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Six foods that increase or decrease your risk of cancer

If you believe cancer is a disease that strikes from nowhere with little in your control to prevent it, you’d be mistaken on both counts. Most cases of cancer are considered preventable by positive nutrition…

Some recommendations are straightforward: more fruit and veg, less alcohol and meat. But for calcium, it’s more complicated. ransomtech/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

If you believe cancer is a disease that strikes from nowhere with little in your control to prevent it, you’d be mistaken on both counts. Most cases of cancer are considered preventable by positive nutrition and lifestyle choices.

Six new nutrition cancer prevention guidelines published today in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition reinforce some sound advice, but also include a surprise or two.

Cancer is a big killer of Australians, and is responsible for 30% of all deaths each year. The “big five” in order of incidence are prostate, bowel, breast, melanoma and lung cancer. Our love of the sun and smoking mostly explain the last two, but it is food, exercise and other lifestyle choices that explain much of a person’s risk of cancer.

So what do these six new cancer prevention recommendations tell us? And how much notice should we take?

1. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables

Unfortunately, there is no “cancer prevention superfood”; it is a combination of food variety that gives the greatest benefit.

A variety of fruits and vegetables is best. Alby Headrick/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

Why are fruit and vegetables so good? Take you pick from any and all of the following: antioxidants, fibre, phytochemicals and weight control.

One group of vegetables you may care to give a closer look at during your weekly shop, are the dark leafy greens. These include broccoli, spinach, leaf lettuce and kale – foods that are true nutrient powerhouses.

2. Limit or avoid alcohol

When it comes to alcohol, forget about justifying drinking because it is good for your heart. Alcohol is strongly linked to cancer of the mouth, oesophagus, breast, colon and liver; the more you drink, the greater the risk.

The more you drink, the greater your cancer risk. Wagner T. Cassimiro 'Aranha'/Flickr, CC BY

Alcohol through conversion to acetaldehyde can directly damage cellular DNA. It can also damage the liver, increase the solubility of other cancer-causing chemicals, increase the level of estrogen, and decrease the levels of some beneficial nutrients such as folate.

Risk, though, needs to be balanced with lifestyle and enjoyment. There are many other positive things you can do to reduce cancer risk without giving up your favourite drink altogether.

3+4. Avoid red and processed meat

The advice on avoiding processed meat is well supported by evidence. This agrees with the biggest voice in the cancer prevention business, the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) which rates the link between red meat and colorectal cancer as “convincing” – the highest level of evidence possible.

Where possible, avoid processed meats. Alpha/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

Meat lovers can take some solace though. The WCRF recommends keeping consumption of red meat to under 500 grams of cooked meat per week. Fish and chicken are good alternatives if the thought of missing a daily steak is too much for you.

Following on from the advice on limiting red meat, is a recommendation to avoid overcooking meat; especially from grilling and frying. When meat, chicken and fish is overcooked at high temperatures for a long time, natural reactions in the food can produce heterocyclic amines (HCAs).

HCAs are considered potent causes of breast, lung, colon, stomach and prostate cancer – at least in animal models.

5. Women: eat soy foods to reduce your risk of breast cancer

This is a surprising recommendation, more so that when groups such as the WCRF have looked at the evidence, it barely made it to the “limited” level of evidence.

The evidence on soy and cancer is patchy. Chloe Lim/Flickr, CC BY

Soy contains a class of phytochemicals called isoflavones which have chemical structures similar to estrogen. These isoflavones are thought to partly inhibit a woman’s own natural estrogen in stimulating cell growth. That’s the theory at least.

Soy foods are a staple of vegetarian diets and the recommendation advises choosing natural soy foods such as edamame, tempeh or tofu and to steer clear of protein concentrates often found in supplements.

Women who are being treated for estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer should avoid soy supplements because they contain high concentrations of isoflavones.

6. Men: limit or avoid dairy products to reduce your risk of prostate cancer

This certainly stands out as the most controversial recommendation and the one that could grab the headlines.

This recommendation is a good example of needing to balance risk when it comes to lifestyle choices in preventing cancer. While there is some limited evidence that dairy products can raise a man’s risk of prostate cancer, there is also a higher level of evidence (which the WCRF classifies as “probable”) that milk and calcium can lower the risk of colorectal cancer.

There’s no need to avoid dairy. jacqueline/Flickr, CC BY-NC

A diet high in calcium can lead to a decrease in vitamin D production. Vitamin D is an important regulator of cell growth and proliferation so less of it may lead to prostate cancer cells growing unchecked.

In the colon, though, it’s a different matter. Calcium can bind to potentially carcinogenic compounds in the intestine, making them insoluble and easily excreted. Calcium can also directly influence cell development, slowing down proliferation.

What’s a guy to do? If you enjoy dairy foods, there is no need to avoid them. If you have a family history of prostate cancer, you may want to have a bit less. If colon cancer runs in your family, a bit more could help.

Other ways to reduce your cancer risk

While not part of the nutrition recommendations, physical activity is now recognised as a potent “cancer-preventing” habit. Estimates link regular physical activity to a 20-40% lower risk of colon and breast cancer.

How much physical activity is enough? All physical activity is beneficial, but for cancer prevention up to one hour of moderate activity or 30 minutes of vigorous activity daily gives the greatest benefit.

Carrying too much weight, especially around the middle, is a known cancer risk, especially for breast and colon cancer risk. Men should aim for a waist circumference below 94cm. For women it’s below 80cm.

Regular physical activity reduces your risk of cancer. Don DeBold/Flickr, CC BY

Cancer prevention guidelines reflect the current state of scientific evidence, and change over time as evidence changes. The core of the guidelines though have changed little and can be summed up in single sentence. Eat mostly plant foods close to their natural state, keep active, drink responsibly, stay safe in the sun, and don’t smoke.

For some people, a complete lifestyle overhaul can be a difficult thing to manage in one go. Instead, focus on one change at a time like building more activity into your day and then following this up with eating five different types of vegetables and two of fruits each day with the emphasis on colour as your best guide to variety.

Prevention guidelines shouldn’t be seen as a prescription for restricting your life, but a series of small changes to how you eat and live now that will build the framework for a long, healthy and cancer-free life.

Join the conversation

324 Comments sorted by

    1. Tim Crowe

      Associate Professor in Nutrition at Deakin University

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      HI Mike - it isn't 'sugar' (sucrose) per se, but glucose that cancers metabolise at a higher level - that's the whole basis for PET scanning to image tumours as radiolabelled glucose is given to the patient, causing the cancer cells 'light up'. Every single carbohydrate food you eat, and even protein to some extent, will elevate blood sugar levels so this cannot be avoided.

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    2. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Tim Crowe

      Thanks for the heads up Tim..... personally, I have cut right back on carbs. Wheat, I have now discovered, is downright bad for you.

      I think we all need to take a cold shower on all this diet stuff..... in the end, we ALL die, even breathing kills you by oxydisation.

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    3. Rosemary Stanton

      Nutritionist & Visiting Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Mike

      On what basis have you concluded that "wheat is downright bad for you". (And please don't quote the book 'Wheat Belly' which is not evidence in any scientifically acceptable sense of the word.)

      On today's topic of foods that decrease cancer risk, there is a good case that wholewheat products could have been included. See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23624874 for the results from a large study.

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    4. Alison Moore

      Senior Lecturer in Modern European History, University of Western Sydney

      In reply to Tim Crowe

      This is an important point that alas often gets glossed over....that starches too break down to glucose and it is all the same to cancer cells...

      Tim, what do you think about the issue that most of the studies on red meat are based on self-reporting surveys eg. asking people what they ate for the past year, and where multiple confounding variables are not necessarily controlled for?

      There also seems to be a lot of work in this area that is actually based on animal studies where isolated compounds…

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    5. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Rosemary Stanton

      Well Rosemary...... I was going to mention that book. from reading it, both my wife and I went off wheat, and we both feel much better for it. It cured my wife's chronic reflux, and I lost 5kg even though I still consume lashings of butter and have cream in my coffee.... I certainly have more energy, and I definitely eat less now as I feel less hungry, which is exactly what the wheat belly book predicted..

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    6. rory robertson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Tim Crowe

      Tim and Mike,

      Mike, I too was amazed that Tim's cancer story missed added sugar and "seed oils", while mistakenly convicting fresh meat and milk. It is this sort of inadvertent but notably unhelpful misinformation that highlights the crisis in Australia's dietary advice.

      That dietary advice is in crisis can be seen in the fact that the Australian Diabetes Council promotes high-carb diets to type 2 diabetics - http://www.australiandiabetescouncil.com/ADCCorporateSite/files/0f/0f5f0ab9-55da-45b5-9481-89f082333b6f.pdf

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    7. James Jenkin

      EFL Teacher Trainer

      In reply to Rosemary Stanton

      Hi Rosemary, what is it that makes us grab onto one thing (wheat, sugar etc) and say it's either the 'secret' evil killer or a cure-all?

      A sociological question I guess! But it would be really interesting to hear an expert's take on it.

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    8. Glynn Aaron

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Mike,

      Did you really just share a link from Mercola as evidence? You do realise that sites like Mercola and NaturalNews are the antithesis of actual science?

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    9. Jack Arnold

      Polymath

      In reply to rory robertson

      Hi People, the 'overlooking' of sugar as a carcinogen in this article is unfortunate. There is evidence going back to about 1900 that too much consumption of sucrose (plant sugar as found in sugar-cane and sugar-beets) increases risk. Certainly, there appears to be a link between too much sugar consumption and overweight obesity.

      Then there is the additional effects of preservatives and whiteners and colours etc that are 'permitted additives', to which individuals may have an allergic or other disabling reaction.

      The 'Wheat question' is discussed at:

      http://www.smh.com.au/health-and-fitness/dl-fitness/gluten-intolerance--myth-or-misunderstood-20140614-zs7ia.html and

      http://www.smh.com.au/health-and-fitness/dl-fitness/gluten-intolerance--myth-or-misunderstood-20140614-zs7ia.html

      Then it appears that the SMH has censored these links, must have offended some major advertiser.

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    10. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Glynn Aaron

      A lot of stuff has never been scientifically analysed properly..... doesn't prove it's a croc. All I can tell you is that from personal experience both my wife and I have benefited from going off wheat. Good enough for me.

      The problem is, as usual, that industrial agriculture has messed around with our food so much, it's no longer worth eating, especially if it makes you sick. 50 years ago, bread had barely 20% of the gluten it contains today. Buy anything from supermarkets, and it's full of salt and sugar and bad fats.

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    11. Roslyn Ross

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      In 1900 one in ten people got cancer and now it is one in two. In 1900 the Australian diet was extremely high in meat, relatively high in sugar and low on whole-grains, fruits and vegetables. However, what they did get in terms of fruit and vegetables had nutrient levels vastly higher than what is grown today through forced, manipulated production.

      But, even on that diet of meat, sugar and certainly not the five food groups - yes, more exercise of course, mainly of the walking kind and housework…

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    12. Roslyn Ross

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to James Jenkin

      It is the quick-fix mentality of the modern age. In biological and physiological terms it is ridiculous to think that this food or that food is 'bad' for people in general. It is sensible to think that some people, some of the time, and a very few, most of the time, and on occasion, even fewer, all of the time, might have trouble processing wheat, but that is all.

      The human body has evolved over millenia to eat what was available and clearly to thrive or there would not be more than seven billion of us now. No food, produced organically, preferably bought locally, can be bad for you.

      What is bad for human beings is the high level of forced production and intense processing and preserving to which food is now subjected - courtesy of science.

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    13. Roslyn Ross

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Glynn Aaron

      They are the antithesis to science - what you mean by actual is material/mechanical based science - because they offer another view of human health and physiology, beyond the purely mechanical.

      Being the antithesis does not make them wrong, just different, and the subjective nature of the word antithesis is the result of scientific prejudice.

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    14. Roslyn Ross

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      You are right - the problem is not wheat per se: but what is done to wheat and what has probably happened to you and your wife is that for a variety of reasons, you have had an allergic reaction to 'wheat' because of its unnatural form following production, processing and additives.

      The body has remarkable power to heal anything and there is no allergy which cannot be healed. It might take time but if your body is functioning optimally then there is no reason why it cannot process organically produced…

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    15. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      I bake my own bread. I cheat as I use Laucke brand Barossa Sourdough, a wholewheat, rye and white mix that is very easy to use. I don't bother with a bread maker so I knead the dough by hand but it takes no more than 10 minutes or so knead.

