Low Carb Wins Yet Another Study

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Protects you from cancer?

Do you want to lose weight and decrease the risk of breast cancer? We know that low carb diets are better for weight loss than low fat diets, that’s been demonstrated over and over. A new study of the highest quality (RCT) shows that low carb gives more weight loss than a Mediterranean diet as well. It also decreases the cancer stimulating hormone insulin more effectively:

Intermittent, Low-Carbohydrate Diets More Successful Than Standard Dieting, Present Possible Intervention for Breast Cancer Prevention

Yet another new study presented at the same conference, an observational study, points in the same direction when it comes to cancer risk:

Starch Intake May Influence Risk for Breast Cancer Recurrance

20 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing once again.
    This gets shared with my patients and friends right now.
  2. Mike W
    That first study is very interesting. I'm amazed the women lost so much weight and lowered their insulin levels by doing only 2 low-carb (sub-50 gram) days per week. It's a much more realistic approach than Dr. Phinney's long-term ketosis, "no holidays, ever" diet. When I saw your interview with Phinney, I said, good for him, but that level of LC adherence just isn't going to happen in my life.

    I hope the low-carb tent is big enough to allow us folks who aren't really worried about whether we're in ketosis or not.

  3. Mike,
    My "low carb tent" is big. I don't believe everybody needs to be in ketosis all the time. I'm not.
  4. Man, I love that picture up top!

    The intermitten low-carb study you mention was a presentation at a conference. It doesn't carry as much weight as publication in a peer-reviewed medical journal. But it's encouraging. Needs to be replicated.

    One of the arms of the diet study was totally unrealistic: two days a week of 650 total calories. Not fun at all.

    -Steve

  5. Steve Parker,
    Sure, I hope the study ends up published soon, because I'd love to read it.
  6. Jay Wortman MD
    Hi Andreas,

    I echo Steve's comment on the quality of those data. Non-peer reviewed conference presentations while often interesting need to be taken with a grain of salt (more than a grain, if you are eating LCHF). At the same time, I do think there is a link. There was a study among Mexican women with breast cancer that showed a two-fold increase in risk from the high to low quartiles of carb consumption. Another study of colorectal cancer among Chinese men in North America showed a similar relationship to carb consumption. Thomas Seyfried and Eugene Fine are doing work in this area including some human intervention studies looking at ketogenic diet as part of a cancer therapy regime. When the high quality studies are finally done I am confident they will demonstrate this as another reason to avoid carbs.

    Regards,
    Jay

  7. Dana
    I had an online friend some years ago on AOL. We lost touch for several years due to massive crap occurring in my life, and then accidentally found one another again on LiveJournal. And she was at that point in the midst of a battle for her life. Stage four breast cancer. When we started talking again she was about to embark on the macrobiotic diet. I knew just enough at that point about diet to understand that her decision might be suicide, and tried to warn her gently, but to no avail.

    She might have died anyway, being stage four--but I can't imagine the diet helped. :(

  8. Thanks! What an interesting study. I am looking forward to seeing exactly what was included in each of the diet plans. What would really be interesting is to see how folks on the old "protein-sparing-modified-fast" diets from years ago did with other disease markers than just obesity.
  9. Margaretrc
    I sure wish I could find a way to convince my younger sister, who is just recovered (most treatments are done and all signs of cancer are gone) from breast cancer and is on hormone blocking therapy for the next 5 years, of this idea. But she is unreceptive to changing her diet for anything and it is a high carb, mostly vegetarian (though not vegan) diet. She is not afraid of fat and uses only the good ones, but she is also not at all afraid of carbs and sugar. But I can't be the food police with her--I see her too rarely to spoil our visits with unpleasant discussions of diet and health!

    Another doctor who strongly suspects a link between sugar and starch and cancer is Dr. Richark K. Su, of "Carbohydrates Can Kill," and I believe he even posits a mechanism. He blogged about it not too far back.

  10. Lynda NZ
    I see Dr Su's name has already been mentioned. I have been reading his blog for awhile now and he writes a lot about the cancer/low carb approach. My best friend has cancer and has responded well to her chemotherapy and herceptin treament but has suddenly decided that all she wants to eat is sweet food. She eats a lot of carbs and I told her this is not a healthy choice but to no avail. I don't want to lecture her - a woman who is a five year survivor of cancer.

    Another interesting point is that she is a nurse and many of the nurses where she works have had cancer (mostly breast cancer) more than an average amount. One observation I have always made of the nurses at her hospital (as possibly many hospitals) is that they are always surrounded by cakes and treats! Patients bring them in to say thank you, other nurses regularly bring in baking to share. Clearly these ladies are having a high carb diet on a regular basis and I have often wondered if this has affected their susceptability to cancer.

  11. Peggy Holloway
    I follow Steve Phinney's "no holidays, ever" approach and swear by it. I am nearly 59 years old and my health is spectacular. I never have so much as a cold, feel fantastic all the time, have great lab numbers (and with a major family history of "diabetes" I've never having a fasting glucose over 90). I am a bicyclist who rides 40+ miles on back-to-back days on sub-50 carb grams/day (usually around 20 -25) with incredible stamina for a female my age. I believe that ketosis is a natural and healthy state and the only thing that works for me with my high degree of insulin resistance.
    On a standard American, low-fat diet, I was constantly sick with colds, flu, GI problems, "anxiety," afternoon "brain-fog" and a myriad other daily symptoms of insulin/blood sugar swings. I wouldn't go back for anything. I mark my 12-year anniversary of a low-carb lifestyle January 1.
  12. Gina
    Please list the link for Dr. Richark K. Su's blog.
  13. How do they get this data? Who has your personal data? The Canadian government only has medical records and driver licences at best, and those are not complete information and out of date. The data is likely some sample somewhere. Do not waste sleep over reports based on fabricated data.
  14. Zepp
    Its seems that cancer cells demand for glucose is well known by medical companys.. and there is some studys that try to find som medications to interfeer whit this mecanism!

