Cancer and low-carb diet - your thoughts?

For the serious discussion of weighty matters and worldly issues. No off-topic posts allowed.

Moderators: Azrael, Prelates, Moderators General

Cancer and low-carb diet - your thoughts?

Postby brian0918 » Sun Jul 31, 2011 5:50 am UTC

What are your thoughts on the basic idea that, since rapidly-growing cancers require dietary sugar to thrive, simply removing the dietary sugar could help fight the spread of cancer throughout the body?

This might explain why cancer has exploded in prevalence in the last few decades, simultaneously with increased consumption of highly-refined (i.e. rapidly-digested, simple) carbohydrates. It might also explain why hunter-gatherer societies have much fewer occurrences of cancer, even after factoring for life expectancy (e.g. for female reproductive cancers). And when hunter gatherers are introduced to the western diet, they more frequently develop any of a variety of common western diseases (heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, etc.).
User avatar
brian0918
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Fri Oct 24, 2008 6:51 pm UTC

Re: Cancer and low-carb diet - your thoughts?

Postby Beardhammer » Sun Jul 31, 2011 7:10 am UTC

It's probably safe to assume that what we eat is responsible for a lot of the diseases that are pretty commonplace now - various forms of heart disease, diet-based diabetes, simple obesity, you name it. When you can look at the ingredients label and see high fructose corn syrup (basically liquid sugar that's cheaper than actual cane sugar) in almost fucking everything, it's not hard to figure out why.

Still, those are interesting articles. I personally don't think I could give up carbs entirely (I love bread and pasta), but it'd be a pretty significant discovery if it turns out that a low-carb/no-carb diet consistently aids in treating/preventing cancer.

But, again. I like bread, beer, and Captain Crunch, so I'll take my chances ;)
Beardhammer
 
Posts: 569
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 4:40 am UTC

Re: Cancer and low-carb diet - your thoughts?

Postby Thesh » Sun Jul 31, 2011 7:41 am UTC

I'm no nutritionist, but if you don't get sugar directly from foods, doesn't your body convert fats and protein into glucose?

Anyway, I'm guessing the primary cause for the increase of cancer is both an increase in diagnosis (not all cancer spreads, so unless you get checkups you might not ever develop symptoms, it's a small chance but could be statistically significant) and an increase in life expectancy (Cancer risk increases significantly with age).

Of course, I'm no doctor either, so what do I know?
Deceiving appearance, they're dressed up as gods.
Fake that they care, their conscience is lost.
Denial their craft and riots our goal.
They lead those who follow and break those who fall.
User avatar
Thesh
Has the Brain Worms, In Case You Forgot.
 
Posts: 3688
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 1:55 am UTC
Location: California, Southern USA

Re: Cancer and low-carb diet - your thoughts?

Postby aoeu » Sun Jul 31, 2011 9:23 am UTC

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cancer#Diet_and_exercise

"Diets that are low in vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and high in processed or red meats are linked with a number of cancers."
Doesn't sound like sugar causes cancer.
aoeu
 
Posts: 309
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 4:58 pm UTC

Re: Cancer and low-carb diet - your thoughts?

Postby Ulc » Sun Jul 31, 2011 10:02 am UTC

brian0918 wrote: since rapidly-growing cancers require dietary sugar to thrive


So does every single cell in your entire body.

Nutrition is important for cancer yes, but not in the simple sense that you're proposing. And a important part of why hunter-gatherer societies has lower instances of cancer is that they do not live as long - cancer is primarily a disease that hits late in life, so if you're living a life where you're unlikely to reach 50 years of age, you're a lot less likely to develop cancer.
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it - Aristotle

A White Russian, shades and a bathrobe, what more can you want from life?
User avatar
Ulc
 
Posts: 1303
Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2009 8:05 pm UTC
Location: Copenhagen university

Re: Cancer and low-carb diet - your thoughts?

