Category Archives: 13. Killing Cancer with Nutrition

Birth Control Pills Cause Breast Cancer


Birth Control Pills Cause Cancer

References: NEJM Dec 2017New York Times,

That’s it! They do. Birth control pills increase your risk of breast cancer. The issue should be, how much risk are you willing to take for the benefit of birth control. Pregnancy is not a benign condition either. It has risks. Labor and delivery used to be just about the most common cause of death in women, until we got modern medicine, ultrasounds, sterile technique, etc
What’s the data? The study followed 1.6 million Danish women for over 10 years. Their results showed that for every 100,000 women, birth control use increased risk by 13 women a year, from 55 to 68. Over 40 years, that would be 520 extra cases per 100,000 women. That’s 0.5% lifetime risk. Or, a 20% risk increase over baseline. In percent terms it doesn’t sound huge, and indeed, it isn’t compared to other risks. The study was not able to take into account confounding variable like weight, exercise, other disease, breast feeding, alcohol consumption, etc etc. What about IUD’s with tiny amounts of progestins in them? Nope. Still a problem.
What they also found was that lower doses in modern birth control pills still are risky and the use of “low dose estrogen” really doesn’t add much. And, the progestins (Manufactured artificial progesterone) may actually be the main culprit. If you look at the moleculeprogesterone, and compare it to the molecule medroxyprogesterone, you can quickly see that they aren’t the same thing. They have enough overlap in function to fulfill their duty of hormonal manipulation, but then confuse the body by not setting off the normal biological signaling that the proper molecule provides. The mid cycle surge of LH and FSH is suppressed by lowered free hormones, secondary to elevated Sex Hormone Binding Globulin. You don’t ovulate. Presto.
Are other methods of birth control any safer? You have to go through all the complex math of failure rate and risk of pregnancy, and consequences of pregnancy to come to your own decision. At the end of the day, birth control pills and the IUD are extremely effective at preventing pregnancy, but they do have some risk to them. Ok,, you are informed. (And we didn’t go into the risk reduction of ovarian cancer etc that birth control may help – whole other topic.)
Now, can you soften the risk. You bet. When you do get pregnant, consider breast feeding as your “anti-cancer”, “baby’s brain health”, strategy. For every 6 months of breast feeding, your future risk of breast cancer drops some 15-16 percent – with studies rangingfrom 20% to 60% lifetime risk reduction by getting in the habit and sticking with it.

And then there is iodine, 1 mg a day, Vitamin D to a level of 50, exercise, weight control, Vitamin K2, avoid xenoestrogens (BPA) and eat lots of organic vegetables, and you can keep dropping the risk further.

www.What will work for me. This is one of the most common questions I get asked. How safe are birth control pills. It’s a yin and yang. Life has risks and choices. Driving to my office has risks. Texting on the way is dangerous. What I do tell my clients is please, please take a 6 month sabbatical from birth control every 5 years. And if you don’t want any more children, male or female tubes can be clipped.


Pop Quiz

  1. Birth control pills cause breast cancer by how much?                                          Answer: 13 extra cases per 100,000 women per year – or .5% higher
  2. What is the risk of pregnancy?                                                Answer: in advanced nations with good prenatal health care, 12/100,000 maternal deaths from pregnancy is what WHO provides.   This low rate occurs where  we do not have a targeted strategy for all pregnant women, it’s higher that other parts of the world where risks are up to 200+/100,000 deaths per year from pregnancy
  3. What is the most effective method to lower my risk of breast cancer?                    Answer: breast feed for at least 6 months with every pregnancy. Try for a year.
  4. What other strategies can I do go lower my breast cancer risk?                               Answer: stay slender, exercise, avoid sugar, iodine 1 mg a day, Vitamin D, K2….
  5. Is the IUD any safer?                                                                                                          Answer: No.




Sulfate: Maybe it All begins with Sulfate

Sulfate: Maybe it All begins with Sulfate

References:  Holistic Primary Care,  Theor Biol Med Model,

You’ve probably heard the term -sulfate added on to many medical terms. For example: chondroitin sulfate. You might have shrugged it off like it was just an add on salt, and no big deal. In that, you may be very, very wrong. At least, you are if Stephanie Senneff from MIT is right. At last March’s Clinical and Scientific Insights Conference in San Francisco Dr. Senneff had a breakout session on sulfate and it’s importance. In sum, she argues this is one of the foundational causes of most diseases. Whoa! That’s big. How can she claim that?