    "Scientists have known for decades that cancer cells consume more glucose than normal cells. A longstanding assumption that the excess glucose metabolism was needed to make energy has not been borne out by research studies. This lack of understanding of why cancer cells need increased glucose metabolism has hampered the exploitation of this difference for cancer therapy."

    "Spitz and his colleagues have discovered that glucose-deprived tumor cells die from oxidative stress. This stress is caused by an imbalance between harmful reactive oxygen species and protective anti-oxidants such as enzymes that neutralize reactive oxygen species."

    http://www.news-medical.net/news/2004/05/15/1582.aspx

  15. ann
    I just found this blog through youtube. I really like it and I have bookmarked it and read some of the older posts.

    I was a vegan/vegetarian for a long time but finally gave it up because I was overweight and malnourished.

    I look and feel great.

    But I am still lured by all the claims that we need a plant-based diet in order to protect against disease. A few people I know have just died from cancer and I am reconsidering my LCHF lifestyle.

    I have read the research by Thomas Seyfried in the above link.
    In particular, does anyone have an opinion about the Gerson (or similar) diet for treating cancer and chronic diseases? It is a very high sugar, low protein, low fat regimen, requiring a person to drink several glasses of carrot and fruit juice per day. I don't understand how anyone can thrive on such a diet for very long.

    Is it possible that such a diet can have short-term therapeutic value even though it is high in sugar (due to the high levels of antioxidants and phyto-chemicals).

  16. @ Ann
    Have you watched Dr Terry Wahls video DietDoc linked to earlier?
    That's another approach using high intake of plants, phtyo-chemicals but based on a paleo influenced diet.
    I've had a quick look at the prices charged at the Mexican Gerson treatment center.
    Spending money at that rate would soon give me heart failure which no doubt would solve the problem.
    I'm much more comfortable with Dr Terry Wahls approach.
    I've been reading recently about gut flora, melatonin, mitochondrial function and ageing.
    There's a lot to learn and it's all very new and exciting stuff.
    Here's an example.
    Sirt3, Mitochondrial ROS, Ageing, and Carcinogenesis
  17. moreporkplease
    "very high sugar"

    Ann, it's important to note that the newest research suggests that sugar - glucose - feeds cancer tumors. Indeed, they live on sugar, they grow on sugar. Dr. Don Ayer of the Utah school of medicine is an expert in studying glucose and both diabetes and cancer:

    http://medicine.utah.edu/oncsci/faculty/ayer.htm

    In 2009 he released a study about the complicated way sugar interacts with glutamine to encourage the rapid growth of cancer:

    "During both normal and cancerous cell growth, a cellular process takes place that involves both glucose (sugar) and glutamine (an amino acid). Glucose and glutamine are both essential for cell growth, and it was long assumed they operated independently, but Ayer's research shows they are inter-dependent. He discovered that by restricting glutamine availability, glucose utilization is also stopped. "Essentially, if you don't have glutamine, the cell is short circuited due to a lack of glucose, which halts the growth of the tumor cell" Ayer says.

    The research, spearheaded by Mohan Kaadige, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in Ayer's lab, focused on MondoA, a protein that is responsible for turning genes on and off. In the presence of glutamine, MondoA blocks the expression of a gene called TXNIP. TXNIP is thought to be a tumor suppressor, but when it's blocked by MondoA , it allows cells to take up glucose, which in turn drives tumor growth. Ayer's research could lead to new drugs that would target glutamine utilization, or target MondoA or TXNIP."

    If your concern is cancer, you might consider avoiding the sugar and keeping your insulin steady. :) Ayers' research suggests that there may be a link to both based on sugar. But this research is very early, so the science isn't there yet.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090817184539.htm

  18. ann
    Thanks Ted. I will watch the video.

    I am sure the Gerson Center is expensive.
    I have a book, actually the first one that was written by Max Gerson in the 1950s. The program can be done at home, but it does not seem realistic. It calls for ingesting 12 to 15 glasses of juices per day from 20 pounds of produce. Also, the juices have to be made with a hydraulic press only, and ingested immediately, along with other restrictions which seem like they would be burdensome to a person who is ill.

    I don't have cancer but the loss of those people has me reading a lot about alternative treatments. They suffered so much and had no quality of life because of chemo/radiation. If I am ever diagnosed with cancer, I will not opt for conventional treatment.

    I agree that it is exciting to learn all this new information but it is unfortunate that we can't get any help from our physicians. I know people who refuse to give up their high carb diets because their physicians say that LCHF is unhealthy.

    I have a friend who is over 150 pounds overweight and has been trying to lose weight on a high carb diet for over 15 years and refuses to try a LCHF diet.

    But I won't let anyone stop me from taking responsibility for my health. I myself was on several medications for depression/anxiety for years with no relief until I weaned myself without my doctor's permission and cured my depression with supplements, diet (fat, including saturated fat is so important for brain function), exercise and meditation.

    The sad truth is that many people will suffer and die from their physician's advice.

  19. Weight Gain, Metabolic Syndrome, and Breast Cancer Recurrence: Are Dietary Recommendations Supported by the Data?
    In conclusion, traditional dietary recommendations of limiting fat while favoring dietary carbohydrates may be a suboptimal strategy for improving nearly every metabolic risk factor for breast cancer recurrence, including decreasing adipose tissue, serum glucose, serum insulin, and inflammatory factors, while increasing HDL and insulin sensitivity.

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