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    16. Leon Carter

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Tim Crowe

      Cancer cells metabolise glucose at a higher rate because the mitochondria in cancer cells are disabled, leaving the cell to rely on glycolysis. Until recently, "expert" consensus held to the "assumption" that the hypochondria were permanently damaged. However, a revolutionary study published in 2007, (greeted with a deafening silence by the Australian media) overturned that establishment "assumption," restoring mitochondrial function and metabolism with cheap, safe, dichloroacetate. One important function of mitochondria is to mediate or tirgger apoptosis in mutants cells; and so the mutant cancer cells, with their revived mitochondria, withered and died:
      http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn10971-cheap-safe-drug-kills-most-cancers.html

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    17. Roslyn Ross

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Leon Carter

      As research begins to discover what was once known in some older medical methodologies, the cells have 'consciousness' and 'intelligence' and a capacity to process and communicate in order that the body can function optimally.

      And while the materialistic/mechanical approach of science/medicine is useful within its limitations because limited it must be given that the body is not a machine or just a bag of chemicals, it is unlikely to understand any disease process, let alone cancer, unless it broadens…

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    18. Rosemary Stanton

      Nutritionist & Visiting Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Mike

      It is possible that some people react adversely to wheat, but it's also likely that many people feel better because they stop eating biscuits, cakes, pastries, instant noodles, savoury snacks and confectionery. When these go, kilojoule intake falls and weight loss occurs.

      In over 50 years, I have yet to see the person who has lost weight without reducing kilojoule intake and/or increasing output. (NB I'm talking here of well people and excluding the very old frail people whose absorption decreases.)

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    19. Rosemary Stanton

      Nutritionist & Visiting Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to James Jenkin

      James

      I think this phenomenon is due to our society wanting an instant solution for everything and also the inability of many people to see moderation as relevant. They see only black and white so something is all good or all bad.

      Guidelines suggest limiting red meat to 500g/week but people want to either damn any quantity or deny there is any need for any restriction.

      Our guidelines also advise limiting foods such as soft drinks and cordials (and other sugary drinks), biscuits, cakes, pastries…

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    20. rory robertson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Roslyn Ross

      Roslyn,

      You made an excellent point when you wrote: "When Australian soldiers went to fight in the First World War the British were surprised by their height, their strength and their robust health."

      On sugar, not so good: I think we're probably consuming multiples more sugar now than in 1900.

      On meat, eggs, cheese and milk, I worry that the false demonisation of these traditional and healthy foods - via faulty fluffy science and mistaken dietary advice: first, the saturated fat and/or cholesterol…

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    21. Leon Carter

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Roslyn Ross

      Cells don't have "consciousness," they don't become "confused" or "paranoid." Cells do send and receive inhibitory/precipitory signals from other cells. But inter-cellular signaling doesn't seem to be strongly implicated in causing cancer.
      You are right that most modern pharmaceuticals are predicated on profits derived from patents. Synthetic molecules aren't inherently worse than natural ones, and are sometimes better - e.g., relatively gentle aspirin (synthesized from petroleum and natural gas) compared to salicylic acid from willow bark.

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    22. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Roslyn Ross

      A friend of mine is a pastry chef. He's told me that over the past 50 years, wheat has been bred to have far more gluten than it used to, so that a full size d loaf of bread could be made using less wheat... and thus increase profits!

      Next time you're in a supermarket, grab a loaf, and squeeze it from both ends. You'll easily be able to reduce its size by 75%! Let it go, and it will magically return to its original shape and size. In other words..... it's CRAP! Mostly gas.

      Not only does modern wheat have too much gluten, it also now had too much gliadin which is a component of gluten....... triggering overeating and obesity. The typical person who consumes wheat eats, on average, between 440 and 800 more calories per day. Since cutting wheat out, I definitely feel less hungry, and I eat less.

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    23. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Rosemary Stanton

      But Rosemary..... that is EXACTLY my point.... cut out wheat, and you cut out gliadin. Cut out gliadin, and you feel less hungry, so you consume less calories...

      The typical person who consumes wheat eats, on average, between 440 and 800 more calories per day.

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    24. Leon Carter

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      How to look for evidence to substantiate a hypothesis, theory, or an anecdotal report you heard from friends:
      https://www.google.com/search?&q=wheat+varieties,+gluten+levels
      I thought you would be correct. But not quite, quote: "Kasarda's Perspective article examined the scientific evidence for that hypothesis and found that gluten levels in various varieties have changed little on average since the 1920s." http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130206131129.htm
      It also says..."Overall gluten consumption, however, has increased due to other factors. One involves increased consumption of a food additive termed "vital gluten," which has tripled since 1977."
      So despite the lack of any significant change in wheat, you are right that people are eating more gluten.

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    25. Elena Berwick

      Accountant

      In reply to Rosemary Stanton

      Not only gluten amount is different but the whole chemical structure is totally different from what we saw even 30 years ago. Plant breeders developed hybrid strains of wheat that delivered higher yields with intensive applications of artificial nitrogen, herbicides and pesticides.
      While seeking bigger yields and more proteins that form the stretchy gluten in bread dough, wheat breeders reduced the density of important minerals in the grain.

      Some research shows the resulting flour has much more bits of wheat protein known as omega-gliadins that are known to trigger certain inflammatory reactions in the gut This didn’t even exist 20 years ago.

      Such additives as Potassium bromate (btw banned in some countries as a possible cancer producer), azodicarbonamide (banned for the same reason) - the list goes on and on.

      The whole piece of bread is different from what our parents consumed. No surprise of cancers on the rise.

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    26. Isha Deshmukh

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      The problem with any food we eat today, we can't say for sure whether it was the wheat itself or what was done to it to achieve a commercialized product by bleaching. Food is no longer as simple and 'identifiable' as it was generations ago. Nearly everything is now being proved to cause cancer. I am shocked. Dairy, an essential component of modern diet, is now being ruled out as carcinogenic? In biology we learn about the accumulation of toxins through the food chain. Our cattle is consuming toxic fillers and feeds which are accumulating in their body and milk. Will anything ever be safely edible?

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    27. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to rory robertson

      Rory you need to see the Sugar V Fat documentary; on SBS earlier this month. Not a good result for low-carb, high-fat diets.

      Two identical twins (genetically identical), both qualified doctors, decided to test two diets, one deliberately high in sugar, sweets and carbohydrates, the other high in animal protein, dairy, meat and fat. Results?

      1. On the bike race up the hill, the low-carb guy was blitzed completely; he could not keep up.
      2. Weight loss? The low-carb guy lost a little more total weight but he also lost more muscle tissue than the high-sugar guy. (Cortisol and glucagon will convert muscle tissue to glucose to maintain blood glucose when required.)
      3. This is the interesting one. The low-carb guy was insulin resistant and had pre-diabeteic levels of blood glucose, higher than the sugar eater. The sugar guy was normal. Insulin and glucose were both measured independently.

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    28. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      The fact that some cancer cells may metabolise glucose at a higher rate does not mean that eating less sugar somehow "starves" these cells - this is a misunderstanding. In normal people, blood sugar is controlled by insulin. Any attempt to "starve" particular cells of glucose would involve making the entire circulation hypoglycaemic - which would affect the brain and make you unconscious. In the absence of excess insulin, eating less sugar does not make you hypoglycaemic. The only way to "starve" an individual group of cells would be to cut off the blood supply.

      Having said that, morbid obesity is a risk factor for some cancers, but not due to sugar intake.

      It is also important to realise that a multitude of risk factors occur together and interact. Eating less red meat has a much smaller effect, for example, than never smoking.

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  1. Stiofán Mac Suibhne

    Contrarian / Epistemologist

    'Most cases of cancer are considered preventable by positive nutrition and lifestyle choices'. I think this statement is contestable.

    You would have been well advised to have expanded this statement and referred to some contingencies. Cancer is not a singular thing. Family history and happenstance play a greater or lesser part. Childhood cancers and haematological malignancies I would imagine are less related to nutrition / lifestyle choices. Granted you do then go on to talk of the 'big 5'. Which are almost exclusively associated with our late / middle years.

    If cancer is largely a disease of middle and old age surely 'preventable' is suspect given we can only prevent old age by early death. Perhaps delayable would be in many cases the more realistic claim. It's too easy to fall into a popularist discourses on healthism.

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    1. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Stiofán Mac Suibhne

      Nitpicking I think. I would be content to regard *most* as more than 50%. Tim's not writing a review paper here, only a popular article with some salient information.

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    2. Roslyn Ross

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Stiofán Mac Suibhne

      If cancer is largely a disease of middle and old age, what is the explanation for the even faster rise of cancer in children and the massive increase in breast cancer in young women?

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  2. Wilfred Wang

    PhD Candidate at Queensland University of Technology

    Yes, I agree with Mike, sugar consumption is a huge NoNo. I've cut down my 'cake intake' in the past 10 months, and my waist circumstances dropped from 96 to 86 (also cutting down the amount of alcohol intakes and visit the gym, as the article rightly suggests) :) feeling much better! But I have to say, the morning/afternoon teas in academic conferences really need to provide more non-sugar choices -.-

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    1. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Wilfred Wang

      Perhaps the question could be put Wilfred as to why have morning/afternoon teas at all?

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    2. Ross Barrell

      Aikido Student

      In reply to Greg North

      Because they are enjoyable, Greg. One doesn't need to have any sweetener with coffee or tea, however, and it is certainly unnecessary to eat cream buns and/or Lamingtons in order to enjoy the company of friends over a cuppa.

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    3. Doug Fraser

      Research Associate, Australian School of Business at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Greg North

      Beaudy Greg! Back to your benches, slaves! Remember, the pirates are in charge of the ship now.

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    4. Greg Young

      Program Director

      In reply to Greg North

      Part of the point of going to conferences is to network, meet people and discuss what you learn from the conference sessipons. The breaks are designed to promote that interaction.

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    5. Susan McMichael

      Project Manager

      In reply to Greg North

      You can't go all day without a break. There's nothing to say that you need to eat cake. As Ross says, it's the company. Oxygen and exercise are fabulous increasors of productivity.

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    6. peter mackenzie

      Transport Researcher

      In reply to Greg Young

      Good point Greg- and those networking efforts can be more successful than the conference talks.

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    7. James Jenkin

      EFL Teacher Trainer

      In reply to Susan McMichael

      But maybe social interaction breaks down if we suddenly remove a ritual, like eating cake? Will people voluntarily sit around staring at each other?

      There's still tea and coffee I guess.

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    8. Pip Cornall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Wilfred Wang

      Anecdotally - all my gradparents ate loads of cakes, drank 15-20 cups of tea daily, (with 2x sugars), drank beer, red meat daily
      None got cancer - their death ages s ranged between 75-99.
      They did not think of diet - they just lived. They did not know what a superfood was. They did no aerobic exercise - did not know the word.

      In my world, director of a cancer charity, I see many people on great diets, exercise regimes who live on organic farms - who have savage cancers.

      I say lets 'chilax' about food. I'm off to have a red wine now.

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    9. Roslyn Ross

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Wilfred Wang

      If only it were so easy for everyone. Those who over-consume anything will of course lose weight, or return to a more natural weight, when they become moderate.

      The difficulty for some and the interesting question in general is why do some people put on and maintain weight when their diet is optimal and moderate? In fact, not just moderate, but compared to how some others might eat, on the light side?

      Weight is not just about how much one eats because there is no generic human. Nor even what one eats having known people who could indulge their sweet tooth, or their taste for alcohol, or their love of fats and remain slender for all of their lives.

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    10. Mark Dudley

      Training & Development Manager

      In reply to Roslyn Ross

      " compared to how some others might eat, on the light side? ".
      Roslyn- sources? In fact could you provide references for any of the direct statements you make?

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  3. Terry J Wall

    Still Learning at University of Life

    With the exception of recommending Soy, which is a joke, similar to the effectiveness of taking statins to reduce cholesterol, there is no mention of the benefits of some trace elements. Before I expand on that, I am a firm believer that one walks for health and runs for fitness. There is a difference.

    There has been serious non pharmaceutical evidence that selenium, supported by the other over 70 trace nutrients have a very beneficial effect on cancer.
    Cancer: http://www.in-syncminerals.com/uploads/2/5/9/0/25907016/selenium_cancer_graphw.jpg

    Heart disease: http://www.in-syncminerals.com/uploads/2/5/9/0/25907016/selenium_countries_heart.jpg

    Inconvenient eh!

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    1. Rosemary Stanton

      Nutritionist & Visiting Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Terry J Wall

      Terry

      It would be hard to find a more comprehensive review that the one published late last year at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3827666/. You can read the full review which includes all the early studies as well as the most recent RCTs.

