40 percent of cancers in women and 45 percent in men are caused by unhealthy lifestyles, say British researchers. I believe that is the highest percentage I have seen reported.  And, I am glad to see it because perhaps more people will realize the importance that lifestyle has in determining their health outcomes.

And there were four lifestyle factors that they considered paramount -- smoking, unhealthy diet, alcohol, and being overweight- and presumably, they were listed in order of importance.

They said that smoking accounts for 23 percent of all cancers in men and 15.6 percent of cancers in women. Of course, the most likely location for smoking-induced cancer is the lungs. However, smoking also causes bladder, kidney, pancreatic, and cancers in many other locations. Every cell in your body is affected by tobacco smoke.

You might be wondering what role they attributed to chemical exposures such as asbestos or work-related chemicals. They said that only 1 in 25 cancers are linked to such exposures.

Only 1 in 33 cancers are linked to infections, they said, such as human papillomavirus, which is considered the most prevalent cause of cervical cancer.

When it came to a lack of fruits and vegetables causing cancer, they found that men were twice as likely to be dietarily deficient in these foods than women.  Do men still think that fruits and vegetables are sissy foods? Very well, more for me.

I don’t think that most people are aware of the carcinogenic effect of alcohol. Unfortunately, we hear a great deal more good news about alcohol than bad, and there is a political reason for it.  We live in a hypocritical world where if one person wants to relax by having a glass of wine, he or she can do so, but if another person would rather relax with a marijuana cigarette, he or she is committing a crime, risking criminal prosecution, the forfeiture of their freedom, property, etc. Keep in mind that I do not drink alcohol at all, and I do not smoke marijuana at all. And I would not smoke marijuana even if it were legal. The only gas I want entering my lungs is pure, fresh air and not any kind of smoke. But, having made myself perfectly clear about that, I will tell you that it is unquestionably true that alcohol causes a great deal more harm, damage, misery, tragedy, and personal and societal ruination than marijuana.

How do you account for such hypocrisy? Well, you can’t. All you can say is that the state is involved; it is something that the state does; and the state is a contradictory, hypocritical, and downright insane institution.  So, don’t even try to make sense of it.

But, since the state is busy waging the valiant War on Potheads, it should not be surprising to learn that the United States is one of the few developed nations in the world that does not to require the labeling of genetically engineered foods. Just think: even in Communist China you get to know if your food was genetically modified. It is required by law over there that they tell you. But, here in the good old USA, that’s one freedom we don’t have. Russia is another country that  requires labeling of GM foods.  You see, Monsanto does not have much power over there like it does here.

Well, I hope you are a health-fooder like me because it's estimated that 70% of processed foods contain some genetically engineered materials. Over 80% of the corn and soybeans grown in the U.S. are now genetically engineered. And if you think that’s a good reason to skip the corn and soybeans and go for the steak instead, what do you think they are feeding the cows? The vast majority of the livestock that Americans consume have been raised on genetically engineered grains. It’s higher than in any other country in the world.

I do not eat meat- at all- but if I did, I would not go to the supermarket to buy it.  Instead, I would seek out special producers who guaranteed high standards of production through every step in the production process and no GM fodder. But, I am very content to live without it.

Recently, I have emphasized how, for lack of a better word, “crazy” I think it is to shun dietary fat.  For one thing, fat is everywhere -in Nature. There are fatty nuts, fatty seeds, fatty fruits, fatty legumes.  And the attraction that human beings have to eating fats is primal and visceral. There is a satisfaction that comes from eating fat that is incomparable to any other eating experience. It hits the spot- fulfills us gustatorily- in the most sublime and elevated way. To deny it and to spend one’s life trying to avoid having that experience, is to invite depression, neurosis-or worse. Imagine if you went your whole life trying to avoid sex. That is comparable to what I am talking about. And I am not exaggerating.

So, let that be the segue into new research by UC Davis showing that walnuts slow the growth of prostate cancer in mice. Mice fed a diet supplemented with walnuts had smaller, slower-growing tumors that tended to be relatively harmless, according to the researchers and as reported in the current issue of the British Journal of Nutrition.

Keep in mind that these were mice that were genetically programmed to develop prostate cancer- and to develop it at a young age.

The researchers stressed that, although a low-fat diet is often recommended to reduce the risk of prostate cancer, not eating walnuts may be a big mistake.

It is well-known that walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, but they are also high in antioxidants and other plant compounds, such as polyphenols, that are thought to protect against errant cell growth. Eschewing walnuts may mean foregoing protective effects which could be lifesaving.

A report recently issued by the American Chemical Society found that walnuts contained 70 polyphenol units per gram. Do you know how small a gram is? It is 1/28 of an ounce. One ounce of walnuts contains more polyphenols than the sum of all the fruits and vegetables that most people eat- according to this report. Moreover, on average, polyphenols have 15 times the antioxidant power of Vitamin E.

One in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, usually later in life, but only one in 36 men will die from the disease. That’s because most prostate tumors do not spread beyond the local site.

