Column #36

Michael Bloomberg and Joe Biden (representing the Obama Administration) recently joined the cancer-cure race by announcing a $125 million “moonshot” seeking an innovative biomedical cancer cure. Unfortunately, biomedical magic bullets are most notable for what they fail to accomplish.

Rachel Bergstein, a masters graduate of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, states the major causes of cancer are social: neighborhood, air and water quality, wealth and employment, housing, transportation, smoking, and lack of education and exercise. The National Cancer Institute lists low socioeconomic status, lack of health insurance, barriers to healthcare, and lower screening and treatment rates as major causes.

These social theories call for government policies that reduce carcinogenic exposures, promote economic growth (raising the minimum wage?), improve healthcare access and exercise programs. Amazingly, other than mentioning healthy food, defining healthy food choices is ignored yet fundamental food chemistry trumps all other risks.

For decades biologists and nutritional scientists have analyzed how cancers respond to various foods. Their work persistently validates conclusions that run counter to the decades of traditions and economic activity that have shaped American culture. So even when cancer prevention and cures are a priority and harmful foods are identified, the medical community and social advocates are reluctant nutrition enthusiasts. Why?

Is it the money? If consumers began to eat only the healthiest foods, who would win or lose? Farmers would switch crops, food companies would change ingredients, and grocers would continue to sell the same quantity of food. So the food industry would remain stable while two influential groups, healthcare providers and government regulators, would lose. The incentive to promote change would be lost.

What are the nutritional implications? According to the Mayo Clinic, “Sugar doesn't make cancer grow faster” because all cells “depend on blood sugar (glucose) for energy.” All cells do need glucose, but biologists and nutritional scientists agree that cancer cells “light up” far more than healthy cells when fructose is present and animal studies indicate cancers thrive on high glycemic diets. Pancreatic cancer is definitely associated with a fruit diet and recent studies with the ketogenic diet support the sugar-feeds-cancer position.

A more tested nutritional approach to restricting cancer growth involves changing the balance of essential (Omega-6 to Omega-3) fatty acids in the membranes of cells. This ratio is determined only by the natural ratios in the foods people eat. Ratios above 2.5:1 promote some cancers and ratios above 4:1 most others. The human immune system is most effective with a 1:1 ratio.

The nutritional solution seems straightforward. Eat low glycemic foods with 1:1 EFA balances.

The healthiest foods for fighting and preventing cancer are green leafy vegetables, grass-fed and Omega-3 meats, and wild-caught seafood because they are nutrient diverse and dense, zero or low glycemic, and have perfectly balanced essential fats.

The high glycemic foods to avoid are grain, many fruits and tubers, and processed foods with hydrogenated oils, sugar, fructose, and other sweeteners. The high EFA-ratio foods to avoid are nuts, grains and grain-fed meats, most seeds and fruits, and processed foods.

The food industry will respond to changes demanded by the consumer. But first, the consumer must change and that requires a concerted effort. Are we up to the challenge?

To your health.

Ted Slanker

Ted Slanker has been reporting on the fundamentals of nutritional research in publications, television and radio appearances, and at conferences since 1999. He condenses complex studies into the basics required for health and well-being. His eBook, The Real Diet of Man, is available online.

For additional reading:

5 Reasons Cancer and Sugar are Best Friends

Fighting Cancer By Putting Tumor Cells On A Diet

Metabolic Therapy: a New Paradigm for Managing Malignant Brain Cancer

High Fructose Corn Syrup and Pancreatic Cancer

Fructose Consumption and Cancer: Is There a Connection?

Sugars in Diet and Risk of Cancer in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study

Sugar-Free Approaches to Cancer Cell Killing

Effects of a Ketogenic Diet on the Quality of Life in 16 Patients With Advanced Cancer

Ketogenic Diets as an Adjuvant Cancer Therapy: History and Potential Mechanism

Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Inflammation and Autoimmune Diseases

The Importance of the Ratio of Omega-6/omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids