Monday, March 15, 2010

Cooking to Produce The Least Carcinogenic Compounds

In a previous blog, I mentioned a compound acrylamide and it's link to breast cancer risk. To recap;
  1. Acrylamide forms from sugars and an amino acid (asparagine) during certain types of high-temperature cooking, such as frying, roasting, and baking.

  2. High temperature cooking, such as frying, roasting, or baking, is most likely to cause acrylamide formation. Boiling and steaming do not typically form acrylamide. Acrylamide is found mainly in foods made from plants, such as potato products, grain products, or coffee. Acrylamide does not form, or forms at lower levels, in dairy, meat, and fish products. Generally, acrylamide is more likely to accumulate when cooking is done for longer periods or at higher temperatures.

    What is interesting to note and somewhat counter intuitive, is that microwaving carbohydrates produces much less of these compounds than traditional cooking methods at high heat.

    Microwaving fats is not a good thing because the fatty acid structure can change from cis to trans fatty acids.

    Microwaving meats can reduce the B vitamins levels, specifically the B12.

    But, it does appear that carbohydrates might do ok. They do lose a huge amount of vitamins and enzymes rendering them less nutritious, but they do not appear to have high levels of acrylamides.

    Still, the best way to cook vegetables or grains is to steam them.

    Steaming does not seem to produce acrylamide and it retains the vitamins contained in the produce or grain.

    Sprouting is always an option for grains, legumes, pulses, nuts and seeds and makes them more nutritious.

    Many people avoid sprouting because they think it is either complicated, or requires paraphanalia.This is not true, a shallow glass dish and water are all that is necessary for sprouting.

    What should you take away from this?

    The least exposure to high heat the better. So cooking for a short time, or at low temperatures are better than the opposite. The caveat is for oils, every type of oil has it's own smoke point that should not be reached as it denatures the oil.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Personal Body Care

We are constantly bombarded by unwanted chemicals in our daily lives.

In many of the individual instances, the amount of chemical in that individual exposure is minimal and fall under the "toxic" exposure level set by the EPA.

However, the additive effect and repeated exposure to toxins that are under the approved "toxic" level, drastically change the picture.

Parabens, which have been detected in breast tissue, are always stated to be in ultra low concentrations, the problem is that they are in everything from shampoo to skin lotions.
So, if every application of skin lotion, liquid soap, shampoo and makeup all contain parabens, the daily dose is much larger than the one exposure. In addition, parabens are fatty soluble and accumulate in tissue. Methyl paraben seem to be the most detected in breast tissue as compared with ethyl or propyl paraben.

1-4 Dioxane which is listed by the EPA as a class B2 carcinogen, has actually been found in many brands labeling themselves as organic such as Jason, Kiss My face, Giovanni and Natures Gate.
Sodium Laureth Sulfate has been found to have an effect that mimics estrogen, meaning it can stimulate estrogen receptors. while the effect is low, it is the fact that these effects can accumulate or work synergistically that is the problem. Anything that can stimulate the estrogen receptor can theoretically contribute to estrogen related breast cancer.

While the information above is covers only a small list of potential toxic or carcinogenic compounds found in personal body care, it is a list of by far the most common potentially damaging ingredients.

Make an attempt to eliminate paraben preserved body care, If you color your hair, foiling with highlights or lowlights is safer as the chemical does not touch your scalp. Use shampoos and body washes that are laureth free and stop using perfumes or perfumed anything.

While we can't completely avoid exposure to toxic chemicals, we can make smart choices and limit what we do have control over.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Where's the Beef?

In 2003, a large study looking at red meat consumption and breast cancer risks resulted in an inconclusive association.

However, a new study from Harvard's Brigham and Woman's Hospital (BWH) which was published in the November 13th issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, states something different.

In the 2003 study, the focus was on meat consumption and general breast cancer rates in woman in mid-life or later.

The more recent study looked at over 90,000 woman ages 26 to 46 and found a significant increase in hormone receptor positive breast cancer.

As mentioned in previous blog posts, cancer in general is associated with an increase in IGF-1 levels. This is why it was so surprising to NOT see elevated breast cancer rates go up with dairy as dairy intake is associated with and increase in IFG-1 levels. But the rational in that case was that the Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) from full fat dairy was most likely protective.

Red meat and excessive protein as well as excessive carbohydrates can raise IGF-1 levels. this is presumed to be the reason that these dietary choices raise cancer risk rates.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Blood Type Groups and Breast Cancer

While most people don't correlate their afflictions with their blood type, there is a correlation.

Mainstream physicians rarely look at this but there has been a movement in the naturopathic medical community to look at the research on this topic and apply it to their patients.

Most of the research is being done by medical anthropologists and medical doctorates in institutions, and the publications are printed in the more obscure journals such as "The European Journal of Dentistry", and the "International Journal of Epidemiology".

Clinicians typically do not read such specific journals, these are most frequently read by researchers in their specific fields.

The list in longterm survival rates from best to worst is O>A>B>AB. Note, this is statistics and individual cases always brake the mold. So even though women with blood type A have a slightly greater chance or getting breast cancer, they tend to fair better than those with B or AB, but not as well as those with O.

