Category Archives: 6. Killing Cancer with Nutrition

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.


The Case Against Sugar: A Book by Gary Taubes

The Case Against Sugar, By Gary Taubes

Reference: The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes

It has been worth the wait. It was my Christmas present, and didn’t come till this last week. What a treasure. Gary Taubes new book has a different tone. He’s mad. We wants to know why sugar fell off the stage of scientific inquiry in the 1960s and 70s with fat becoming the enemy for the next forty years.

That’s what he details in this book. First of all, the curious addictive quality of sugar that we all demonstrate. Of course we act that we. It has served us well as long as we were living in the jungle and sweet only occurred just before the 6 month starvation season. Sugar makes you eat more so you put on weight, store calories and have enough to make it through the next dry patch.

But there is much much more. Did you know, for example, that the American cigaret industry really took off because they started soaking their tobacco leaves in sugar it allowed smokers to inhale much deeper, and get more seriously addicted? That was great for tobacco sales. Not so good for smokers. That’s still how cigarets are being made today.

But the most troubling part that Gary details is the clear historical record of populations being exposed to sugar, and then becoming fat, then obese, then diabetic, then cancerous, then heart attacks and kidney failure. Population after population showed this all around the world.

And our American scientific community blamed it on us. We were lazy and we ate too much. It could all be easily cured by better Puritan values of “eat less and exercise more”. We know that is what our health care system has said to us for years. Where did that come from? That’s the indictment. The sugar industry has funded critical players on the American nutrition scene for decades, never insisting that they tell outright lies, (well, maybe) but more that they focused the spotlight on fat and just ignored sugar, letting it slide out of sight. Because American medicine has not invested in its physicians understanding nutrition, there really hasn’t been the ability of American medicine to really understand adult human nutrition. We just learn by rote, memorize some convenient rules, and tell folks to get out there and eat less and exercise more.

As readers of this column you should know that it is not the calories you eat that make you fat, it is the hormonal effects of those calories that affects the amount that you eat for the next 12-24 hours.. For example, teens at a summer camp given identical calorie content of either high fat or high sugar breakfasts, are proven to eat more, later in the day, when they eat carbs. It is the insulin response to carbs, and sugar, that sets us off down the path of gaining weight and eating more. Insulin is your storage hormone, not your blood sugar controlling hormone.

Gary even has a nice section on the really dangerous chemical called fructose. It is half of table sugar (sucrose is a glucose hooked to a fructose). Fructose immediate damages your liver, forcing you to make small, dense, dangerous LDLs, making fatting liver, raising insulin, and starting the path to hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol…….. Humans appear to tolerate fructose well enough when it comes in the package of an apple. But in table sugar, and in every form of added sugar (70% of all prepared foods have sugar added to them: bread, pasta sauce, ketchup, peanut butter etc) we get too much, to our peril.

The verdict is in. This is a brilliant book. He’s mad. There’s more in it about cancer, about kidney failure..the prosecutor is talking to the jury, and he’s mad. It’s a good thing some of those wicked food scientists who shaped American nutrition back in the 60s-80s are dead. Because they would have to hang their heads in deep shame. They harmed us so much, for a few pieces of silver.

WWW. What Will Work for Me. I just finished reading the book. It’s actually just as good as his others. The case is made for us cutting it out. Then I read today the study showing that our food stamp program has 10% of it spent on sugared sodas. And the food industry lobbies heavily to not let us restrict that. So our poor folks get sicker. So, let’s punish them and take their health care away now.

Pop Quiz:

‪1. Sugar is a natural food, but not so terrible other than it’s empty calories. T or F

False, false, false. It’s as dangerous as alcohol. Causes as many metabolic damaging effects. And probably just as addictive

‪2. About 20 years after starting to eat sugar, folks starting getting sick. T or F

That’s what hundreds of studies have detailed.

‪3. Cancer rates in societies without sugar are just the same as ours. T or F

False, false, false. Cancer rates rise in proportion to populations eating sugar. Insulin is one of cancers most potent growth factors.

‪4. I’ll be ok if I cut down and only have sugar on weekends. T or F

It may be true. If your fat cells are small enough, the human body has lots of resilience in it. You likely need to cleanse it out of you with good behavior for the next week.

