Archive | Health problems

Vegetables Proven to Cause Cancer

Cancer-causing vegetables

Cancer-causing vegetables

Vegetables have been proven to cause cancer. In fact vegetable consumption causes more cancer than any other lifestyle factor in the world.

I’m not kidding. It’s a simple fact.

And it’s not just cancer, it’s heart disease too – in fact vegetables cause 1 in 5 deaths in the US, according to the American Cancer Society, or 480,000 early deaths per year.

Consuming vegetables causes orders of magnitude more deaths than consuming processed meat. This despite yesterday’s breathless headlines, after the WHO declared that eating processed meats (e.g. smoked meats) can increase the risk of colon cancer by a comparatively tiny 20%.

How vegetables can cause cancer

However – and this is crucial – vegetables will only kill you if you prepare them in a dangerous way. In its raw form the tobacco plant is completely benign, possibly even healthy to eat. But if you burn the tobacco vegetable and inhale the smoke… as with cigarettes… it’s VERY bad for you.

Back to the meat

This gives a much needed perspective to yesterday’s cancer alarm. Because it’s not all meat that potentially may contain dangerous substances. It’s processed meat, smoked meat, and possibly even red meat – meat that’s often prepared at high temperatures.

These really high temperatures can produce cancer-causing substances in both vegetables and meat. But of the two, the vegetables (smoking) is by far the worst. The risk increase from eating bacon every day is tiny in comparison:

The Guardian: Meat and tobacco: the difference between risk and strength of evidence

A lot of people in the low-carb community go so far as to completely disregard the processed-meat alarm:

ZoeHarcombe: World Health Organisation, meat & cancer

I don’t think we should ignore this alarm, even if the risk increase is small. It’s still likely true, it makes perfect sense.

If you want to be live a healthy life preferably don’t eat blackened meat, and go easy on the bacon. And don’t smoke vegetables.

Continue Reading →


Can Processed Meat Increase the Risk of Colon Cancer, as WHO Will Claim?

Not the best for your colon?

Not the best for your colon?

The WHO will soon declare that processed meat can increase the risk of colon cancer, according to many papers:

So are they right that there is a connection between processed meat and colon cancer? Yes, probably. I wrote about this in detail seven months ago:

Why Do Meat Eaters Get Colon Cancer More Often?

However, the media frenzy with comparisons to smoking is misguided. Eating plenty of processed meat is associated with about a 20% increased risk of colon cancer. Smoking is associated with a 1,000%+ increased risk of lung cancer, as well as an increased risk of many other cancers. 20% is not 1,000%.

There’s a reason why it took about fifteen minutes to prove the correlation between smoking and lung cancer way back in the 1950s, while the correlation between processed meat and colon cancer is arguably still controversial. The risk increase is just tiny in comparison.

More details and advice in the earlier post: Why Do Meat Eaters Get Colon Cancer More Often?


A HIGHER Fat Mediterranean Diet Reduces Breast Cancer Risk By 62%

Mediterranean Diet

Do you want to avoid breast cancer? Then eat a higher-fat diet.

A new study published yesterday looks at the PREDIMED trial where participants either got a low-fat diet (ouch!) or a higher-fat Mediterranean diet (with plenty of extra nuts or olive oil). After five years the risk of breast cancer was much higher in the group told to eat a low-fat diet. The higher-fat Mediterranean diet apparently protected against cancer.


LATimes: Diet heavy on olive oil cuts breast cancer risk by 62%, study says

The Graph

Here’s the graph over the number of people who got breast cancer in the three groups. “Control” is the low-fat diet, the other two are Mediterranean diets with extra nuts or extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO).



A low-fat diet may promote cancer. Very likely the cause could be that low-fat diets are higher in carbs, increasing blood glucose and the hormone insulin, which drives cell proliferation.

This of course completely contradicts the old and failed idea that low-fat diets are supposed to be healthy. This means a lot of cognitive dissonance for people who still believe in low fat. It’s possible to see that in the discussions of a possible mechanism with magic cancer-protecting substances in olive oil.

It’s just like the French Paradox. They traditionally ate loads of fat and were very heart healthy. So people said it must be due to magic heart-protecting substances in red wine. Yeah right.

