed on CholesterolBy: Michael Greger, M.D., NutritionalFacts.Org.

One in eight American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. There are a number of compounds in plant foods that may protect against breast cancer by a variety of mechanisms. I’ve talked about the benefits of broccoli, flaxseeds, and soy foods before (See Breast Cancer Survival VegetableFlaxseeds & Breast Cancer Prevention, and Breast Cancer Survival and Soy) but a recent German study reported something new. The researchers found that sunflower and pumpkin seeds were associated with reduced breast cancer risk. They initially chalked the association up to the lignans in the seeds (See Breast Cancer Survival and Lignan Intake), but their lignan lead didn’t pan out. Maybe it’s the phytosterols found concentrated in seeds? (See Optimal Phytosterol Source).

There is evidence that phytosterols may be anticancer nutrients and play a role in reducing breast cancer risk. I thought phytosterols just lowered cholesterol? (See How Phytosterols Lower Cholesterol) What does cancer have to do with cholesterol?

Increasing evidence demonstrates the role that cholesterol may play in the development and progression of breast cancer. Cancer feeds on cholesterol. Transformed cells take up LDL, so-called “bad” cholesterol, and it’s capable of stimulating the growth of human breast cancer cells in a petri dish.

The ability to accumulate fat and cholesterol may enable cancer cells to take advantage of people eating high fat and high cholesterol diets and at least partially explain the benefit of a low-fat diet on lowering human breast cancer recurrence. Although the data has been mixed, the largest study to date (highlighted in my video, Cholesterol Feeds Breast Cancer Cells) found a 17% increased breast cancer risk in women who had a total cholesterol over 240 compared to women whose cholesterol was under 160. However, the researchers could not rule out that there may be something else in cholesterol-raising foods that’s increasing breast cancer risk.

Tumors suck up so much cholesterol that LDL has been considered a vehicle for delivering antitumor drugs to cancer cells. Since cancer feeds on cholesterol, maybe we could stuff some chemo into it like a Trojan horse poison pill?

The uptake of LDL into tumors may be why people’s cholesterol levels drop low after they get cancer—the tumor is eating it up. In fact, patient survival may be lowest when cholesterol uptake is highest. “High LDL receptor content in breast cancer tissue seems to indicate a poor prognosis, [suggesting] that breast tumors rich in LDL receptors may grow rapidly [in the body].” We’ve known about this for decades. You can tell that was an old study because, when it was published in the ‘80s, only 1 in 11 American women got breast cancer.

If cholesterol increases breast cancer risk, what about the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs? See Statin Cholesterol Drugs and Invasive Breast Cancer.

More videos on broccoli and soy’s protective effects against breast cancer:

Some I didn’t mention include:

Michael Greger M.D.About Michael Greger M.D.Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, 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.

Photo Source: DiseaseProof.com

4 Things To Help Prevent Most Disease

White House Garden Goes Organic For Healthy LifestyleBy: Dr. Michael Greger, Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States.

Though I was trained as a general practitioner, my chosen specialty is lifestyle medicine. Most of the reasons we go see our doctors are for diseases that could have been prevented. But lifestyle medicine is not just about preventing chronic disease—it’s also about treating it. And not just treating the disease, but treating the causes of disease.

If people just did four simple things
Stop Smoking For Your Health

#1 No Smoking

The Obama Family Exercising

#2 Exercise A Half Hour A Day

Michelle Obama Shopping At A Farmers Market For Fruits & Vegetables

#3 Eat a Diet That Emphasizes Whole Plant Foods

Eat Diet That Emphasizes Whole Plant Foods

#4 And Not Become Obese

they may prevent most cases of diabetes and heart attacks, half of strokes, and a third of cancers. Even modest changes may be more effective in reducing cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, heart failure, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and all-cause mortality than almost any other medical intervention.

The key difference between conventional medicine and lifestyle medicine is instead of just treating risk factors, we treat the underlying causes of disease, as Drs. Hyman, Ornish, and Roizen describe in their landmark editorial Lifestyle medicine: treating the causes of disease. Doctors typically treat “risk factors” for disease by giving a lifetime’s worth of medications to lower high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, and high cholesterol. But think about it: high blood pressure is just a symptom of diseased and dysfunctional arteries. We can artificially lower blood pressure with drugs, but that’s not treating the underlying cause. To treat the underlying cause, we need things like diet and exercise, the “penicillin” of lifestyle medicine (See Lifestyle Medicine: Treating the Causes of Disease).

