Exercise vs. Breast Cancer Risk

Exercise never seems like a bad thing, and, unless your workout involves being chased by a pack of rabid dogs, you can always use some. Here’s more good news. According to a new study exercising for five or more hours a week can cut women’s breast cancer risk in half. Emily Brown, Bloomberg of The Boston Globe reports:
Strenuous or moderate exercise from the teens to about age 50 reduces the risk of some types of breast cancer by as much as 55 percent, according to a study published in yesterday's issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. Previous studies asked women about current exercise habits and not activities over time.

"It's long-term activity that matters," Leslie Bernstein, one of the study's authors, said in an interview. "This may explain why asking women what they currently does not adequately capture physical activity relevant to breast cancer risk. It is really activity during reproductive years and into the early 50s in our study, which predicts breast cancer risk."

Salt Wars: The Phantom Menace

Salt, when you hear the word, what thoughts come to mind? “Too much salt is bad for me.” Or, “That reminds me, I’ve got to check my bid on Ebay for that Elvis salt & pepper shaker set that I simply must have.” Heck, maybe you even have one of these lines, “My grand daddy lived to the ripe ole’ age of ninety-six and he put salt on everything from pasta to pickled pigs feet.”

That pretty much sums up salt’s MO. Lot’s of people who think it’s bad and limit their exposure to it, and then there are others who dump it on everything. As for Dr. Fuhrman, he’s no fan of salt. In fact, he considers it to be one of the seven worst foods for health and longevity. Here’s all seven:
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Potato Chips and French Fries
  • Doughnuts
  • Salt
  • Sausage, hot dogs
  • Pickled, smoked or barbequed meat
Now not everyone shares Dr. Fuhrman’s disdain for salt. Rather, some “diet experts” basically endorse consumption of salty food. Take Dr. Atkins for example, he’d like people to use salted pork rinds as a substitute for dinner rolls and toast—and for making pie crusts! No, I'm not joking. Check it out over at AtkinsExposed.org:
Atkins rivals the creativity of the raw-food chefs of today in his uses for pork rinds. Pork rinds are chunks of pigs’ skin that are deep-fried, salted and artificially flavored. He recommends people use them to dip caviar. Or, perhaps for those who can't afford caviar, one can use fried pork rinds as a "substitute for toast, dinner rolls...You can use them as a pie crust... or even matzo ball soup (see our recipe on p. 190)."[144] Matzo balls made out of pork rinds?--now that is a diet revolution!
You’ve got to wonder about recommendations like this, especially since according to Dr. Fuhrman salt consumption has been linked to the development of stomach cancer and hypertension. Consider this excerpt from Eat to Live:
Any excess salt added to food, outside of what is contained in natural foods, is likely to increase your risk of developing disease. Salt consumption is linked to both stomach cancer and hypertension.1 For optimal health, I recommend that no salt at all be added to any food. The famous DASH study clearly indicates that Americans consume five to ten times as much as they need and that high sodium levels over the years has a predictable effect on raising blood pressure.2 Just because you don’t have high blood pressure now doesn’t mean that you won’t. In fact, you probably will have high blood pressure if you keep eating lots of salt over the years.
So, what happens when dangerous diet information is put out there? The masses eat it up. For example, from Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb here’s Jimmy Moore’s take on salt:
Unless you are salt-sensitive (and it just so happens that I am!), there is no reason why you should watch your salt intake. An overwhelming majority have no reason to cut down on their salt intake. NONE! The fact that a minority of the population has sensitivity to salt should not make this a universal recommendation.
Luckily for Jimmy, he’s “salt-sensitive.” So he is limiting his exposure to it, but saying that the majority of people have no reason to avoid salt, well, that seems a little misguided because in addition to the hypertension and stomach cancer risk, Dr. Fuhrman associates salt intake with osteoporosis and heart attacks. More from Eat to Live:
Salt also pulls out calcium and other trace minerals in the urine when the excess is excreted, which is a contributory cause of osteoporosis.3 If that is not enough, high sodium intake is predictive of increased death from heart attacks. In a large prospective trial, recently published in the respected medical journal The Lancet, there was a frighteningly high correlation between sodium intake and all cause mortality in overweight men.4 The researchers concluded, “High sodium intake predicted mortality and risk of coronary heart disease, independent of other cardiovascular risk factors, including high blood pressure. These results provide direct evidence of the harmful effects of high salt intake in the adult population.”
Now these dangers are clear, but arguably the biggest problem with salt is it shows up where you least expect it to. Sure, you can crack down on your habit of burying every meal in it, but, that’s only half the battle. Sally Kuzemchak of Prevention magazine explains that the main problem with salt is that it’s everywhere:
It's crammed into cheese slices and canned vegetables and sprinkled into cinnamon-raisin bagels and sandwich bread. You can consume a day's worth of the mineral with an order of mu shu pork with rice from your local Chinese restaurant, according to an analysis by the consumer group Center for Science in the Public Interest, in Washington, DC. As much as 80% of the sodium we get every day comes from these processed and prepared foods—not the salt shaker.
Sally also points to additional research highlighting the dangers of high-sodium diets:
There's also evidence to suggest that high-sodium diets may up the risk of gastric cancer. And in a small study from Colorado State University, a high-salt diet (more than 5,000 mg per day) worsened lung function in people with exercise-induced asthma, which occurs in as many as 90% of asthmatics. A low-salt diet improved it.
Information like this really makes you wonder how Dr. Atkins could endorse eating salty snacks like pork rinds. Now, the concern over people’s salt exposure is growing. Back in September Melanie Warner of The New York Times reported that the American Medical Association wants the government and the food industry to limit the amount of salt that can be used in food production. More from the report:
Specifically, the medical association, which had never before called for regulation of a food ingredient, asked the F.D.A. to revoke salt’s long-time status as a substance that is “generally recognized as safe,” a classification that warrants little oversight. Instead, the F.D.A. should regulate salt as a food additive, the medical group said.

