Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Food For Thought

There's ample food for thought. The World Health Organization has issued an alarm over international cancer growth rates. Past time to take notice of a dread disease, with an onset largely related to avoidable lifestyle choices.

We're far too sedentary, and we're overweight, and we select energy-dense, but nutrition-deficient foods. This has largely been an accusation levelled at those living within first-world economies. But it is now being expanded to include people living in developing countries, where poor choices that are attractive to human nature become more prevalent.

Middle-age, sedentary and overweight is an acknowledged and well-publicized recipe for diabetes onset as well. And diabetes onset leads invariably to other, aligned health-malign problems like increased opportunities for heart-health and stroke impactions. Blindness, neuropathy, limb amputation all follow the life of a diabetic person struggling to keep blood sugar in check.

And increasingly there appears to be a link between sugar consumption and cancer, as well.  Dr. Gerald Krystal, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at University of British Columbia has been studying that link. Cancer, it would appear, feeds on glucose-laden cells at a rate three times that of other cells. That rapid ingestion of glucose is what leads to lactic acid secretion, increasing in turn cellular pH, encouraging metastasis.

The body's circulating glucose in abundance comes from what is recognized as the standard Western diet. Dr. Krystal has set out through his research to determine whether it is possible to affect the growth of tumours, and even forestall tumour initiation by affecting blood glucose levels. It never occurred to me years ago when I read about diabetes that there is a lower incidence of cancer among people with diabetes than for that of the general, non-diabetic population. Control of blood sugar levels through the diabetes diet protocol at work.

The foods that people who love convenience and tongue-and-palate-tickling tastes of fat, salt and sugar happen to create an environment for cancer that is most hospitable. Calorie-rich, nutrient-compromised, we become what is called in scientific circles, immuno-incompetent. The quality and quantity of our food uptake is killing us.

Dr. Krystal's team of researchers are exploring diet-related tumour growth and initiation. In clinical trials with mice almost half fed the standard western diet developed mammary cancers by mid-age, while none of the mice on the low-carbohydrate, high-protein did.

One of the test mice lived a normal life span on the western diet; the rest died at an early age of deaths associated with cancer. And over 50% of the mice on the low-carbohydrate diet reached or lived beyond a normal life span - for a mouse.

Humans are not mice, but the results of research such as that cited above do tell us something we should be listening carefully to.

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