As Dr. Dean Ornish is fond of saying, disregarding the underlying causes and treating only risk factors is somewhat like mopping up the floor around an over-flowing sink instead of just turning off the faucet, which is why medications usually have to be taken for a lifetime. As Dr. Denis Burkitt described, “if a floor is flooded as a result of a dripping tap, it is of little use to mop up the floor unless the tap is turned off. The water from the tap represents the cost of disease, and the flooded floor represents the diseases filling our hospital beds. Medical students learn far more about methods of floor mopping than about turning off taps, and doctors who are specialists in mops and brushes can earn infinitely more money than those dedicated to shutting off taps.” And the drug companies are more than happy to sell rolls of paper towels so patients can buy a new roll every day for the rest of their lives. Paraphrasing poet, Ogden Nash, modern medicine is making great progress, but is headed in the wrong direction.

When the underlying lifestyle causes are addressed, patients often are able to stop taking medication or avoid surgery. We spend billions cracking patients’ chests open, but only rarely does it actually prolong anyone’s life. Instead of surgery, why not instead wipe out at least 90% of heart disease through prevention? Heart disease accounts for more premature deaths than any other illness and is almost completely preventable simply by changing diet and lifestyle, and the same dietary changes required can prevent or reverse many other chronic diseases as well.

So why don’t more doctors do it?

One reason is doctors don’t get paid to do it. No one profits from lifestyle medicine, so it is not part of medical education or practice. Presently, physicians lack training and financial incentives, so they continue to do what they know how to do: prescribe medication and perform surgery.

After Dean Ornish proved you could open up arteries and reverse our number one cause of death, heart disease, with just a plant-based diet and other healthy lifestyle changes (see Resuscitating Medicare and Our Number One Killer Can Be Stopped), he thought that his studies would have a meaningful effect on the practice of mainstream cardiology. After all, he had found a cure for our #1 killer! But, he admits, he was mistaken. “Physician reimbursement,” he realized, “is a much more powerful determinant of medical practice than research.”

Reimbursement over research. Salary over science. Wealth over health. Not a very flattering portrayal of the healing profession. But if doctors won’t do it without getting paid, let’s get them paid.

So Dr. Ornish went to Washington. He argued that if we train and pay for doctors to learn how to help patients address the real causes of disease with lifestyle medicine and not just treat disease risk factors we could save trillions of dollars. And that’s considering only heart disease, diabetes, prostate and breast cancer. The Take Back Your Health Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate to induce doctors to learn and practice lifestyle medicine, not only because it works better, but because they will be paid to do it. Sadly, the bill died, just like millions of Americans will continue to do with reversible chronic diseases.

By treating the root causes of diseases with plants not pills, we can also avoid the adverse side effects of prescription drugs that kill more than 100,000 Americans every year, effectively making doctors a leading cause of death in the United States. See One in a Thousand: Ending the Heart Disease Epidemic and my live presentation Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death.

For those surprised that policy makers wouldn’t support such a common sense notion as preventive health, check out my video The McGovern Report. What about medical associations? Medical Associations Oppose Bill to Mandate Nutrition Training.

There is another reason that may explain why the medical profession remains so entrenched. See my video The Tomato Effect.

-Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live year-in-review presentations More Than an Apple a Day and From Table to Able.

Michael Greger M.D.About Michael Greger M.D.
Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, 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.

Video Sources

Photo Sources: Obama Eating Fruit, Michelle Obama Shopping, Obama Family Exercising

Cholesterol Feeds Breast Cancer Cells

Cholestrol Feeds Breast CancerBy: Michael Greger, M.D., NutritionalFacts.Org.

One in eight American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes. There are a number of compounds in plant foods that may protect against breast cancer by a variety of mechanisms. I’ve talked about the benefits of broccoli, flaxseeds and soy foods, but this recent study out of Germany reported something new. Evidence for reduced breast cancer risk associated with consumption of sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Sunflower and pumpkin seeds were associated with reduced breast cancer risk, which they initially chalked up to the lignans in the seeds, something else I’ve talked about, but their lignan lead didn’t pan out. Maybe it’s the phytosterols found concentrated in seeds.

There is evidence phytosterols may be anticancer nutrients that may play a role in reducing breast cancer risk. I thought phytosterols just lowered cholesterol? What does cancer have to do with cholesterol?

Well, increasing evidence demonstrates the role that cholesterol may play in the development and progression of breast cancer. Cancer feeds on cholesterol. Transformed cells take up LDL, so-called bad cholesterol, and are capable of stimulating the growth of human breast cancer cells in a petri dish. See all these little red dots, that’s fat that the breast cancer cells are gobbling up.

The ability to accumulate fat and cholesterol may enable cancer cells to take advantage of people eating high fat and high cholesterol diets. Increased dietary cholesterol intake may result in increased breast cancer risk, and may at least partially explain the benefit of a low-fat diet on lowering human breast cancer recurrence.

Though data has been mixed, the largest study to date found a 17% increased risk in women who had cholesterol over 240, compared to women whose cholesterol was under 160, though they cannot rule out that there may be something else in cholesterol-raising foods that’s raising breast cancer risk.