      The conclusion is "Overall, available epidemiologic evidence suggests no cancer preventive effect of increased selenium intake in healthy individuals and possible increased risk of other diseases and disorders."

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    2. Terry J Wall

      Still Learning at University of Life

      In reply to Rosemary Stanton

      Thanks Rosemary.
      In my defense, i don't recommend supplementing with a single trace element due to the synergistic nature of the beasties. The selenium graphs were published under the heading of selenium, but my research indicates that higher selenium levels are likely to be found in dark mineral rich soils which is highly suggestive that the results are likely to be representative of generally higher presence of most minerals.
      Anyway at age 70 with a resting pulse of 59 and a hemoglobin test of 159 somewhat comforting. No doctor, drugs, other supplements or even medical insurance either. As they say "Works for me" :)

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    3. John Holmes

      Agronomist - semi retired consultant

      In reply to Terry J Wall

      However there are significant areas in WA where 'white muscle disease' in sheep and cows occurs, which requires the addition of Selenium to the animal (via rumen bullets) or onto soil in fertilizer.

      I have wondered if any work has correlated human health issues with such areas? And also any other other common trace element deficiencies (well in WA soils anyway) such as Zn, Cu, Mn, Mo, Co etc.

      Bit of a problem this, we can put animals in a pen and explore the lack of such TE's, yet this is not easily possible with humans.

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    4. Paul Weldon

      Research Fellow

      In reply to Terry J Wall

      I'd be interested to know your evidence re your statement about statins. Neither ny doctor nor my kidney specialist would agree with you, and the drop in my cholesterol from above 7 to around 3 seems quite conclusive to me.

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    5. Anthony Gallas

      Student, University of Life

      In reply to Paul Weldon

      My experience as well, Paul. I tried the dietary approach for quite a few months with only a marginal reduction in levels. Statins have reduced my levels fro about 9 to under 5, and anything that can reduce reabsorption is also helpful.
      Some of us are just born with overproducing cholesterol factories.

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    6. Jack Arnold

      Polymath

      In reply to John Holmes

      Hi John, check out the work by Dr Jim Langlands at Chiswick CSIRO Armidale NSW from the mid-60s to about the mid-70s.

      Se deficiency was a major problem in sheep flocks around Armidale and Jim was studying White Muscle Disease.

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    7. John Holmes

      Agronomist - semi retired consultant

      In reply to Jack Arnold

      Thanks.

      Plenty of problems in parts of WA as well. More interested in problems in humans.

      Most focus O/S has been where toxicity seems to be the problem. Eg USA does not allow adding Se to stock food. Fish meal covers that off, but pity about fish stocks.

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    8. rory robertson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Paul Weldon

      Paul (Wheldon) and Anthony,

      I'm a bit unsettled that you wrote, "the drop in my cholesterol from above 7 to around 3 seems quite conclusive to me" (Paul) and "9 to under 5" (Anthony). I'm writing this not to "score points" but to suggest there is a great deal of outdated and unhelpful information being given to people on their "cholesterol" status. Please disregard what I say below if you think it is nonsense. I sincerely believe what I've written below is based on the most credible science available…

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    9. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to rory robertson

      Rory wrote: "Please disregard what I say below if you think it is nonsense. "

      Yep, it's nonsense.

      "Based on the best-available science, the only cholesterol readings that seem to matter these days are HDL (higher is good) and LDL-particle size ("large, fluffy" is good; "small, dense" is dangerous)."

      Wrong. HDL and LDL, and other subfractions are important; and particle number is more important than particle size. Also, higher HDLs (that you might experience on extreme fat diets) is not always healthy; depends on the sub-type.

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    10. Terry J Wall

      Still Learning at University of Life

      In reply to rory robertson

      Thanks Rory,
      saved me from a lot of word time. I was going to prattle on about why the morality sub-committee stopped the Lyon Heart Disease trial after a few weeks, because those on the recommended (even today) low fat proponents were dying and those on the "Mediterranean" diet were getting better.

      A shortened version here: http://www.in-syncminerals.com/uploads/2/5/9/0/25907016/lyon_study_mediterranean_diet.docx

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    11. rory robertson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      Paul (Rogers),

      Thanks for your insights. Of course, my observation is correct. "The truth is, we’ve always had reason to question the idea that cholesterol is an agent of disease. Indeed, what the Framingham researchers meant in 1977 when they described LDL cholesterol as a “marginal risk factor” is that a large proportion of people who suffer heart attacks have relatively low LDL cholesterol." http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/27/opinion/27taubes.html?_r=0

      As I said, Paul, if measures of Total and…

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    12. Roslyn Ross

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      The body is neither a machine or a bag of chemicals which is why these generic 'standards' as established by science/medicine are largely meaningless.

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    13. Anthony Gallas

      Student, University of Life

      In reply to rory robertson

      Well I dunno, Rory. I've read a fair bit of the science about blood lipids, metabolic syndrome, diabetes etc (my wife is a now-retired health professional) and found that the only measure that applies to me is the total cholesterol-HDL/LDL-triglyceride group. My GP does a very comprehensive blood analysis every 12 months and has not identified anything out of the ordinary.
      There is nothing to indicate any form of cancer apart from one spot of BCC a few years ago. Most of my forebears ate the conventional…

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    14. Anthony Gallas

      Student, University of Life

      In reply to Roslyn Ross

      The body may not be a machine, Roslyn, but if it weren't for water, microbes and a bag of chemicals, we'd only be thought bubbles. But until someone discovers a human with absolutely no defects, then "standards" are indeed largely meaningless, shifting in concert with emerging science.
      While there may be foods that contribute to the risk of cancer, there are also other contributors such as heredity, environmental toxins and sun exposure, not to mention the odd gamma ray that might knock a bit off a gene.

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  4. Calvin Tulloch

    IT Manager

    Tim,

    Can you provide the links to the actual scientific 'experiments' basing these recommendations in fact, especially consumption of red meat?

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  5. Greg North

    Retired Engineer

    Messages that often come through and that are expressed again in this article is to maintain a reasonable balance in food intake, always fresh rather than processed being the way to go and avoid fat and sweetness as much as possible.

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    1. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Greg North

      Not all fats...... transfats, definitely, and polyunstaurated fats too. But sugar is far worse for you than, say, butter.....

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    2. Graham Houghton

      Archaeologist, Writer

      In reply to Greg North

      Apart, as Mike says, from transfats and polyunsaturates the whole fat demon has been debunked. We need the stuff; our brains depend are cholesterol-dependent. Sugar's the killer.

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  6. Paul Prociv

    ex medical academic; botanical engineer at University of Queensland

    Thanks for this article, which is mainly common sense, from a general health rather than cancer-prevention viewpoint, but I agree fully with the comment (4 from top) of Stiofan Mac Suibhne , that the sentence: "Most cases of cancer are considered preventable by positive nutrition and lifestyle choices" is extremely misleading. In fact, we very rarely know the cause of any specific individual cancer. What we do have is statistical associations, in large populations, which are very distinct from…

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    1. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Paul Prociv

      "Malignancy is largely a risk of ageing"

      The incidence of cancer actually declines in the very old.

      Smith, D. (1996) “Cancer mortality at very old ages.” Cancer, 77, 7: 1367-72.
      Smith, D. (1999) Resistance to causes of death: a study of cancer mortality resistance in the oldest old. In: Robine J-M et al., editors. The Paradoxes of Longevity. 61- 71.

      Second, even though any individual cause of cancer at any age may not be lifestyle related, the reverse is also true, and that is that any individual cause of cancer at any age, and even the old, may be related to lifestyle. We cannot assume that the typical declines of ageing in cell function, mutation accumulation etc is always the cause of cancer.

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  7. Anne Graham

    Teacher Librarian

    I notice you have avoided commenting on breast cancer and dairy products .

    Can you comment on where this debate stands at the moment?

    If IGF1 is present in dairy , what should women do , either as a preventative or post breast cancer?

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    1. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Anne Graham

      To start with...... find yourself a source of raw milk from grass fed cows, preferably organic.... Or do what I do, and milk your own goat! (right now making ice cream from my own duck eggs and goat milk...)

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    2. Andrew Gilmour

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Really good Mike! The only thing is that I am not sure my council would allow me to have a goat :). I use only goat milk, however, as it is absorbed much quicker and less energy is needed for its processing.

      $1 vs $4.30 though :)

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  8. Meg Thornton

    Dilletante

    Memento Mori: We are all going to die. We will all die of *something*. Even if you follow all the rules, and do all the right things, you will still die. The grand total number of authenticated cases of human immortality is a very round figure indeed: zero.

    Further note: if you succeed in adding extra years to your lifespan, they are not added on at the front. They are added on at the back, when you're old, tired, sore, and less able.

    I mention both of these because so many articles about…

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    1. Michael Glass

      Teacher

      In reply to Meg Thornton

      Of course, we're all going to die, but there's a big difference between dying at 67 (Australian males in the 1940s) and drying at just on 80 (Australian males today). Now adding 12 or more years to your old age mightn't sound like the best deal possible, but old age is not so bad when you consider the alternative.

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    2. Alison Moore

      Senior Lecturer in Modern European History, University of Western Sydney

      In reply to Meg Thornton

      I think the point might also be to live better in one's old age, not merely longer....

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    3. Andrew McIntosh

      Part-time bludger.

      In reply to Michael Glass

      Having known a great many people in their eighties and nineties with the disabilities that come from old age, I beg to differ. I'd rather drop at sixty seven if it meant I didn't have to go through another decade or two of dementia, incontinence, strokes and paralysis.

      Believe me, I've seen it - death is preferable to a great many things in old age. Of course, plenty of people will reach those decades without much issue, but plenty wont, and as we get older that statistic grows.

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    4. David Briggs

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Meg Thornton

      Meg
      I love your comment! As someone once said.. by cutting out sugar, alcohol, red meat, adding in exercise, Kale and broccoli we might all live to 110. Or at least it will feel that way!

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    5. Edwina Laginestra
      Edwina Laginestra is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Jack of all trades

      In reply to Meg Thornton

      There are a couple of Memento Mori comments and I must say when I read some of the article titles it strikes me that we may need to report causes of death differently.

      Reading the following "Cancer is a big killer of Australians, and is responsible for 30% of all deaths each year." I wonder what my alternatives are: being hit by a bus or having a heart attack are quick; just wearing out at 105 might be quite awful if mind, physical movement, eyes and hearing have all gone.

      Perhaps what we are really wanting is to maintain our general well-being as long as we are breathing. And to that I think great food and wine contribute enormously (but that is just my delights) :)

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    6. Roslyn Ross

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Andrew McIntosh

      Many of those who grow increasingly decrepit in old age are on multiple medications, often for diseases they do not have and may never get. This is the age of science/medical experimentation to levels never before seen in the history of humanity.

      With most people, particularly in the US, the most medicated society on earth, consuming most of the world's pharmaceuticals, but growing everywhere, on some form of maybe-medicine medication from their forties, the number of prescribed pills for diseases…

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    7. Brandon Young

      Retired

      In reply to Roslyn Ross

      Because rather than trying to “create health”, commercial medicine is trying to make money. The incentives in the system are perverse, and there is more financial reward for maximising the amount and complexity of treatment, than there is for preventing disease and helping people to maintain their own well being with healthy lifestyles.

      If governments actually wanted to serve people, not money, there would be a major shift in research funding away from pharmaceuticals and towards preventative healthcare and non-pharmaceutical therapies. But while the objective is to maximise GDP, not to reduce the overall cost of health care, the power of Big Pharma will ensure an increasingly drug dependent population and ever rising costs and profits. Perverse incentives always drive system outcomes away from goals.

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    8. Pythinia Preston

      writer

      In reply to Roslyn Ross

      I believe we should ask the Medical Profession this very salient question especially when they inevitably reached for the prescription pad.

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    9. Michael Glass

      Teacher

      In reply to Andrew McIntosh

      Sure, there are some terrible diseases and injuries, but they can strike both the young and the old. On the whole, however, if you are going to die of something horrible it's worse to have it cut you down at a younger age.

      Besides, if you survive into your 80s or older you just might enjoys all those extra years without having a truly horrific death.

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    10. Terry J Wall

      Still Learning at University of Life

      In reply to Roslyn Ross

      So true Roslyn, but so hard to change. That old cognitive dissonance hurdle - especially demonstrated when pharmaceutical representatives are allowed to lecture our medical students in the first semester.

