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Cancer Tips

Sugar is poison – last night on 60 minutes

The harmful effects of sugar are slowly becoming common knowledge. Did you see 60 minutes last night? They highlighted the fact that sugar (and High Fructose Corn Syrup) are a major cause of obesity, type II diabetes , hypertension and cancer. Yes, cancer. When a Harvard researcher was asked by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, “If you limit your sugar intake would you limit your chances of developing cancer?” The researchers response was simply – “absolutely.” It is commonly said that sugar feeds cancer. Technically speaking sugar does not feed cancer per se but it is does cause an overproduction of insulin and another substance known as insulin like growth factor – 1 (IGF-1) that contributes to the development and progression of cancer.

 

My take on this:

 

I have mentioned in previous blog  posts’ that sugar and simple carbohydrates are the major contributors to chronic, systemic inflammation and cancer (prostate.) The most important decision you can make to slow the “aging clock,” prevent heart disease and prevent or slow the progression of cancer cells is to significantly limit the consumption of sugar and simple carbohydrates. How easy is this?

Not easy at all. Sugar has a drug-like effect when consumed not too different from legal (alcohol, cigarette smoking, etc) and illegal drugs. Almost all drugs cause the brain to produce dopamine, which leads to a feeling of euphoria. Sugar intake does the same. In fact, just like most drugs, sugar is dose dependent in order to make you feel good. Another words, the more you take the more you need to make you feel “happy.”

The other challenge is that sugar is blended into many sauces and foods including but not limited to: yogurt, cereals, soups, peanut butter and energy drinks.

Now that you are hopefully convinced that sugar consumption is an addictive drug that causes or contributes to almost all disease – what  should you do?

  • Do a “Reset” of no simple sugars for two weeks. This is not easy. I know. I do it two times a year. For the first two or three days headaches and other withdrawal side effect may be experienced. By day 4, the cravings diminish significantly. By day 7 – 10, you are just tired of it look forward for variety.
  • Exercise with moderate intensity. An exercised body does not produce as much insulin or IGF-1 to metabolize sugar.
  • Snack on healthy nuts. Pistachios, almonds and walnuts are super healthy and controls sugar cravings.
  • Manage stress with exercise, deep breathing and by learning how to problem-solve. When we are stressed we typically look to sabotage ourselves with booze or sugary foods. There are many good books and resources on the topic. This link may also be useful.
  • Fruit juices are as bad as soda. A 12-ounce soda can has 10 teaspoons of sugar just like a 12 ounce glass of orange juice. Pomegranate juice, dark organic grape juice and other dark red or blue concentrated fruit juices are also high in sugar but have powerfully healthy components to them.

Here’s what you do: Mix any of those dark juices (about 2 to 4 ounces) with 4 ounces of club soda. This makes for a diluted, less sugary   soda type of drink with powerful antioxidant health benefits.

  • Fruits (not fruit juice) are the best source of sugar – primarily berries and the dark red, blue and purple kind.
  • Don’t eat any food with guilt. If you are going to have a cup cake, have it and enjoy it. Just know that that cup cake is an addictive substance. Two hour later you may no reach for another cup cake, but you may gulp 8 ounces of orange juice and keep this viscous cycle going.

Bottom Line: Cut your simple sugar intake by half starting now -then cut that to another half in two weeks.  You will experience more energy and mental clarity along with creating a hostile environment to cancer cells. Anyone with a blood sugar disease like diabetes should NOT do this on their own and should seek the help of a nutritionally oriented physician.

If you or a loved one has ever been diagnosed with prostate cancer – join us at our Prostate Cancer Health Retreat and discover how to eat and live and cancer-free lifestyle without deprivation. We have a few more spaces available. All my social network friends and NYU urology patients  benefit from a 10% discount.

See a clip on 60 minutes below on this topic.

 

References:

60 minutes – http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/60minutes/main3415.shtml?tag=hdr;cnav

Byrne MM, Davila EP, Zhao W, et al. Cancer screening behaviors among smokers and nonsmokers. Cancer Epidemiol. 2010;34(5):611–617.