"Our findings suggest that eating a diet containing walnuts may slow prostate tumor growth so that the tumor remains inside the prostate capsule," said Paul Davis, research nutritionist at UC Davis who led the study.  "Our hope is that men with prostate cancer can die of other causes -- hopefully old age."

What are the low-fat gurus, the Sultans of Starch, going to say about this? I’ll tell you what they are going to say: NOTHING. They are going to ignore it and go on preaching their mantra of starch, starch, starch. It's a pity.

 

A new study has just been released on the Archives of Internal Medicine showing that postmenopausal women on statins had a 48% higher risk of developing diabetes.

The research echoes findings of other studies linking the cholesterol-lowering drugs with an increased  risk of diabetes in men and women.

This study involved over 160,000 women, ages 50 to 79, who participated in the Women’s Health Initiative, a large longitudinal study of women’s health outcomes.

Adjustments were made for “propensity score” (women who were inherently at higher risk of developing diabetes) as well as “all potential confounding factors,” such as obesity.

All kinds of statin medications were involved, including both weak ones and strong ones. The result was a 48% higher incidence of diabetes among statin users, and the authors called it a “medication class effect.”

The irony is that statins are taken to prevent heart disease.  But, diabetes is a strong risk factor for heart disease. Therefore, one could say that if statins increase diabetes risk, they also increase heart disease risk.

When contributing factors such as family history and excess weight were considered, the statin users were at markedly higher risk.

The researchers can't explain why. "It's still an area under scrutiny," said Annie Culver, the study's first author and a consulting pharmacist with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

"Statins may affect the way the body manages insulin and glucose responses," she said.

It’s an interesting area of speculation as to why statins provoke diabetes. Could disruption in CoQ10 synthesis be a factor? That seems plausible to me since CoQ10 affects energy production and therefore glucose utilization.  But, it may be that disruption in cholesterol synthesis itself may also be a factor since cholesterol is crucial to cellular membranes including those within the pancreas.

I have never been the least bit tempted to take statin drugs since my cholesterol isn’t high. But, I’ll be honest with you: even if it were high, I still wouldn’t take them.  The risk of taking them is much greater than any possible benefit.

 

 

The above is the name of a new documentary film produced by the colleagues of Dr. Uffe Ravnskov, who is probably the leading cholesterol skeptic in the world today. I have had the privilege of corresponding with Dr. Ravnskov some by email, and I receive his monthly newsletter to doctors.

In case you haven’t figured it out, the 29 billion reasons above refers to the total number of dollars that are spent on cholesterol-lowering drugs each year around the world.  If you would like to watch the short trailer to this movie, go here:  http://www.29billion.com/

In his latest newsletter, Dr. Ravnskov shared a letter to the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine that he submitted but which was rejected. Previously, the NEJM had published a favorable report about the SATURN trial which made weak claims of benefit for statin drugs.  But, what Dr. Ravnskov pointed out in his letter was that they used as evidence of improvement the relationship between the internal and external diameter of arteries, but the problem is that arterial dilation- from any cause- tends to increase that variable- but without reducing the amount of plaque.  For instance, just squeezing your fist tightly can temporarily increase the size of the arterial lumen by as much as 35%.

So, Dr. Ravnskov said they were drawing invalid conclusions from invalid assumptions.  But, the New England Journal of Medicine refused to publish his letter.

I have the greatest respect for Dr. Ravnskov. He is 78 years old, and he is a an internist and a nephrologist (kidney specialist). He is also a PhD. And I can tell you that for being close to 80, he sounds as mentally sharp as a tack.

I heard Dr. Ravnskov recently on a local radio program in my own area, the Patrick Timpone show, which is broadcast from  the little town of Dripping Springs, Texas, which is close to where I live.  And on the program, Dr. Ravnskov started by saying that there is solid evidence that old people with higher cholesterol live longer than those with low cholesterol.

Keep in mind that I am still very much in favor of a plant-based diet. I think that we should load up on, and emphasize unrefined plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, greens, and raw nuts (as top tier foods) and whole grains and legumes (as second tier foods).  And, as I’ve said before, in my diet, the only animal food that I have been eating, and semi-regularly, is free-range, organic eggs.

So, why am I such a fan of Dr. Ravnskov? First, he opposes statinization,  and so do I. I have never had to consider taking a statin drug  myself because my cholesterol level is fine. But even if it were high, I would NOT take a statin drug, and my bias against these drugs has been very much influenced by Dr. Ravnskov.

In contrast, Dr. Esselstyn will put people on a ultra-low fat vegan diet AND put them on a statin drug, which is a very extreme and dangerous thing to do, in my opinion.

Secondly, besides opposing the demonization of cholesterol, Dr. Ravnskov opposes the demonization of natural fats. Keep in mind that, doctors such as McDougall and Esselstyn, condemn not only animal foods but also high-fat plant foods, such as nuts and seeds and avocadoes.  And to my mind, that is just an arbitrary dietary fetish.  Fats are just as natural and normal and just as abundant in Nature as carbohydrates, and the natural attraction of humans to eat fats is just as great as to eating carbohydrates.  So really, it is a very unnatural and abnormal behavior to systematically avoid fats.  And I know that Dr. Ravnskov agrees strongly with that.