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Aug 01, 2011 5:04 am UTC

Sounds like just a marketing gimmick for diet books using Insane Troll Logic. Cancer cells also need oxygen and water, but I wouldn't recommend restricting those as well.

However, there is something to be said about body mass. Every additional cell you have in your body is another potential source of cancer. So, yeah, going on a diet and staying lean, keeping your metabolism lower, and so forth, probably affects the chance of getting cancer.
User avatar
CorruptUser
 
Posts: 6794
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2009 10:12 pm UTC

Re: Cancer and low-carb diet - your thoughts?

Postby mmmcannibalism » Mon Aug 01, 2011 5:56 am UTC

Ulc wrote:
brian0918 wrote: since rapidly-growing cancers require dietary sugar to thrive


So does every single cell in your entire body.

Nutrition is important for cancer yes, but not in the simple sense that you're proposing. And a important part of why hunter-gatherer societies has lower instances of cancer is that they do not live as long - cancer is primarily a disease that hits late in life, so if you're living a life where you're unlikely to reach 50 years of age, you're a lot less likely to develop cancer.


Extension on this point; does anyone have information about general health* and cancer occurences**? For instance, is someone who was 5th percentile for physical strength more likely to get cancer. I ask because I imagine a hunter gatherer society while having a shorter lifespan also probably has a vastly lower lifespan for the unhealthy.

*things such as immune system strength, physical health etc.

**in part I'm speculating that having health problems may have a slight correlation with cancer occurences later.
Izawwlgood wrote:I for one would happily live on an island as a fuzzy seal-human.

Oregonaut wrote:Damn fetuses and their terroist plots.
User avatar
mmmcannibalism
 
Posts: 2151
Joined: Tue Jun 30, 2009 6:16 am UTC

Re: Cancer and low-carb diet - your thoughts?

Postby jarvisknocker » Mon Aug 01, 2011 6:13 am UTC

Cancers occur due to mutations in a cell that allow it to proliferate more rapidly than normal cells, who both self-regulate and respond to neighbouring cells.

The hypothesis that a diet high in simple sugars causing cancers is interesting, but I'd imagine a little bit of an oversimplification. Diabetes is a disorder
where the body has excessively high amounts of glucose in the blood. If the hypothesis that an individual who consumes alot of simple sugars increases their risk
of cancer, then it would follow that individuals with Type II Diabetes Mellitus would have a higher risk of developing cancer.

This has not been borne out in studies of diabetics.
jarvisknocker
 
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Jul 30, 2011 11:03 am UTC

Re: Cancer and low-carb diet - your thoughts?

Postby DSenette » Mon Aug 01, 2011 6:58 pm UTC

not that i agree with the concept, but i think the OP's stance is that reducing carb intake would slow/prevent the spread of cancer you already have, not prevent you from getting it to begin with.

which, i don't know the statistics but, do diabetics tend to have faster spreading types of cancer? or when they have the same type of cancer as a non-diabetic, does it spread faster?
The Righteous Hand Of Retribution
"The evaporation of 4 million who believe this crap would leave the world an instantly better place." ~Andre Codresu (re: "the Rapture")
DSenette
 
Posts: 2274
Joined: Fri Mar 06, 2009 8:08 pm UTC

Re: Cancer and low-carb diet - your thoughts?

Postby Angua » Mon Aug 01, 2011 8:11 pm UTC

The papers on the subject seem to show that diabetic patients have a higher rate of general mortality with cancer, but a lower rate of metastasis. Personally, I don't think the you'd be able to keep your blood sugar lower than normal (unless you have specific problems), as your body just makes sugar to keep levels up. Diabetes causes a bunch of other problems (like with vascularisation) so I'm not sure whether the fact that you die faster with diabetes is anything more than having general decreased function of the body, so you can't compensate for the function being lost due to the cancer occupying space. (eg if your kidneys are already at 75% function, and then the tumour occupied 50% of them, then you only have 30 something % function rather than 50%).

protective aspects of diabetes http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/167/5/513
increase mortality http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/300/23/2754.short
“When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.” - Mark Twain
User avatar
Angua
Don't call her Delphine
 
Posts: 4078
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 12:42 pm UTC
Location: UK/[St. Kitts and] Nevis Occasionally, I migrate to the US for a bit

Re: Cancer and low-carb diet - your thoughts?