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  9. David Camfield

    Researcher at School of Psychology, University of Wollongong

    Great article, but I would take issue with the suggestion that men avoid dairy.

    I published a review of dairy in the context of brain health in 2011 http://goo.gl/N4AHFY

    I found quite convincing evidence suggesting that 'low fat' dairy (as opposed to high fat alternatives) was actually very beneficial in helping prevent against metabolic syndrome / diabetes - not to mention the high levels of bioactive peptides and B12, and also the benefits of probiotics for gut health..

    It would be a shame to tar all dairy products with the same brush, especially when the justification for blacklisting them in this article are so feeble.

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    1. Peter Wesley-Smith

      Retired

      In reply to David Camfield

      Your review isn't easily available to retired academics or anyone without access to Scopus. Is there an alternative method of access?

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    2. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to David Camfield

      I wouldn't touch low fat dairy with a forty foot barge pole. Give me the fat......! Didn't you know the whole fat thing was a scam?

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    3. Alison Moore

      Senior Lecturer in Modern European History, University of Western Sydney

      In reply to David Camfield

      It might be worth considering too though that vitamin D is fat soluble and also very important for brain heatlh (especially the myelin sheaths, which are pure cholesterol). If you take all the fat out of your dairy do remove its naturally occurring vitamin D and its cholesterol.

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    4. Anthony Gallas

      Student, University of Life

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      I'm not sure about the scam thing, Mike, but I too cannot take skim milk and soap that masquerades as low fat cheese! Gimme raw Jersey milk and good matured cheddar any day.

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  10. Michelle Bruce

    citizen

    Do you mean unfermented, GM soy or fermented soy from organic soybeans? That makes all the difference, no?

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  11. Doug Fraser

    Research Associate, Australian School of Business at UNSW Australia

    This is the kind of article which makes me wonder whether dietetics has made any real progress as a science since Sir Thomas Elyott solemnly advised his readers in 1595 that "all fruits are noyful to men and doe engender ill humours".

    Myth: illness is a divine punishment for sin. Eating or drinking anything that tastes nice or makes you feel happy is sinful, and the Lord will punish you with the scourge of cancer. The wages of strong drink is death, sugar is a deadly poison, cheese is exceptionally…

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    1. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Doug Fraser

      Douggie said: "Fact: so far as I am aware, the causes of cancer, in a generic sense, are still unknown."

      You need to read more.

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    2. Jeff Payne

      PhD in Political Science and Masters in Public Policy

      In reply to Doug Fraser

      I tend to agree with you Doug. You certainly can't make the claim, "f you believe cancer is a disease that strikes from nowhere with little in your control to prevent it, you’d be mistaken on both counts. Most cases of cancer are considered preventable by positive nutrition and lifestyle choices." We don't know why one person can do everything that is supposed to be wrong and live until 100 while another does everything right and they end up dead of cancer by 30. Everyone has examples of 'good' behaviour…

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    3. Jeff Payne

      PhD in Political Science and Masters in Public Policy

      In reply to Jeff Payne

      Just to add one more quick thought. Certain cancers look increasingly to be the result of viruses and not diet. Throat cancer, cervical cancer and certain bowel and stomach cancers have been shown to be the result of viruses. I think this tempers the kinds of claims made in this article.

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    4. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Jeff Payne

      Jeff, on both of your posts, seriously, for a PhD candidate you out to know something about the academic, scientific and professional process -- and to recognise that you are way out of your depth in having a dabble in the biomedical sciences when you obviously have little understanding.

      Yes, viruses are responsible for some cancers and this has been known for a long time, but this does not negate the proven role of diet and lifestyle.

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    5. Roslyn Ross

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Doug Fraser

      And the reason is that science is sourced in a belief that the world and everything in it can be reduced to the material and the mechanistic and understood only in that way. Medicine comes out of science and so the erroneous belief that our body is a machine, or as one erstwhile scientist described it, 'a baq of chemicals' is an inevitable result and that is why science/medicine gets so much wrong and why dieticians have little ability to understand that the nutrient value of a food is one thing but the ability of each individual body to digest, assimilate and absorb it is quite another.

      I am always bemused that hospitals pay dieticians and nutritionists to oversee food for patients and the food is so much over-processed, over-cooked, non-organic sludge in the main it probably kills more than it helps to heal and plays a part in the ever-rising incidence of iatrogenic death.

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    6. Jeff Payne

      PhD in Political Science and Masters in Public Policy

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      All I am observing Paul, is that there is not adequate research to support the claim that 'most' cancers can be avoided through diet and lifestyle. That there is no such research is just a fact. The reason why there is no quality research to support this claim is because such an experiment would be extremely difficult and time consuming to undertake. There would have to be an experiment where a group of people are fed one diet and another group are fed another diet while limiting other variables…

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    7. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Jeff Payne

      Jeff, from that post I have to assume, as previously, that you 'don't know what you don't know'. Whether lifestyle related factors account for "most" cancers or a little less or more is not really the point of the discussion. What is known, from proven epidemiological methodologies, is that it is a very large percentage in that region of calculation.

      Yes, there are other factors like genetic predisposition, viruses, and environmental and occupational exposure to carcinogens, but for you to suggest…

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    8. Jeff Payne

      PhD in Political Science and Masters in Public Policy

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      I believe it matters a great deal if the claim that 'most' cancers are caused by diet and lifestyle are not true and that genetics factors etc., are not at least as equally important in contributing to cancer. The reason why this kind of argument is dangerous is because one day it might be used to justify reducing funding for treating cancer. As we have seen in other areas of health, if a problem is understood to be the result of individual choices then there is hesitancy in publicly fund treatments…

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    9. Tim Crowe

      Associate Professor in Nutrition at Deakin University

      In reply to Jeff Payne

      Of relevance http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2515569/

      "Only 5–10% of all cancer cases can be attributed to genetic defects, whereas the remaining 90–95% have their roots in the environment and lifestyle. The lifestyle factors include cigarette smoking, diet (fried foods, red meat), alcohol, sun exposure, environmental pollutants, infections, stress, obesity, and physical inactivity. The evidence indicates that of all cancer-related deaths, almost 25–30% are due to tobacco, as many as 30–35% are linked to diet, about 15–20% are due to infections, and the remaining percentage are due to other factors like radiation, stress, physical activity, environmental pollutants etc."

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    10. Jeff Payne

      PhD in Political Science and Masters in Public Policy

      In reply to Tim Crowe

      Thanks for entering into our little dispute Tim and taking the time to refer me to the article. The claim that I am questioning is the claim that 'most' cancers can be avoided through changing diet and lifestyle. As you should only be too aware Tim, there are the definitional problems in this claim. What is 'diet' and 'lifestyle' and what is 'environment'. Much of the article you have referred me to that is supposed to support your claim looks at the complex relationship between 'genes' and 'environment…

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  12. Jan Trounce

    logged in via Facebook

    I'm 67. My grandparents lived independently until they died in their early 90s. Their diet and lifestyle would have been largely as written about here by Tim as being the most beneficial to one's health. Their daily diet did not include a lot of red meat and what meat they did have would have been slow cooked; chicken was an occasional and home-killed addition. There was a fair bit of fresh and wild caught fish and plenty of vegetables and fruit in season as well as split peas and the like…

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    1. Roslyn Ross

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Jan Trounce

      And neither were your grandparents subjected to the interventionist procedures of modern medicine from birth to death. I agree with you on common sense and there is too little of it in science and medicine.

      Common sense says that a healthy body will deal with any pathogen or disease. A healthy body comes from a nutritious diet of varied natural foods, freshly prepared and eaten in moderation. Where this is not enough medical intervention can be sought but less is more.

      Common sense says that the less medication you take the better. The less antibiotics you take the better. The less vaccinations you have the better.

      Moderation in all things applies not just to diet but to medicine and never more so than with modern medicine, sourced as it is in synthesized drugs and interventionist procedures which research is now showing, do more harm than good.

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    2. Anthony Gallas

      Student, University of Life

      In reply to Roslyn Ross

      I agree, Roslyn, that the less medication you take the better, and antibiotics in particular.
      I've known a few hypochondriacs who started to take medicines "just in case I get sick" and end up genuinely ill, and in one case dead, from the accumulated effects of the medicines.
      Jan Trounce didn't say anything about her own health. Is it as good as her grandparents' would have been at 67?
      I seriously wonder if today's escalating health problems have anything to do with the increasing obsession with hygiene? In Jan's grandparents' early days, as in mine some decades later, they would have been exposed to a huge range of germs and other nasties so that they would have developed very good immune systems. I grew up on farms, played in the dirt, handled a variety of animals, washed my hands only when they were dirty, and still don't pay a lot of attention to hygiene. While I did contract my share of childhood ailments, my health has improved as I have aged (now 71).

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    3. christopher gow

      gainfully employed

      In reply to Roslyn Ross

      OK Roslyn, I'll bite:
      What element of common sense says that the less vaccinations you have the better?
      What research show that "synthesized drugs and interventionist procedures do more harm than good"?

      These are essentially 'anti-science' comments that have more in common with the American Tea Party and fundamentalist religious quackery than common sense.

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    4. Jan Trounce

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Anthony Gallas

      I would say that I am in 'rude' good health. I work and that entails, naturally, running for the train and galloping up the stairs, although I have stopped taking them two at a time since coming a cropper recently and now take them at a more ladylike one step at a time. I have always been interested in nutrition and always take note of people such as Rosemary Stanton and Catherine Saxelby. My husband and I try to keep up an active life for physical fitness too. I don't think there is any one way…

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  13. christopher gow

    gainfully employed

    "No pleasure is worth giving up for the sake of two more years in a geriatric home." – Kingsley Amis.

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    1. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to christopher gow

      Doctors weight lifetime infinitely more than any other factor. Keep that in mind when you ask a doctor for advice.

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    2. Anthony Gallas

      Student, University of Life

      In reply to christopher gow

      Having visited a large number of these homes during my working years, and with a son now working in one, I'm with Kingsley Amis.

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  14. Andrew Gilmour

    logged in via Facebook

    I am not sure that plenty of fruits would be really good for our body and for cancer prevention specifically. I’ve read conflicting opinions on that one and mainly they are related to fruits linked to creation of candida and other parasites in the gut. The gut health is important and nobody really knows how parasites in there are linked to cancer. I think we should be cautious with the word “plenty” and words “in moderation” might be more appropriate here.

    For all the other things I completely agree…

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    1. Rosemary Stanton

      Nutritionist & Visiting Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Andrew Gilmour

      Andrew

      It really is absurd to say that people "do not drink tea in this country". And while you're giving us your evidence for that, perhaps you could provide some references to your other claims.

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    2. Elena Berwick

      Accountant

      In reply to Rosemary Stanton

      Rosemary, in my company about 10-15% of employees drink tea. All the others drink coffee and water. So, it is actually absurd that you do not see this. Perhaps, it is your clients who drink more tea than our average population. Also, indeed, a variety of teas is really bad and in our supermarkets just several brands are in fact avail.

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    3. Andrew Gilmour

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Rosemary Stanton

      It appears you do not see beyond your own nutrition office Rosemary.
      Just do a simple experiment, i.e. go to any CBD in the morning and stay in a café where people are going before work to buy their coffee/tea. Stay and count people who buy coffee vs people who buy tea. Then a day of counting will give you an idea that you are completely wrong. People drink coffee much more than tea in this country. Much means the difference is huge.

      As of your sentence to prove my other claims...
      My first claim…

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    4. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Andrew Gilmour

      "My first claim was that doctors (GPs – our lovely frontline) do not conduct any prevention steps to find anything at early stages."

      Only a man would ever make such a false statement as that. You've obviously never heard of Pap smears.

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    5. Rosemary Stanton

      Nutritionist & Visiting Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Andrew Gilmour

      Andrew

      I don't doubt that more people who buy a hot prepared drink choose coffee over tea, but you claimed that "people do not drink tea in this country". That is simply untrue.

      Most tea is drunk in the home (according to Business Review Weekly on 1 July 2013). Sales of major brands of tea sold in Australian supermarkets was $1,049 million/year. I suspect those who bought all that tea may have drunk it.

      Your reference to stool analysis is somewhat off the topic here and I don't know which test…

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    6. Andrew Gilmour

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Rosemary Stanton

      After I’ve seen your argument about “anecdotal evidence” I didn’t read further. I saw ignorant doctors and “specialists” like you in my life who do not listen to people experiences and think of themselves that they are cool specialists. In fact, such “specialists” are capable to resolve only typical problems and this is why you could not even respond which fruit would or may help eliminate a wrist swelling, whereas a real bright star just glanced and resolved a problem. Ignoring people experiences is a typical way of ignorant doctors who are incapable to make a bigger picture collecting individual data.