 

Ginger for Prostate Cancer

Take home message FIRST

Ginger may have beneficial effects against prostate cancer. This, of course, is not conclusive since the study soon cited was done in vitro (in test tubes) and in vivo (in mice.) However, this study is compelling and its enough information to conclude that ginger should be a part of every cancer patients diet. Furthermore, a human study on ginger with prostate cancer patients will likely never happen.

There are numerous other medicinal benefits in ginger: helps with nausea and motion sickness, assist in digestion, powerful natural anti-inflammatory – helps with arthritic pain and immune stimulating. Ginger should be eaten as frequently as possible in food and drink.

Do not drink ginger ale thinking you are getting much ginger – it is mostly sugar and carbonated water. Better ginger drinks are found in health food stores where they are sweetened with cane juice ( a little better), not much , and have a strong bite to them.

Good recipes on this site.

 

What exactly is Ginger

Ginger is spice that comes from the rhizome of the plant Zingiber officionale and is a member of the Zingiberaceae family. Other medicinal members of the same family include tumeric and cardamom.

A rhizome is a root stem found underground.

 

The study

In this research journal article, Karni et al. from Georgia State University, showed that ginger extract had significant effects in stopping the growth of cancer cells, as well as in inducing cell death in several prostate cancer cells lines (in vitro).

In the animal study the extract revealed very good tumor regression by up to 60 % and no toxicity. The dosage of ginger used in mice was about 100mg. The researchers calculated that this is the equivalent of about 567mg for a person who weighs 70kg. This translates roughly to 650mg of ginger to a 180-pound person. (Karni et al. 2011)

My take on this

Ginger is one of my top five favorite herbs. It has endless healing properties and has been used medicinally for centuries all over the world. I am not aware of a toxic amount when consumed as a spice or a drink. It may, however, anecdotally be contraindicated with people on blood thinning medications like warfarin and possibly in those with gallstones. Normal consumption should be fine.

Eat up and enjoy!

 

In Optimal Health

Dr.Geo

 

Resource:

Karna P, Chagani S, Gundala SR, Rida PC, Asif G, Sharma V, Gupta MV, Aneja R; Benefits of whole ginger extract in prostate cancer. Br J Nutr. 2011 Aug 18:1-12.

Update on Vitamin D and health

 

Take home message first

If one’s health goal is to stay healthy or slow the progression of most diseases, then consumption of at least 2000 IU of vitamin D is a good start.

 

Vitamin D 101 – for the layperson

Vitamin D does a whole lot more than sustain healthy bones by assisting in the absorption of calcium. There are receptors throught out the body that attach to vitamin D and regulates DNA.

In the past 20 years, vitamin D deficiency has been associated with:

  • Heart disease
  • Metabolic syndrome (combination of hypertension, fat deposit in blood vessels, diabetes, blood glucose imbalance and fat around the belly)
  • Cancer – especially colorectal cancer
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Infections
  • Overall non-specific death (Melamed et al., 2008)

Who needs vitamin D supplementation the most?

Darker skin people, the obese and those who live in regions away from the equator where there is low ultraviolet B radiation from sunlight are in higher need of vitamin D supplementation. Yes, that’s pretty much all of us

It may not be a coincidence that cancer occurs more frequently in dark-skinned people, the obese, and in regions with limited exposure to ultraviolet B radiation from sunlight. Each of these factors is associated with low blood levels of vitamin D. Furthermore, cancer survival rates are lower when the diagnosis occurs in months of lower sunlight levels, suggesting a protective role of vitamin D. Studies suggest that vitamin D protects against numerous forms of cancer, including widely prevalent cancers such as those affecting the colon, prostate, breast, and lung. (Giovanucci 2005)

 

The cancer / vitamin D link

 

Colon cancer – A study of studies (meta-analysis) revealed that out of 35,000 people studied, those with normal vitamin D levels had lower risk of colon / bowel cancer. Other studies suggest that high calcium (1000mg) with 400IU of vitamin D a day offers no protection. To note, 400 IU a day is a ancient lower suggested dose that plays no role in modern nutrition. For most, 2000 IU is the minimum on should take.

