We all know how paleo eating is great for preventing diabetes, heart disease, inflammation, etc. and there are many articles/blog posts explaining exactly how it prevents such diseases. But what about cancer? Is cancer included in the great list of diseases of civilization? If the paleo lifestyle does help prevent cancer (which I believe it does), what do you think are the mechanics in which it does so? Reduction in systematic inflammation? Greater amounts of vitamins and minerals in the body to help repair damaged and pre-cancerous cells?
Conventional wisdom seems to say that the cause of cancer is undetermined, with genetics being a big risk factor. I've seen many websites saying diet probably doesn't have much of an effect in the development of cancer. Advice for prevention (if any) is usually "Don't smoke. Don't have bad genes." But is there a paleo view of cancer prevention, just as there is a paleo view that completely reverses the conventional wisdom of diabetes and heart disease prevention?
Would love to hear your thoughts. Any links to articles would be great too!
Edit: Great answers guys and gals! One thing I constantly hear about lately when it comes to preventing/treating cancer is the importance of keeping an "alkaline environment". Popular quotes such as "cancer thrives in an acid environment" lead to many sites promoting diets based on alkaline forming vegetable juices and wheatgrass juice (blech), and claiming that avoiding the huge acid forming foods like MEAT is essential when cancer is present. Any thoughts on this whole acid/alkaline thing?
Here is a very interesting inverview done by Jimmy Moore with Dr. Thomas Seyfried on the use of ketogenic diets in people with brain tumors. It is well worth a listen. One of the most fascinating things he says in the interview is that if everyone did a water fast for a week every year, we would be cancer-free. When Jimmy asks him why we don't do that, the doctor says because people won't, which is probably true. It is similar to the response I get when I say it is important to give up gluten and people respond that they could never do that! I believe there are links to Dr. Seyfried's research on the site: http://www.thelivinlowcarbshow.com/shownotes/1172/dr-thomas-seyfried-on-killer-carbs-ketosis-as-a-cancer-cure-episode-302/
I think Paleo's effects on the insulin pathway does help, yes, but I suspect that inducing autophagy and cellular cleanup is what we most want when we talk about preventing cancer. So far the best way to create an internal environment conducive for optimal autophagy is fasting, so incorporating IF or regular longer fasts would be the ticket.
Cancer can be caused can be from food, indoor air, lack of sleep, cleaning supplies, stress, genetics etc. Some times I find it overwhelming to try to protect my family. but then I remember that I can control some things and not others and I do my best at the things that I can. I research food like crazy, I use all homemade or natural personal products and cleaning supplies, do my best to exercise smartly, spiritual health etc. I do think that Paleo is the best way to eat to fights some of the things that I can't control.
I don't know about paleo per se, but evidence is starting to build that a ketogenic diet is an anti-cancer diet. It induces autophagy, as haig mentioned helps, and there is specific research about brain cancer, as Laurie D. mentioned.
There are plausible mechanisms, because cancer feeds on glucose, and can't eat ketones, and autophagy, which is triggered by both fasting and ketosis (which is metabolically like fasting in many ways), helps prevent transcription errors which can result in cancerous cells.
I suspect diet is much more important than the presence of carcinogens in the environment.
So far, research for a ketogenic diet curing cancer is in early stages, but it looks promising. In so far as paleo tends to be lower carb in general, it probably helps.
I think reducing chemical load is a bigggee.
There are lots of chemicals out there that are known carcinogens, and many that are carcinogens that we don't know about yet. These chemicals are, among other things in all our foods and skin care products... unless we make a concerted effort to avoid them.
If you eat organic vegetables, and you eat meat, poultry and dairy from animals that aren't pumped with hormones and antibiotics, if you stop applying lots of chemicals to your skin every day, your body will be called on less frequently to defend itself from attack.
The other stuff like reduced inflation, autophgy etc. will help dealing with carcinogens that the body comes in contact with... but why come in contact with it in the first place? Eat clean!
Is there someone, anyone, in the world who has followed for the majority of their life an anti-inflammation diet, with plenty of proper nutrition and ratios AND has been diagnosed with such cancer.....? I would LOVE to know that there is NO ONE who fits this description, to to reaffirm my years of casual research!! I can't imagine there is someone... can you?
It was really one of the main reasons I went Paleo - The link between insulin resistance and cancer may be related to the compensatory high levels of insulin. So maybe not Paleo but decreasing insulin resistance is the answer - Paleo was the only way I knew to decrease my insulin levels - but I also follow Dr Rosedale - a but of a mix really.
I could place studies - there a lots out there but kids are running a muck - just google pub med and Insulin resistance and cancer ( also Breast cancer and gestational diabetes)
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