Tumors suck up so much cholesterol that LDL has been considered a vehicle for targeting antitumor drugs to cancer cells. Since cancer feeds on cholesterol, maybe we could stuff some chemo into it as like a poison pill. That’s probably why people’s cholesterol levels drop so low after they get cancer—the tumor is eating it up.

In fact, patient survival may be lowest when cholesterol uptake is highest. High LDL receptor content in breast cancer tissue seems to indicate a poor prognosis, suggesting that breast tumors rich in LDL receptors may grow rapidly in the body. We’ve known about this for decades. You can tell this is an old study: back in the 80’s only 1 in 11 American women got it.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Michael Greger M.D.About Michael Greger M.D.
Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, 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.

MAGNESIUM AND CHEMOTHERAPY

By Laura Sposato-Record

MagninesiumIf you are one of the many women going through chemotherapy, you know the anxiety of waiting for your bloodwork results prior to receiving a treatment. If your chemotherapy protocol contains a platin drug, your oncologist is looking at your hemoglobin and red blood cell counts as well as other blood levels.  If these are too low, your treatment may be delayed. One factor that needs to be addressed is your magnesium level. Low levels are often a result of particular IV drugs that can literally burn out your red blood cell system.

After my third treatment, my doctor called to tell me she wanted me to take a magnesium supplement of 1000 mg. daily.  The RDA for healthy adult women is 320 mg. My level was dipping below normal and she wanted to make sure that we took care of it before it impacted on my treatment and my health in general. Magnesium is an extremely important mineral that performs over 300 jobs a day.

ROLE OF MAGNESIUM IN THE BODY

  • -Gives rigidity AND flexibility to your bones (more important than Calcium in many      cases)
  • -Increases bioavailability of calcium
  • -Regulates and normalizes blood pressure
  • -Prevents and reverses kidney stone formation
  • -Promotes restful sleep
  • -Helps prevent congestive heart failure
  • -Eases muscle cramps and spasms
  • -Lowers serum cholesterol levels and triglycerides
  • -Decreases insulin resistance
  • -Can prevent arteriosclerosis and stroke
  • -End cluster and migraine headaches
  • -Enhances circulation
  • -Relieves fibromyalgia and chronic pain
  • -Treats asthma and emphysema
  • -Helps make proteins
  • -Encourages proper elimination
  • -Prevents osteoporosis
  • -Proper Vitamin D absorption
  • -protection from radiation
  • -To aid weight loss
  • -Lessen or remove ADD or ADHD in children
  • -Aids in proper carbohydrate digestion
  • – Emerging evidence is showing a preventative role in many cancers

I discovered that 97% of the population is magnesium deficient and levels are rarely tested during routine exams.  Only 3% of your magnesium  is in the bloodstream; the remaining is in the bones, muscles, and joints. There are many reasons for this phenomenon, one of which is soil depletion of trace minerals due to poor farming practices.  Which foods are high in magnesium?  The list below includes food that is high in magnesium and contains calcium and potassium levels as well.  Nutrition is a symphony and collaboration of biological synergy. Supplements can help, but food is the real provider of nutrition.

FOODS HIGH IN MAGNESIUM            SERVING SIZE      MAGNESIUM (mg.)

Beans, black.                                                              1 cup                             120

Broccoli, raw                                                               1 cup                             22

Halibut                                                                          1/2 fillet                      170

Nuts, peanuts                                                              1 oz                               64

Okra, frozen                                                                 1 cup                             94

Oysters                                                                          3 oz                               49

Plantain, raw                                                               1 medium                     66

Rockfish                                                                        1 fillet                            51

Scallop                                                                           6 large                           55

Seeds, pumpkin and squash                                    1 oz (142 seeds)           151

Soy milk                                                                         1 cup                               47

Spinach, cooked                                                          1 cup                               157

Tofu                                                                                 1/4 block                       37

Whole grain cereal, ready-to-eat                          3/4 cup                           24

Whole grain cereal, cooked                                     1 cup                               56

Whole wheat bread                                                     1 slice                             24

USDA Nutrient Database for Standard References, Release 15 for Magnesium, Mg (mg)

An additional method of increasing the level of magnesium is through transdermaI application.  I purchased a bottle of magnesium gel at my local pharmacy that is rubbed into the skin.  Transdermal absorption is powerful and can impact on the level of magnesium not only in the blood but the muscles, bones, and nerves as well.  Super athletes will tell you that their trainers often use this gel as part of a post massage therapy for muscles suffering from magnesium loss.

Of course it is important for you to discuss this with your doctor or oncologist before focusing on one specific nutrient but it cannot hurt to inquire.  My oncologist also included an infusion of magnesium during the treatment to help boost levels.

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