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Will decreasing carbs increase the chance of cancer?
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Judith J Wurtman, PhD posted:
A study just published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found a rather startling connection between eating a high annimal protein diet and death from cancer. Consider this before you decide between a hamburger and a tofu-burger: the 85,000 women and the 44,500 men who were followed for over two decades were more likely to develop colorectal and lung cancer and be heavier if they consumed protein and fat from animals ( butter, bacon, red meat) than if their diet was higher in carbohydrates such as rice and beans.

This study started about 26 years ago, before the Atkins and low carbohydrate diet craze seem to take over the country . Now due to the belief that weight loss is more effective when carbohydrate are eliminated, we might be seeing even more cancer in the future from meat and animal fat eating dieters.

Admittedly I have a bias toward carbohydrates since my MIT research showed years ago that because eating carbohydrates leads to more serotonin being produced in the brain, people eat these foods in order to feel better. And we also showed that eating carbohydrates turned on another function off serotonin; i.e. turning off the appetite. And all it took to turn on serotonin's activities was about 30 grams of carbohydrate, eaten without more than 1 or 2 grams of protein and very little fat.

Yet carbohydrates have been condemned because supposedly eating them causes diabetes, inflammation, high cholesterol etc. and of course weight gain.

The answer is of course to be sensible when eating carbs. No one, including Dean Ornish who has been promoting a high carbohydrate diet for decades would suggest that we dump hamburgers and substitute doughnuts for dinner. And when he and I talk about carbohydrates, we are talking about rice, and polenta( cornmeal) buckwheat, oatmeal, beans, potatoes, whole wheat pasta, and starchy squashes among others. We are eliminating carbohydrates that are high in animal fats cream, butter , eggs or cheese.

Many dieters or those watching their weight have denied themselves carbohydrates because they were told they would be healthier without them. But one cannot argue with the the results of this massive study.

So can we, please, now return to the eating the way Nature intended us to eat? We can have our baked potato or plate of pasta knowing not only that we will feel better but we will also be healthier.

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Did eliminating carbs from your diet make you feel
a) better
b) worse
c) no change
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Andie_WebMD_Staff responded:
I have to admit, carbs are my weakness. If it's true that we eat carbs to make ourselves feel better, than I must want to feel REALLY good. :)

Potatoes, rice, pasta...I have taken all these out of my diet for the last 3 weeks. While I did lose weight, there have been days where my energy level was rock bottom. So, I would say cutting carbs made me feel worse.

I keep waiting for that moment I'm going to say how great I feel without the carbs, but so far...I don't see that coming any time soon.
 
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Judith J Wurtman, PhD replied to Andie_WebMD_Staff's response:
Dear Andie, The good news is that cutting carbs may cause cancer and the better news is that eating carbs may improve your health. The reason you feel better eating carbs is that your brain makes the feel good chemical serotonin when you eat carbs. Years ago, I discovered that people 'self-medicate' themselves with carbs, usualy around 5 pm ( I am one of those) and when we published this research that came out of MIT, we dubbed these people" carbohydrate cravers'. So now eat your carbs and feel physically healthy and mentally happy. Just don't eat them with fat.
 
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Andie_WebMD_Staff replied to Judith J Wurtman, PhD's response:
Thanks, Dr. Wurtman. This is really good news to hear! Can you tell us why we wouldn't want to eat carbs with fat?

I'm curious as to why we (carb cravers) would self medicate at 5pm. I wonder if we are just tired by that time and looking for a quick fix or if it's more psychological and we are escaping the daily grind with a blast of serotonin. Do you think it has to do with energy levels have dropped by that time of day or is it something else?
 
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Judith J Wurtman, PhD replied to Andie_WebMD_Staff's response:
Dear Andie, Eliminating the fat from carb-rich food has two benefits. Obviously it eliminates calories but its elimination also speeds up digestion. If you are taking something to feel better you don't want to wait for the effect. Fat really slows down the process. Its like taking a pain reliever with a hgh fat food like cream. It will take much longer to work.
We found and published years ago a study in which we had volunteers snack from a vending machine rigged to a computer. They all snacked either between 3 and 5 pm or mid-evening and we learned from talking to them ( and then doing rigorous experiments later-on) that their need for the snack was linked to a real change in their mood. Later we found indirectly that serotonin levels seem to be less active before they snacked. . This meant less tolerance for stress of any kind, tiredness, lack of motivation, irritability , and even anger. As soon as they ate enough carbs to start the brain making serotonin they felt better. So it seems as if nature provided us with our own , safe, natural tranquilizer in the form of carbs.
Not everyone feels this way of course but if you look around at other cultures, you will see that many have a built in late afternoon snack time; from Argentina to England.
 
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emp01 replied to Judith J Wurtman, PhD's response:
I have noticed this craving when I get home from work and am preparing dinner. Obviously a danger zone to be hungry and frazzled while working with food! Can you suggest some small snacks that would be healthy and minimize the potential to over consume? Would drinking water help?
 