If the recommendation were adopted, packaged-food companies would have to adhere to limits on allowable sodium levels for various categories of food, and speed up the search for an alternative to salt as a preservative and flavor enhancer.
What I take away from all this is more evidence of people’s emotional attachment to food, in this case salt; when you talk with Dr. Fuhrman he often refers to this phenomenon. Sometimes people are so blinded by their emotional crush on certain foods that they can’t face facts. The evidence shows that salt is bad for us, but, I guess some people just can’t stand the thought of a lonely pepper shaker.
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Seven Secrets of Longevity

From the March 2004 edition of Dr. Fuhrman’s Healthy Times:

A careful study of long-lived people and long-lived populations around the world—combined with a comprehensive understanding of animal experiments effecting animal life span—makes it clear that decisive action must be taken if we wish to retard aging and protect ourselves against the diseases of aging. (Check out Animal Fat and Cancer and Animal vs. Plant Foods and Heart Disease in Pictures.)

With so many conflicting theories and ideas swirling about, it is not surprising that there is mass confusion in the general population about what is healthy and what is not. However, there is nothing confusing about the scientific evidence regarding health. Health excellence, high-level mental and physical performance as we age, disease prevention, and longevity all are linked to certain well-documented behaviors. In short, health is the result of healthful living, and healthful living involves seven key concepts.

The human body has a built-in capacity for healing and rejuvenation. This inborn process can be inhibited by a variety of influences, such as personal habits and the environment. The best and most effective methods for renewing health are to follow the requirements of proper diet, wholesome environment, appropriate activities, and adequate sleep.

The idea that you can purchase health or longevity by taking Growth Hormone, DHEA, testosterone, estrogen, or IV vitamin drips has not been backed up by animal or human studies. You simply cannot purchase longer life from a health food store or from an anti-aging physician who dispenses hormones. Food choice is the single most important factor effecting human health, and it is easily within our control. Good food choices, in combination with other important health factors, give you your best possible chance for a long and rewarding life.

The seven key concepts in longevity are listed below. Your best health insurance is to keep these guidelines in mind and to put them into practice. The finest health care in the world is proper self care—learning to live so healthfully that you can safely avoid hospitals, doctors, drugs, and surgery.

Today, many people in our society mistakenly think heart disease and cancer are the result of living longer—a natural consequence of aging. (A similar misconception is the notion that disease is largely genetic and beyond our control.) Healthy populations around the world see no heart disease or cancer in their eldest. Plus, there are no strokes in populations consuming natural food diets with no added salt.

Disease is not caused by aging. Disease is caused by those negative influences that stress the body over the years and lead to eventual cellular dysfunction and breakdown. Water dripping on a rock over thousands of years may eventually wear a hole in the rock. But it is not time that makes the hole; it is the water hitting the rock over and over. In a similar way, we create the diseases of aging through our behavior. Fortunately, we can just as easily create a long, hundred year life span, free of serious illness from birth to a gentle death.