Here is her logic based on proven experimental literature and known chemical principles. The sulfate anion, a combination of sulfur and oxygen, is the fourth most common anion in out bodies. It plays many critical roles detoxing drugs, digesting food, building our intracellular matrix, preventing blood from coagulating when passing through tiny capillaries. Lots and lots of roles. And where does it start? Ironically, in your skin with exposure to sunlight. A combination of red cells, cholesterol, sunlight and vitamin D are all necessary ingredients to make the sulfate anion. Senneff describes our skin as our solar powered battery because it extracts the energy of sunlight through the enzyme Endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthetase that turns the energy of sunlight into the sulfate anion in your skin.
At this point, sunlight and sulfate make two new and unrecognized molecules, vitamin D sulfate and cholesterol sulfate. The Vitamin D sulfate is water soluble and can travel everywhere. The Vitamin D you take in a pill doesn’t have the sulfate attached, so can’t dissolve in water (blood) so doesn’t have near the effectiveness of the sulfated form. But ditto for the cholesterol. It’s hard to get sufficient Vitamin D from oral supplementation alone, making sunlight a critical link for good health. Hmmm….don’t you just plain feel better when you get sunlight. The principle remains, many hormones, vitamins, fats have to be sulfated to be transported in the blood.

The foundational necessity of sulfate comes down to the physics of fluid flow in your blood and blood vessels. Cholesterol sulfate lines the outside of red blood cells creating a negatively charged field so that red cells repel each other, allowing them not to stick together as they travel through all your tiny capillaries and not rupture. That same negative charge carried by sulfate creates a behavior of water atoms on the surface of blood vessels that make them super slippery, almost like a teflon surface. In fact, that effect of sulfate may be central to the actual biology of how heart disease gets started. That’s for next week.

WWW.What will work for me. If sulfate is important, where can I get it in my diet? Well, ever wondered why garlic is such a potent herb? Loaded with sulfate! And the whole broccoli, kale, cabbage family. Loads of it. Eggs. Ditto. And sunshine? Yeah, I know the dermatologists goes nuts over too much of it. But without it, you don’t make the sulfate ion in your skin. This may be another clue why Vitamin D studies haven’t always panned out. You can’t just take the pure D3. It’s sulfated D3 that’s the portable form. Like cholesterol sulfate, the portable form. That role of sulfate making our blood vessels slippery makes sulfate central to our bodies being able to be multicellular. It allows us to distribute energy and get rid of gunk. After all, glutathione is based on sulfur. On and on and on. Eat more garlic.

Pop Quiz

1. Sulfate ions are key to making water insoluble compounds soluble and that has its impact felt on what crucial vitamin/hormone?                                Answer: Vitamin D


2. Humans can live without sunlight? T or F                                    False. We get sick, not just from lack of Vitamin D,but also lack of sulfate creation by sun in our skin.


3. Human red cells don’t stick to each other because they have a halo of?                      Answer: Negatively charged sulfate atoms.


4. Blood vessels are slippery because they have a surface layer of water atoms set up by…?                    Answer: Negatively charged sulfate atoms


5. I can get more sulfate in my diet by eating what foods?                                   Answer: Kale, garlic, eggs, broccoli, Brussel’s sprouts.


Black Tea and C-Reactive Protein‬

Black Tea and C-Reactive Protein

Reference: Toxicology, ResearchGate,

I drink black tea. Quite a lot, in fact. I like chai. I’m also on the quest to find how to lower C-reactive protein. When I see research that addresses both topics, I pay attention. This is interesting.

The study design was pretty simple. Three cups of black tea a day, with no additives, for 12 weeks. The control group drank hot water. The groups were large enough to show statistically significant drops in uric acid of 8-9% across the various ranges of uric acid. And better, C-reactive protein, the common pathway for inflammation, fell by 40-50% in folks with levels over 3 mg %. Now, 50% drop is a lot! The goal is to get folks to below 1.0 on their CRP. So a 50% drop from 3 gets you to 1.5. Almost there!

From the same study, published in a different journal, was evidence of what happened to other markers of cardiovascular risk. Again, the same 12 week period with three cups of tea a day. The tea had high levels of gallic acid derivatives (50 ± 0.4 mg/L), flavan-3-ols (42 ± 2 mg/L), flavonols (32 ± 1 mg/L) and theaflavins (90 ± 1 mg/L). (All good things). The metabolic changes were quite striking: a fasting serum glucose decrease of 18.4%; (p<0.001) and triglyceride level decrease of 35.8%; (p<0.01), a significant decrease in LDL/HDL plasma cholesterol ratio (16.6%; p<0.05) and a non significant increase in HDL plasma cholesterol levels 20.3%. For those who have read this column and gotten facile at glucose and its effect on blood lipids, you would understand it all as the same phenomenon.

To recap: a lower blood glucose means less insulin. Less insulin means less instructions to the liver to manufacture triglycerides and LDLs. With fewer LDLs and triglycerides to manufacture and ship out to fat cells, HDLs will rise. The real primary effect is on glucose with all the others following. Small, dense LDLs, stimulated by high glucose levels, drive heart disease, so there you have it. All these risk factors stem from elevated glucose.

Guess where this study came from? Mauritius! Not the common place for research. But they are looking at life style and food. Just what we need.

