Saturated fat and increased cancer risk

Saturated fat and increased cancer risk
Saturated fat consumption is linked to a greater risk of cancer and to more aggressive cancer; and, if you maintain high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels when you already have cancer, to more metastases and increased death rates.
 
There is a growing trend in America of 'Health experts', who advocate high fat diets as a way of being healthier and beating chronic illnesses. For cancer, this is simply not supported by the research evidence. In fact the contrary is true.
 
The argument for increasing your fat consumption is led by two groups of people in particular:
 
   1)  Heart Health Experts and here there is hard evidence - two meta-studies to be precise - that people eating high levels of fat develop no more heart disease than people eating low levels.
 
   2) Ketogenic Diet 'fans' who believe itincreasing fat consumption is a way of beating cancer. Here the evidence is very patchy at best.
 
A further consideration is the health difference between good fat and bad fat, and this seems to make a huge difference in cancer risk.
 
The type of fat consumed is crucial

At CANCERactive we are not against fat. Far from it. Cholesterol is essential to a healthy brain, healthy membranes and vitamin D production, just to name three benefits.

Our recommended ’Anti-Cancer Diet and Lifestyle Plan’ starts with the Rainbow Diet - a fusion of the colourful Mediterranean Diet and the French Paradox - the French eat more fat and drink more alcohol than any other nation, but have less heart disease and less cancer. Whih takes us back to type of fat. The French thrive on Extra Virgin Olive oil, fish oils and nut and seed oils.
 
The crucial issue is to keep saturated fat to a maximum of 30% of total. ’Good', unsaturated fats should be 70% to 30% max saturated. This then would be reflected in your good HDL score over your bad LDL levels.

Go to: The colourful Mediterranean Diet - probably the healthiest Diet in the world

Another aspect of fat 'control' is what othr foods are eaten. For example, one natural way of reducing ’bad’ LDL in the blood stream proven by clinical research is to supplement with lycopene, the bioactive antioxidant found in tomatoes. In research, 25 mg of daily lycopene lowers overall cholesterol by 10% putting HDL up 2% and LDL down 12%. The French, the Italians. the Spanish consume large quantities of this fruit. 

Go to: Lycopene reduces cholesterol, especially LDL better than statins
 
In one study on smokers, a high level of saturated fat intake was linked with a greater risk of lung cancer. However, a switch of just 5% from saturated fat consumption to monounsaturated fat (olive oil) produced a decline in lung cancer risk of 16-17 per cent.
 
 
Another useful food which would lower blood lipid levels (cholesterol and triglycerides), is ginger.
 
Saturated fat causes inflammation and damages the immune system
 
There may be several other mechanisms by which saturated fats increase cancer risk. For example, saturated fat consumption is highly inflammatory and is known to impair the immune system. 
 
Several studies since 2015 have shown that saturated fats can cause chronic inflammation in the body. For example, a UCSF study showed that in both human and mouse cells, saturated fat caused a ’short-circuit’ in immune cells and produced an inflammatory response. A second study, this time from Imperial College London, showed that high saturated fat levels in the blood caused immune cells to migrate into the organs, exacerbating tissue damage and worsening inflammation. This continued until saturated fat levels declined to ’normal’. A third study showed that overweight people (with higher blood fat levels) had more inflammation and this caused higher levels of diabetes.

How might this happen? Saturated fat consumption, from foods such as cows’ dairy, has been shown to change the bacterial make-up of the gut microbiome to one that produces far larger numbers of inflammatory molecules in the gut and thus also circulating in the blood stream. A team from Chicago Medical School showed that mice with a genetic predisposition to colitis, were far more likely to get inflammatory bowel disease when fed a diet high in saturated milk fats. Such fats increased numbers of Bilophilia wadsworthia.

One of the reasons is that saturated fats are difficult to break down in the gut and require bile acids that contain sulphur. Most gut bacteria dislike sulphur and this limits their growth and division. But B. wadsworthia likes sulphur; it’s numbers increase to approximately 6 per cent of total bacteria in the prescence of saturated fat, but its waste production is inflammatory and this causes a negative immune reaction. In a healthy gut these particular bacteria are hardly present.
 
A similar system operates with coconut oil, as identified by The Cleveland Clinic. And with red meat, salami, chicken fat and other high-choline foods, as identified by Harvard Medical School in prostate cancer. Your gut bacteria produce TMA in response to coconut oil. In turn the liver turns this chemical into TMAO, known to be highly inflammatory. TMAO has a large inflammatory effect in prostate cancer.
 