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Aug 01, 2011 8:35 pm UTC

Low carb diets have been associated with longevity for reasons that have nothing to do with cancer.

There are diets that have been shown to reduce your risk of forming certain types of cancers, but they have nothing to do with calorie restriction. For example, macro diets are basically simple carbs and veggies.
How many are the enemy, but where are they? Within, without, never ceases the fight.
User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
 
Posts: 16839
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: Cancer and low-carb diet - your thoughts?

Postby Plasma Man » Thu Aug 04, 2011 12:47 pm UTC

There is some evidence to suggest that caloric restriction can decrease the risk of getting cancer, at least in some primates. Personally, I'd wait until there's more research before adopting it, not least because of the difficulty of actually adhering to the idea.
Please note that despite the lovely avatar Sungura gave me, I am not a medical doctor.

Possibly my proudest moment on the fora.
User avatar
Plasma Man
 
Posts: 2029
Joined: Tue Jan 15, 2008 9:27 am UTC
Location: Northampton, Northampton, Northampton middle England.

Re: Cancer and low-carb diet - your thoughts?

Postby vikingdave » Tue Nov 22, 2011 12:31 pm UTC

The guy who first described why cancer cells need carb won the Nobel Medicine prize (Prof. Otto Warburg, 1931) He showed that cancer cells can get their energy only from carbohydrate whilst normal cells can utilse both carb and fat for energy. This observation is used every day all over the world to diagnose cancer using PET scans (that are based on injecting "radioactive" carb and scanning for hotspots which indicate cancer cells as they are 30 times more effective in grabbing the carb than normal cells).
The difference in carbohydrate metabolism between cancer cells and normal cells has been further demonstrated by another German group who showed that a special enzyme called TKTL1 was responsible for cancer cells' dependence on carbohydrate.(Br. J. Cancer 2006)
The logical conclusion of cancer cells depending on carb for their energy and survival is to reduce carb intake (as in the Atkin's diet) and at the same time increasing fat in the diet to enable normal cells to get their energy requirements.
For further information check internet for low carbo diet + cancer
vikingdave
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2011 12:13 pm UTC

Re: Cancer and low-carb diet - your thoughts?

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Nov 23, 2011 7:57 am UTC

Does decreasing your metabolism decrease the rate at which cells split? That would probably slow the growth of cancers.
User avatar
CorruptUser
 
Posts: 6794
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2009 10:12 pm UTC

Re: Cancer and low-carb diet - your thoughts?

Postby Angua » Wed Nov 23, 2011 11:28 am UTC

vikingdave wrote:The guy who first described why cancer cells need carb won the Nobel Medicine prize (Prof. Otto Warburg, 1931) He showed that cancer cells can get their energy only from carbohydrate whilst normal cells can utilse both carb and fat for energy. This observation is used every day all over the world to diagnose cancer using PET scans (that are based on injecting "radioactive" carb and scanning for hotspots which indicate cancer cells as they are 30 times more effective in grabbing the carb than normal cells).
The difference in carbohydrate metabolism between cancer cells and normal cells has been further demonstrated by another German group who showed that a special enzyme called TKTL1 was responsible for cancer cells' dependence on carbohydrate.(Br. J. Cancer 2006)
The logical conclusion of cancer cells depending on carb for their energy and survival is to reduce carb intake (as in the Atkin's diet) and at the same time increasing fat in the diet to enable normal cells to get their energy requirements.
For further information check internet for low carbo diet + cancer