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BrianFL responded:
The answer to all of these diet fads / trends / studies is pretty easy, really:

Eat primarily the following foods: Whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, starches such as brown rice and sweet potatoes. This should encompass 90% of your diet. Eat limited eggs, dairy, cheese. Limit animal proteins in your diet, and what you do include in your diet should be organically raised / farmed fish and poultry. Limit beef intake to a minimum. Avoid processed meats especially. Limit refined carbohydrates,sugar,white flour, HFCS, trans fats and foods high in saturated fats to a minimium. Drink plenty of water, green or black tea, even coffee can be healthy in moderation. Eating berries, tomatoes, onions, some garlic and dark green leafy vegetables daily is ideal.
 
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justmejust replied to BrianFL's response:
BrianFL, you must be very healthy. How long have you been eating like that?
 
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BrianFL replied to justmejust's response:
Almost a year now! Dropped 25 lbs. like that, but I also excercise hard (as in staimster 3-4 miles 3-4x week!)

Actually, unfortunately, I have inherited some heart disease, and I have to have this lifestyle just to stay "even"!!
 
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poodski responded:
This is an unfair/incorrect poll, perhaps.

There is a difference between removing/reducing "unhealthy" carbs & all carbs. I chose the former. I eliminated all grains, legumes & white potatoes from my diet. I added animal proteins back (after 10 yrs as an ovo-lacto vegetarian). I have WAY more energy - no more afternoon "crashes"! I lost weight, lowered my blood pressure & improved my cholesterol numbers. I eat less often as I am full longer. I eliminated fake foods & processed items. My meals consist of combinations of meat, vegetables, berries, fruits, nuts & seeds. I eat/cook with only butter/ghee, olive oil, lard, coconut oil - all good healthy fats. I am healthier at 50 than anytime since I was @ 35 (or younger).
 
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PrimalXander responded:
Judith,

Would you be so kind as to link to the study you're citing, preferably the full version, if not at least an abstract? I find it's helpful to be an informed consumer of information like this.

I'd also suggest that simply because there is a correlation between the group that ate more animal products and those who got more cancer, does not necessarily mean that there is a cause and effect relationship between the two. Assuming that there is cause and effect there ignores the nearly infinite other factors that may not have been studied here, such as sugar consumption, vegetable and seed oil consumption, and overall fitness level.

I'm a person who has regained tremendous health by removing nearly all forms of starch and sugar from my diet. I get most of my energy (calories) from animal based fat and cold pressed olive oil, I get my protein almost exclusively from animal sources, and eat relatively little plant matter. I've lost and kept off over 80 pounds for more than 7 years. Long before I lost the weight, I started getting relief from knee pain I've had since I was a child. Also, I was so hypertensive when I was eating starches and sugars that a doctor who met me one time wanted to put me on medication, but my blood pressure is normal now. And to top it all off, an endocrinologist had indicated that I was probably headed for diabetes too given my fasting blood sugar counts.

My wife's experience with relief from pain has been similar. For most of the 11 years I've known her, she suffered with debilitating sciatic pain, but upon removing grains, sugar, and seed oils from her diet, her pain disappeared.

When I do eat starchy foods, I usually feel terrible and sluggish and all my body's aches and pains seem to come back at once.

I'd love to see the study you mention in this article to further understand what data the people conducting the study were looking at to make these conclusions. For now, I remain skeptical as to the cause and effect between meat consumption and cancer given the lack of concrete evidence and the massive improvement in health I've gained.

Thanks for keeping this discussion going Judith.

Alexander
 
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wrightc replied to PrimalXander's response:
You draw conclusions that are much farther reaching than can be implied from the study.

You say cancer and animal fat consumption are "connected." Does that simply mean correlated? As in people who eat a lot of animal fat also get more cancer? That in NO WAY implies causation. Perhaps the people who are eating a lot of animal fat are chowing down fast food multiple times a week. Which includes tons of sugar, grains and inflammatory vegetable fats that educated low carbers know to be extremely unhealthy.

All further conclusions that you make in the rest of your article hinge on this "connection," and you make the final conclusion that "one cannot argue with the results of this massive study."

No, one cannot argue with the results, but the conclusions made from those results are another issue altogether.
 
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wrightc responded:
You draw conclusions that are much farther reaching than can be implied from the study.

You say cancer and animal fat consumption are "connected." Does that simply mean correlated? As in people who eat a lot of animal fat also get more cancer? That in NO WAY implies causation. Perhaps the people who are eating a lot of animal fat are chowing down fast food multiple times a week. Which includes tons of sugar, grains and inflammatory vegetable fats that educated low carbers know to be extremely unhealthy.

All further conclusions that you make in the rest of your article hinge on this "connection," and you make the final conclusion that "one cannot argue with the results of this massive study."

No, one cannot argue with the results, but the conclusions made from those results are another issue altogether.
 
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wrightc replied to PrimalXander's response:
Sorry Primal Xander, that reply was for the article, not for you.
 
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wrightc replied to poodski's response:
sounds great!!

I can't believe how scared people are of eliminating grains, legumes and sugars. What's wrong with getting minimal carbohydrates from veggies, nuts and sometimes fruit?

Oh well, at least we will be healthy, young and fit for our entire lives. Perhaps people will finally listen when they ask us and want to know our "secret."


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