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    7. Andrew Gilmour

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      I am aware of this test Chris and many others, such as blood tests to investigate certain cancer markers, pillcam and much more. Such tests, however, are not conducted on regular basis and nobody in my vicinity at work or neighbours was offered by GPs to conduct such tests as a proactive measure. They are done when something is already wrong, whereas in some other parts of the world they and some others (like X-Ray, etc) are a part of normal routine to capture problems at early stages. So, in theory we have everything, in practice not a lot is done it in a proactive manner. You can keep going, all you can do is swear and putting it personal as you have done already.

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    8. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Andrew Gilmour

      "nobody in my vicinity"

      You didn't say that before. Keep shifting the goalposts all you like, your original claim was wrong.

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    9. Rosemary Stanton

      Nutritionist & Visiting Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Rosemary Stanton

      Andrew

      I have just got back from a talk at the Australian Bureau of Statistics in which some of the results of the recent National Nutrition Survey (now on their website) showed that among the 12,000 Australians randomly sampled from the population, 46% consumed coffee (two thirds of which was instant) and 38% consumed tea.

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    10. Rosemary Stanton

      Nutritionist & Visiting Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Elena Berwick

      Elena

      Check my reply to Andrew. The facts are that 46% of a random sample of 12,000 Australians drank coffee and 38% had tea. These were not 'my clients'.

      My nearest country town has many varieties of regular teas and herbal infusions, although there is less choice if you want leaf teas as opposed to tea in bags.

      I'm not sure why we're having this discussion about tea and coffee. Neither are harmful (in moderation), both have some positive attributes and neither are related to cancer risk. Some herbal concoctions have been shown to be toxic to the liver but, fortunately, none of these is available in Australian supermarkets.

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    11. Michelle Bruce

      citizen

      In reply to Leon Carter

      Coffee and tea is also very good at draining developing countries of their valuable water resources which can be used to feed their people.

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    12. Andrew Gilmour

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Rosemary Stanton

      Yeah, Rosemary, our Bureau od Stats tells us lots of "interesting" things I can imagine.
      Again, just spend a day or two going to a cafe and counting how many cups of coffee vs tea are consumed. You would be surprised with a result.

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    13. Rosemary Stanton

      Nutritionist & Visiting Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Andrew Gilmour

      Andrew

      I wouldn't be surprised at the result being many more cups of coffee sold in a cafe. But to assume this is the major place where coffee is consumed ignores home consumption (of tea and coffee). With two thirds of coffee consumed being instant, and few (if any) cafes serving instant coffee, surely you can look at total consumption.

      This conversation on tea and coffee consumption has become absurd and I think the moderators should delete any further comments. They are unrelated to the topic of foods causing cancer and your 'observations' are without foundation.

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    14. Andrew Gilmour

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Rosemary Stanton

      This conversation is perfectly related as coffee goes with lots of milk, whereas tea doesn’t. Modern milk in such quantities might be a problem as our milk is not clean anymore. Also, the whole this conversation is about eating habits and how they may influence cancer, in case you forgot.

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    15. Leon Carter

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Michelle Bruce

      Trying to make people feel guilty about enjoying even the most humble pleasures in life is part of our grim Christian heritage, I reckon. Coffee was promoted as bad for one's health for most of my life, but when research started to indicate the opposite, consumption of the highly addictive psycho-active stimulant morphed into a moral & environmental issue. You just can't win! ;)

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    16. Michelle Bruce

      citizen

      In reply to Leon Carter

      Leon, as an addict to an addict, (I love my coffee too) coffee is a drug that's bad for one's health (if you need to sleep, sleep, don't drink coffee!) and the politics of importing coffee and tea smacks of colonialism. I struggle greatly with my own coffee addiction and have been off it for over two weeks now. But coffee would probably be a contributing cause of cancer, because it would push your body to stay awake and work when it should sleep and recharge. That would weaken your immune system which would make it more vulnerable to cancer.

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    17. Michelle Bruce

      citizen

      In reply to Michelle Bruce

      Ps. Leon, food is never an innocent pleasure in life. It is the greatest political act most of us will ever do.

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    18. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Michelle Bruce

      Michelle, did you know you can buy Fair Trade organic coffee from Aldi, and that it's cheap as chips? And a good brew to boot?

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  15. Geoff King

    Wizard in waiting

    Check out this website:
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874105007695
    I drink a mixture of neem tree leaves, brahmi and holy basil _ 3 days on, 3 days off.
    Despite all of my efforts (eating habits), my blood tests for the last three years have been all "normal", with every reading showing no problems.
    The first one showed a low platelet level (which my doctor told me must be genetic, otherwise I'd be very ill).
    By adding more neem tree leaves to the mix, my platelet levels have increased, as has been shown in the following website:
    http://www.academicjournals.org/article/article1380875337_Awah%20et%20al.pdf

    No-one seems to be mentioning wheat as a huge problem.

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  16. Frank Moore

    Consultant

    A great article - until you wrote this:
    "Risk, though, needs to be balanced with lifestyle and enjoyment. There are many other positive things you can do to reduce cancer risk without giving up your favourite drink altogether."
    I mean what a wimp out!
    Alcohol is either a carcinogenic - or its not!
    It also is Addictive - thereby limiting some folks notions of "free choice".
    (Not to mention toxic and worst of all - a teratogenic - it maims babies)
    So, where is the public benefit in your "advice" to not follow your "advice"?
    My advice to you is to forget that sentence in any future articles and concentrate on presenting the facts.

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  17. Matthew Tucker

    IT

    Nutrition science does seem to change quite radically over fairly short periods. Is this one of those areas that we just dont know enough about yet to be making recommendations?

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    1. Rosemary Stanton

      Nutritionist & Visiting Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Matthew Tucker

      Matthew

      Nutritionists have been telling people to eat more fruit and vegetables and more wholegrains and less junk food for many years. It's all fallen on deaf ears. Fruit consumption remains very low and consumption of vegetables and wholegrains is lower than ever. At the same time, consumption of junk food is high - contributing 35% of our kilojoules.

      We know enough to make recommendations. We don't know how to get people to follow them.

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    2. Elena Berwick

      Accountant

      In reply to Rosemary Stanton

      More fruits means more sugar. thanks but no. In moderation - yes, but more in fact depends on actual personalities rather than telling everyone to eat more. Nutritionists should look at what is happening in the gut first to give recommendations to eat more fruit, otherwise such recommendations would rather cause further problems,

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    3. Neville Mattick
      Neville Mattick is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grazier: ALP Member at A 4th Generation Grazing Station

      In reply to Elena Berwick

      Correct, fruit is opportunistic - seasonal, however we now have annual access which can be problematic.

      I reckon you might be hinting at is Fructose malabsorption - no fun there.

      What Rosemary is saying though; cut out the fruit juice and soda's for a small serving of fruit every second day or so and we would all be a lot better off.

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  18. Margo Saunders

    Public Health Policy Researcher

    It is disappointing this summary does not take more care in differentiating the cancer risks of 'red meat' and 'processed meat'. While part of the existing confusion relates to studies and dietary advice which themselves do not adequately differentiate between red meat and processed meats ('deli meats' preserved by smoking, curing or salting or, commonly, by the addition of chemical preservatives such as nitrates), the differences in terms of cancer risks and health benefits are important and deserve…

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    1. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Margo Saunders

      It's both red meat and processed red meat, but as Tim has pointed out, the estimated threshold for red meat is 500 grams/week, so it's a dose response thing. There is no confusion.

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    2. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to Michael Apps

      How do naturally fermented meat products rate, traditional 'salami' and the like? I doubt any of these are found in supermarkets and regular butcher's shops in Australia.

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    3. Matthew Tucker

      IT

      In reply to Margo Saunders

      "There is now considerable evidence linking processed meat consumption with various cancers and with COPD and heart disease"

      But as yet there is no clear mechanism that might explain why. So far, as far as I can see, we have some uncontrolled, unrandomised cohort studies based on self reporting of dietary habits that indicate an increased cancer risk of 10-20% with higher levels of processed meat consumption.

      For an average individual, whose risk of bowel cancer is fairly small anyway, a 10 or 20 percent increased risk does not amount to much.

      Without a mechanism by which processed meat might cause more cancer I wouldnt say there is good reason to be changing your diet at this stage.

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    4. Rosemary Stanton

      Nutritionist & Visiting Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Matthew Tucker

      Matthew

      The WCRF report suggests several mechanisms and there is quite a bit of research for these.

      You might like to check out some of the potential problems with haem iron at http://cancerpreventionresearch.aacrjournals.org/content/4/2/177.long

      There is also the potential for increased risk from N-nitroso compounds (NOC) - which are known carcinogens and highly relevant to all red meat, but especially processed meats.

      Haem iron acts as a catalyst in the production of NOCs and human subjects…

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    5. Matthew Tucker

      IT

      In reply to Rosemary Stanton

      I take your point - the nitroso compounds appear to have the potential to explain increased colo rectal cancer (but not heart disease). However, with the incidence of these types of being less than 2%, and the apparent increase in cancer rate from eating high levels of processed meat fairly modest (10-20%), equivalent to the number of such cancers in 10,000 people rising from around 150 to 175, you need significantly more statistical power to be in any way confident that you arent just seeing mirages in the data. In my opinion a plausible mechanism just isnt good enough.

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    6. Matthew Tucker

      IT

      In reply to Matthew Tucker

      correction: the incidence of bowel cancer is actually about ten times lower, around 0.1 % (70 per 100,000)

      so an increase of 20% due to eating processed meat would raise the number per 100,000 from 70 to 84

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  19. Michael Field

    logged in via email @gmail.com

    Thank you for this article which is a sensible contribution to a balanced attitude. As someone who has never taken any interest in his health the obsessiveness of some people about it is something I just don't understand. I love the way Rosemary Stanton valiantly and relentlessly plays a straight bat to various obsessives - more strength to her arm. I wonder why so many people become absolute zealots about some cure all or some evil grain or trace element that's killing us or is the elixir of life? So much emotion and so little evidence. Is it an undiagnosed and unnamed psychological condition? If so, most of the population seem to be suffering from it.

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    1. christopher gow

      gainfully employed

      In reply to Michael Field

      I would agree Michael, but perhaps the sample represented here is skewed, most people who just want to get on with a balanced life are not obsessed about Selenium and raw milk.
      I have visions of a bunch of retired old blokes, obsessed with extracting every possible extra second of existence in some vain attempt to deny the one undeniable reality of our existence.
      As to why, maybe they haven't in a spiritual sense come to terms with mortality, or maybe they still cling to the belief that they are so important that they couldn't possibly die. Rupert Murdoch springs to mind.
      I have had plenty of experience of nursing homes and I have no desire to eke out a few more years of that misery.

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    2. Alix Huang

      Everyday person

      In reply to Michael Field

      And much of the zeal is frequently misplaced on a perceived 'cure'. For example, I roll my eyes every time I hear a particular patient raving on and on about the virtues of pumpkin juice in lowering her cholesterol. The reason why her cholesterol dropped from 7 to 5 wasn't due to the pumpkin juice, it was because she stopped eating fried takeaways and started going to the gym.
      Same goes for 'natural cures' for cancer. Is it really that paste of toad liver extracted by the natural light of a full moon that cured your friend's wife's grandfather's prostate cancer, or is it the hormonal therapy that his oncologist prescribed, or is the prostate cancer wasn't that aggressive to begin with anyway?

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  20. Jennie Taylor

    Consultant

    This is always going to be a hard topic to address because there are a great many studies that don't necessarily support one another's findings, and because most people aren't reading any of them - opting instead for sensationalised news articles and books designed to scam $$ out of you with their sensational claims.

    Anyhoo, I was just wondering about the repeated notion in this article that it is important to balance health and lifestyle. Perhaps this is an uncontroversial point, but I suppose…

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    1. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Jennie Taylor

      I consume all those things because I grow them myself. Animal welfare is a definite reason for raising my own meat and milk.

      May not be "necessary for survival", but sure is easy to produce yourself, and of far superior quality than you buy in shops.....