Here's more from this Followhealthlife miniseries:

Drugs for Autoimmune Disease

From the November 2004 edition of Dr. Fuhrman’s Healthy Times:

Immunosuppressive medications used by rheumatologists for autoimmune diseases are fraught with danger. That is the reason these drugs are used only by rheumatologists and not by internists, family physicians, or other medical specialists. Rheumatology is a medical specialty developed to prescribe and monitor the side effects of these high-risk medications.

Cytotoxic (toxic to cells) agents and chemotherapeutic agents, traditionally used in cancer therapy, also have become an established part of therapy for autoimmune diseases. The most powerful and dangerous drugs in the medical arsenal often are needed to control the raging immune system in cases of autoimmune illnesses. In rheumatology, chemotherapy is designed to decrease immune cell production and suppress the immune system, which is why these drugs are sometimes called immunosuppressive drugs, instead of chemo. Although much of the initial data on toxicity was accumulated in the setting of cancer treatment, these agents can cause illness or death even at the doses used to treat autoimmune disease. For this reason, the risks of treatment with a cytotoxic agent or any of the other immunosuppressive agents must weigh against the potential benefits.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned health-care professionals of an increased risk of lymphoma, leukopenia, and opportunistic infections with fatal outcome associated with the use of Remicade. Imuran is known to have mutagenic and carcinogenic potential and cause pancreatitis. All the immunosuppressive agents increase one’s risk of cancer. The risk of developing malignancies is related to the duration of immunosuppressive drug exposure in general. A study published in the Journal of Rheumatology followed 1,773 patients started on treatments by rheumatologists for ten years and found a 400% increased rate of cancer in the treatment group in the ten-year period compared to controls.1

Doctors know the dangers of these drugs, and patients are supposed to be informed about them. Patients choose conventional medical care because they wrongly assume there is no other approach. The rationale for doctors is that we can’t have a person suffering with pain while their joints and internal organs are being destroyed by autoimmune illnesses. Patients and their doctors evidently believe the increased likelihood of cancer and a premature death from immunosuppressive drugs is worth the risk. Unfortunately, patients are not informed of the nutritional options.

A significant body of literature exists documenting the effectiveness of nutritional intervention for treating autoimmune diseases, but these articles are not being read by doctors or distributed to patients with autoimmune disease. I feel strongly that giving a potentially life-threatening drug with no other option for treatment is malpractice and should be stopped.

A packet of medical journal articles documenting the results achievable with nutritional intervention could be given to every patient, and physicians could offer simple nutritional protocols for people initially presenting with autoimmune diseases. The earlier this information is given, the better, because it is early on—before years of medication use—when there is the greatest possibility of achieving a remission.

Autoimmune illness is serious. It causes immense suffering and pain and can kill. Autoimmune diseases, just like heart disease and cancer, are caused predominantly by the inadequate diet consumed in our youth and are potentially preventable with prolonged breast-feeding and better childhood nutrition. It is always preferable to prevent illness rather than just offer treatments to the sick. However, even after these diseases develop, recovery is still possible in most cases. The opportunity to live a life fully recovered, free of illness, and free of the toxic effects of drugs should not be passed up. Today, we have an epidemic of autoimmune illnesses that continues to grow daily, and the offices of rheumatologists are flooded with suffering people. I am hoping that one day rheumatologists only will treat a small segment of patients with autoimmune disease; the rest will simply recover with modern nutritional intervention.
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Animal Fat and Cancer

In preparation for this post I decided to sift through Followhealthlife’s archives for posts discussing the link between animal products and cancer. And in the end, even I was surprised by the number of them. Here are a few of my favorites:
The Meat-Disease Connection
“Red met is not the only problem. The consumption of chicken and fish is also linked to colon cancer. A large recent study examined the eating habits of 32,000 adults for six years and then watched the incidence of cancer for these subjects over the next six years. Those who avoided red meat but at white meat regularly had a more than 300 percent increase in colon cancer incidence.3 The same study showed that eating beans, peas, or lentils, at least twice a week was associated with a 50 percent lower risk than never eating these foods.”
Do Primitive Peoples Really Live Longer?
“Inuit Greenlanders, who historically have had limited access to fruits and vegetables, have the worst longevity statistics in North America. Research from the past and present shows that they die on the average about 10 years younger and have a higher rate of cancer than the overall Canadian population.1”

