Diet may influence the spread of a deadly type of breast cancer, study finds

Diet may influence the spread of a deadly type of breast cancer, study finds
Three-dimensional cell culture of breast cancer cells.

A single protein building block commonly found in food may hold a key to preventing the spread of an often-deadly type of breast cancer, according to a new multicenter study published today in the medical journal Nature.

Investigators found that by limiting an amino acid called asparagine in laboratory mice with triple-negative breast cancer, they could dramatically reduce the ability of the cancer to travel to distant sites in the body. Among other techniques, the team used dietary restrictions to limit asparagine.

Foods rich in asparagine include dairy, whey, beef, poultry, eggs, fish, seafood, asparagus, potatoes, legumes, nuts, seeds, soy and whole grains. Foods low in asparagine include most fruits and vegetables.

“Our study adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests diet can influence the course of the disease,” said Simon Knott, PhD, associate director of the Center for Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics at Cedars-Sinai and one of two first authors of the study. The research was conducted at more than a dozen institutions.

If further research confirms the findings in human cells, limiting the amount of asparagine cancer patients ingest could be a potential strategy to augment existing therapies and to prevent the spread of breast cancer, Knott added.

The researchers studied triple-negative breast cancer cells, which grow and spread faster than most other types of cancer cells. It is called triple negative because it lacks receptors for the hormones estrogen and progesterone and makes little of a protein called HER2. As a result, it resists common treatments—which target these factors and has a higher-than-average mortality rate.

Research from past studies found that most tumor cells remain in the primary breast site, but a subset of cells leaves the breast and enters the bloodstream. Those cells colonize in the lungs, brain and liver, where they proliferate. The study team wanted to understand the particular traits of the tumor cells circulating in the blood and in the sites where the cancer has spread.

The researchers discovered that the appearance of asparagine synthetase—the enzyme cells used to make asparagine—in a primary tumor was strongly associated with later cancer spread.

The researchers also found that metastasis was greatly limited by reducing asparagine synthetase, treatment with the chemotherapy drug L-asparaginase, or dietary restriction. When the lab mice were given food rich in asparagine, the cancer cells spread more rapidly.

“The study results are extremely suggestive that changes in diet might impact both how an individual responds to primary therapy and their chances of lethal disease spreading later in life,” said the study’s senior author, Gregory J. Hannon, PhD, professor of Cancer Molecular Biology and director, Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, University of Cambridge in England.

Investigators now are considering conducting an early-phase clinical trial in which healthy participants would consume a low-asparagine diet. If the diet results in decreased levels of asparagine, the next scientific step would involve a clinical trial with cancer patients. That trial likely would employ dietary restrictions as well as chemotherapy and immunotherapy, Knott said.

Studying the effects of asparagine also could alter treatments for other types of cancer, investigators say.

“This study may have implications not only for breast cancer, but for many metastatic cancers,” said Ravi Thadhani, MD, MPH, vice dean, Research and Graduate Research Education, at Cedars-Sinai.

Irish Study Finds Those Eating More Dairy Are Skinnier and Don’t Have Higher Cholesterol

But is it too good to be true?


A new study brings good news to those who love dairy – the results found those who ate more dairy on average (even high fat dairy products) had lower body fat percentages, and lower BMIs.

The research is counter-intuitive to what we all learn – higher fat dairy products such as butter, cheese, and cream are high in saturated fats and should be eaten as ‘sometimes foods‘ if you want to be healthy.

Plus, having too much LDL cholesterol in your blood increases the risk of heart disease and heart attacks – around 10,000 Irish people die from those diseases every year and the rates are similar around the world.

But this new research, undertaken by the University of Dublin, Ireland, shows that cheese and other high fat dairy products might not be the culprit.

“What we saw was that in the high consumers [of cheese] they had a significantly higher intake of saturated fat than the non-consumers and the low consumers and yet there was no difference in their LDL Cholesterol levels,” said Emma Feeney, the lead researcher on the paper.

The study looked at 1,500 people in Ireland between 18 and 90-years-old over a four-day period.

The researchers looked at their level of dairy intake on those days, what type of dairy they were consuming, and whether it was low fat or full fat options.

“‘High’ consumers of total dairy, after adjustment for energy intake, gender, age, social class and smoking, had significantly lower BMI and percentage body fat, a lower waist circumference, and a higher insulin sensitivity score compared with ‘low’ consumers,” the researchers write in their paper.