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    2. Margo Saunders

      Public Health Policy Researcher

      In reply to Jennie Taylor

      Jennie, the point you raise about 'balance' is actually quite an important point in the sense that it is open to wide interpretation. In discussions about men's health, for example, men typically use the virtues of 'balance' as a justification for rejecting the idea that they should be deprived of anything that they enjoy and to support indulging in whatever it is that provides immediate gratification. What it really boils down to is the extent to which individuals prioritise 'health', in the bio-medical…

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    3. Brandon Young

      Retired

      In reply to Margo Saunders

      Hopefully research can look at the influence of consumer advertising on the false dichotomy between health and enjoyment. Well being, both mental and physical, are codependent and along the same axis. The effect of advertising conditions people to value artificial enjoyment, which is satisfying only in the very short term, perhaps only for the exact period of consumption, and when combined with addictive content like sugar, salt, fat, and flavour enhancers, systematically reduces well being over the longer term. Fascinating, yes, but not quite a mystery.

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    4. Margo Saunders

      Public Health Policy Researcher

      In reply to Brandon Young

      Spot on. Various resources, including David Kessler's excellent book, 'The End of Overeating', document exactly how food manufacturers manipulate their products to 'hook' consumers. And, as you note, commercial marketers are highly adept at tapping into consumers' desire for 'pleasure' and 'enjoyment'. While this association occurs with many food and beverage products, one of the most in-your-face examples has to be Coca Cola's 'Open Happiness' campaign which tells consumers that opening a Coke means opening happiness. Not a lot left to say after that, is there?!

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  21. Joy Whitton

    Project Manager at Monash University

    I agree with Stiofán Mac Suibhne's comment: your claim that 'most cases of cancer are considered preventable by nutrition and lifestyle choices' seems optimistic - in fact it seeds those views. What is the statistic exactly? It appears to me it leaves quite a bit of room for people who all the right things to get it and those who don't, don't.

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    1. Joy Whitton

      Project Manager at Monash University

      In reply to Tim Crowe

      Thanks for that. I can't really follow your figures here but I'll read it. I think you need to be very specific about the figures because people reading a general statement can infer that if they are control their lifestyle and eat organic or whatever they will not get cancer and actually it just reduces your risk to X %. Not everything is subject to control.

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  22. Brandon Young

    Retired

    "Most cases of cancer are considered preventable by positive nutrition and lifestyle choices"

    The good news is that even very advanced cancers can actually be reversed with nutrition and lifestyle changes. I have done this for six or seven years, successfully so far, despite being given up for dead by commercial medicine and continuing to drink and smoke.

    Meat and dairy must go, along with all processed food, but even more importantly, exposure to artificial chemicals must be avoided as much as…

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    1. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Brandon Young

      Meat and dairy must go

      Sorry...... cannot agree. YOU assume, like most people do, that we're all the same. Well we are not. My Mother in Law has fought cancer off FOUR TIMES... she was given six weeks to live twenty six years ago, and she outlived the doctor who diagnosed her. She's turning 90 in a couple of weeks...... and she eats all the food I cook for her which of course includes meat and cheese.

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    2. Brandon Young

      Retired

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Fair enough. Each individual case is merely another anecdote. I see cancer as a systemic disorder, meaning that we only need to reduce the aggregate burden on the body’s natural defenses enough for it to naturally fight the process of tumour growth, and this can be achieved in a variety of ways. In my particular case, I do not bother with most of the regime used to dramatically reverse metastatic melanoma, but shall return to it if and when the scans indicate it is necessary, without really knowing which particular elements of the regime have the most impact.

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  23. Mi Tasol

    Brain Surgeon

    Both my parents have been eating meat and three veg plus dairy daily for nigh on 80 years and they're still kicking and active.

    Life is fatal, it gets you every time - worse still is worrying about it - live life and enjoy :)

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    1. Anthony Gallas

      Student, University of Life

      In reply to Mi Tasol

      I've been saying similar things about life for years, Mi Tasol. But very few seem to think I'm serious! I've never spent much time worrying - now at 70+ I'm in excellent health despite my less than ideal (as suggested by "experts") eating habits.Perhaps not smoking helps.

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  24. Roxanne Portolesi

    Nutrition Science Manager, Dairy Australia

    Curious link to the Physicians Committee on Responsible Medicine (PCRM) in this post rather than the abstract http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24870117 . Tim has pointed to the World Cancer Research Fund as the go-to source for the latest evidence on food, nutrition, physical activity, body fatness and the prevention of cancer http://www.dietandcancerreport.org/cancer_prevention_recommendations/index.php. The WCRF systematically reviews and assesses the body of evidence on food nutrition, physical activity and cancer and has an ongoing commitment to keep the evidence up to date.

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  25. Roslyn Ross

    logged in via Twitter

    The results of generic tests on animals or generic human beings who don't exist amount to misinformation. The reality is that where people eat in moderation and drink in moderation and the foods are as natural as possible there really is no issue.

    What science does not look at is the difference between natural, little or no processed, organic food and the over-processed, meddled with, added to, taken from concoctions which are a cocktail of synthetic vitamins, preservatives and processes which destroy…

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    1. Nial Wheate

      Senior Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Chemistry at University of Sydney

      In reply to Roslyn Ross

      Roslyn. If cancer comes from exposure to unnatural chemicals and processed non-organic food then what is the explanation for the cancers found in human remains that date from early Egyptian times, through the Roman period to the 19th century?

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    2. rory robertson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Nial Wheate

      Nial,

      What's your estimate of the proportion of everyday people - from the early Egyptians to the Romans to 1900 - who died of any form of cancer?

      Perhaps many multiples higher now?

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    3. Nial Wheate

      Senior Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Chemistry at University of Sydney

      In reply to rory robertson

      Rory, you ask a very good question.

      And the answer is there is no way to tell, given that "doctors" in those times didn't know what cancer was and didn't keep medical records. Off hand I would say that your premise is correct, that cancer incidence is much higher today than it would have been in those days, but there are also possible explanations for that.

      The first and most obvious is life expectancy. Cancer is a disease mostly of the old. If you didn't live past 30 or 40 in those days then the likelihood of dying from cancer is much smaller. Because we live longer, we would expect to have more people dying from it.

      But I made my comment to highlight that cancer is not simply a man-made disease, and it's not simplistically from non-natural chemicals or processed food (although those two things are likely to also explain the higher incidence of cancer now days).

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    4. rory robertson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Nial Wheate

      Nial,

      Thanks for coming back. The life-expectancy point is interesting. I agree that the growing incidence of cancer may largely be a function of the growing incidence of old age.

      An alternative explanation is that many cancers are just an extension of the metabolic dysfunction - "metabolic syndrome" - that produces obesity, type 2 diabetes and related maladies including cancers, maladies that now are occurring increasingly in younger adults (and even children), including young women who don't…

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  26. Shirley Birney

    logged in via email @tpg.com.au

    Largely in agreement. Elephant in the room? Pesticides.

    A 2010 survey by academics revealed that 23 different pesticides all contained dioxins, with quintozene products 20 to 1000 times higher than those found in others.

    Quintozene - a fungicide was approved for use in Australia on vegetables, lettuce, peanuts and apples until 2010. That's the year the APVMA had an epiphany but not until after the academics blew the whistle.

    Is it reasonable to assume that dioxin contaminated pesticides have been entering Australia all along? And why was the dioxin contaminated pesticides discovered by academics rather than the APVMA/regulators? Tardy?

    All hail the academics.

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  27. Leon Carter

    logged in via email @gmail.com

    The amazing amino L-Cysteine protects the liver from the alcohol metabolite acetaldehyde by preventing & treating glutathione depletion: http://ceri.com/alcohol.htm
    (cysteine treats paracetamol poisoning for the same reason, and it may be good for reducing throat & mouth cancer incidence in tobacco smokers; a Dutch cysteine-infused chewing gum was invented for that reason).

    Also, a diet rich in cannabis oil will reduce cancer risk, and may kill many existing cancers, all at low cost with no nasty…

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  28. Paul Rogers

    Manager

    Gee Tim, they've all come out to play, haven't they!

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  29. Pip Cornall

    logged in via Facebook

    Nice article Tim and necessary. As a director of a cancer charity working with patients everday - I must say 'extreme diets' are literally savaging many frightened patients. We commonly observe 20-30kg weight loss in patients on variations of raw, raw vegan, vegan, ketogenic etc
    In fact ketogenic is in vogue based on the concept that sugar feeds cancer (which you addressed)
    I'd love to have your perspective on ketogenic diets to combat cancer growth or metastasis in patients - do you have experience in this?
    cheers/pip

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    1. Leon Carter

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Pip Cornall

      [The radiation] burned her skull so badly she had second degree burns and her hair never came back. To change her diapers we had to wear rubber gloves because here urine was so toxic, and it burned her. [...] She died last July, from neurological necrosis: her brain fell apart from the radiation."
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=EsVsTcUDlZA#t=3750
      No diet, no matter how bad, can savage a patient the way most cancer industry "treatments" do. The cancer industry doesn't want to see itself put out of business with a cheap safe cure, that's for sure: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn10971-cheap-safe-drug-kills-most-cancers.html

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  30. Keith Thomas

    Retired

    I'm sorry to see the "3+4" conflation of red meat and processed meats.

    Unfortunately Tim doesn't tell us what components or ingredients of processed meat have the greatest carcinogenic properties. Nor, significantly, whether these ingredients are always present in processed meats (bacon, salami, Spam, chorizo, corned beef, gammon etc.).

    I can understand that it must be difficult to isolate the effects of red meat from the effects of processed meat - and to isolate the effect of red meat from all…

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    1. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Keith Thomas

      " I have not seen any research that satisfactorily isolates the effect of red meat consumption on cancer from other variables."

      Try harder.

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    2. Anthony Gallas

      Student, University of Life

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      Give him a few pointers, Paul. I'd like to read your sources too.
      Red meat is nutritionally dense, it supplies a lot of what we need to function. I would agree that too much may not be good for you, but a low fat meat such as kangaroo shouldn't do too much harm. And well cooked quality meat doesn't need additives to taste good.

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    3. Leon Carter

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      Evolutionary reasoning (and pronounced canine teeth) always made me doubt the wisdom of the polyunsaturated vegetable oil fad of the 70s. I couldn't imagine our ancestors harvesting rapeseed oil when, with combined effort, they could more easily slaughter a cow (or a whale), and render the fats they needed. Animal fats & cholesterol are a large part of our evolutionary diet. Catherine, in a 2010 SBS production, is astonished when the doctor reports that her cholesterol levels have dropped significantly…

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    4. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Anthony Gallas

      Anthony, the evidence for red meat and bowel cancer has been accumulating for more than a decade. No guideline says you should avoid red meat completely, only limit consumption, although some choose to do so. How you produce (free range), cook (char grill) or consume (with salads/veges) may or may not have much effect on the cancer effect. The favoured mechanism seems to be in relation to haem iron itself in red meat. See: http://cancerpreventionresearch.aacrjournals.org/content/4/2/177.long

      In…

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    5. Rosemary Stanton

      Nutritionist & Visiting Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Keith Thomas

      Keith

      If you read the studies that the World Cancer Research Fund uses, you will find that they look at many variables. This extends to noting that the association between red meat and bowel cancer doesn't extend to consumption of chicken or fish.

      There are several possible factors that are being explored as the mechanism for the link between a high consumption of red meat and bowel cancer. Paul Rogers has outlined these below. From my own reading on this issue, the effect of large quantities of haem iron seems to be developing the most backing. Haem iron is in red meat and meats processed from red meat - which incidentally includes pig meat in all these studies.

      It's also worth noting that the risk is high when the intake of red meat is high. That makes sense too. Poultry and seafood contain some haem iron, but in lower quantities.

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    6. Michelle Bruce

      citizen

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      How are the diets of the cohorts recorded Paul? Do they rely on self-reporting?

      'How you produce (free range), cook (char grill) [meat]... may or may not have much effect on the cancer effect.'

      Hmmm... That seems an important question to have been omitted from the study, don't you think?

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    7. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Michelle Bruce

      Michelle, no I don't think so. I understand that you think organic, free range etc may solve the problem, but so far, the evidence is against that aspect having much effect -- mainly because of the most supported mechanism, haem iron. See Rosemary Stanton's post as well.

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    8. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Michelle Bruce

      One further thought. The evidence for a high fibre intake from fruit, veg, grains, beans etc having a protective effect for bowel cancer could conceivably go some way toward ameliorating the effect of high meat consumption but I'm not sure how that has been handled in these studies. I would be surprised if it had not been considered. I'll look it up when I get time.

      Self reporting, usually as a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) is a standard measure and they do take a lot of care these days with the collection of these data. And, it's the same for the other protein sources, so there is some relevant control.

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    9. Michelle Bruce

      citizen

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      So they use self-reporting. Right.