Breast cancer – Also, a meta-analysis regarding vitamin D and the prevention of breast cancer demonstrated a 45% decrease in breast cancer risk for those in the higher blood levels of vitamin D compared with those at the lowest. (Hu et al, 2009) A clinical randomized trial, the gold standard, looking at over 1100 women,  showed that the incidence of breast cancer was lowered by daily supplementation with 1000 IU of vitamin D plus calcium in postmenopausal women (Lappe et al. 2007).

 

Prostate cancer – epidemiological studies, that is, a study designed to examine large group of people and its associations with its increase the risk of disease, indicate a strong link between vitamin D deficiency and prostate cancer. Test tube studies and animal studies do as well. Human studies with consumption of vitamin D have been inconsistent (Barnett et al. 2011) We yet do not know objectively what blood levels of vitamin D are most adequate (normal is between 30ng/ml – 100ng/ml) or what dosage is best for daily consumption for prostate cancer prevention or adjuvant treatment.

Final thoughts

Governmental agencies like the Institute of Medicine, IOM, fall short in their recent daily recommendations of vitamin D. After “careful” review of the literature, researchers from the IOM increased the daily dosage of vitamin D from 400IU to a marginal 600IU. Since most people have insufficient if not deficient levels of vitamin D, 600 units will not get virtually anyone to normal levels.

The absolute best way to determine adequate levels of vitamin D is to get a 25-hydroxy-vit D blood test from your practitioner and make sure levels are between 50ng/ml to 90ng/ml (mid to high normal.) A Calcium blood test is also adequate to assure hypercalcemia ( too much blood calcium) which can also cause problems. Based on my clinical experience, no one should take anything less than 2000 units of vitamin D3 a day with food or fish oil – anything higher should be monitored by a physician. This is particularly true for those who are obese, dark skin color or one who is not out in the sun much. By the way, if you are out in the sun and use sunscreen, all bets are off, no vitamin D production for you either.

 

In Optimal Health ,

 

Dr. Geo

 

References:

M.L. Melamed, E.D. Michos, W. Post and B. Astor, 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and the risk of mortality in the general population, Arch Intern Med 168 (2008), pp. 1629–1637

Giovannucci E. The epidemiology of vitamin D and cancer incidence and mortality: a review (United States). Cancer Causes Control. 2005 Mar;16(2):83-95.

P. Chen, P. Hu, D. Xie, Y. Qin, F. Wang and H. Wang, Meta-analysis of vitamin D, calcium and the prevention of breast cancer, Breast Cancer Res Treat 121 (2009), pp. 469–477.

J.M. Lappe, D. Travers-Gustafson, K.M. Davies, R.R. Recker and R.P. Heaney, Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial, Am J Clin Nutr 85 (2007), pp. 1586–1591.

Barnett, C.M, Beer, T;Prostate Cancer and Vitamin D; what does the evidence really suggest?; Urologic Clinics of North America; Volume 38, Issue 3 , August 2011, Pages 333-342

In memory of Dr. David Servan-Schreiber

I recently learned of the passing of Dr. David Servan-Schreiber, the author of the New York Times best seller, Anti-Cancer – a new way of life – a book I recommend to virtually all my cancer patients. It has served as source of information and inspiration for hundreds of patients in our facility and millions around the world.

Dr. Schreiber, whom I never met, finally succumbed to brain cancer, the disease that influenced him to write this semi-revolutionary book.

Dr. Schreiber was originally a conservative MD, PH.D who initially resisted alternative treatments until the recurrence of his disease. His alternative treatment consisted of mostly “anti-cancer” foods. Although his life was shortened prematurely, he lived a fulfilling “healthy” life for 20 years after his diagnosis of brain cancer – the average lifespan is 18 months after diagnosis.

Rest in Peace Dr. Schreiber and thank you for your work.