The researchers also found that although those who consumed the most yogurt had the lowest body fat, the highest consumers of cheese didn’t have any differences in markers for metabolic health.

But as the cherry on the cake the researchers found that total cholesterol was “lower in the ‘Whole milk’ and ‘Butter and cream’ clusters than in the ‘Reduced milk and yogurt’ cluster”.

That means that those consuming the lower fat versions of their favourite dairy products had higher cholesterol.

So what the hell is going on here? Is it just the luck of the Irish, or should we all start sculling full cream milk and cheese for our health?

Well, probably not – but the truth is it’s really damn complicated.

Correlation doesn’t equal causation – so we might find that those eating lower-fat foods might also be eating something else that causes them to have higher cholesterol.

Plus the researchers had the participants keep food diaries, meaning that there was no real way to tell if foods could have been missed or excluded – and food diaries tend to make people change their eating habits.

And finally food science is incredibly complex – scientists are still not sure if fasting is the way to go, or if gluten free food increases your risk of diabetes.

“We have to consider not just the nutrients themselves but also the matrix in which we are eating them in and what the overall dietary pattern is, so not just about the food then, but the pattern of other foods we eat with them as well,” said Feeney.

So right now the jury is out. Scientists will need more studies over longer time frames and with more diverse groups to be able to get a better picture of exactly what is happening when we enjoy cheddar or some butter on our toast.

But for the moment, lets savour this, and enjoy a wedge of brie or gouda without feeling too guilty.

How to Accurately Tell If You’re Sensitive to Gluten, Dairy, or Any Food Without a Blood Test

Gluten-free (GF) is a catchy fad that has become more popular over the last year or so. You’ve probably seen expensive gluten-free options at restaurants, grocery stores and bakeries. But is that all it is? Is it just a fad?

If you don’t have Celiac disease or a known gluten sensitivity you may be scratching your head asking,

“What’s the big deal?”

Gluten is a protein found in grains such as:

  • Wheat
  • Couscous
  • Spelt
  • Rye
  • Durum
  • Udon
  • Barley
  • Graham
  • Semolina
  • Bran
  • Orzo
  • Panko
  • Bulgur
  • Possibly oats (due to cross-contamination)

Gluten intolerance vs. sensitivity

Gluten intolerance affects people who lack the enzymes required to break down the gluten protein, such as kumamolisin-As. Research is still being done to fully understand which enzymes are lacking and potential treatments.

The most common symptoms are explosive diarrhea, excessive gas, low energy and fatigue,dehydration, and/or malnutrition.If ingested by a person with a gluten sensitivity or intolerance, it results in an inflammatory response which damages the intestinal lining of the gut leading to malabsorption of other nutrients (aka. Leaky Gut Syndrome- see more below).

Gluten sensitivity is a delayed hypersensitivity immune response (IgG) occurs when a sensitized person repeatedly eats gluten over a short period of time. The effects progress more gradually and are non-specific and often dose-dependent.

Symptoms can vary from migraines, to cognitive ‘brain fog’, to behavioural difficulties in children with ADHD, to chronic digestive concerns (constipation, diarrhea, excessive gas, IBSIBD), to skin issues (acne, eczema, atopic dermatitis), to low energy, weight gain, water retention and joint pain.

Testing for gluten sensitivities measures for an immune system antibody called IgG.

  • In vivo (in/on the body) – muscle testing or energetic tests
  • In vitro (in a lab) – IgG blood sample with finger prick

Muscle testing, applied kinesiology, and energetic tests are controversial. The idea is that the patient holds a vial of a food antigen and the body will weaken in strength if there is a sensitivity. Physical strength is manually tested by the practitioner, which offers a level of bias (conscious and unconscious). There are also various energetic tests that measure a person’s response to the potential food trigger, gluten.

I also have issues with the current IgG tests and often find them to be unreliable. I know colleagues who have sent in multiple tests of the same blood sample to different lab companies and even the same labs with varying results. Some patients have even shown to be highly sensitive to foods they have never eaten before.

Until IgG tests become more accurate and reproducible, I still prefer taking a more practical approach to identifying potential food sensitivities with the hypo-allergenic diet (we’ll take a closer look at this test later in the article).