Magical, Mythical Protein?
“Study after study has shown that as protein consumption goes up, so does the incidence of chronic diseases. Similar studies show that the incidence of chronic diseases also goes up when carbohydrate and fat consumption go up. This is because if the consumption of any of the macronutrients exceeds our basic requirements, the excess hurts us. Americans already get too much protein (and fat and carbohydrates), and this is reflected in soaring increases in the diseases of excess—heart disease, high-blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and numerous others.”
Now this brings me to these graphs, which I’ve been sitting on for a while now, and honestly I don’t know why. Dr. Fuhrman sent them over months ago with this batch of graphs that illustrate the relationship between animal and plant foods and heart disease. So, without any further ado, check out Dr. Fuhrman’s graphs on animal fat and cancer:

Animal Fat vs. Cancer Above Age 55

Animal Fat vs. Female Breast Cancer

Animal Fat vs. Intestinal Cancer

And for more information on cancer and animal products, take a look at these previous posts:
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What Epidemiologic Studies Tell Us

Adapted from Dr. Fuhrman's book Disease-Proof Your Child:
  • Saturate fat is a powerful cancer promoter.
  • Refined sugar and white flour promote cancer.
  • Root vegetables and whole grains offer minimal cancer protection.
The largest and most impressive epidemiologic study was the China Project. The New York Times called this investigation the "Grand Prix of all epidemiologic studies" and "the most comprehensive large study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease." 1

The reason this large undertaking, involving hundreds of researchers from Cornell and Oxford universities, produced such respected data is because China was the perfect test tube, "a living laboratory," to detect the effects food has on the incidence of different cancers. The people in one small area of China eat a certain diet, while just 100 miles away they may eat a vastly different one. The investigators were able to study populations with a broad rage of dietary differences. In addition, the Chinese individuals who were tested had lived their entire lives in the same town, and therefore the dietary effects were present for the subjects' entire lives. In America, there is comparatively little difference in diet form one city to the next.

This project reported disease rates from towns that ate almost a complete plant-based diet and from other areas that ate a significant amount of animal products. The researchers found that as the amount of animal products increased in the diet, even in relatively small increments, so did the emergence of the types of cancers that are common in the West. The researchers noted that most cancers increased in diet proportion to the quantity of animal products eaten and decreased relative to the amount of fruits, vegetables, and beans consumed.

The more animal products in the diet, the great the cancer occurrence.

The more fruits and vegetables in the diet, the less cancer they found.

Areas of China with exceptionally low intakes of animal products were virtually free of the cancers and heart disease that develop in most people living in Western countries. Even lean meats, chicken, eggs, and wild and naturally raised livestock (without hormones and antibiotics) were shown to increase the heart attack and cancer rates in proportion to the amount consumed by the population under study. Green vegetable consumption showed a strong protective effect.2

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Pomegranates, Atherosclerosis, and Diabetics

The pomegranate is a bad mama jama and I mean that in the cool Shaft way. According to Dr. Fuhrman pomegranate juice can help lower blood pressure and reduce in atherosclerotic plaque buildup? Not to mention, it’s a powerful anti-oxidant and has strong anti-cancer effects. He discusses pomegranates at length in Pomegranate Power. Have a taste:
Recent medical research completed in 2004 studied heart patients with severe carotid artery blockages. They were given an ounce of pomegranate juice for a year, and not only did their blood pressure lower by over 20 percent, but there was a 30 percent reduction in atherosclerotic plaque…1

…Pomegranates’ potent antioxidant compounds have also been shown to reduce platelet aggregation and naturally lower blood pressure, factors that prevent both heart attacks and strokes.2 Pomegranates contain high levels of flavonoids and polyphenols, potent antioxidants offering protection against heart disease and cancer. A glass of pomegranate juice has more antioxidants than red wine, green tea, blueberries, and cranberries.
Here’s some more good PR for pomegranates. Apparently a new study has revealed pomegranate juice also reduces the risk of arthrosclerosis in diabetics. The Diabetes Blog is on it:
The results of this study suggest that the antioxidants found in pomegranate juice may be beneficial in reducing these heart-related risks associated with diabetes. The sugars in pomegranate juice are attached to unique antioxidants, which actually make these sugars protective against atherosclerosis. Researchers examined the effects of drinking a concentrated pomegranate juice that is the equivalent to about a 6-ounce glass of freshly squeezed pomegranate juice for three months in 10 healthy adults and 10 adults with type 2 diabetes (who were not dependent on insulin therapy).
Perhaps the only knock against pomegranates is they can be hard to find. Take my farmers market for example, unfortunately they only have them a fraction of the year—argh! Anyone else have difficulty tracking down fresh pomegranates?

If you’d like to know more about pomegranates, check out these previous posts. They deal with pomegranates and prostate health. Take a look:
And for all of the foodies out there, give these pomegranate inspired recipes a try:
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