      Where are the studies you rely on done? Which country? Which locality? The methods of growing food are vastly different in different parts of the world. Eating meat in the US is different from eating meat in Europe. What is the cattle fed? Grass, corn? How many consumers would know that do you think so they can provide the details in their self-report?

      The interest groups backing-up studies also vary greatly in different parts of the world and result in different findings in the studies. It all depends on how powerful the lobby group is in that region. That's why you end up with the same product approved in the US and banned in Europe.

      You are being very vague in your answers Paul. Do you want to show your cards or should I show mine? I'll go first - I'm a vegetarian which prompted me to look into soy products. Your turn. What's your background?

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    10. Leon Carter

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      The Australian ab_originalus favored the fatty,high-cholesterol portions of the animal. Their diet was high in protein and fat, no fruit, a few tubers. And they were never fat.
      The Eski_Mu (ice people) noted that the Norse wheat-based foods provided only very short term energy compared to their own high-fat, high-cholesterol, high protein, almost no vegetable-matter diet.
      Interestingly. the "essential" amino acids differ between human tribes, so it seems likely that evolution fitted us to different environments, different nutritional requirements.
      Humans are pack-hunting animal, and the stone age was spent making stone tools to hunt animals and carve up the meat. This mammoth had its skull and spine carefully removed - it wasn't even used for meat:
      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2124991/Siberian-mammoth-Yuka-Ice-Age-creatur-perfectly-preserved-10-000-years.html

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    11. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Michelle Bruce

      MIchelle, I am not going to do your homework for you. I already posted the full review from WCRF on red meat and colorectal cancer. Here it is again: http://tinyurl.com/p3w96kj

      In summary, here is why the data are convincing:
      1. At least two decades of experimental and epidemiological studies show consistently elevated risks for bowel cancer and red meat consumption -- but not for other proteins.
      2. Good experimental data, non-human, supports a range of possible carcinogenic mechanisms
      3. There is a relatively consistent dose-response relationship. The more you eat, the higher the risk.
      4. Results are consistent across many countries.
      5. Consensus exists among some of the best international nutrition and cancer epidemiologist for such an effect.

      Regarding my background, you can look up my postings (600+) here on The Conversation to see what my interests are (even though the Conversation lost a couple hundred when I changed passwords).

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    12. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Leon Carter

      Leon, one thing. If you want to study the evolution of the human diet, you need to look at where we evolved, and this was in Africa over 4 millions years (for hominins).

      What Neanderthals or other hunter gatherers did 10,000 years ago with mammoths or any other animals in other places is of dubious relevance. Modern humans only left Africa around 50,000 years ago. Our genome was set, for the most part, in Africa.

      Many hunter gatherers were never fat because they were flat out getting sufficient food to survive, let alone get fat!

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    13. Leon Carter

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      ►"Modern humans only left Africa around 50,000 years ago. Our genome was set, for the most part, in Africa."◄
      Nonsense. Where did you get your paleo-evolutionary history of hominids from? Quote:
      "Smithsonian scientists and their Chinese colleagues found these handaxes in the same sediment layer with tektites, small rocks that formed during a meteor impact ***803,000 years ago***." - http://humanorigins.si.edu/human-characteristics/tools-food
      The evidence for hominids hunting and eating meat begins somewhere between 2-3 million years ago: http://www.livescience.com/24875-meat-human-brain.html
      Many hunter gatherers possibly didn't get fat because they didn't have a choice of wood-pulp mixed with hydrogenated oils and sugar (&/or aspartame) on their primitive menus: http://www.thestreet.com/story/11012915/1/cellulose-wood-pulp-never-tasted-so-good.html

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    14. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Leon Carter

      Leon, there were early excursions out of Africa by Homo spp. -- about 800,000 years to 2 million years ago, probably by Homo erectus or ergaster, H. heidelbergensis etc to Europe and Asia. Neanderthals evolved from heidelbergensis. I must say there is some ongoing academic debate about exact names and times.

      However, our ancestors are almost exclusively Homo sapiens sapiens, and that bunch moved out of Africa about 50,000 years ago. We have the genetic evidence for it, although some modest interbreeding with early Homo in Asia is apparently probable.

      We are not evolved from the big meat eating Neanderthals.

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    15. rory robertson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Rosemary Stanton

      Rosemary, Tim, Paul (Rogers) and Nial,

      Sorry, but on the link between fresh meat and bowel cancer, I remain completely unconvinced. Indeed, I think the WCRF "evidence" that has been repeatedly posted and promoted here by you guys is flimsy and the WCRF "finding" mistaken.

      As many readers would know, most published research "findings" are false: http://blogs.plos.org/speakingofmedicine/2014/06/23/one-one-million-article-views-qa-author-john-ioannidis/

      In my opinion, the claim that convicts fresh…

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    16. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to rory robertson

      Rory said: "mention of sugar, let alone any credible attempt to identify and remove sugar's separate influence on bowel cancer. "

      Rory, I know you have to do your best, but you are way behind the mainstream of opinion and even the evidence. I liken you posts to that of global warming sceptics who will not be convinced no matter how convincing the evidence.

      How would you explain the fact that chicken, fish and vegetable protein show no such relationship with bowel cancer -- presuming sugar intake is consistent per person whether they eat red meat, chicken, fish or beans?

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    17. Anthony Gallas

      Student, University of Life

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      I don't dispute anything you say in your post, Paul. The articles I've read all say the same thing.What I find curious is that so many of our forebears, up until very recently, have eaten red meat as a diet staple, and lived to ripe old ages cancer free.
      In the days before refrigeration, meat had to be processed in some way so that it could last longer. Salting, smoking and other methods were used, and sausages, bacon and corned beef, for instance, would last for months, And freshly cooked red meat…

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    18. Rosemary Stanton

      Nutritionist & Visiting Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to rory robertson

      Rory

      If you're going to quote David Colquhoun on meat, you should also quote an earlier reply he made about sugar in which he stated "I deplore that addition of sugar to almost everything we eat. But mostly because it makes it hard to not eat too much. There is really no reason to think that sugar is a carcinogen".

      Your claims that meat and milk have been "demonised" as foods that "supposedly will give us cancer" and that this is "robbing Australian's children of the opportunity to grow big and…

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    19. Leon Carter

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      ► "We are not evolved from the big meat eating Neanderthals."
      I carry Neanderthal genes, as do most people outside of Africa. I am a hybrid hominid, caucus-asian, rendered pale by evolution in the ice. We are not all the same. Even the"essential" amino acids differ between tribes, as I mentioned. Evolution didn't stop in Africa: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5Pz0EFo5sc
      You can't evolve a large energy-hungry brain without a meat diet - it's not possible. I gave you a link to the figures already.

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    20. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Leon Carter

      Leon, modern humans have about 0-2% Neanderthal genes from interbreeding in any individual. We did not get pale skins from Neanderthals. They were gone by about 30,000 years ago, and pale skins evolved probably less than 10, 000 years ago, although we apparently did grab some useful tough keratin/skin genes from Neanderthals for cold weather adaptation. In any case, this is an evolving science, but it seems we rely on very little Neanderthal genetics for optimal function. In fact some of the Neanderthal…

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    21. Rosemary Stanton

      Nutritionist & Visiting Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Leon Carter

      Leon

      Aboriginal people ate wild animals that have very little fat. Their original diet was not high in fat. They also ate wild fruits.

      Perhaps you can explain what you mean by differences in "essential amino acids" between human tribes. Amino acids are widely distributed in animal foods but are also found in plant foods and are easily provided by a diet that has no animal products.

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    22. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Leon Carter

      To get back on topic for a moment, Leon, the fact that red meat increases bowel cancer risk seems to indicate that we have no genetic adaptation to high red meat consumption.

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    23. rory robertson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Rosemary Stanton

      Rosemary, Leon and Paul,

      It's distressing to see that many/most Aboriginal Australians these days have a rather different diet.

      And it is well-documented that outsized rates of sugar consumption – alongside alcohol and tobacco – are a major driver of the unacceptable "gap" in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians: see the bottom row of Box/Table 2 in https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2013/198/7/characteristics-community-level-diet-aboriginal-people-remote-northern-australia

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    24. Leon Carter

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Rosemary Stanton

      Hi Rosemary,
      re: aboriginals & fat:
      quote: ►"Recent studies by the anthropologist Neville White and the biochemist Kerin O'Dea have shown that populations pursuing a traditional way of life in the North Arnhemland region of Australia are extraordinarily healthy and surprisingly free from stress and diet-related diseases, despite being much leaner than the official WHO guidelines recommend. What makes this especially surprising is that the Aboriginals make a culinary specialty out of **fats**: their…

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    25. Leon Carter

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      My point--not very explicit I admit--was that cancer risk might be heightened, or lowered, for different groups of people, depending on the dietary environment in which their genes were fine tuned. Isn't that a reasonable point?
      I also mentioned a vegetable that kills cancer - that pseudo-"Holy Grail" of the Pink Ribbon/Daffodil industry. I furnished plenty of peer-reviewed studies, plus living evidence that had been sent home to die by all the "experts." But nobody seems to be interested....ho hum.

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    26. Leon Carter

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      We started hunting--and eating meat--at least 800,000 years ago. Meat eating, and hunting, the sophisticated cooperation & communication & planning involved, the tracking & punishing of cheats, the rewarding of allies, the fire & the cooking ritual, is what made us what we are. That is what expanded our cholesterol-soaked minds; meat, and all the things that come with hunting for meat in cooperative packs with tools. (Grazing on grains is for goats and slaves.)
      i) Up to 70% of the Neanderthal genome…

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    27. Leon Carter

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to rory robertson

      "It's distressing to see that many/most Aboriginal Australians these days have a rather different diet"
      It's even more distressing to see the results.

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    28. Michelle Bruce

      citizen

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      My own thoughts on eating meat is that Western diets based predominantly on meat are unsustainable in a growing world population, that industrialized meat production is highly unethical, that it results in disastrous effects on the health of the animals and the environment, which effects then trickles down to human consumers.

      My thoughts on much of the research on cancer out there is that it is often sponsored by industry and policy, that it is inconclusive (ie. the use of 'may be linked to'... what does that mean exactly?!), that data is easily manipulated and that studies which are inconvenient to commercial interests are shut down and sponsorship for them withdrawn.

      I don't have time to read your 600+ posts, but I know that speaking against Monsanto and the US food industry (especially GM corn and soybean products) may be an offence in over 13 states under the food disparagement laws and ag-gags can result in imprisonment. It is very, very difficult to speak about this issue.

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    29. Michelle Bruce

      citizen

      In reply to Nial Wheate

      Thanks Nial, I'll have a look. I don't eat meat myself, but it helps to have an article or two about in my efforts to persuade my friends to get off it too.

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    30. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Leon Carter

      Leon, you can't fudge it. That Scientific American link has nothing implicitly to do with your text above.

      "We started hunting--and eating meat--at least 800,000 years ago."

      No, Homo sp started eating meat at least 2.5 million years ago, probably from scavenging, and even then probably small and irregular meals. That 800,000 years has been misinterpreted on Paleo blogs. That was in reference to recent anthropological evidence that suggested meat eating started that much earlier than thought, eg…

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    31. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Michelle Bruce

      "unsustainable in a growing world population"

      By definition everything is unsustainable in a growing world population.

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    32. Michelle Bruce

      citizen

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      What do you mean by 'everything' and how much growth are we talking about? I am not talking about indefinite growth, I am talking about a better use of limited resources. You can feed more people growing crop that is fed to people, not fed to livestock.

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    33. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      A further observation, if slightly off-topic. Primates evolved over a period of about 50-60 million years. Meat eating only started about 3 million years ago. For the other 50 million years or so, primates ate fruit and leaves, other vegetable matter and a few insects etc, depending on the species.

      In one study, tamarins were found to eat the fruit from 167 different species. You can see how glucose evolved as the primary fuel substrate, to which we are highly adapted. (Most fruits have some glucose as well as fructose, and fructose will go to glucose on digestion.)

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    34. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Michelle Bruce

      "I am not talking about indefinite growth"

      You didn't say that before. You said "growing world population" without qualification.

      "You can feed more people growing crop that is fed to people, not fed to livestock."

      Yes but either way, growth in population has to come to a stop some time.

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    35. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      "growth in population has to come to a stop some time"

      i.e. growth in population is unsustainable.

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    36. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Michelle Bruce

      Crops shouldn't be fed to livestock, period.....