Likely this awkward antioxidant/polyphenol speculation is 99% pure BS. There’s a much simpler and more likely explanation.

Natural fat (like olive oil) is good for us – whether we’re talking about heart health, cancer or weight management. And too much refined carbs, especially white flour and pure sugar, is really bad.


Here’s earlier super-exciting findings from the PREDIMED trial:

More on Mediterranean diets:


Why Do Meat Eaters Get Colon Cancer More Often?

Not the best for your colon?

Not the best for your colon?

This post may be controversial – like swearing in the church of low-carb.

Is it unsafe to eat meat? Despite the scare propaganda the answer seems to be no. Meat is a nutritious and great food that humans have always eaten.

Warnings in the media are usually based on extremely uncertain studies – statistics from food questionnaires, where people who eat more meat also smoke more, eat more junk food, exercise less and so forth. Even with this unfair comparison the differences between meat eaters and non-meat eaters are usually small – and sometimes they point in the opposite direction.

In Asia, for example a review of all studies has shown that Asian meat eaters are healthier than non-meat eaters. Asians with a vegetarian orientation seem to get more heart disease and more cancer.

In summary, meat seems to be generally healthy, nutritious and great food. But there’s one exception.

The Exception

The exception, the area that deserves to be taken quite seriously – is the risk of colorectal cancer. For some reason studies repeatedly show that people who eat red – mainly processed – meat specifically get more colon cancer.

The increase in risk for colorectal cancer in people who eat a lot of meat is generally low, around 20%. This can be compared with a massive 1,000% increase of risk for lung cancer for smokers. But even if the increase in risk is small, it’s been shown so often and so consistently that it probably is real.

Two days ago another study was published showing a slightly smaller risk for colorectal cancer in vegetarians. Why does red (processed) meat seem to slightly increase the risk of colorectal cancer? Continue Reading →


Tabloid: “Eating Meat Is Like Smoking Cigarettes”


Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet wins the prize for sensationalism for its headline after yesterday’s confused questionnaire study on meat: “Steak is as dangerous as smoking”.

A bit later in the article comes the most bizarre: the increase in risk only applies to people between 55 and 65. After 65 the cigarettes, I’m sorry – the steak, suddenly becomes a health food. Confused? Don’t be – read yesterday’s post for the details: Is It Dangerous to Eat Meat Before Age 65?

Funnily enough, the article includes comments from Dr. Dahlqvist and me on whether LCHF is dangerous or not. We address the two obvious issues:

  • LCHF is about – exactly what the acronym stands for – less carbohydrates and more fat, not necessarily more meat. You could even adopt a vegetarian LCHF diet, if you want.
  • Yesterday’s study is only based on questionnaires and imaginative statistics, no evidence.

When the researcher behind the questionnaire study, Valter Longo, hears my comment he gets “annoyed”: Continue Reading →


Is It Dangerous to Eat Meat Before Age 65?

Meat the American way. Not in the picture: the drink.

Meat the American way. Not in the picture: the drink.

Is it dangerous to eat meat if you’re between 55 and 65? Will eating lots of meat then suddenly become healthful after you turn 65?

This is the somewhat confusing conclusion that some researchers drew from a new American questionnaire study:

As usual, we have to take sensational headlines with a substantial pinch of salt. This was just a food questionnaire that was sent to some thousand Americans, and the researchers then looked at statistical associations with diseases.

Uncertain Association

As regular readers know, one can’t prove causation by correlating statistics from questionnaire studies. Only ignorant or sensationalism-driven journalists believe so. Unfortunately these two groups seem to constitute the vast majority of all journalists.

On subsequent examination, it turns out that at least 80% of similar findings in uncertain questionnaires are incorrect – see table 4 in the excellent review Why Most Published Research Findings are False.

So a more scientifically correct headline would be “There is a 20 percent chance that meat quadruples the risk of cancer for people under the age of 65 and reduces the risk for older people.” Not as enticing.

The statistical correlation between meat-eating and disease in people under 65 in the U.S. may just as well be due to the fact that meat consumption there is associated with eating junk food, smoking, lack of exercise, less vegetables and in principal any unhealthful lifestyle you can think of.

What, in all of these unhealthful lifestyles, is the cause of disease ? Statistics cannot prove this.