WWW. What will work for me. I feel too buzzed with coffee and don’t like all the caffeine. Tea is gentler. But I spend all day with my clients trying to find ways to lower CRP. Lots of folks have mildly elevated level. To know that we can drop it 30-40% with 3 cups of tea. In Afghanistan, 3 Cups of Tea means you are a friend. Same effect in America.

Pop Quiz:

‪1. Three cups of tea will lower your CRP by 40-50%? T or F

True. Black tea.

‪2. I can also lower my triglycerides with black tea. T or F


‪3. Uric acid, unfortunately, goes up with black tea. T or F

Gotcha. Read it again. Uric acid goes down. Another good thing

‪4. High blood glucose results in high blood lipids. T or F

Simple as that. True. Glucose is the real story for causing heart disease, not blood fats.

‪5. This research was done in a place that drinks a lot of tea and doesn’t have much pharmaceutical company influence. T or F


Cancer Risk Drops with Vitamin D

Cut the Risk of Cancer with Vitamin D

Reference Science News, PLOS One,

Let’s get to the chase. The Institute of Medicine, the supposed gurus and final authority of truth, justice, and the American way decided that a level of 20 ng was enough for humans, and could be achieved in most Americans with a supplement of 600 IU a day. They basically looked at bone health as having the strongest evidence, and claimed that everything else was still too uncertain. That represented a 50% increase from 400 IU a day. It seemed a bit conservative because a 20 year old Caucasian will make 1000 IU in 1 minute of sunshine in June.   Heavens forbid you get more than 36 seconds of sunshine. It seemed overly cautious.

But there has been debate about it because we haven’t had good studies comparing populations and the effects of higher doses. Ok, at least until now. Here, Cedric Garland, faculty from UCSD Medical School compared cancer rates from two populations of women who had Vitamin D levels measured.   In one clinical study, 1,169 women had an average level of Vitamin D of 30 ng and a cancer rate of 1,020 per 100,000 years. In the second prospective trial, they had a Vitamin D level of 48 and a cancer rate of 722 per 100,000 years.

What does that turn into in regards to risk? That’s the bottom line. They essentially found a linear risk of cancer based on Vitamin D level, with a 67% increased risk if your D was below 20 compared to over 48.   That compares favorably to another study published last month that I didn’t review on prostate cancer that shows higher rates of aggressive prostate cancer with lower vitamin D levels.

How does Vitamin D do this? The core role of Vitamin D is to signal cells to become mature and do their function.   Cancer cells never become fully mature. Mature cells have a natural ticking clock which runs out and includes cell death. That’s why we die at age…90-120. It’s the Hayflick Limit. Cancer cells don’t have that. Vitamin D helps set it in motion. Vitamin D is preserved in every living being from Plankton to Humans, and does that function in all of us. And that’s why it has so many myriad activities.

I believe there are several reasons why our research on populations has failed to show much effect yet. The human body is designed to soak up D and save it for a rainy day. It takes a year to get to a new blood level when you change doses. If you do a study that lasts only 1-3 years, the first year is just getting up to speed.   You need to start any study with a loading dose to make sure folks get their blood levels up fast. There is good evidence that 100,000 IU all at once will raise your blood level 14 ng. And no one takes into account skin pigment and its effect on D.   More pigment, more sunshine needed. Dark, African type skin requires up to 6 times as much sunlight. So African-Americans living far up north have much lower Vitamin D levels (12-16 is average) and have much more aggressive breast and prostate cancer than Caucasian folks.

www. What will work for me.   Goodness. My D was 7 when I measured it 15 years ago. I take 20,000 IU a week and my level stays pretty reliably in the 40s. My skin has several cancers on it that is keeping my dermatologist fully employed, so I don’t want any more sunlight than I have to have. And being closer to 70 than 20, I don’t make more D anyways. If I get a cold, I boost my D by taking an extra dose of 50,000 for three days.


Pop Quiz

  1. Our current guidelines for Vitamin D suggest 600 IU a day is enough. T or F


  1. That level of D supplementation will get your blood level to 20 ng. T or F


  1. This study shows that you will have a 69% higher risk for cancer with that blood level.   T or F

In a nutshell, true

  1. Vitamin D has the function of making cells more immature and die later. T or F

False! It makes them die sooner and become more mature.

  1. Folks with skin pigment probably need more supplementation to lower their D levels further. T or F

They need the D to raise their levels, and that will lower their risk of cancer.

Alkaline Diet Slows Down Cancer

Alkaline Diets Slow Down Cancer

Reference: Science Daily Feb 2016

The pH of your cells is normally ever so slightly alkaline on the outside, and ever so slightly acidic on the outside.   Absolutely neutral pH is 7.0, and 7.2-7.6 is what you find on the outside of normal cells.   Cancer cells have a pH roughly 0.4 units below that on the outside.   And what is so interesting is that the opposite occurs on the inside. Normal cells are every so slightly acidic on the inside, and cancer cells are more so.