Celiac disease varies from a gluten sensitivity like an anaphylactic bee sting to a mild mosquito bite. To diagnoses celiac disease, a combination the following tests are commonly performed:

  • Anti-tissue transglutaminase (tTG- IgA)
  • Anti-endomysial antibody (EMA- IgA)
  • Anti-gliadin antibody (AGA- IgA)
  • Deamidated gliadin peptide antibody (DGP- IgA)
  • with a possible endoscopic biopsy of injured tissues

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition of the small intestine. In celiac disease, there is both an inflammatory conditions and a loss of microvilli in a portion of the small intestine.

The loss of microvilli disrupts the mucosal cells and allows large molecules (ie. food) to pass through the tightly packed cells of the mucosal lining and into the blood stream where antibodies will be created to these ‘foreign bodies’. This is the same result as leaky gut syndrome. Now that the body has created ‘food antibodies’, the next time you ingest that food you will have an IgG response.

Sometimes food particles have similar structures as molecules in your body and the antibodies can start to attack your own cells. This is called autoimmunity and can take on many different forms, such as:

Where Else is Gluten Found?

Although usually found in grains, gluten is also used as a “filler” in many processed foods, seasonings, flavourings and products, such as:

  • Ales, beer, brown rice syrup, candies, deli meats, broth, sauces, imitation meats, marinades, lipsticks, and balms.

Malt, a popular substance used in candies and beverages has gluten. Caramel colouring and caramel also contain gluten. Wheat flour (glutinous) is found in many things from soy sauce and soups to condiments such as mustard, so reading labels are very important.

Supplements also may contain gluten as fillers or in the coating of their capsules. Read all medicinal and non-medicinal labels carefully.

What are Gluten-Free Foods?

The following types of flours are gluten-free:

  • Amaranth
  • Corn meal
  • Quinoa
  • Arrowroot
  • Cornstarch
  • Rice bran
  • Buckwheat
  • Flax
  • Tapioca
  • Corn bran
  • Millet
  • Potatoes
  • Corn flour
  • Soy (but be cautious of wheat additives in soya sauce)
  • Legumes (bean, chickpea, garfava, lentil and pea)

Where to find gluten-free products?Organic versions of soy sauce and soups (easily found in the grocery store) are usually gluten free (but read your labels).

Since gluten sensitivity and Celiac disease is becoming more common, it is much easier to find gluten-free products. Yes, health food stores have the best variety in products, but they can be expensive.

  • Gluten-free options can be found in the health food aisle or in the frozen food section (as many of the products are frozen) of any supermarket and even in Wal-mart.
  • Bob’s Red Mill products carry every type of gluten-free flour and baking mix, and can be found in the baked goods aisle (which all the flour and sugar) of most supermarkets.
  • The Bulk Barn also sells gluten-free flours, baked good mixes, pancake mixes and even powered soup mixes.
  • But remember, just because something is gluten-free, doesn’t mean it is healthy. These two terms are not synonymous. Many gluten-free products substitute with other products that may not agree with your digestive system (ie. egg, dairy, soy, corn) or be supportive to your health.

How to Cook Gluten-free

Below are some great websites for gluten-free recipes. Also look at paleo meals, which are wheat-free.

For information on which restaurants provide gluten-free options:

Best Options for Gluten-Free Food


Asian Styled Restaurants

  • Sushi – Avoid tempura and bring your own soy sauce.
  • Indian Food – Rice and vegetable dishes (paneer does contain dairy).
  • Korean Barbecue
  • Noodle Houses – Noodle bowls contain broths and rice noodles.
  • Chinese food – Rice and vegetables (note: be wary and ask questions as a lot of thickeners with gluten are used as sauces).


  • Greek – Souvalaki, rice, greek salad, potatoes (avoid baklafa and spanikopita as phylo pastry paper contains gluten.
  • Fish (any kind)
  • Steak House – Meat, chicken or fish with baked potato or vegetable (avoid mashed potatoes as they are thickened with cream and flour).

Organic Restaurants

Fresh – Contains organic food and a large amount of gluten-free and dairy-free options.

Organic Food Restaurants are more used to catering to individuals with gluten and dairy sensitivities, hence why they have more options.

How to Test Yourself For Food Sensitivities, at Home and For FREE?

The Hypo-Allergenic Diet is a great tool that I use with my patients to test for all food sensitivities, including gluten.

I completed my first hypo-allergenic diet in my 3rd year of medical school. It was challenging but insightful. Never in a million years would I have guessed a major food sensitivity to be SOY.

