Why the Pioppi diet is DANGEROUS if you are trying to beat cancer

Dr. Aseem Malhotra and the dangerous ‘Pioppi Diet’

 

 

 

 

The people of Pioppi, just south of Naples, live long and healthy lives. In the 1970s they were studied by Professor Ansel Keys who noted their longevity.

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Aseem Malhotra is one of Britain’s top cardiologists, and one of the 11 expert doctors who wrote an open letter in The Times to, then UK Prime minister, David Cameron saying that ‘The Mediterranean Diet should be adopted as the diet for the UK’ and that it would ‘prevent many of the chronic illnesses that beset the West today’.

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Malhotra is about to travel to Pioppi with film maker Donal O’Neill, to make a documentary - "The Big Fat Fix".

Saturated Fat is dangerous for people trying to beat cancer

While I applaud his praise of the Mediterranean Diet, I am concerned that Malhotra has added factors to the strict Mediterranean diet and that some of his beliefs are not only wrong but possibly dangerous, especially in the context of cancer – for example, Malhotra’s view that you should eat a ‘full-fat diet’ is unlikely to have applied to the traditional farmer of Pioppi (you would need lots of cows for dairy and meat, unlikely in an Italian coastal town), nor is his assertion that they didnt eat carbs likely to be correct at all. The people of Pioppi just south of Naples would have been certain to eat grain - bread, pasta and even pizza.

But the fat issue is the one I am most concerned about - especially given the title of the proposed documentary - The Big Fat Fix. Broadly speaking there are three types of fat - unsaturated fat (like olive oil, traditionally thought to be good for you), saturated fat (meat, lard, cheese - traditionally thought to be bad) and trans fats (now clearly known to be awful for you).

The core issue is saturated fat and the assertion in the Pioppi diet that full fat is good for you.  To be fair, there are two meta-studies (from 2010 and 2014) confirming that people who eat the highest levels of saturated fat have no more cardiovascular disease risk than those who eat the lowest amounts. And Malhotra is a cardiologist. 


Go to: Meta-study shows saturated fat has no influence on heart disease

But. Saturated fats are definitely bad news when it comes to cancer - very bad news - and so, respectfully, I find his conclusions about full fat positively "dangerous". Saturated fat consumption has been linked with a higher risk of cancer; it has been linked to more aggressive cancers, it is linked to a higher rate of metastases, and lowered survival. The sheer volume of research is overwhelming.  It cannot all be wrong. Here is a short summary of just 8 sets of research - it covers breast cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer and lung cancer:

Go to: Saturated fat repeatedly linked to increased risk of cancer 

Now, if you do read those 8 links between saturated fat and cancer, you will see on the last study that, rather than have a negative effect, a switch of just 5 per cent from saturated fat to unsaturated fat (for example switching from cows cheese to extra virgin olive oil) actually REDUCED cancer risk by 16 per cent.

In truth, UNSATURATED FAT is what the real Mediterranean Diet is all about - not full fat. The Mayo Clinic is very clear that monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) as found in olive oil reduce LDL, insulin levels and inflammation in the body.

And it is not just the unsaturated fatty acids factor - research from the Cleveland Clinic in 2015 and 2016 showed that gut bacteria played an important role. A compound called TMAO, formed from choline and l-carnitine in red meats and cows dairy is linked to greater risk of stroke and cardiovascular problems. But a compound in both olive oil and red wine called DMB, reduced levels of TMAO.

As to the assertion from Malhotra that the Pioppi diet is great for weight loss, the real reason has already been well documented. For example, a study from Barcelona Medical School, as reported in the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, showed that consuming more Extra Virgin Olive oil and more walnuts reduced weight in a group of men and women over 55. Yes, its those UNSATURATED fatty acids again.

Dr. Chauncey Crandall of the Palm Beach Heart Clinic and one of Americas top cardiologists says that ideally you should keep a balance with unsaturated fat at 70 per cent to saturated fat at 30 per cent. In other words, it actually does matter enormously what TYPE of fat you consume. At CANCERactive we totally agree with that balance.

So, I cannot agree with Malhotras new Pioppi version of the Atkins Diet. There is too much work on gut bacteria, inflammation and especially on hormone links, risk of cancer, aggression of cancer and lowered survival to suggest high levels of unsaturated fat is somehow safe and you should consume a full fat diet. The colourful Mediterranean diet is not about full fat - it is about monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids - these are crucial to your good health. 

I believe encouraging people to believe that full fat, Big Fat or saturated fat is somehow OK for everybody, is dangerous for people who want to avoid dying from cancer.

CANCERactive recently interviewed Dr. Malhotra for icon magazine - 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why the Pioppi diet is DANGEROUS if you are trying to beat cancer
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