Now, rapidly growing cells have a transient reversal of their alkaline, acidic pH gradient. And cancer cells even more so. In fact, it is a hallmark of cancer that they are persistent in their reverse gradient of pH. Very acidic environments are toxic to normal cells, and are quite happily tolerated by cancer cells, giving cancer cells an advantage to grow and spread.   That acidity up-regulates proteolysis, genomic instability, immunosuppression, therapeutic resistance and angiogenesis – all hallmarks of what cancer does to destroy tissue.   This reversal happens quite early in the life of a cancer, and may, in fact be essential for cancer so get started.   Cancers have a more alkaline internal pH and this turns on glucose burning, giving them energy.   Normally, if you have broken DNA, you naturally go into cell death. Well, if you are alkaline internally, and acidic externally (like with cancer) you don’t.   The extra changes also encourage cells to bypass their G2-M transition, which is the last check point before doubling.   Without that checkpoint, cells multiple faster.

Ok, so to summarize it and make it simpler: just about everything that makes cancer succeed comes about because of this reversal of their alkaline acidic gradient.

And the reason we are writing about it is because of its implications for the care of cancer.   A diet rich in alkaline foods will thereby make it harder for cancer to get started, and to succeed. What is that diet?   Rich in vegetables.   Or, let’s get to the heart of it. Rich in alkaline substances.   That basically comes down to magnesium and potassium, and less sodium. Now, in Western society, our food supply has changed rather dramatically in the last two hundred years.   What once was a diet with potassium to sodium of 8:1 is now a diet of potassium to sodium of 1:4, roughly a 32 fold shift, with sodium now dominating. There are all sorts of research articles documenting risk reduction in mortality with shifting your potassium sodium ratio to more potassium and less sodium. More veges, less breast cancer. And it’s not the food so much as the processing that makes it bad.   100 gram of pork, for example, has 61 mg of sodium, and 340 of potassium. That’s a good ratio. Ham, however, has 921 mg of sodium and only 240 of potassium.

There have been numerous cancer programs that have talked about this in the past. The Kelly Protocol makes an art of it by juicing vegetables (that gets all the potassium and magnesium salts out of the veges). There are other ways you can alkalinize yourself. The difference between an acidic diet and an alkaline diet is only some 20 meq. That comes down to a tsp or two of sodium bicarb. Add bicarb to your diet every day, and you accomplish much of the same effect.

www.What Will Work for me.   We now have attention to this being paid by the formal world of oncology. Us regular folks ought to take heed.   Eat more vegetables. You can have animal, just not processed with extra salt. Or else you better have some bicarb. Did I mention more vegetables? Fresh, steamed. (Why steaming? – because all that green water you pour off is all the alkalizing salts.)


Pop Quiz


  1. Cancer cells normally have a more acidic environment on the outside of them, meaning a lower pH. T or F

That’s it in a nutshell.

  1. Normal cells live in a world of slightly alkaline external pH. T or F

Again, bingo.

  1. The American diet has switched from alkaline to acidic by our modern processing, which essentially comes down to a whole lot more salt. T or F


  1. Meat is naturally abundant in potassium, compared to sodium. T or F


  1. The difference between an acidic diet and an alkaline diet is two tsps of bicarb. T or F


What Carbs Should I Eat?

What Carbs Should I Eat?

Reference: Low Glycemic Food Table, Cox Diabetes Clin Research, J. Geriatrics Oct 2015, Paleo Diet Glycemic Index,

We humans are a unique bunch. We developed big, energy hungry brains in the last 2 million years. To keep that development moving along, we had to adapt to diets with more calories in it. Fat provides more calories.   Eating animals provides a great way to get more fat. Cooking allows plants to be easier to digest and get access to more calories.   Cooking started, by our best archeological guess, over a million years ago. But prior to that, we had a metabolism set by mammalian history over 65 million years since the dinosaurs crashed out of existence and the first mammal crawled out its den.

Those first mammals were vegetarians. And likely remained mostly so except for those branches that turned into top tier carnivores. Carnivores develop different teeth, different intestines, different metabolisms. Most hominids (monkeys and apes) remained vegetarian. To this day, they are still mostly vege munchers.   Orangutans eat some 20-25 pounds of green plants a day – leaves. With fruit season, they switch to pure fruit for two months and eat sweet sugar and gain weight. Chimps do the same. They eat some 150 different plants but prefer fruit when its around. Once in a while they chance upon a small mammal they kill and eat, but it’s rare. And you can’t count the few ants they lick off sticks as a major component of their caloric intake. Humans got big brains and smaller muscles.

That’s the world we came from, plant eaters. Hence, our basic, core metabolism started about being adapted to plants.   Plants make carbohydrates.   As a rule, there are two kinds of plant foods.   Leaves and stems (spinach and broccoli) are green, have carbohydrate bound up in the cell well, have a lot of fiber and often as much protein as carbohydrate.   Roots and fruits are the other class of plants that result from the plant storing carbohydrate, often with the seed for propagation. (Think potatoes, apples, corn, rice, pears, almonds, walnuts, cherries.)