Um, you are a bit misinformed in why PET's work - yes, cancer cells use more energy, so therefore have a higher sugar uptake and so will accumulate labelled-glucose molecules, however so do other cells with high activity (if you look at a PET, you'll see that the brain and liver are generally glowing too) - the trick lies in knowing what the normal pattern looks like (also, the Warburg effect is basically the idea that cancer cells use glycolysis a lot - not the mechanism by which it happens). TKTL1 does help them use glycolysis faster, but I don't see anything about cancer cells being solely dependent on glucose as a substrate - and as you need fats for cell structure and signalling as well, I can't believe that they completely lack the mechanisms for using it.

I also can not find any evidence of trials which use a low carb diet to treat cancer on google scholar (hint - use that instead of the internet to actually get the science stuff).
“When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.” - Mark Twain
User avatar
Angua
Don't call her Delphine
 
Posts: 4078
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 12:42 pm UTC
Location: UK/[St. Kitts and] Nevis Occasionally, I migrate to the US for a bit

Re: Cancer and low-carb diet - your thoughts?

Postby Minerva » Fri Nov 25, 2011 6:06 am UTC

How similar is this to notorious quack cancer "therapies" that are diet-oriented, such as the Gerson quackery?

Here's a straightforward question to ask.

Where are the publications that have been submitted and peer-reviewed and accepted and published in the peer-reviewed scientific journals?

Let's look for those, see how many there are, where they're published, and what they say.

If this stuff is only getting published in Time magazine and not in peer-reviewed journals then your classic quackery-detector alarm bells should start going off.
...suffer from the computer disease that anybody who works with computers now knows about. It's a very serious disease and it interferes completely with the work. The trouble with computers is you play with them. They are so wonderful. - Richard Feynman
User avatar
Minerva
 
Posts: 920
Joined: Sat Nov 11, 2006 2:58 pm UTC
Location: Australia

Re: Cancer and low-carb diet - your thoughts?

Postby vikingdave » Wed Dec 28, 2011 12:40 pm UTC

Publications such as B.J.Cancer Vol.94 No.4 Feb. 2006, J.Am.Coll. Nutr. 14:202-208 (1995). Nutr. & Metab. 2010,7:33, B.J. Cancer 1987 56 (1) 39-43,
Clin.Lab.2005, 51:257 - 273; Nature reviews Cancer 2004, Vol.4, 891 -899; Perspect. Med. Chem. 2007; 1: 64-82, BMC Cancer 2008, 8: 1-12; Nutr. & Metab. 2011,
8:54; Nutr. & Metab.2011, 8:75; J.Exp. & Clin. Cancer Research 2009, 28:43; Cancer Biol. Ther. 2010, May 8, 9 (9); Clin. Cancer Research 2010 Feb. 1:16 (3): 857-866; Int. J. Cancer 2009 Mar. 15: 124 (6):1330 -7; Diag. Path. 2008 Aug. 12,3:35; Am.J. Clin.Path. 2008 Jul. 130 (1):50-57; J.Obstet. Gyn. Res. 2008 June 34 (3) 293-300
There are many more references!
Vikingdave
vikingdave
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2011 12:13 pm UTC

Re: Cancer and low-carb diet - your thoughts?

Postby qetzal » Wed Dec 28, 2011 7:04 pm UTC

brian0918 wrote:This might explain why cancer has exploded in prevalence in the last few decades, simultaneously with increased consumption of highly-refined (i.e. rapidly-digested, simple) carbohydrates.


Actually, the US incidence* of all cancers combined was 400 new cases per 100,000 people in 1975. That number peaked at 511 in 1992, and has since fallen to 474 in 2008 (source). I wouldn't call that an explosion.

Of course, that doesn't rule out a possible cancer-promoting effect of high-sugar diets. But given the numbers, I think it's unlikely to be a major causitive factor.

