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Cancer Prevention Convention

December 11, 2009 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

When I was putting together today’s column I envisioned myself sporting an impeccably coiffed hairdo, a designer suit and a flamboyant tie. I’m standing in the middle of a bustling conference room filled with some of the top names in the field of cancer research. I have a microphone in hand and I’m speaking directly into the eye of a television camera. “This is JP, the ‘healthy fellow’, reporting live from The American Association for Cancer Research’s Frontiers in Cancer Prevention. Experts from around the world have converged in Houston, Texas to discuss the latest and greatest news about how we can all reduce our risk of cancer. More on that, at the top of the hour. Back to you in studio, Stacey and Charles”. The reality is that I’m sitting at my usual work desk, trying hard to tune out the sounds of a couple of loud neighbors while reviewing a bunch a studies presented at the previously mentioned AACR conference. It may not be glamorous, but I love it.

My tongue in cheek introduction was factually accurate. Some of the most respected physicians and scientists involved in cancer research did indeed come together this past week to share the most current data available on natural chemopreventive strategies. Dr. Elaine Hardman of the Marshall University School of Medicine, Dr. Elizabeth Platz, a senior editor from the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, Dr. John Milner, who heads up the Nutritional Science Research Group at the National Cancer Institute and Dr. Tim Byers the Àssociate Dean at the Colorado School of Public Health were but a few of keynote presenters at this year’s conference. (1)

Although the majority of us can’t actually be at the conference, the Internet and the cooperation of the AACR allows us all to learn about many of the most exciting findings from the Frontiers of Cancer Prevention. Here’s an overview of several studies that I found particularly hopeful and interesting:

Study # 1 – Coffee Consumption and Advanced Prostate Cancer

A population study conducted in 1986 followed roughly 50,000 men until 2006. Data was collected every 4 years and specifically examined the role that coffee might play in relation to prostate cancer. This study is unique in that the researchers further investigated the effect of coffee consumption on specific forms of prostate cancer – localized vs. advanced. Almost 5,000 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer over the course of 20 years. However, there was a 60% decreased risk of “aggressive” (high grade) prostate cancer in the men who drank the most coffee. According to Dr. Kathryn M. Wilson of Harvard Medical School, “Coffee has effects on insulin and glucose metabolism as well as sex hormones, all of which play a role in prostate cancer”. (2)

Study # 2 – An Extract from Hops May Prevent Prostate Cancer

A flavonoid found in hops (xanthohumol) may one day play an important role in preventing and possibly treating prostate cancer. Previous studies indicate that this naturally occurring antioxidant may interfere with estrogen’s cancer promoting activity. It appears to do so by binding (or filling up) estrogen receptor sites. This function allows for the disposal of excess estrogen by the body. Similar effects were found when researchers tested xanthohumol’s activity in relation to testosterone. The next step is to see whether this hops extract can, in fact, prevent prostate cancer in an animal model and then, eventually, in human test subjects. (3)

Study # 3 – Exercise May Reduce Overall and Prostate Cancer Mortality

Men who engage in 5 or more hours of “vigorous physical exercise” per week demonstrated a “decreased risk of dying” from prostate cancer. It is proposed that vigorous exercise may alter hormones, improve immune function and reduce inflammation – all of which are known to positively impact prostate health. But beyond that, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health also determined that: a) 3 hours of weekly physical activity yields “a 35 percent lower risk of overall mortality” in men; b) 4 or more hours of walking per week can lower men’s risk of “all-cause mortality” by 23% and; c) men walking at a brisk pace for at least 90 minutes a week demonstrated a 51% reduction in mortality from any cause – as compared to men who walked for less than 90 minutes at a slower pace. (4)

Studies # 4 & 5 – Antioxidants and Fish Oil vs. Colon Cancer

A new Italian study has found that the use of a specific antioxidant supplement can reduce the risk of pre-cancerous polyp recurrence. A group of 411 men and women with a history of colorectal polyp removal participated in this 5 year trial. The supplement used consisted of: 200 mcg of selenium (selenomethionine), 6,000 IUs of Vitamin A, 180 mg of Vitamin C, 30 mg of Vitamin E and 30 mg of zinc. Dr. Luigiana Bonelli, from the National Institute for Cancer Research in Genoa, Italy added that, “It is noteworthy that the benefit observed after the conclusion of the trial persisted through 13 years of follow up.” A separate study determined that white participants consuming the highest levels of fish oil had a “39 percent reduced risk of (colon) cancer”. This same benefit was not established in the black study volunteers. However, this discrepancy requires additional study to confirm or discount. For the time being, Dr. Sangmi Kim of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences suggests exercising caution “about drawing conclusions about potential racial difference in the benefit of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids from this study”. (5,6)

Fish Oil May Reduce Cancer Risk by Positively Modifying Genetic Expression
Source: CMAJ. 2008 January 15; 178(2): 177–180. (link)
Study # 6 – Pistachios and Lung Cancer Prevention