In that world, we adapted our hormones that manage carbohydrates to absorb and use the fuel we got from them.   That fuel is glucose and a tiny bit of rare fats, usually in the form of omega fats but sometime saturated fat like coconuts.

What is the hormone most tasked with managing carbohydrates? Insulin!   (And about 30 others in a beautiful nuanced ballet of control.) But insulin is the big kahuna of carbohydrate control. Insulin pushes glucose into fat storage. We secrete insulin in proportion to the rate of rise of blood glucose.   Green plants release glucose so slowly, usually because the fiber is spinach, broccoli (etc) pushes the food down into the colon where our biome releases it for us to use, very, very slowly.   So slowly, in fact, that you almost don’t need any insulin at all.

But potatoes and mangos cause a jolt in blood glucose, and insulin surges with the result that we then store those calories as fat. Getting fat once a year before a long spell of reduced calories makes sense. But it doesn’t make sense year around.

Insulin lasts 6-8 hours.   Think about that. If insulin lasts that long, throughout most of our evolutionary history, the majority of our food must have been of they type that releases glucose over the time period that insulin lasts.   It would not make sense to have foods that make us secrete insulin dramatically and push calories into storage.   Hence, those are the foods we are best served eating the most of.

Did you get that?   Green plants that release glucose over 6-8 hours are our perfect match. They fit our basic hormone of glucose metabolism to a T.   We call them “low glycemic” or cucumbers, Brussel’s sprouts, asparagus, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, – or any green plant that grows above ground.   Green peppers, eggplant probably fit too.

WWW.   What will work for me? We were designed, one way or another, to eat lots of green plants. Lots and lots. And some fat and protein whenever we could. But the green plants came first.   If you did that today, you would be skinnier, healthier, have less cancer, less heart disease, less diabetes. We could call it the alkaline diet, the Pritikin diet, the Esselstyn diet, the anti cancer diet.   Or just the human diet. Enjoy Thanksgiving!


Pop Quiz


  1. Insulin pushes sugar into storage to it should be called our blood glucose controlling hormone. T or F

False, false, false. Way too simplistic, thought that’s what modern health care calls it.   It is our storage hormone, waiting there for you to find caches of free carbs in that month just before winter, (aka, Thanksgiving)

  1. We are designed to eat potatoes year around. T or F

False, false, false. Potatoes dramatically push glucose into your blood, forcing your to make insulin, forcing you to manufacture fat, forcing your LDLs up, forcing your to get fat. You want potatoes only when you want to store fat so that you can make it through winter. (aka: Thanksgiving)

  1. Our brains need a lot of calories, easily supplied with a raw, vegan, green diet. T or F

False, false, false.   Our big, energy hungry brains want fat and B12 is critical for survival. No B12 in plants. Found only in animal.   (Think Turkey)

  1. Insulin lasts 6-8 hours. That suggests that most of our carbohydrate calories should come from foods that release their glucose over 6-8 hours. T or F

That’s the hypothesis of this treatise.

  1. Humans like to have a big feed when they can? T or F

True. It’s how we express love and affection for each other when we can find all those calories. (Think Thanksgiving)

  1. It’s ok to get fat once in while.

Another premise of this talk: we have put one weight and lost weitht throughut human history. So, enjoy putting it on once in a while. Make sure you do it with lots of love and company.   (Think Thanksgiving)

  1. So Happy Thanksgiving.


Beta-Glucans and Immune Function

Beta Glucan: Immune Booster

Reference: Nutrition Journal 2014

Published:  Nov 16, 2015

Ever heard of the immune boosting effect of mushrooms? Of course. Shiitake mushrooms from Japan or Lengzhi         from China have been used in Asia for millennia to boost immune function. They exist in the cell walls of yeast, fungi and some seaweeds.. They play an important role in the building blocks of the cell wall of yeast and fungi.   We are familiar with cellulose, the building block of wood and trees.   That is a β-glucan linked from the 1 to the 4 positions of adjacent glucose molecules.   It plays no role in immune modulation, but it sure holds trees together nicely.   The β-glucans we are interested in are linked at the 1-3 position.   What we call starch or glycogen is made of glucoses hooked together at the 1-4 or 1-6 site. So, β-glucan is only slightly different than cellulose (wood) or glycogen (human) or starch (potato, rice, bread). They are all glucose molecules hooked together at different places on the glucose molecule. Humans can neither digest or synthesize β-glucans, hence we have to recognize them as foreign.

And that is precisely what your immune system measures and evaluates – the different structures and connections of glucose on the surface of various invaders – bacteria in particular. It only makes sense that your immune system would get a boost. Yeast have β- glucan on their surface.   We don’t want yeast to invade you.

Β-glucan becomes a useful tool to “boost” your immune system.  And yeast becomes the means by which we can “manufacture” it as a supplement.