*Prevalence isn't a relevant measure here. It's the total number or percentage of people with cancer at any given time. If people with cancer are surviving longer (which they are), then prevalence will increase even if incidence (number or rate of new cases per year) isn't changing.
qetzal
 
Posts: 786
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 12:54 pm UTC

Re: Cancer and low-carb diet - your thoughts?

Postby . . » Tue Jan 24, 2012 1:31 am UTC

brian0918 wrote:What are your thoughts on the basic idea that, since rapidly-growing cancers require dietary sugar to thrive, simply removing the dietary sugar could help fight the spread of cancer throughout the body?

This might explain why cancer has exploded in prevalence in the last few decades, simultaneously with increased consumption of highly-refined (i.e. rapidly-digested, simple) carbohydrates. It might also explain why hunter-gatherer societies have much fewer occurrences of cancer, even after factoring for life expectancy (e.g. for female reproductive cancers). And when hunter gatherers are introduced to the western diet, they more frequently develop any of a variety of common western diseases (heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, etc.).


I have three thoughts I'd like to share on the matter.

The first pertains to people who are simply dismissing low-carb diets as a fad. Even 10 years ago low-carb diets were viewed as fads; just look at the "food pyramid!" Diets like Atkins were viewed as unsustainable and potentially dangerous, and indeed diets high in trans and to a lesser extent saturated fats do seem to be very bad for one's health. However, research seems to be showing more and more that carbohydrate restriction can have very significant health benefits. The book Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes is an excellent, if one-sided, look at how diets high in carbohydrates have significant associated health risks and how foods high in fat may not be as dangerous as once supposed.

My second thought regards what "low-carb" diet means. A few posts are suggesting that "low-carb" means "low-sugar." While this is true, it doesn't take the whole picture into account. "Low-carb" diets do emphasize that simple sugars are bad, but everybody knows sugar is no good! The thing that sets low-carb diets apart is that they stress reducing starchy foods, particularly potatoes, wheat, and rice. This is because the goal of many low-carb diets is to keep insulin and blood glucose under control rather than restrict calories. To somebody on a low carb diet, bread and potatoes are actually worse than sucrose, because they have a higher glycemic index, meaning they cause a higher spike in blood sugar and therefore trigger a greater release of insulin.

My final thought is very specific to the original post. If you are asking about our thoughts regarding low-carb diets and cancer because you know of somebody who has cancer, I recommend talking to somebody within your health care team who knows about nutrition and cancer if at all possible. Just because new research is showing that low-carb diets have many benefits doesn't mean these diets may not also have drawbacks or uncertainties. Every person is different and it takes training and specialized knowledge to sort out what works best for a specific person.

I don't follow a low-carb diet myself... I just love sweets way too much. Personally, I'm interested in how recent findings regarding the endocrinology of adipose tissue are related to carbohydrate restriction.
. .
 
Posts: 34
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 1:37 am UTC

Re: Cancer and low-carb diet - your thoughts?

Postby pwn_thyself » Sat Apr 28, 2012 3:13 am UTC

So this is my first post and of course, I'm gonna dive right into cancer and serious business- i hope that my response to this thread is on topic enough to stay.

I'm fortunate to have several cancer survivors in the family, two of whom are gluten intolerant and have spent much of their lives eating far fewer carbs than the average diet. As far as we can tell, this has not had a significant effect on their cancer's beginning, or the courses that the cancers ran.

the arguments thus far in this thread have left me intrigued but undecided.

a far clearer path to living w/o cancer, in my mind, may come from Paul Stamets and his research into Turkey Tail Mushroom. Dr. Stamets' mother fought off stage 4 breast cancer, in part, aided by this wonderful bit of nature. Please google him and check him out to see for yourself. (i would link you to some videos and white papers but i don't know how :oops: so google is our friend (unless it isn't, but i see that is a different thread)
pwn_thyself
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Apr 28, 2012 2:51 am UTC


Return to Serious Business

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: mosc, Yahoo [Bot] and 11 guests