Doctor says 3 tablespoons of superfood reduces cancer risk – what does evidence say?
Dr Nighat discusses symptoms of prostate cancer
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Creating the website NutritionFacts.org, Dr Greger has been able to share his findings and provide advice for many individuals. One of the things that Dr Greger is passionate about is following a plant-based diet, going as far to say that following a plant-based diet can help prevent some serious chronic diseases.
Talking to Express.co.uk, the GP talked about how one specific grain could help to prevent prostate cancer.
Based on some of his own research, and the research of other professionals around the world, Dr Greger stated that flaxseed is regarded by many as healthy due to the simple fact that it is high in fibre.
Available today in the form of seeds, oils, powder, tablets, capsules and flour, the “functional food” has revolutionised those who try to stick to the best diets.
Medical News Today explains that flaxseed contains omega-3 fatty acids, which helps to prevent different types of cancer cells from growing, and lignans, which helps to slow tumour growth.
Dr Greger was able to provide insight into why this might be. He added: “Why flax seeds? Because, while these anti-cancer lignans are found throughout the plant kingdom, flax seeds have up to 800 times more than any other food.
“One study took a bunch of men with prostate cancer, about a month before they were scheduled for surgery to get their prostates removed, and started them on a relatively low-fat diet, with three tablespoons of ground flax seed, to see what effect that might have on the growth of their tumors.
“And, though they were skeptical that they would observe any difference in tumor biology, in the diet-treated patients with such a short-term dietary intervention, just within those few weeks, they found significantly lower cancer proliferation rates, and significantly higher rates of cancer cell death.
“The problem with such a study is that it was then compared to so-called historical controls, meaning that it was compared to the kind of cancer growth one typically sees in their situation—not to an actual, randomized, control group.
“But a few years later a study was finally published in which men could act as their own controls. These were men who had just got their prostates biopsied and were scheduled to get a repeat biopsy in six months time.
“And they did the same thing. After the first biopsy, they reduced the fat in their diet, and put them on ground flax seeds to see if it made their repeat biopsy look any different.
“These were men with what’s called PIN, which is like the prostate equivalent of ductal carcinoma in situ in the breast—an early stage of cancer. That’s why they were getting repeat biopsies, to make sure it wasn’t spreading.
“And, this is what they found. Significant drop in PSA levels, a drop in cholesterol, and, importantly, a significant decrease in the cellular proliferation rate.
“In fact, in two of the men, their PSA levels dropped so much, they didn’t even have to go through with the second biopsy at all.”
When challenged on the fact that flaxseed helps to reduce prostate cancer, Dr Greger admitted that there have been other studies that have shown no positive effect on prostate health, but hopes there will be continued research into the subject.
In his book How Not to Die, the doctor stated that eating a completely plant-based diet was able to cut down cancer growth.
Dr Greger believes that by lowering animal protein intake and following a plant-based diet, levels of Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), goes down, but IGF-1 binding protein goes up.
This is one way in which the body tries to protect itself from cancer, by releasing binding protein into our bloodstream, so the more the better.
The Mayo Clinic explains that research has found that eating lots of fuites, vegetables, nuts and whole grains has been linked with lower cancer rates, as plants produce phytochemicals that protect cells from damage.
Plant-based foods also boost fibre consumption and help people maintain a healthy weight, naturally leading to a healthier lifestyle. Yet, despite some evidence, more is needed to back up these initial theories.
However, the NHS states that following a plant-based diet can be dangerous if you do not plan correctly. Individuals need to make sure that they do not miss out on essential calcium, iron or vitamin B12, which you can get from meat and dairy produce.
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