‪5. If I eat a food with sugar secretly inserted in it, what happens next.

A: I eat more.

Bromine Toxicity: Real or Not?

Bromine: Secret Toxin?

Reference: Endocrine Society, Oncology Letter,


What do you know about bromine? I bet not much. It’s in the halide family, meaning the same family as chlorine and iodine and fluorine. Iodine is the biggest size of the lot, then smaller bromine, then chlorine and finally fluorine. They all share a negative one charge, so act the same chemically. They differ only in size and weight. Bromine is easily extracted from ocean salt brine pools, and is used industrially as a fire retardant. It used to be used as an insecticide in the form of methyl bromide, but that turned out to be a potent ozone depletor, so that got nixed. And once upon a time it was used as an anti-anxiety drug, and hence the term, “Bromides” for trite and trivial soothing answers.

The issue of bromine that I want to explore is that of its competition with iodine. We need iodine. Desparately. It is one of the elements that all of us are just barely getting enough of. The WHO considers iodine deficiency the #1 cause of mental retardation in the world. And Americans are prone to it too. In Milwaukee, in the year 1900, 50% of women had goiter, the result of iodine deficiency. Today, 80% of American women have fibrocystic disease, an iodine deficiency illness. There is considerable research that shows iodine to be an anti cancer drug and a cure for fibrocystic breast disease.

So what’s the problem? Here’s the rub. Bromine competes with iodine. In fact, every halide competes with iodine. But bromine may be the worst, not because it’s obvious, but because it is subtle and pervasive. Bromine acts chemically just like iodine. It has never, ever, ever, been in the human nutrient supply chain, until the 1950s when it was substituted for iodine as a stabilizer in bread. Some states ban it, but not all. Then, we added it to every chair, mattress and couch in our lives as a fire retardant. We sold it in Bromo-Selzer until the bromide was removed in 1975 for “toxicity“. Bromine may not be a perfect fit for iodine in the process of making thyroid hormone, or in normal breast tissue, but it’s plentiful, pervasive and competitive.

And then we got our undies in a bundle over the supposed toxicity of iodine. A bizarre little story of iodine toxicity developed around the so called “Wolf-Chaikoff Effect” that was an experiment in rats, extrapolated to humans but never clinically proven in humans. I’m quite interested in it personally because, as a child up till age 18 in India, I used iodine to purify water, and on many occasions used iodine up to 10 pills a day (at 2.4 mg of iodine per pill). That was not uncommon practice. Made the water taste terrible, but killed all sorts of nasties. I don’t believe the Wolf-Chaikoff effect is real, and if it is, it is very short term and harmless. It’s not the bugaboo we think it is.

What the real danger, I believe, is that lots of us have a burden of bromine from environmental exposure (fluorine too). It’s not super toxic, or immediately toxic, but it shows up in many folks having flakey thyroid findings because they just can’t get their thyroid to function right. There appears to be a whole cottage industry in detoxing from bromine with salt water flushes. This idea has its detractors as well.

Szent-Gyorgyi, the Nobel Laureate for Vitamin C, took 1,000 mg a day of iodine until he was 93, claiming it to be his most useful supplement. He might be our most famous credible advocate for iodine supplementation, but he is not alone.

WWW.What Will Work for me. I take iodine as a supplement. 1 mg a day. I think we all should. Every woman worried about breast cancer and every man worried about prostate cancer should too. I’ve now met three people taking over 25 mg a day in the form of Iodoral pills. They feel great. No toxicity as far as I can tell. Szent-Gyorgyi took 1,000 mg a day. It appears to me there is latitude for higher doses. I’m thinking this may be what is missing in some folks whose thyroids otherwise just doesn’t act right. I would really like to hear from someone who had toxicity from iodine. I don’t there there are really too many. And I do think there are many of us with too much fluoride, bromide and chlorine in our food chain, all competing with iodine. Precautionary principle: we have too many halides in our food chain that were never there before, and are skimming along on the edge of insufficient iodine because of unproven fears. The only way to push those halides out, bromine included, is more iodine. So do it.