A group of 36 men and women were recently divided into two segments. Each group ate a normal diet but the study (intervention) group included 2 ounces of pistachios to their menu plan over a 4 week period. Testing revealed that those eating pistachios had higher concentrations of a potential “cancer fighting” antioxidant in the body. Ladia M. Hernandez, a senior research dietitian at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center commented that, “Higher intakes of gamma-tocopherol, which is a form of vitamin E, may reduce the risk of lung cancer”. Pistachios are known to be one of the richest sources of dietary gamma-tocopherol. Ms. Hernandez went on to say that, “Pistachios are one of those ‘good-for-you’ nuts, and 2 ounces per day could be incorporated into dietary strategies designed to reduce the risk of lung cancer without significant changes in body mass index”. Her parting comment may reflect a dietary change noted during the course of this study: the participants eating pistachios naturally derived more of their daily calories from healthy fats and less caloric density from carbohydrates. This tends to positively impact weight management. (7)

If I had the opportunity to present a study at the AACR conference, I would probably have chosen a newly published experiment that was conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago and Yale University. Their recent findings showed that rats raised in a lonely, socially isolated setting developed 84 times more tumors than rats who lived in a group setting. Imagine what the implications of that finding might be if even remotely applied to humans with cancer. Conducting similar studies in a human population would be challenging to say the least. But maybe such testing isn’t as essential as it might seem. After all, what could possibly be the downside of offering companionship to someone with cancer or adding some extra fish and nuts to your own diet in the hope of cancer prevention? “This is JP, the ‘healthy fellow’, wishing you all the best of health. Back to you, Stacey and Charles”. (8)

Be well!

JP

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12 Comments to “Cancer Prevention Convention”

  1. Nina K. Says:

    “very loud clap” Thank you JP!

    its always a pleasure to read about the healthboosting properties of nuts :-) (ot: is it true that the brazil nut (or para nut) have so much selenium?) If somebody wants to increase antioxidant intake i can highly recommend organic extra virgin red palm oil.

    Wish you and yours a wonderful weekend :-)

    Nina K.

  2. JP Says:

    Thank you, Nina! :)

    I’m “nuts” about nuts myself.

    Brazil nuts are indeed rich in selenium. Perhaps even more importantly, they’re loaded with a highly bioavailable form of this antioxidant, trace mineral.

    I wish you and yours the same! It’s rainy and beautiful over here! :)

    Be well!

    JP

  3. Kevin Says:

    JP, do you still write movie scripts? If you do, I’m sure you will get some top awards. You write so good.

    If there is a study on human, please let me know, I’m a sample of living socially isolated. :-)

  4. JP Says:

    Thank you, Kevin! :)

    I don’t have the time to write screenplays these days! But I still occasionally offer input (notes and suggestions) on other people’s scripts.

    In the past I did receive a rather prestigious award but I still couldn’t find a buyer for the script. I think it largely had to do with the subject matter and poor timing. Good timing is essential in life and especially in Hollywood. :)

    re: social isolation

    I tend to be rather hermit-like myself. So, I can probably relate to your situation to some degree. I think the key may be whether or not one feels lonely. There are quite a few studies that link feelings of loneliness with health troubles. Personally, I remain rather reclusive but I have my social needs satisfied by a loving wife, my family, a few friends and plenty of online buddies. :)

    Be well!

    JP

  5. Iggy Dalrymple Says:

    re (xanthohumol)in hops:
    When I read this report I ordered Zyflamend PM, which contains some of the stuff.

  6. JP Says:

    Iggy,

    Hops is often used to promote a restful night’s sleep. It’s sometimes combined with valerian root extract.

    http://www.healthyfellow.com/334/valerian-and-sleep-disorders/

    The sleep study that I recently announced will be utilizing an herbal tea containing hops.

    http://www.healthyfellow.com/409/herbal-tea-sleep-study/

    I hope Zyflamend PM works out well for you.

    Be well!

    JP

  7. Bill Rawls Says:

    Very entertaining and informative article, JP! I am nuts for nuts too! They are so convenient and delicious, plus the list of health benefits goes on and on..

  8. JP Says:

    Thanks, Bill! :)

    We just got back from a recent trip. We carried along almonds, pistachios and pumpkin seeds. Our luggage was much lighter on the way back! :)

    Be well!

    JP

  9. Zoleeta Says:

    Hi JP,

    Great, great article. Very entertaining. I have always been a ‘nut’ about nuts as well (as everyone else :P ). To read and learn more about their Healthy characteristics makes me smile :) . I’ll probably find some way to include the benefits of nuts some how in the Health IT blog that I write for :)

    Once again – great post.

  10. Iggy Dalrymple Says:

    Well JP, I took my 1st dose of Zyflamend PM last night and today my blood pressure was 90/53. You think there was a connection?
    My BP usually runs about 10 points higher.

  11. JP Says:

    Iggy,

    If you didn’t do anything else differently, then I think there could be a connection. Did you take 2 softgels with dinner – as directed on the package? If so, perhaps you could consider taking 1 instead? Sometimes it’s best to start slow and work up gradually.

    Be well!

    JP

  12. JP Says:

    Thanks, Zoleeta!

    Be well!

    JP

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