For more information, read Dr. D'adamo's Eat Right for Your Blood Type. While he does cite research, his ideas are not recognized by mainstream medicine. However, I have found his advice useful clinically and his theories make sense according to the research I have cited in this article.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Soda, Diet Soda and Gum

Aspartame has had a troubled past.

There has been ongoing websites and blogsites writing about the problems regarding aspartame, some seem legitimate and others sensational.

There have been claims by researchers who conducted studies on aspartame years prior to it's approval who've stated that the early studies showed problems but that these studies were "taken off the books".

Recently, a large animal study conducted in Italy by Ramazzini in Italy, showed an increase in breast cancers as well as lymphomas and leukemias in rats fed the equivalent to 100 mg per kg of body weight.

This is an amount larger than what most people are said to consume, however, aspartame is in gum, sugar free and regular. It is in pedialyte, popsicles and all kinds of crazy stuff.

My concern is that many people, especially women consume huge amounts of aspartame between their sodas, yoghurt, gum and diet iced teas, there are many women that might be ingesting this crazy amount.

What the newer studies have shown is a more statistically significant increase in cancers if the rats are exposed to aspartame in utero or in infancy.
The fact that so many parents preferentially give their children sugar free products over regular is alarming. We have no idea what this is doing in terms of affecting the cancer risk factors of the next generation. Presumably, parents are doing this to prevent childhood obesity.

Both regular and diet soda are typically preserved with sodium benzoate. But sodas also typically have citric acid or vitamin c, also for preservation. The combination of sodium benzoate and vitamin c in any form, creates benzene, a known carcinogen.

University of Texas looked at obesity risks and the amount of diet soda drank and found a direct correlation. A persons obesity risk increased with the amount of aspartame they consumed. Presumably the change in brain chemistry (increased phenylalanine and decreased seretonin) that aspartame causes leads to carbohydrate cravings.

But another plausible explanation is that a few years ago, researcher found "taste" receptors in the human gut that stimulate insulin production.
In laymans terms, this means that aspartame could contribute to insulin resistance and increase diabetes.

Eat real and deal with food addictions, this is always the best motto for good health!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Got Milk? Maybe, Maybe Not

To dairy or not to dairy, that is the question.

One of the mechanisms proposed for dairy in it's association with an increased risk for prostate cancer is the stimulation of insulin-like growth factor of IGF-1.

One of the reasons that breast cancer risks do not appear to go up with dairy intake while ovarian and prostate cancers risks do, could be due to conjugated linoleic acid or CLA.

CLA is naturally occurring in fatty meat and dairy products. CLA appears to have an affinity for breast tissue and might be protective against cancer.

In general, high animal fat intake in diets is associated with an increase in all kinds of cancers including breast. Dairy might be the one exception.

I am not urging anyone to go out and start drinking glasses of milk, remember ovarian cancer risks increase with an increase in dairy consumption. I am encouraging those who have the occasional yoghurt or cheese to eat it full fat and preferably organic or at least from grass fed cows (higher CLA content).

I think dairy consumption can be problematic for many people and for many reasons, but for some, it is digested well and not antigenic. If you're going to partake of dairy consumption, make it high quality.

If you're a vegan or can not tolerate dairy, CLA is available as a supplement. One of the main reasons CLA is taken as a supplement is to reduce visceral and subcutaneous abdominal fat.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Nitrosamines From Food and Cancer in General

I have written about acrylamides and heterocyclicamines in relation to breast cancer risk. This is the first post touching on the subject of nitrosamines.

There are no good studies linking nitrosamines to breast cancer, however, nitrosamines cause many types of cancer, most notably along the gastrointestinal tract.

Theoretically, nitrosamines could be contributing to the non-estrogen dependent breast cancers as this chemical causes DNA mutations in general, according to mammalian laboratory studies.

There are obvious sources of nitrosamines; nitrite preserved food like luncheon meats, bacon or smoked fish. But there are non obvious sources as well; some beers contain nitrosamines from the brewing process, tobacco products and any food item that is in a non breathing container. Sodium nitrate is used as a preservative specifically against botulinum toxin.

Another non obvious source is our own stomachs. Under a reduced acidic environment, our stomachs turn nitrates to nitrites. This is important to remember as many foods have nitrates and many people are unfortunately on acid blockers. (there's a good reason our stomach PH is supposed to be highly acidic, and messing with the PH leads to all sorts of dangerous consequences).

Ascorbic acid or vitamin C, reduces the amount of nitrites produced from nitrates. Take plenty of vitamin C, just not with sodium benzoate as this combination leads to benzene, another known carcinogen.

Beer as it turns out is a big source of nitrosamines which forms in the malting process. The beers with the highest levels tend to be the cheaper domestic types. Stick with higher quality and imported beers and consider drinking it with limes or lemons for the ascorbic acid.

It is important to use ample green tea leaves and drink only the first two infusions if you want the benefit of reducing nitrosamine formation. I prefer high quality Japanese green teas like Sencha or Gyokuro. For instant green tea, I use Matcha powder which is a powdered form of sencha or gyokuro, both have high catechin levels.