Pop Quiz:

‪1. Bromine toxicity is a proven phenomenon. T or F

Well, really false if you look at the standard PubMed literature, except for the obvious high dose poisoning, but enough advocates out there are claiming it. Are they crazy? Or is it all mixed up in our overblown anxiety about iodine?

‪2. Bromine can chemically act like iodine, and compete with it. T or F

‪This seems to be true. How much, we just can’t tell.

‪3. Iodine deficiency is real. T or F

Emphatically true. If you consider fibrocystic breast disease as an iodine deficiency disorder, its ubiquitous. If you listen to WHO, it’s our number one cause of mental retardation. Apparently very common in politicians. (Small joke)

‪4. Iodine toxicity is real. T or F

I’m coming down on the side of probably false. Too many anecdotes of much higher doses. And it will never be studied. Way too cheap.

‪5. There are many folks taking more than 12 mg a day of iodine without trouble. T or F

Well, yes. After Fukushima, many Japanese took 65-130 mg a day of iodine, and we didn’t see a huge epidemic of iodine toxicity from that. Think about that for a couple of minutes. I know of many who have taken 12.4 mg a day for years, with no apparent toxicity. Szent-Gyorgyi took 1,000 mg a day until he stopped working at Woods Hole at age 93.  I know, I know, there may be some issue with Hashimoto’s.  I haven’t seen much of it.

The Great Sugar Conspiracy

The Great Sugar Conspiracy

Reference: JAMA Inter Med Sept 2016,  Published Oct 3, 2016

If you are an average American, you are getting roughly 10-15% of your calories from sugar. Hmmm. Of 800,000 foods in America found by Lustig’s graduate students team, 600,000 of them have sugar added to them. When you go to the grocery store, you find cheerful markers on most food items claiming they are “LOW FAT” and hence, meant to be good for you. But low fat almost always means, high sugar. Where did this all come from?

It came from a remarkably successful PR campaign waged by the sugar lobby back in the 1960s. That’s what this week’s article details. The remarkable influence of the sugar lobby on the leading nutritional experts of the day. In the 1960s there were two leading nutritionists who held opposing views on how coronary artery disease wreaked its havoc. Angel Keys (The K in K-rations) was highly regarded because of his prominent role in Army nutrition. He advocated that fat was the enemy. John Yudkin believed it was sugar. He was off in England and what did those English know anyways!

Now, 60 years later, letters written between scientists and public policy folks are in library archives and open for the public. When these letters were unearthed and examined, the authors of this review find a terribly inconvenient truth.

Rojer Adams, a professor at the University of Illinois, was on the Sugar Research Foundation’s scientific advisory council. His letter, written to Mark Hegsted, professor of nutrition at Harvard, asking him to write a review of article on the mechanisms and risks of sugar versus fat is the smoking gun. Hegsted was also on the Sugar Research Foundations research council. He agreed to write a review article downplaying the risky components of sugar and emphasizing the problems with cholesterol and fat.

Angel Keys rose in time to greater and greater prominence, and he carried the torch forward. He was a bully in public and at meetings of anyone who disagreed with him, and literally hounded any opposing opinion off of the agenda of national meetings. High fat was his bugaboo. As chair of the NIH funding committee for research, you crossed Ancel Keys at your peril.

Early research suggested that sugar was in fact, the enemy. The Sugar Foundation swung into action and started Project 226, essentially to pay Hegsted and his boss, Stare, at the Harvard School of public health to write a review article downplaying sugar and pointing the problem to fat. That article was written, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine without mentioning its Sugar industry sponsorship. Hegsted got paid.

From there, it’s all history. It was the 1980s and food guidelines came out recommending lowering dietary fat, which means more sugar of one kind or another. Over the next 20 years, every food in America became low fat and consequently high carb. Ancel Keys ruled at the NIH and no-one question the hegemony of Hegsted and Keys. You gained 20 pounds.

This was the biggest public health policy disaster in American History. We didn’t let good science be conducted because secret, behind the scenes, payments led to the corruption of our medical research process. It took 20-30 years to fully correct that error. We are still struggling with it today.