IGF-1 and cancer

Therefore, there are good reasons to ignore the study. But I guess that there’s still some truth behind it. Scientists report that protein (high-quality animal protein in particular) may raise levels of the hormone IGF-1, which stimulates cell division. High levels of IGF-1 may in the long run increase the risk of cancer.

What they don’t mention is that carbohydrates also increase levels of IGF-1, at least as much. Particularly bad carbohydrates in greater quantities radically raise IGF-1 levels. The only thing you can eat that doesn’t significantly increase levels of IGF-1 is fat.

The logical conclusion is that any variation of a low-carbohydrate diet with moderate amounts of protein (and enough fat) is the healthiest in the long run – at least to keep IGF-1 low while still feeling great. How much protein? The amount you need to feel good, feel full and stay strong and healthy. What is this concept called? LCHF.

The really ambitious may add intermittent fasting for maximum effect. Continue Reading →


Can Giving Up Grains Cause Cancer?

Colin Campbell

Colin Campbell

Could giving up grains cause heart disease and cancer? This is what Colin Campbell claims in his new book The Low-Carb Fraud:

MailOnline: Are low-carb diets BAD for you? Nutrition expert claims giving up grains can lead to heart disease and cancer

Biochemist T Colin Campbell is the author behind the well-known vegan book The China Study and according to him, we should eat a low-fat vegan diet to keep us healthy.

There is a lack of evidence to support Campbell’s ideas. The book The China Study rests on an observational study – uncertain statistics – that doesn’t prove anything. Moreover, it has been demonstrated that the statistical data in the book were cherry-picked to fit the author’s preconceptions. Statistics that pointed strongly in the other direction were not included.

A new review of all relevant similar studies shows that Asians who eat more red meat on the contrary are healthier. They suffer less heart disease and less cancer. Not quite what Campbell managed to cherry pick from his one China study.

There may be good ethical reasons to be a vegan – it’s open for discussion. But those who fear animal foods for health reasons are afraid for no good reason. Continue Reading →


Antioxidants May Speed Up Progression of Cancer

Cancer pills?

Cancer pills?

Antioxidants are often pushed as being beneficial for health, largely based on speculations and uncertain observational studies. But could supplementation with antioxidants on the contrary be harmful? Yes, probably.

A new study on mice shows that those who received antioxidant supplementation – including Vitamin E – suffered a dramatic worsening of their lung cancer.

Of course, mice are not humans. But studies on humans show alarming signs that supplementation with antioxidants is harmful for us too. They may increase the risk for certain cancer forms and supplementation with high doses of the antioxidant Vitamin E increases the risk of dying prematurely.

Your body makes its own antioxidants, in the right place. Supplementation with extra antioxidants may be harmful, among other things by preventing the immune system from fighting infections… and cancer cells. Antioxidants may neutralize one of the immune system’s weapons against unwanted intruders, oxidizing agents.

The irony is that excess doses of antioxidants might protect the cells you want to eliminate: harmful bacteria and cancer cells.


Seal of Approval on Goodies Macabre

Cancer for dessert

Cancer for dessert

Can we prevent breast cancer – a disease for which the risk increases with overweight – by contributing to an increased consumption of cinnamon buns and fancy pastries in the midst of an obesity epidemic?

The ill-conceived and dishonest sponsorship by the Pink Ribbon and the Swedish Cancer Society drew criticism in Swedish local paper Corren from myself, among others:

The Swedish Cancer Society responds by trying to shift the blame:

So, people who gain weight from eating cinnamon buns and pastry, thus increasing their risk of getting cancer, only have themselves to blame. Don’t blame the Cancer Society! They only, embarrassingly enough, happen to have their trade mark in advertisements for sweet baked goods. Apparently, they don’t accept any responsibility for the consequences.


Can You Prevent Cancer with Millions of Cinnamon Buns?


The Secrets of Sugar – Great New Canadian Documentary

Here’s a great new episode called The Secrets of Sugar, from Canada’s investigative program the fifth estate on CBC.

Watch it for your weekly dose of dr Lustig and new research on the links between sugar, obesity, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Shownotes: CBC: The Secrets of Sugar

Continue Reading →