 
Saturated fats levels are linked to increased cancer risk
 
Saturated fat intake is linked to an increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer and an increased risk of fatal prostate cancer; whereas good fat like fish oil EPA reduces risk and mono-unsaturated fats show no raised risk. 
 
 
In a large study by the World Health Organisation, Milk consumption was directly linked to mortality from prostate cancer (4). 
 
There is a similar link between saturated fat intake and ovarian cancer:
 
 
Epidemiology studies indicate a greater risk between higher saturated fat and/or animal fat consumption and colorectal cancer.
 
 
Unfortunately, risk factors may start to take place in our formatibe years. Levels of saturated fat consumed in your childhood (especial your teen years) can be linked to breast cancer later in life.
 
 
There are similar findings for prostate cancer:
 
 
Saturated fats levels are linked to greater levels of metastases and lowered survival
 
Saturated fat consumption (red meat, dairy, lard, coconut oil) is also bad news if you have cancer already. For example, a 2017 study on breast cancer from the Women's Health Initiative(1) clearly showed that women with a 20% lowered level of calories from fat had significantly lower death rates from breast cancer across the 16 year follow up period. 
 
LDL, or ’bad’ cholesterol in the blood stream is also linked to cancer progression. One study(2) explained that only about 10% of cancer cells possess the ability to spread; metastases being determined by a factor, dubbed CD36, which allows the cell to pick up saturated fat in the blood stream and form a protective coat around it, allowing it to pass round the body unseen by the immune system. The conclusion was that people with high levels of saturated fats and triglycerides in the blood stream showed greater metastases and survived least.

Go to: High Saturated fat in blood linked to higher metastases

Don't use bad fats to produce Ketone bodies with the Ketogenic Diet
 
The pre-occupation with a Ketogenic Diet(3) is built around a premise that cancer uses glucose to grow, but can't use Ketone bodies which are made in the body from fats and oils. These are an alternative energy source for flexible healthy cells but not for inflexible cancer cells. So, many people believe that all you have to do to beat cancer is cut carbohydrates and pour fat down your throat.
 
Recently, I spent almost 3 days with Professor Thomas Seyfried, the Boston College champion of the Ketogenic Diet, at the Children with Cancer Conference. We talked in detail about a number of different issues with the diet.
 
All fats and oils can form Ketone bodies - olive oil, avocado oil, walnut oil, lard, bacon fat, chicken fat, palm oil and the current health fad, coconut oil, much loved by Ketogenic Diet fans. But a major side effect of bad fats is inflammation, immune suppression, increased metastases and lowered long-term survival as we showed above. And coconut oil is no exception. Coconut oil is linked to chronic inflammation as it has twice the saturated fat content of lard!  When I asked Seyfried if he consumed it and cooked with it, he said 'You wouldn't want to touch that. It's 90% saturated fat and will cause chronic inflammation!'  This is exactly what my Biochemistry analysis of coconut oil showed. It is turned by your gut bacteria and liver into TMAO, one of the most inflammatory compounds.
 
The Rainbow Diet will produce Ketone bodies - but from good fat
 
Extra Virgin Olive Oil and fish oils will produce Ketone bodies but they also increase levels of good bacteria in the body and these make anti-inflammatory molecules - just what you need if you have cancer. So do ellagitannins from fruits like berries. The breast cancer study above involved eating higher levels of grains and colourful vegetables and fruit too. So, good health can never be  just about getting 90% of your calories from fat. 
 
There is also clear research that women aged between 50 and 70 who followed a colourful Mediterranean diet, consuming high levels of good fats, grains and vegetables and fruit, at the end of the 15 year study were free of 11 chronic illnesses including cancer and were 40% more likely to reach age 70.
 
The Rainbow Diet has about 8 studies with real people showing it prevents chronic illnesses including cancer; it has another 8 studies showing it increases survival in cancer.
 
I think everybody trying to beat cancer should steer clear of bad fats, take lycopene and eat a lot of raw ginger. That would be a good place to start.
 
 
 
References:
 
1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/28654363/
2. https://www.canceractive.com/article/metastases-increases-the-higher-your-bad-blood-fat-levels
3. https://www.canceractive.com/article/The-Ketogenic-Diet-and-cancer
4. Hebert JR, Hurley TG, Olendzki BC, Teas J, Ma Y, Hampl JS.  Nutritional and socioeconomic factors in relation to prostate cancer mortality: a cross national studyJ Natl Cancer Inst. 1998;90(21):1637-1647. 

 

Diet as an integral part of your Complementary and Integrative cancer treatment programme
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