One of the main reasons I am following a plant based diet is due to my father’s death from pancreatic cancer. For many years I searched for a healthful diet, and finally landed on a plant based diet. I also wanted to eliminate sugar, because I believed it fed cancer.
Well, two big changes happened after taking the McDougall Advanced Study Weekend recently:
- I should make sure my plant based diet is a low-fat one, without oil.
- I should rethink this sugar-feeding-cancer thing.
Find out why in the notes and linked peer-reviewed scientific studies below.
No, this doesn’t give me a free pass on sugar, especially the processed stuff. But perhaps sugar doesn’t fire up the cancer cells either. Let’s look at what Dr. McDougall presented, and I’ll also share the sources he mentioned too.
As always, for medical conditions please contact a medical professional. I am not a doctor, and your diagnosis should not come from the internet. And please consult with a professional if you have any medical ailments and plan to change your diet.
These are notes taken during a presentation given at the McDougall Program’s Advanced Study Weekend.
What does that mean?
- Because these notes were typed during a presentation by the noted doctor, and are being written by a “lay person”. While I did my best to make notes about what they said, these notes may not be entirely accurate. However, I will link resources (such as the peer-reviewed studies referenced within the presentation) whenever possible within the text.
- Please direct any questions you have to the speaker noted here. Their website and social channels are linked whenever possible.
- If you are currently in treatment for any condition, do not use this to change what you are doing. Do take this information to your doctor to ask questions in order to make informed medical decisions with a professional.
- You can find MORE PRESENTATION NOTES listed at this page.
- The ideas presented are those of the presenter. If I (the author) add any notes, references, or other items to refer to, I will note that they are my additions within the text.
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Key notes and takeaways from Dr. McDougall’s “Does Sugar Feed Cancer” presentation
Low carb movement (which is, of course, the opposite of a starch diet) is blaming problems on carbs, that it is “sugar”. The low carb movement believes it’s also whole food sugar. Elephant in room, regarding cancer: oils & animal products.
The 1982 study, “Diet Nutrition and Cancer” (National Academy Press) suggests that sugar does not feed cancer.
The committee concluded that all the dietary components it studied, the combined epidemical and experimental evidence is must suggestive for a casual relationship between fat intake and the occurrence of cancer
Low carb diets cause heart attacks, premature death, and sickness
Four major studies support this claim. All four studies show that low carb diets cause heart attacks, an early death, and various forms of illness.
- “Low-Carbohydrate Diets and All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality.” from 2010 Annals of Internal Medicine. The study concluded that animal-based low-carbohydrate diet was associated with higher mortality.
- “Low-Carbohydrate, High-Protein Diet and Incidence of Cardiovascular Diseases in Swedish Women: Prospective Cohort Study,” Review article from the British Medical Journal (2012). Warns that a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet consumed regularly is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
- “Low-Carbohydrate Diets and All-Cause Mortality: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies,” PLOS One journal (2013). Low-carb diets were associated with a much higher risk of all-cause mortality.
- “Low Carbohydrate Diet From Plant or Animal Sources and Mortality Among Myocardial Infarction (MI) Survivors,” Journal of the American Heart Association (2014). Adhering to a low-carbohydrate diet that is high in animal fat and protein is associated with higher all-cause and cardiovascular mortality.
Three reasons for the faulty thinking from the low carb and “sugar feeds cancer” movement:
1. Countries with high cancer rates also have high animal product consumption. Epidemiological studies showing populations that consume high amounts of simple sugar have high rates of cancers. However – these countries also have high meat and vegetable oils. Sugar is the scapegoat. These countries also have double the intake of dairy, meats, and vegetable oils. These foods are also dietary mechanisms for cancer, and have been closely linked. Of particular note is how chemicals bioaccumulate in animals. If an animal is high on the food chain, they are sure to have accumulated chemicals. This has a damaging effect on intestinal microflora, which can lead to a multitude of health problems. For more information, refer to Dr. McDougalls February 2016 Newsletter.
2. Calorie restriction. Reducing fat in the diet automatically reduces daily caloric input. Reducing fat leads to a spontaneous 600 -800 reduction in daily calories. Longest lived people live in “The Blue Zones“. People in these areas primarily eat plant based foods, but also starch-based diets. Some people in these areas ate more sugar (through whole food sources), and still had lower rates of cancer. For more information, read “Dietary fat and the regulation of energy intake in human subjects.” (Lissner, 1987)
3. When the respiratory system of a cancer cell is damaged, cancer can grow more aggressively, and this can occur when fatty foods are consumed. This was proven in a study conducted in 1956 by Otto Warburg, and most cancer oncologists believe the results of this study are correct.
What Dr Warburg discovered in research was normal cells have an ability to gain energy through aerobic glycolysis (ATP). What changes in a cancer cell is the respiratory area of cell, which is when the mitochondria is damaged. Cells can no longer use oxygen, instead they do anaerobic glycolysis (fermentation). Fermentation occurs because the respiratory mechanisms in the cells have been damaged, such as by environmental chemicals or oxygen deprivation. Warburg could change cells in a petri dish just by depriving them of oxygen.
People can also change cells by the way they eat. For example, you can deprive your cells of oxygen if you eat high fat foods. A high fat meal reduces P02 (pressure of oxygen) by 20%. Cells get coated in fat, and instead of bouncing off each other in free circulation the cells clump together.
The following video shows blood flow before, and after, a fatty meal. You will see the “sludging” of your circulation occur quite dramatically.
This can continue for 6 to 10 hours (your blood serum is lipemic), and it can cause chronic cellular hypoxia. The oxygen content of blood is decreased 20% after a fatty meal, and hypoxia can exist throughout the body.
Jen’s personal aside: For a photo of what the blood comparison looks like, see this page.
Vegetable fat causes more of this “sludging” in your circulation than animal fat does. For more information, see this study by M Friedman (1964), “Serum Lipids and Conjunctival Circulation after Fat Ingestion in Men Exhibiting Type-A Behavior Pattern” about creating chronic hypoxia at the cellular level.
Damage to the respiratory system makes the cancer grow more aggressively.
Here are some more resources to refer to:
- Dr. McDougalls February 2016 Newsletter.
- Dr. McDougalls March 2016 Newsletter.
- American Cancer Society recommending a plant-based diet for cancer patients, “if you switch them to a more prudent plant based diet they will live longer”.
- Practical Clinical Interventions for Diet Physical Activity and Weight Control in Cancer Survivors, (Demark-Wahnefried et al, 2015).
Cancer and connections with animal-based milk
Basic problem with milk – it comes from the wrong mammal. For example, the human growth rate is 180 days, however the growth rate of a cow is 47 days. In each case the appropriate amount of protein is in the milk. The protein amount is higher for a faster growth rate. A human mother’s milk is 1.2% protein for that 180 day growth rate. Cow is 3.3% protein for a 47 day growth rate. And so on. So a higher protein amount means supporting a faster growth. Milk from other mammals is therefore not biologically appropriate.
Cows milk also fails to provide adequate amounts of dietary fiber, linoleum acid, iron, and vitamins niacin and C for children and adults. However, they also add a bunch of sugar. For more information, refer to the McDougall October 2016 Newsletter.
- Pad Thai Protein Salad recipe from The Plant-Based Cookbook + Book Review and Giveaway! - December 9, 2020
- Lemon ginger bowl sauce with miso recipe (Oil free, no added sodium) - November 30, 2020
- New vegan bacon at Whole Foods Market – 300 store roll-out - November 15, 2020
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