What do they do inside you? Well, your gut M cells (FBI of the gut) identify them, capture them, transport them into your Peyer’s patches in your gut from whence they are transported to local lymph nodes, spleen and bone marrow.   In the bone marrow you can show that granulocytes get activated and proceed to go out and kill tumor cells.  But wait, there is more. You also activate the B cell branch of your immune system that makes antibodies.   That requires you to absorb bigger chunks of β-glucan that are too big to dissolve in water. And your phagocytes (those cells that gobble up bacteria whole) get equally turned on with β-glucan.   This means that just about every arm of your immune system gets activated, turned on, focused.

Is there research to support that taking β-glucan as a supplement will reduce illness? Well yes.   Auinger showed decreased colds in a randomized, controlled trial from Europe in 2013. Graubaum showed the same in 2012. He gave 100 subjects β-glucan for 26 weeks and demonstrated a significant reduction in colds and progression of colds to severe symptoms.

And then there is cancer.   We don’t have good randomized studies yet, but tons of testimonials claiming otherwise unexplained improvement. Testimonials shouldn’t be taken as proof, but they should be taken seriously as cause for curiosity. The mechanisms make sense. And cancer succeeds by tamping down the immune system, reducing fever and generally hiding from the immune system. Β-glucans reawaken that masking effect.

Now, the European Food Safety panel has evaluated the efficacy of β-glucan for the prevention of colds and rejected the claim based on criticism that the questionnaire used to evaluate cold symtpoms has not been validated.   So, there you have it. There is pretty good evidence that it works, with in vivo experiments down to the bone marrow. There are statistical studies showing less colds, but using research methods that don’t quite pass muster.   And you have a couple thousand years of Chinese and Japanese healers noting that it works. You decide.

WWW. What will work for me.   Well, I’m stymied by the number of colds I get when I travel. Sitting on an airplane with 300 other people in close quarters seems to be risky. I’m going to try it this winter. And I think it makes sense for anyone with cancer to add Shiitake mushrooms or β-glucan supplements to their regimen. Maybe not every day, but at least once a week.


Pop Quiz


  1. β-glucans are closely related to glucose? T or F

True. They are branched strings of glucose hooked together in a way we can’t digest.

  1. In nature, β-glucans show up in mushrooms, fungi, yeast and seaweed. T or F


  1. Our gut immune system rejects β-glucans and refuses to digest them. T or F

False. We don’t digest them, that’s true but we take them up and ship them all over our bodies, even to our bone marrow where we turn on our immune system to recognize them.

  1. There are pretty good studies that show they reduce the symptoms of the common cold. T or F

True, if you accept the questionnaire that has not been validated as good enough.

  1. There is no evidence that β-glucans are toxic.


  1. If you had cancer, there are plausible mechanisms shown to explain why so many people claim to have great results with β-glucans in slowing down their cancer.

True. With a lot less toxicity than many of our current chemo drugs.


Does Meat Cause Cancer?

Meat Gives You Cancer?

Reference   CBCNews,, IARC Report on Meat and Cancer

Nov 2, 2015

Does red meat give you cancer? It was all over the news this last week. The UN agency for health within WHO issued a report this week linking meat comsumption to the risk of cancer. In particular, its data suggests that processed meat shows the strongest link.

There has been evidence for quite a while to this effect. Longo published a series of reports on animal versus plant sources of protein. Animal protein supplies us with all the essential amino acids that we need and don’t make ourselves. But plant protein nourishes our gut biome, which will make all those amino acids for you, just slower.   There is something about the combination in animals that seems to turn on cancer making hormones.   It might be the speed with which the amino acids get into you making you turn on insulin. Insulin is a potent growth factor for cancer.   But this report also suggested that processed meats are a problem. How much of a problem? If you eat one hot dog a day, your risk of colon cancer will go from 5% to 6%.   That’s an 18% increased risk in relative terms. It’s a 1% risk in absolute terms. But that does make colon cancer ever so much worse. Did you get that risk?   It’s already 5% of us. That’s huge. What are processed meats? Any meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or with the addition of chemical preservatives; examples include bacon, salami, sausages, hot dogs or processed deli or luncheon meats.   That includes chicken nuggets, ham, bacon, bratwurst, spam, breakfast sausage…..bummer. Is nitrate free bacon safe? Hmm?   Maybe not!

It may not be the meat itself. There is clear evidence that it is the way we cook that causes a lot of the trouble. High heat cooking, like pan frying, makes for a lot of chemical reactions that create all sorts of toxic substances. Their names are things like “heterocyclic amines” and “polycylic aromatic hydrocarbons”. In many models these chemicals cause cancer. You can make them with high heat grilling of anything.   Roasted coffee and roasted peanuts have them too. It’s high heat. And the nitrates may not be added as pure chemical, they can just come from vegetable sources. That allows you to say “no nitrites added” but your body still reads it as nitrites. Are you at risk from nitrites when you eat vegetables?   No, because they have vitamin C which allows you to detoxify on your own.