WWW.What Will Work for me. It’s a struggle to avoid sugar. It tastes good and all of us are vulnerable to its effects. You eat sugar, you want more and you eat more. I’m so aware of my own sugar sensitivity. If I eat regular peanut butter on a spoon, I stop at one spoon and feel full. If I eat a brand name that has sugar in it, I can have 4-5 spoonfuls before I stop. But the science is now solid. Avoid sugar. If you want to escape the damage of heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

Pop Quiz

‪1. Sugar isn’t as harmful as people make out? T or F

False. It’s the core enemy of metabolic problems. MUCH worse than fat.

‪2. Our belief that cholesterol is the problem is the result of a carefully crafted PR campaign based on bribery to key doctors, paid for by the Sugar Industry. T or F

Spot on.

‪3. Our food guidelines followed the outcome of the PR guidelines, and suggested we eat a ceiling of 35% fat. T or F

True. That’s how we got there.

‪4. 35% fat should be the floor of our eating, with encouragement to go higher – aka, to 50% or the Mediterranean Diet. T or F

Again, true.

‪5. It’s critical for all published research to have openness as to funding sources. T or F

True. (Same idea would be good for politics, don’t you think?)

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.



Cow Milk and Human Breast Cancer

Cow Milk and Breast Cancer

Reference: Plos1 Sept 2015

Sept 28, 2015

Bovine leukemia virus (BLV) is widespread in cows. When you test milk from large dairy farms (where all the milk is mixed together) you get 100% of milk samples containing the virus. When you test milk from farms with 100 cows or less, you will find that 83% of samples have the virus.   It should be cleared with pasteurizing.   Only 5% of cows infected with it show any evidence of illness, so it’s not exactly a dangerous virus for cows.   Up till now, it was believed that the virus is not transmitted to humans.

So when the authors of this study from Berkeley looked at samples of 239 cancers of the breast, they found that 59% had BLV antibodies.   Women with premalignant changes had the virus detected 38% of the time and breast samples from women with no cancer only showed the virus 28% of the time.   That makes a gradated level of risk that adds to the plausibility of an association. Considering that most cancers take 20-30 years to emerge, it would not be surprising that 29% of controls with no evidence of cancer showed signs of cancer, only lifetime observation will prove whether they develop cancer over a lifetime.

How does the virus get from cows to humans? That is not known. Pasteurizing should work – but on occasion may not. Raw milk would certainly be one means. Raw hamburger might also be. The virus might be in humans for generations, being passed on in humans. There is currently no known route of transmission. But there it is.  And populations that drink milk have much more breast cancer than those who don’t.

The means by which the BLV virus causes cancer has been studied and it fairly well understood. Just like the HPV virus, which is also a “retrovirus”, it inserts itself into the DNA of the cell and breaks up the ability of the cell to repair its own DNA.   Mutations begin to occur and over a lifetime gradually accumulate. In the right environment, the emergence of a cancer is possible.

Does this prove that the virus causes cancer? No, no! Don’t jump to that just yet. The women in this study might be very different populations. The authors took breast tissue from women who already had cancer, and women with reduction mammoplasties. They might be very different populations.

This association, though, is now stronger than any other for risk of breast cancer other than age and Brca1 gene. (Diabetes, non-human hormone therapy, smoking, etc). That gives it the possibility of being a screening function for breast cancer risk that might be more sensitive for future risk than what we currently employ. In cows with persistent high white count, only 1 in 50,000 white cells show evidence of the virus, so it’s not exactly an easy thing to screen for, but then again, nothing is at first until you figure out methods by which to improve.

And we do have retroviral drugs now for HIV. Might they work on this virus?

WWW. What will work for me.   Well, I’m not doing anything at the moment.   It does make me a bit more cautious about raw milk. I might cook my hamburger a bit more done, but I should be doing that anyway considering e. coli and company.   But this is a tidbit of information I want to keep knowing, and being aware of.


Pop Quiz

  1. Cow leukemia virus causes breast cancer. T or F

Whoa Nellie. Not so fast. But it may be part of the picture. Not proven yet.

  1. The association of BLV and breast cancer is stronger than most risk factors, like family history which is only 2% of risk. T or F


  1. Altered human hormones represent a greater risk for breast cancer than this virus. T or F


  1. It takes 20-30 years for a cancer to emerge from it’s first mutation. T or F

Very likely

I should stop drinking milk because of this finding.

