(last edit 11/2/2015)
In the news:
Here two physicians on the opposite side of the topic debating the evidence:
Meat intake and cause specific mortality: a pooled analysis of Asian prospective cohort studies. 296,000 Asians followed for 6.6 to 15.6 years…red meat intake was INVERSELY associated with CVD mortality in men and with cancer mortality in women in Asian countries. (Am Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Lee, et al. Oct 2013)
Summary and meta-analysis of prospective studies of animal fat intake and breast cancer. “The results are NOT supportive of a positive independent association between consumptions of animal fat and breast cancer.” (Nutr Res Rev. Alexander, et al. Jun 2010)
Low-fat dietary pattern and risk of colorectal cancer: the Women’s Health Initiative Randomized Controlled Dietary Modification Trial. A low-fat dietary intervention in 48,835 women over 8.1 years did NOT reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. (JAMA. Beresford, SA, et al. Feb 2006)
Association of dietary intake of fat and fatty acids with risk of breast cancer. “Analysis of cohort study (Nurses’ Health Study) found NO evidence that lower intake of total fat or specific major types of fat was associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer.” (JAMA. Holmes, et al. Mar 1999)
Incidence of cancer and cancer deaths continue to rise. Data shows a clearly that Americans who are diabetic and/or overweight have significantly higher risk of cancer.
Effect of elevated basal insulin on cancer: 29 year follow up. This is just one of many studies implicating elevated insulin levels as a negative predictor in cancer prognosis.
If you are interested in foods as prevention…here are two great places to start your own research:
The book Anticancer.
The website Eat to Beat.
Moving from prevention to pathophysiology — some scientists are starting to approach cancer as a metabolic disease as opposed to a genetic (DNA mutation) disease. Perhaps it’s a “chicken and egg” situation, but if thinking shifts toward cancer as a metabolic issue it could have a profound impact on cancer prevention and cancer treatment.
Thomas Seyfried PhD discusses his research on the subject.
Here are two books you can research if you’d like to learn more:
Cancer as a Metabolic Disease by Thomas Seyfried, PhD
Tripping Over The Truth by Travis Christofferson
Here is a brief summary borrowed from an amazon review:
Christofferson details the differences between two competing theories of cancer etiology, with well-researched timelines covering the political, economic, social, and academic forces behind both. The one more widely-held right now is the “somatic mutation theory” (SMT). It posits that cancer is caused by mutations to DNA. Carcinogenic substances cause errors in DNA replication, and this leads to cells that misbehave–they gobble up fuel, they create their own blood supplies (angiogenesis), they poison nearby cells, and they divide and multiply like crazy. They never die, like normal cells are programmed to do (apoptosis), and eventually, they spread from their site of origin and take root somewhere else in the body (metastasis). This theory makes sense, because cancerous cells do have mutated DNA.
However, the competing theory–the metabolic theory–holds that mutated DNA is merely an *effect* of cancer, not the cause. This theory suggests that cancer is the result of an energy problem inside cells–specifically, the mitochondria have lost the ability to adequately perform “cellular respiration” and oxidative phosphorylation–making ATP. In other words, it’s an energy generation problem. When mitochondria lose the ability to “respire” and create energy, they revert to fermentation instead, a primitive, highly inefficient survival mechanism that requires enormous amounts of glucose to power a cell. One of the products of fermentation is lactate (lactic acid), which accounts for the acidosis so common in cancer patients, and this is why alkalinizing therapies fail: people don’t get cancer because their blood is acidic; their blood becomes acidic because the cancer cells generate so much lactate. It’s also why advanced cancer patients waste away (cachexia): the cancer cells “steal” glucose from the rest of the body, growing and spreading, while the rest of the body starves and shrinks.