Then there is Vitamin K2.   Western meat is all raised on feedlots, and feedlots don’t have green grass. Those animals don’t have K2.   K2 has clearly been associated with lower cancer risk.   The EPIC study showed a 35% reduction in prostate cancer risk with K2. And in active cancer, it has been shown to cause apoptosis.

Well, where does this all fit in the realm of scientific inquiry? It’s clear that using a low carb diet is a great way to lose weight. Can we have meat in that diet?   Sure. In the short term, all you want because losing 10% of your body weight and reducing / eliminating your risk of diabetes and high blood sugar is probably 10 fold more important than avoiding processed meats in the short term. Notice, healthy fats aren’t listed anywhere as a risk.  So, is it K2 that’s missing?   Do you go down 35% with K2 but up 18% with hotdogs?

WWW. What will work for me. I’m trying to eat nitrate free bacon, and less of it. I cook it at lower heat – sort of a simmer and eat it chewy.   Still eat it. But I take K2 every day. And I get my colonoscopy. And the ultimate way to prevent colon cancer is lots and lots of vegetables. More fiber.   Less flour, less sugar.   Not so much fruit. More veges.   Ok, so I had Brussels spouts chopped up in Trader Joes bacon for supper last night. Took my K2 this morning. Yummy.


Pop Quiz


  1. Processed meats add risk to your diet? T or F


  1. The risk comes mostly from it being animal protein? T or F

Too early to tell. May be that our meat is flawed with no K2 in it, no omega fats in them, and cooked at too high a temperature.

  1. Vegetables can be roasted and make risk too?   T or F

Yup. Coffee or peanuts prove it.

  1. Your risk of dying goes up 18% when you eat a hot dog. T or F

Whoa Nellie.   That is an 18% relative risk. Only 1% abosolute risk. You go from 5% to 6% overall risk. And you can get a colonoscopy every 10 years and just about guarantee you don’t get colon cancer. Then take Vitamin D, K2 and eat 5 servings of veges every day, walk two miles and your risk drops way more than processed meat increases.

  1. You should still avoid processed meats and cheeses. T or F

Yup. Find a way to taper down.



Spicy Foods Help You Live Longer

Spicy Foods Help You Live Longer

Reference: British Medical Journal, August 2015

Hurray!   Tabasco Sauce, Sriracha Sauce, Cholula Sauce, …. is on the menu again.   In a study from China following 487,735 people for 7.2 years (that’s a lot of people years) we find that eating spicy foods, particularly using chilies, adds years to your life. In fact, eating spicy foods twice a week reduces your risk of death from heart disease and cancer 10%.   If you raise it to 4-7 times, you get a 14% boost.   Even once a week gets you some improvement.

This news made almost every media channel this last week.   The taste of chili has been spreading across America and more and more of us are beginning to add a bit of “piquant” to our recipes.   And some of us just slather it on.

What’s the mechanism? Turns out chilies are pretty interesting little devils.   Capsaicin, the not chemical of chilies, is probably the responsible party.   In a recent focused article also in the BMJ the authors review the potential for capsaicin to be helpful in heart disease.   Capsaicin stimulates the TRPV1 receptor. (Transient receptor potential vanilloid 1)   This is the receptor on your lips that goes nuts when you eat chilies.   That receptor is a pain receptor in your mouth. The TRPV receptor is also in your liver, your blood vessels, your fat cells, T cells, Mast cells, fat cells – lots of places, and in each of them you turn the cell “on” by increasing calcium influx into the cell. In blood vessels, this effect turns on Nitric Oxide production, which results in your blood vessels being stretchier and your blood pressure lower.   And in turns on Nrf2 responsive proteins to help the anti-oxidant effect of Nrf2 activating foods.

Capsaicin also activates Uncoupling Protein 2.   This protein helps electrons shuttle down the electron transport chain without really making energy. Instead they make heat.   But more importantly, by uncoupling, you reduce the oxidative stress on the blood vessels. Blood vessels see the stress of too much sugar first. Protecting them from that stress is very helpful, and may be why chilies reduce the risk for heart disease.

How about cancer? Well, we’ve been hearing reports for years.   Prostate cancer seems to be responsive. In this study, 80% of cancer cells got nudged over to natural cell death instead of living longer.   In stomach cancer, the Enox proteins seem to be inhibited by capsaicin. This may be behind the effectiveness found by the Morres of the combination of Capsaicin and EGCG combined.

How about Alzheimer’s? Yup.   On a rat model of Alzheimer’s less plaque formation resulted with eating capsaicin. Indians who eat a lot of spicy curry have some 80% less Alzheimer’s.   May be from the curcumin, or maybe the chilies play a role too.

This is an epidemiological study. It is not causation.   They did control for age, gender, education, marital status, alcohol, tobacco, and every other variable they could think of and still showed those robust findings.   To show “proof” we need a randomized placebo controlled trial of cause and effect. And considering that chilies are cheap and abundant, that won’t happen soon. No money or profit to be made.