  1. Well, probably not. This is still just in the form of information. Hang in there.

We have good tests to screen for BLV. T or F

False. Nothing yet. This is all research material.

Inflammasomes – a Primer on Inflammation

Inflammasomes: a Primer on Inflammation

Reference:   World Jr Diabetes, Scientific American May 2015,

Diabetes, gout, Alzheimer’s, asbestosis, erectile difficulty, heart attacks all have something in common. They are primarily diseases of inflammation. Yup, inflammation is the problem. (Redness, swelling, pain, warmth) All of these “diseases” share a common pathway. They may affect different organs (fat tissues, liver, joints, brain lung, heart) but they share a common pathway on how the illness comes about.   That changes the way we think about them. Instead of treating the organ, it’s time to start thinking about treating the underlying pathway.   That means we have to understand the underlying pathway. Inflammation.

What is inflammation?   Everyone is familiar with “stranger” inflammation. When a bacteria invades your body because you cut your finger, your innate immune system recognizes that it is a stranger, just like a virus, a parasite or a fungus, and your innate system puts out signals that danger is at hand.   Besides “stranger” initiated inflammation, there is also “danger” initiated inflammation. If you crush a cell with trauma, pieces of DNA, or ATP or fatty acids show up in the space between cells where they aren’t normally present. Your guardian immune cells assume that “strangers” must be around for damage to be there, and also set off the initiation of inflammation.   Beta-amyloid in your brain, uric acid in your joints, cholesterol in the wall of your arteries can all the set off the same sequence – without a stranger being there to start it all. See the common pathway? The core concept is that seemingly common things, in the wrong place in your body can also inadvertently set off the fire alarm.

For the last decade or so, we thought there was a hopeless maze of signaling that was complex beyond comprehension. Not so. There is a common pathway.   Certain cells called macrophages have the responsibility to eat up “danger” and digest it. They are our body’s garbage trucks.   Here is where it gets interesting. These macrophages respond to broken bits of DNA, or RNA or other DAMPs (Danger associated molecular patterns) with two patterns. One is to initiate the production of danger signals. The other pattern is to assemble a factory to process those signals. That factory is called the inflammasome.

The job of the inflammasome is to process the chemical signals of inflammation and activate them. Finally, it ships them out of the cell to call for help and keep the process going.   IL-18 and IL-1β are the two principle signaling molecules. Those two compounds circulate around, increasing blood flow, making tissue swell and all the other processes of what we call inflammation.

Now, if you want to sound particularly savvy, you can say the phrase, “I’m going to suppress my NLRP3 inflammasome today.” the next time you are offered a brownie and you really didn’t want the carbs.   The modulation of inflammasomes is the future of medicine.   The NLRP3 inflammasome may be one of the most influential because it is the one in Alzheimer’s that responds to amyloid and goes about killing off brain cells. And why is it important?   Because your can shut it down and turn it off by a chemical called beta-hydroxybutyrate. And what is beta-bydroxybutyrate? It’s a ketone body, release by fasting and eating a low carb diet.

WWW.   What will work for me?   Hmmm. I can turn off the inflammatory process by fasting? That’s no fun. But a low carb diet is good for me? Yup, this is how it works.   On a low carb diet, your body turns on fat consumption, and that releases the ketone called beta hydroxybutuerate.  And that turns off your inflammasome.   So, practice this phrase with me. “I’m turning off my NLRP3” as a way of giving yourself the willpower to resist that almond extract flavored chocolate chip triple chocolate chewie gluten free brownie sitting in the fridge.   I need the practice, because I had four of them yesterday.


Pop Quiz

  1. Inflammasomes are the factories our bodies make inside of cells that start the process of inflammation. T or F


  1. Inflammation is when your tissue gets cold, white, quiet and numb. T or F

False. Red, hot, painful and swollen

  1. Your body can respond to “danger” and “stranger” signals in the same way. T or F

Sounds like you are getting it

  1. The particular inflammsome called NRLP3 can be turned off by fasting. T or F

In a nutshell, that’s it. The ketone body called beta-hydroxybuturate is a ketone body you naturally make when you are digesting and releasing fats – and that turns NLRP3 off

  1. Inflammasome explain how many diseases are caused by the same cellular process – just showing up in different cells and tissues. T or F

Yes – this common pathway gives us reason for much more hope at turning those diseases off.

