Posted by: griswoldfun | April 24, 2009

Cancer and Diet… My Soapbox!

This is my personal soapbox right now… don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Wednesday night I had the opportunity to hear a lecture titled “Can You Change Your Risk? The Link Between Diet and Cancer” by Dr. David Euhus at UT Southwestern. Nothing crazy was said and they didn’t get into specifics of eat organic and no soy, etc. The basic summary is: Eat a low fat diet and exercise. (Wear your sun block while you are at it).

These are my crazy notes, please note that this was given by a doctor and there were lots of other doctors there…. Some of the words I didn’t know and even googling them I don’t’ have a good idea of what they mean – most important is the paragraph where exercise was said to reduce risks by 38%… that seemed to be a good “take away”!

-Obesity increases the risk of dying in certain cancers (breast, colon, uterus, kidney, ovarian, pancreas)
-Weight loss reduces the risk of dying in those cancers (in one study, a 60% reduction in cancer death after gastric bypass surgery)
-Two key components (especially as we get older): (1) Exercise increases the IGFBP1 protein (Insulin Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 1) that decreases fat cells and (2) insulin from sugar cuts the IGFBP1 protein.
-Therefore we have to strike a healthy balance between regular exercise to keep insulin down and protein up (
-Dr. Euhus emphasized decreasing simple sugars early in the day and at the end of the day to keep the insulin levels down. The one surprising thing that Dr. Euhus did say, was that fruit is a simple sugar and that in some instances/studies is appears that the fruit sugars are pretty much equal to table sugar – especially in the early morning. He mentioned eating fruit in the middle of the day when you knew you would burn the calories
-Fat can also convert adrenal hormones to estrogen and other “nasty stuff” which can increase cancer risk. Basic equation of excess fat = increased insulin and decreased protein
-Breast cancer risk is significantly increased during diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes; the diagnosis of breast cancer is twice as likely in obese women and the recurrence is also double in obese women
-Insulin resistance also leaves room for a whole mess of other problems (increased Blood Pressure, increased cholesterol, increased cardio disease)

-A Women’s Health Initiative Study: reduce fat consumption and increase fruits / veggies – decreased risk by 9% (pointed out to be a low reduction)
-Another study showed vigorous exercise decreased the risk by 38%
-Combine the two!
-Exercise is deemed to be associated with lower body weight and ½ risk of dying of breast cancer – of note, the equivalent of walking 3 – 5 hours a week was associated with the maximum benefit – results plateau after that
-Reducing dietary fat to 20% of calories reduced breast cancer recurrence by 42% (noted that this was common sense types of fat reduction – nothing drastic. Simple things like switching to low fat mayo and salad dressings, etc)

-Flax seed was highlighted b/c the ligands reduce estrogen levels
-Brassicas veggies were highlighted (broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage) but didn’t catch what they have that made them so dang good for us (googling just came up with articles about how good they are for us as cancer preventatives)… and tomatoes and carrots were highlighted for the retinotic signals (I googled and the stuff that came back was too high tech for me to understand).
-For lower insulin production, eat foods that are of a low GI since the body digests those slowly and makes less insulin (and he comment on how high corn was…I wrote that down but don’t know why) The GI of foods can be found at numerous sites online but one that I found pretty fast is
-The Western lifestyle was also highlighted as a whole – stress (cortisol increases), sleep depravation (growth hormone increases), fat and sugar diet (insulin increases), and sedentary lifestyles (IGFBP1 protein) all lead to a whole mess of problems

There wasn’t a lot of time for Q&A as they did a great job at keeping the entire thing to just one hour, but there was one lady who stood up and asked about alcohol – she said she hears not to drink a glass of wine b/c it increases her chance of breast cancer but then the next week she hears to drink wine b/c it decreases her risk of heart disease. Dr. Euhus said that a rough thought process is that each ounce of alcohol per day increases your risk of breast cancer about 12% but that it does have protective results with heart disease – he said enjoy your glass of wine as you are more likely to die of heart disease than of cancer and what was 12% in the grand scheme of things (again, see 38% reduction with exercise)

-Lifestyle change not a diet!


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