“When smokers give up tobacco, their risk of cancer drops sharply. If we stop promoting the growth of cancer cells in our bodies, the natural mechanisms of control over cancer can start to intervene and curb their spread.
To protect ourselves against cancer, we can limit our exposure to toxic factors in the environment. Among all those already identified or highly suspicious, I have selected three that seem to me the most deeply involved and the most easily changed:
- 1. Overconsumption of refined sugar and white flour, which stimulate inflammation and cell growth through insulin and IGF (insulinlike growth factor)
- 2. Overconsumption of omega-6s in margarine, vegetable oils (including trans fats), and animal fats (meat, dairy products, eggs) stemming from farming methods that have been out of balance since the Second World War
- 3. Exposure to chemical contaminants that have entered the environment since 1940, which accumulate in animal fats, and—though studies are not yet definitive—exposure to the electromagnetic fields of cell phones
The first two factors listed here are largely to blame for the inflammation that fosters the development of cancer. The first step in any process of detoxification therefore always begins by eating a lot less sugar, white flour, and animal fat. Always choose animal products labeled ‘organic.’ Nonorganic foods don’t have to be eliminated completely, but they should become only occasional foods, not the foundation of our diets. Instead of a steak with a bit of vegetables on the side, we need to imagine a little meat (well balanced in omega-3s) from time to time in a main dish of vegetables.”
That’s from a chapter called “The Anticancer Environment.”
The factors that are “largely to blame for the inflammation that fosters the development of cancer”? The same things we talk about in ALL of our recent Notes on Nutrition: Sugar + Flour.
Plus, an imbalance of omega-3s to omega-6s from overconsuming vegetable oils (remember, they didn’t exist 100 years ago and are now accounting for a ton of calories) and too much factory-farmed animal products (again, 100 years ago, the animals we eat ate what they evolved to eat and had healthy omega-3/omega-6 ratios; now, they eat corn and soy which makes them sick (and, therefore, pumped up with antibiotics) and skewed to omega-6s).
So… Why should we care? Because all those sugars and flours and omega-6s create a TON of inflammation—which the cancer cells LOVE. (In fact, David says: “Cancer feeds on sugar.”)
Tom Rath (who has a very rare genetic disorder that limits his ability to fight cancer) wrote a great book called Eat Move Sleep where he shares science-based best practices to Optimize. He says: “Sugar is a toxin. It fuels diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer. At the current dose we consume, more than 150 pounds per person every year, sugar and its derivatives kill more people than cocaine, heroin, or any other controlled substance around. One report aptly describes sugar as ‘candy for cancer cells.’ It accelerates aging and inflammation in the body and subsequently fuels tumor growth. It is now clear that if you lower your sugar intake, you reduce your odds of developing cancer.”
(I was happy when the head nurse and dietician at my brother’s hospital agreed that “Cancer loves sugar!” I asked her to repeat that to my brother and his wife to bring the point home.)
The book has a GREAT list of foods that have been scientifically demonstrated to be the best cancer fighters along with a list of foods to avoid. The top of the anticancer diet? Garlic, brussel sprouts, scallions, leeks, broccoli, cauliflower. Top of the avoid list? The Standard American Diet! Stuff like factory-farmed animal products, vegetable oils, etc.
Step 1? Eliminate the cancer promoters by ruthlessly raiding your kitchen and throwing away all the stuff that doesn’t belong in your Anticancer body. Then restock it with the good stuff.
P.S. Christopher McDougall describes the whole omega-3/omega-6 imbalance in Natural Born Heroes: “Our hunter-gatherer ancestors had a one-to-one ratio. Today, ours is more like sixteen to one. Since the proliferation of vegetable and soybean oils in processed foods, omega-6 consumptions has been through the roof. Instead of a small fire to warm the house, we’ve created an inferno that’s burning it down.”