Thirdly, Dr. Ravnskov draws attention to alternative theories of heart disease causation, including infection, homocysteine,  nutritional deficiencies, and high cortisol levels, and these factors need to be highlighted.

And fourth, Dr. Ravnskov’s most recent research concerns the possible role of low cholesterol in the development of cancer, and there is no question that cholesterol has a protective effect against cancer. And this suggests that the harm from the mass statinization that is going on all over the world may be astronomical, and I fear that it is.

If you would like to learn more about Dr. Ravnskov’s work, just google his name: Ravnskov.

 

 

 

 

This is not an article about race relations. I am talking about the power of black foods.  People often think about eating plants of various colors, but these usually include only green, red, yellow, and orange. There is also blue, but there aren’t too many blue foods, mainly blueberries and blue grapes. There is also blue corn, but we usually only see that as blue corn chips.

But what about black? You rarely hear about people striving to eat black foods. Is it because black is associated with death?

Well, get that idea out of your head. Black foods are nutritionally loaded, and they deserve a place on the table. Black foods tend to be very high in antioxidants, polyphenols, flavonoids, and they are sky-high in anthocyanidins- higher than blueberries. Let’s consider some of the leading black foods.

Blackberries are related to raspberries, and they grow wild in many parts of the United States, including where I live in Central Texas. Nutritionally, blackberries are as valuable as any other berries. A recent study found that radiation-induced brain damage in rats could be prevented by feeding them blackberries.  They were also found to prevent age-related brain degeneration.  What’s amazing is that blackberries have a very short season in the wild, but commercially, they’re available all year, and mainly from Mexico. And  I observe that they tend to be the least expensive berry the year round. It may be because there is a little bit of grit involved, which makes them less popular, but that’s no big deal.  You get used to it fast. I am eating blackberries right now. I buy them at Costco, and the price and the quality have been excellent. Blackberries may  be the key to yearround berry-eating.

Black grapes are as high in resveratrol and other polyphenols as the more popular red grapes. In fact, there is a variety called Black Beauty which is the highest in resveratrol of all grapes. Black grapes are thicker skinned, so there’s a lot of fiber involved. But perhaps because they are thick-skinned, they keep very well and last a long time. I have seen them both seeded and seedless.  You really should try them.  With the seeded ones, you can either spit out the seeds or chew them up and swallow them- it’s up to you.  Black grapes are also high in quercetin.

Black beans are the most popular bean in Austin, Texas, where I live.  It’s part of the culture here.  In not just the ever-popular Tex-Mex restaurants, but even in the regular cafes and family restaurants, a side of black beans is considered standard fare.  Black beans take to spices very well, particularly cumin.  And they tend to form a rich, tasty broth.  Black bean soup is teeming with flavor and very satisfying.  Nutritionally, black beans are loaded with antioxidants and bioflavonoids. I don’t think I ever had black beans before I moved to Texas, but I sure like them now.

Black rice is something that I have not yet had. I am not referring to wild rice, which can be black. Wild rice is a totally different plant from Asian rice, and it’s good too, although it’s somewhat woody. That may be why people tend to dilute it with regular rice. But, there is also a black Asian rice, which unlike regular rice, is usually eaten unhulled.  In other words, they don’t usually refine it as they do regular rice. And nutritionally, black rice is reportedly much more superior.  Obviously, black rice is not commonly available. Perhaps Asian grocery stores have it. And what about Whole Foods?

Black lentils I have tried, and they are available at Whole Foods.  They are very different from the regular green/brown lentils. They’re much smaller and, in appearance, they almost seem more like a grain than a legume.  But, they cook quickly, and they’re less fibrous,  and like the red lentils, they tend to disintegrate more in cooking. And the flavor is very different although hard to describe.  I know that they are very high in minerals, including zinc and iron, and the nice thing is that they are lower in phytic acid than most legumes.

Black potatoes are making a comeback. These are an heirloom variety, from Peru where all potatoes originated, and they are much more nutritious than the white-fleshed potato. The skins may actually be black, but the flesh is more like purple. But, they are very nice to eat and more distinctively flavored than russets. The russet potato is actually an artificial thing. It’s a hybrid developed by Luther Burbank who wanted this pure, perfect, white-fleshed potato. But, he did not do the world a favor because he reduced the nutritional value. I always prefer to buy potatoes with colored flesh, usually the yellow, since they’re widely available.  The black potatoes are more expensive, but they’re nice for a change.

Black corn I don’t see offered commercially, but I do see the seeds offered for planting. It is an ancient Native American variety that was cultivated by the Lakota Indians.  I may try planting it one year.

I’m sure there are other black foods, but these give you a start. Definitely add black to your list of food colors. It’s a matter of changing your consciousness.  Black is good.