WWW. What will work for me? 7 days a week for me. I put “Slap Ya Momma” Cajun hot spice on my eggs for breakfast. I find that if you start getting used to it, it’s addictive and you want more and more. And this study suggests you are on a good path when you do that.   With all the great Mexican, Thai, Indian, Vietnamese and Korean restaurants around, surely you can find something spicy you like.


Pop Quiz

  1. Capsaicin seems to help make blood vessels stretchier? T or F


  1. If you eat two spicy meals a week, you live 10% longer. T or F

False. Trick question. You have a 10% lower risk of dying. It might be the same, but not quite.

  1. If you have “spicy” food more than 4 times a week, you raise that benefit higher. T or F

Yup. 14%

  1. This is almost a good a benefit as exercise every day. T or F

Nope. But half as good is still pretty good.   Exercise gets you as much as 30-40% once you get fit. Imagine jogging with a jug of Sriracha sauce.

  1. Prostate cancer cells have been shown to spiral into cell death with capsaicin. T or F





Reference:, Pall in APS, Thieme, Wikipedia, Science Direct

August 3, 2015

Ever heard of Nrf? (Nuclear factor erythroid derived) I bet you thought Nerfs were some blue cartoon character, or better yet, a foam ball with which you could play office basketball. Not so. Nrf 2 is a protein that is in every tissue in your body, waiting in your cells to be activated. It has a controlling protein that limits its activity until something bad comes along to activate it.   It then travels into your cell nucleus and turns on all the processes that protect your cell from damage by binding to the hARE (human Antioxidant Response Element) region of DNA.   hARE is the uber regulator of all antioxidant response systems in your cell.

With such activation, your cells turn on a very wide array of cell protection pathways. This places NRF smack dab in the middle of your fundamental cell protection mechanisms. Its breakdown logically follows as being central to many illnesses.   Free radicals floating around in your blood appear to be some of the strongest activators of the NRF system suggesting that oxidative stress plays a huge role in many illnesses: Metabolic syndrome, Autoimmune, inflammatory bowel, HIV, MS, epilepsy, chronic kidney disease, asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, sepsis, atherosclerosis.   With that, it logically follows that raising NRF will help treat many of those illnesses.

This is not to claim that NRF is your sole cell protective mechanism. Glutathione is also critical.   What is interesting is the link between the two.   Each of the three genes that encode for the production of the glutathione producing enzymes are individually activated by NRF. As is the gene that turns on glutathione reductase, the enzyme that converts used glutathione back into activated glutathione. As is the gene that turns on the 8 steps to make NADH, the energy source for glutathione. This makes NRF2 and glutathione closely integrated into a system that handles “oxidative stress”.

What causes that stress?   There is increasing evidence that our lifestyle of highly refined carbohydrates, made into products like flour (from any source) which is quickly digested and stimulates the production of insulin, leads to oxidative stress. Once we are overweight, our fat cells then produce showers of activating chemicals that keep it going.   It’s not just being overweight that does it. We live in a sea of chemicals in our modern world, many of which contribute a small part and which, cumulatively add up to a lot of harm.   Heavy metals are particularly bad players.

The $ 64 question then remains, “How do we activate Nrf2 and turn all that bad stuff off?”.   Here is a partial list:   the phenolic antioxidants (code for spices and herbs like turmeric, rosemary, thyme,), the gamma-delta tocotrienols, the isothionates (code word for broccoli and other kale family plants), allyl sulfides (code word for garlic and onions) , carotenoids (lycopene in particular – aka carrots and tomatoes), fish oil, fasting and exercise.   Hmm.   Sounds like a healthy diet.     This sounds like how coffee, chocolate, turmeric, olive oil, broccoli, red hot peppers, green tea, resveratrol, garlic, blueberries, rosemary, oregano, sage all work to prevent diseases like cancer. And at last, I’ve figured out where peroxide (H202) works – it turns on Nrf2).

WWW. What will work for me?   I don’t know how to measure the effects of Nrf2 activation but I believe it is real. There are pills out there touting their ability to activate Nrf2. I’ve given peroxide IV for inflammation and seen great results.   I just want a test to show that it’s working. That doesn’t exist yet. Back to eating a meal packed with tomatoes, garlic, broccoli, hot peppers, turmeric and resveratrol. Sounds like curry with red wine.


Pop Quiz

  1. Nrf2 is the common pathway to turn on inflammation. T or F

False. That would be NFκB – another common pathway in every cell but it turns on the fire. Nrf turns it off.

  1. Nrf2 activation is turned off by our modern lifestyle. T or F

True – particularly our consumption of refined carbohydrates.

  1. Fasting turns on Nrf2. T or F


  1. Tomatoes and broccoli, blueberries, olive oil all turn it on? T or F


  1. We don’t have a good measure to see turned on Nrf2 is? T or F

True, except for how you feel when you have a chronic disease.