Being Chinese, my family is used to eating a lot of soy products: soya sauce, tofu, fermented bean curd, edamame, miso, soya nuts, soya milk. I knew that I was sensitive to cow dairy and when I switched from cow milk to soy milk I was still experiencing bloating, gas, stomach pains, and fatigue. It seems obvious looking back now, but at the time I never imagined someone with a Chinese background could have difficulties ingesting soy.

Hypo-Allergenic is also known as Oligoantigenic or Elimination diet.

This means that we avoid eating the most common ingredients that cause people inflammation and digestive issues. IT IS NOT A DIET TO LOSE WEIGHT. It should be viewed more as a food sensitivity TEST.

The top 5 food offenders include:

  1. Wheat
  2. Dairy
  3. Corn
  4. Soy
  5. Eggs

Note that some of the foods on the list are very nutritious, so if you are not sensitive to the food, bring them back into your diet (ie. eggs).

Also remember, many non-gluten foods may not be healthy. Just because they remove those ingredients does not mean they haven’t replaced them with other poorer quality ingredients.

Try and stay away from packaged, canned, processed and deep fried foods. And be cautious of dehydrated and dried foods for they often contain added sugars and preservatives. Raw and fresh is often your best bet for optimal health.

A thorough elimination and re-introduction is not easy, which makes the IgG blood tests more appealing to many. The hypo-allergenic diet takes 6-8 weeks to fully complete with lots of meal planning and having the people you live with (and possibly cook for) on board. If a full hypo-allergenic diet is not plausible for you at this time, you can modify the test by eliminating one food at a time, for example gluten.

Watch the video. URL:

How an Anti-Inflammatory Diet Can Relieve Pain as You Age

If you suffer from chronic pain, experts say a diet makeover with a focus on vegetables can have a dramatic effect.

Patients who follow strict vegan or Mediterranean diets have seen a complete turnaround in their pain symptoms, according to pain management specialist William Welches, DO.  He says getting regular exercise, controlling stress and eating healthy foods all work together to reduce inflammation and chronic pain.

“Research shows that diet should be an integral part of a pain management program — especially as patients age,” says Dr. Welches. “A vegan or Mediterranean diet — or healthier eating inspired by these diets — can control insulin and cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation — which is the pain culprit.”


Painful inflammation is body’s response to toxins

Inflammation is the body’s immune response to toxins as it works to “purify” itself. The resulting inflammation not only causes pain in the body. Over time, it also can trigger chronic diseases, such as heart disease and strokes, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and even depression.

There are many ways to treat and manage chronic pain. One of the most exciting approaches, however — because it is all natural — is adopting an anti-inflammatory diet. The other options for pain don’t always work. Many patients don’t benefit from neural (nerve) blocks, and medication therapy often leads to undesired side effects.

An anti-inflammatory diet, however, often eliminates the unpleasant side effects of some medications that cause fogginess, memory loss and sleepiness.

“Following an anti-inflammatory diet is powerful therapy for pain control with many beneficial side effects,” Dr. Welches says. “The anti-inflammatory diet is considered an integrative approach to pain management, along with exercise, stress management, osteopathic manipulation therapy and acupuncture.”

A good amount of research also shows that an anti-inflammatory diet can ease fibromyalgia and chronic pain symptoms.

The three diet basics you need to know

Dr. Welches advocates the following three basic diet guidelines, noting that physicians should encourage all of their patients to consider them:

  1. Eat the rainbow: Consume eight to nine servings of vegetables each day — make a couple of those servings fruit, if you like. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower are best.
  2. Restrict dairy and grains: Eat dairy products in limited quantities. When choosing grains, stay away from simple carbohydrates with refined sugar. Opt for whole grains, including barley, buckwheat, oats, quinoa, brown rice, rye, spelt and wheat.
  3. Avoid red meat: Eat red meat the way most of us eat turkey right now — twice a year, Dr. Welches says. Have it on very special occasions, very infrequently. Instead, include fish as the “meat” or eat vegetarian main dishes. Chicken is neutral — not harmful but not beneficial in the anti-inflammatory sense.

How an Anti-Inflammatory Diet Can Relieve Pain as You Age

Take these additional steps to enhance your results

To make your diet part of an integrative lifestyle built to reduce chronic pain and reduce or eliminate inflammation, Dr. Welches recommends these additional priorities:

  • Get down to your ideal weight; weight loss on its own is anti-inflammatory.
  • Get daily exercise in the form of walking.
  • Manage stress.