Quercetin – A Novel Super-Antioxidant

Quercetin for Cancer, Bones and Allergies

References:  Tsuji J Bone and Min Metab 2013, Mei JCAM 2013Kaur JNCI

What’s Quercetin?  You probably haven’t heard of it.  It if a flavone antioxidant that is present in lots of vegetables.  Onions and apples are always cited and there have been off and on news articles about quercetin helping reduce prostate cancer and breast cancer.  But Quercetin is in lots of other foods that you may not eat as often like capers, cilantro, kale, watercress, cranberries and plums.  In fact, many of the cancer reducing effects of vegetables may be attributable to the beneficial effects of quercetin.

So, just how does that work?  There appear to be a variety of pathways in which quercetin inhibits cancer cells.  Slowing down the rapid cell cycle of cancer cells and inducing them to die when they are meant to (apoptosis) be one of quercitin’s strong points.  It also binds to the estrogen receptors found in breast cancer and also in other solid tumors.   One study showed that it binds just as tightly as tamoxifen.  Because of that effect, it slows the multiplication and spreading of breast cancer cells.   When you combine quercetin and curcumin (sounds like a recipe for curry) there is evidence that you can slow the development of polyps in family’s that make multiple colonic polyps.  So, it slows the cell cycle in cancer and seems to increase the rate at which cancer cells initiate their auto-destruct cycle, something normal cells do on schedule.  That should make quercetin a must for all cancer patients.

What does it do for bone health?   Just about every woman in America should be concerned about keeping her bones healthy, and just about every woman is slightly on the low side.   We have a whole class of drugs that inhibit the natural resorption of bone (alendronate and friends) that have not lived up to promises – too many horrible side effects.   This is where quercetin shines.  It promotes the stimulation of new bone.   Taking drugs like prednisone (sometimes necessary for some illnesses) really thins out bone.   Compared to alendronate, quercetin is better at preventing that.   Just 150 mg a day and you can protect your bones!

There are other effects of quercetin that make it a valuable supplement.   It has been shown to tune up mitochondria.   Does that means better sports performance?  In one study of young swimmers, there was no measured effect.  But another study showed a clear beneficial effect based on measuring oxygen consumption.   And it’s mentioned in many sources for helping congestive heart failure.   It is also a great allergy medication and has been shown to reduce allergic rhinitis in folks with seasonal allergies.

What’s happened to the quercetin content of our foods?  As farmers develop foods to taste sweeter, look prettier, produce bigger yields; they have also reduced the quercetin content.   “Wilder” more original plants have higher levels of all anti-oxidants in them compared to the modern version.  For example, crab apples have more antioxidants and quercetin than modern grocery store apples.

WWW.   What will work for me?   I’m fascinated about the concept of our wilder foods having more cancer reducing effects in them compared to our modern, sweeter and prettier looking versions.   Our modern diet has less quercetin in it because of the genetic engineering of our foods, and our penchant for sugar and packaged convenient foods.   Quercetin may be one of those “pivot – point” foods that provide a bunch of benefits that are loosely ascribed to eating more vegetables.  I’ve tried it now for sneezing and I think I sneezed less this weekend.   I took 500 mg two days in a row.  But ragweed is almost over.  But I’m going to be talking about quercetin to my cancer clients.  Beat me to the punch and get on 500 mg a day.

(Want to read a great review article with lots of References: Check out Life Extension Magazine, Oct 2114)

Pop Quiz

  1. Quercetin is an antioxidant found in most meats and cheeses.  T or F

False.  In many fruits and vegetables (none in meat), but not all.  Apples and onions get mentioned a lot.  Cilantro and capers are superstars.

  1. Cancer cells don’t multiply as fast when exposed to quercetin.  T or F


  1. Cancer cells get prompted to die on time instead of hanging around when exposed to quercetin.  T or F

Right again.

  1. Quercetin might be as good as many modern bone density drugs for those with osteopenia.  T or F

True, particularly if you have to take oral steroids.

  1. Quercetin may be a great allergy pill substitute.  T or F