It is the diet, not the individual foods, that control inflammation, he says.

“For a chronic pain patient who is suffering, I recommend the extreme form of the diet — so that is no red meat, no flour or sugar or simple carbohydrate and no dairy,” he says.

Exercise is an added benefit, particularly if people are overweight. “If there is any extra weight, you will need to lose it,” he says.

Ultimately, what you need to know is that inflammation comes from a biochemical reaction initiated by your immune system or wound-healing coagulation system, Dr. Welches says.

Specific foods can promote or shut down the inflammatory cycle. For instance, simple carbohydrates promote it, while vegetables shut it down.

“Nutrition that supports a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods is the key to anti-inflammation and chronic pain management,” Dr. Welches says. “Although there are no magic foods, putting the right combination of foods into your diet can produce remarkable results.”

10 Things You Should Know About Raw Milk.

In recent years, there’s been a crackdown on small dairies producing raw milk, designed as an obstacle to the growing legions of consumers demanding healthier and more flavorful milk. Raw milk has been deemed “unfit” for human consumption by the FDA and other government sting operations, and the public propagandized into fearing it. According to some fear-mongers, for example, raw milk causes rabies.

David Gumpert, author of popular blog The Complete Patient and forthcoming book Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights (Chelsea Green, Oct 2009), asks an important question: How much of the fear-mongering from the pro-pasteurization people is real, and how much is propaganda from Big Agribusiness? Gumpert says the anti-raw-milk campaign is just another governmental technique to sanitize the food supply—even in the face of ever-increasing rates of chronic disease like asthma, diabetes, and allergies.

Here are 10 things you should know about raw milk that the government won’t tell you:

1. Raw milk is healthier: Pasteurized milk is accused of causing everything from allergies to heart disease to cancer, but back in the day, these diseases were rare. In fact, clean raw milk from grass-fed cows is chock full of healthy amino acids and beneficial enzymes, and was used as a cure.

2. Raw milk does not make you sick: That is, if it is properly collected from cows fed good, clean grass. Grass-fed milk has natural antibiotic properties that help protect it from pathogenic bacteria. But it’s worth noting, if you’ve been using pasteurized dairy products, you might want to eat small amounts of yogurt or kefir for a week or so, for a dose of probiotics, just to be safe. I did, and it helped.

3. Not all raw milk is the same: The cow’s diet, how and where it’s raised, and how the milk is collected are all factors in the safety and quality of raw milk. Cows pastured on organic green grass produce milk with good health benefits. It’s good to know where your milk is coming from.

4. Pasteurization was instituted in the 1920s to combat TB, infant diarrhea, undulant fever and other diseases caused by poor animal nutrition and dirty production methods. But modern stainless steel tanks, milking machines, refrigerated trucks, and inspection are enough of a precaution, and pasteurization has become irrelevant.

5. Pasteurization destroys enzymes, diminishes vitamin content, kills beneficial bacteria, promotes pathogens and is associated with allergies, increased tooth decay, colic in infants, growth problems in children, osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease and cancer.

6. Calves fed pasteurized milk don’t do very well, and many die before maturity. Scary, considering the milk originally came from their mom.

7. Raw milk sours naturally but pasteurized milk turns putrid; processors must remove slime and pus from pasteurized milk by a process called centrifugal clarification. Gross.

8. Inspection of dairy herds for disease is not required for pasteurized milk. This means, pasteurization is used as a nifty way to wash away all forms of bad bacteria that are allowed to flourish freely before the process. Imagine that for a second.

9. Raw milk has more butterfat, which is rich in fatty acids that protect against disease and stimulate the immune system. Skim milk doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better for you, in other words.

10. Pasteurization laws favor large, industrialized dairy operations and push out small farmers. When farmers have the right to sell raw milk directly to their consumers, they can make a decent living even with a small number of cows. Support small farmers!

The Life of A Cow .

Many people are surprised to learn that nearly all cows used for milk are born with tissue that will develop into horns. But that’s just one of many secrets that farmers in the dairy industry keep from consumers. Want to learn more? Check out the infographic below for a glimpse at what life is like for cows on dairy farms and share this infographic on Facebook.

Want to help cows? Pledge to go vegan and ditch dairy for cruelty-free products today!

Source: PETA