      As long as we have ANY growth, growing any food for people is unsustainable. Worse, as we run out of [cheap] oil in the very near term, agriculture will grind to a halt. Expect famines. it takes years to switch from industrial farming to organics, and it can't be done without the very animals we eat as meat because we would then rely on their manure for fertiliser. The world is heading for major shocks, people don't know about it, and they don't even know they don't know!

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    37. Leon Carter

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      Paul,
      The SA article was about how much energy brain tissue consumes, and it preceded my annotated points on other convergent factors that contributed to the expansion of the human brain and the shaping of our social minds. Those points are all backed by a wealth of paleo-evidence that was ignored in the study you suggested had "throughly debunked" the "expensive tissue" hypothesis for rapid expansion of the brain.
      Once again, instead of making my point explicitly, I circumscribed it with plenty…

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    38. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Leon Carter

      Leon, the experimental work with MCTs in Alzheimer's is because it seems people with AD have brains that show features of glucose intolerance, for whatever reason. The UQ team, or at least one of them, seems to have a patent interest. (See notes at end of study.)

      I hope it works, eventually, but those mouse and rat studies don't tell us too much, and the doses used are very large -- 15-50% of total calories and very specific MCTs. It would need to be supplemental.

      Their use in Alzheimer's is experimental and you couldn't say that it is a recommended or prescribed treatment. And that doesn't tell us much about normal brain metabolism. We are way off topic now, so I'm out.

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    39. Michelle Bruce

      citizen

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Chris, I agree, but as far as I am aware, it was agriculture which was the main factor in the explosion in population we experience today.

      Incidentally, the countries which have the highest birth rates pollute the least. It is developed countries that are doing the most damage to the environment. If Africa, India and China consumed like North America or Australia, we'll have a full environmental collapse within a few years.

      I would be interested to see comparisons in cancer rates between African nations and Australia and then between Australia and China. Isn't Denmark the country with the highest rate of cancer? What do they eat over in Denmark?

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    40. Michelle Bruce

      citizen

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Actually Mike, people know about it. All my friends in North America have small organic farms on their properties and wells for irrigation. They use reverse osmosis technology for their water and test it regularly for heavy metals. In the US, they are trying to replace oil dependence with reliance on their own resources of natural gas, but that did much damage to their water supply and the US seems to be planning to buy its water from Canada. Canada is causing much pollution to its own water supply…

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    41. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Michelle Bruce

      "but as far as I am aware, it was agriculture which was the main factor in the explosion in population we experience today."

      You're going around in circles.

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    42. Michelle Bruce

      citizen

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Circular reasoning on what exactly? I don't follow your objection Chris. What is our point of difference? You seem to be trying to catch me out in a logical inconsistency - good luck with that! Logic was always my greatest strength.

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    43. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Michelle Bruce

      Some people might know....... but 99% do not. I wonder if you and I share the same "friends in America"!?

      We live on a 1.7 acre 'farm' I built up from nothing over the past 12 years...... we grow everything organically with the manures from our ducks, goats, and chickens. We also eat them when there are sufficient numbers (or even sometimes a glut - how would we cope without an electric powered freezer?) I even make my own cheese..
      http://damnthematrix.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/back-on-the-cheesemaking-bandwagon/

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    44. rory robertson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Rosemary Stanton

      Rosemary,

      I don't want to be unkind, but you appear to be oblivious to the growing crisis in dietary advice in Australia. On fresh meat and milk, you say: "No-one is demonising these foods", yet - look up - the title of the article is "Six foods that increase or decrease your risk of cancer", with sub-titles: "3+4. Avoid red and processed meat"; and "6. Men: limit or avoid dairy products to reduce your risk of prostate cancer".

      That message is not subtle: If you consume fresh meat and milk, you…

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    45. John Holmes

      Agronomist - semi retired consultant

      In reply to Michelle Bruce

      Bit of an assumption that organic systems can replace nutrients lost by export or leaching/erosion etc.

      Yes, I am biased as I have spent much time on Western Australian farms including new land farms. Some of the soils are rather depleted in essential nutrients. This place does not run without additional P, and in most places at least Zn, Cu etc. N can be fixed by plants. However animals can only recycle what is there. There is no point in using the product off 4-5 ha to grow a crop of 1 ha.

      Not sure what how well we can manage peak phosphorus. recycling sewerage etc will help. Could be a good little earner plus mining sumps for trace elements etc.

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    46. Rosemary Stanton

      Nutritionist & Visiting Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to rory robertson

      Rory

      I doubt we are ever going to agree on many issues and there is little point in replying to your repeated arguments. At least we agree that we should reduce sugar and especially sugar-sweetened drinks.

      Frankly, I don't consider the recommendation to limit red meat to 500g a week is 'demonising red meat'. And the aim is to "reduce the risk" so it is extremist to claim that this article (and other advice) is saying "if you feed your kids meat, you are feeding them the risk of getting cancer…

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    47. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to John Holmes

      In fact, it's a very tall stretch....... our hobby farm is a subdivided block off an old dairy farm. You'd think after a few decades of cows pooping everywhere the soil would be really fertile. Well you'd be wrong...... the first garden I planted actually did very well, but the next was a total failure. I had depleted the whole lot in one season.

      I've literally put tons of inputs into our 200m2 veggie patch, first to get the pH right so the nutrients wouldn't be oxydised out f the soil by the…

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    48. Michelle Bruce

      citizen

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      My friends have 105 acres in Canada, but not all of it is used for farming. We make our own Maple Syrup among various other things, but no cheese yet. Most of the year it is so cold that you can use a box in the forest as a freezer!

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    49. Michelle Bruce

      citizen

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Yes, we seem to have an awareness of the same things....

      When I talk about a population explosion I usually go back to Europe and the beginning of modern farming.

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    50. Michelle Bruce

      citizen

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Mike, I've noticed the nutritional value of the pasture varies depending on your location. Cow poop is only as good as the grass they eat, and grass is as good as the soil where it grows. I hope you give your soil some time off. In Canada my friends use fish emulsion and kemp as fertilizer.

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    51. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Michelle Bruce

      The problem is Michelle, WHERE do these inputs come from? I too still buy fish emulsion and 'blood and bone' to fortify my soil, but these things are only available for as long as we have fossil fuels to run the complex system we currently have to make the plastic bottles those things come in, or move the resources to the factories that make them and the shops where I buy the stuff......

      My soil is currently the best it's ever been..... after years of effort, it's full of humus, stays moist for…

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    52. John Holmes

      Agronomist - semi retired consultant

      In reply to Michelle Bruce

      Short answer is yes. Source - mostly cheapest assessable, acceptable product. The requirements are very soil type and production history dependent. K use is increasing.

      In practice, soil and plant tests will give a good indication of what the crop / pasture is getting from that soil and if more is needed. More of a problem in deeper duplex (sand over clays) soils, and / or where more intensive agriculture is practiced.

      Overall, regard nutrients as like your bank account. Withdraw more than…

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    53. John Holmes

      Agronomist - semi retired consultant

      In reply to John Holmes

      Opps - forgot to give major K sources.

      Mostly K is applied as KCl or K2SO4 Pot, Sulphate will also add S as well which is advantageous, while we have a lot of NaCl in our soils so adding chloride to the system is eventually not a good idea and will require lime to balance out the reduction in pH caused by the chloride ion.

      You can deep plough to bring clays to the surface in deep sands. This also helps non-wetting issues and bring some K up. Deep rooted crops - eg leguminous trees do the same.

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    54. Michelle Bruce

      citizen

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      It takes knowledge, hard work, time .... and money. I find conditions in Australia very harsh - the sun, soil and water make it nearly impossible to keep a farm. People manage somehow. If you can do it in Australia's harsh conditions, you can do it anywhere. But I agree with you Mike, our mode of life is unsustainable and won't get us very far into the future. Australian natural resources can support very few people. The current model of unlimited expansion seems a little short-sighted.

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    55. Michelle Bruce

      citizen

      In reply to John Holmes

      Thanks John.

      Wind & solar is the way forward - Australia has the perfect conditions for this type of technology.

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    56. rory robertson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Rosemary Stanton

      Rosemary,

      I agree that our conversation is going nowhere. As I see it, the problem is that you are in denial about the crisis in dietary advice in this country.

      In particular, you are in denial about the significance of the modern science of Metabolic Syndrome - aka "insulin resistance syndrome" - for helpful dietary advice to the overweight and diabetic.

      I would not be so persistent with you - or, separately, regarding the University of Sydney's Australian Paradox scandal: http://www.australianparadox.com/pdf/RRsubmission2inquiry.pdf

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    57. Michelle Bruce

      citizen

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      We are getting a little off topic I think, although the cancer epidemic is obviously linked to pollution. Wind & solar is the right 'idea' - that is dependence on the sun and wind not fossil fuels is the right way of thinking. Innovation needs to be focused on cleaner production of products which are not harmful to the environment in a way which is not harmful to the environment. I hope you don't seriously suggest to 'turn off the switch' and let people starve and freeze to death. The problem with this kind of thinking is that it highlights all of the problems but it offer no alternatives except to say 'tear it all down!'

      Anyway…. Food... 'Don't eat anything which your grandmother wouldn't recognize as food'. I don't remember who said that but It's the best food advice I've ever received.

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  31. Megan Fitzgibbons

    Librarian

    Articles like this add to the stigma that cancer patients face. One of my family members recently died of lung cancer--and no, it wasn't from smoking. When she explained her condition, though, most people's first thought was that it was her fault. I also know of an ultra-marathon runner with an impeccable diet who died of cancer quite young. Of course it's fine to advise people to eat healthy diets, but it's a disservice to promote this kind of quick-fix type of thinking ("I won't get breast cancer if I drink soy milk"). Sure, there's any amount of statistical evidence correlating cancer rates to diet and other factors, but that doesn't change the fact that it CAN INDEED "strike from nowhere." And telling victims' families and survivors that they could have prevented it just hurts.

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    1. Michelle Bruce

      citizen

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      I am not in Australia wise guy. I never spend my winters there.

      In Canada and the US, soy milk was pushed by the USFDA as a health product until people wised up to its dangers about six years ago. I guess Australian women and cattle the world over is where the US intends to dump its GM soybeans next. This will probably go on for about 15 to 20 years before Australians catch up. Because Australia is so isolated from everywhere else, it often seems like it is the last to know.

      The problem with…

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    2. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Michelle Bruce

      If you new my background you would be very surprised to know that I disagree with just about everything you say in style and detail if not in sentiment.

      "In Canada and the US, soy milk was pushed by the USFDA as a health product until people wised up to its dangers about six years ago."

      What dangers would that be? Please provide evidence.

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    3. Michelle Bruce

      citizen

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      Ok, surprise me with your background and explain how you disagree with the details of what I say, but not the sentiment. How you can disagree with style we can leave for another time.

      I'll see what I can find on soy for you, just please don't push me, because I am not being paid for this and I do consider it work. You'll get it when and if I have time, just like every volunteer commitment I get myself into.

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    4. christopher gow

      gainfully employed

      In reply to Michelle Bruce

      What evidence do you have, apart from nonsense sites on the net, that Glyphosate increases the risk of cancer?
      That is an enormous claim that, to my knowledge, is entirely unsupported.
      Oh, and by the way, Australia is not "so isolated from everywhere else, it often seems the last to know". We have telephones, internet, aeroplanes; all sorts of exciting technologies that enable us hicks 'down under' to be nearly as modern as your good self.

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    5. Shirley Birney

      logged in via email @tpg.com.au

      In reply to christopher gow

      You are basing your claim on ill-conceived perceptions and shoddy research. I provide the following peer-reviewed papers for your perusal:

      1) Glyphosate induces human breast cancer cells growth via estrogen receptors
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23756170
      2) Pesticide exposure as risk factor for non-Hodgkin lymphoma including histopathological subgroup analysis.
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18623080

      Further, additional data reveals the deleterious effects of glyphosate on non-target species and the risks to beneficial biota.
      http://gmofreeusa.org/gmos-are-top/gmo-science/

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  32. Wendy Seana Blake

    logged in via Facebook

    Not an easily understood article that takes one to the edge of incoherence viz : in talking about consuming more or less calcium in point No 6 these two statements run back to back " If you have a family history of prostate cancer, you may want to have a bit less. If colon cancer runs in your family, a bit more could help." Wtf is one supposed to make of that ? Yet it does emphasize balancing lifestyle choices with pleasure in the section on alcohol No 2 " Risk, though, needs to be balanced with lifestyle and enjoyment. There are many other positive things you can do to reduce cancer risk without giving up your favourite drink altogether." There is no chance I am going to give up my 1-3 glasses of generally organically produced red and white wine for a bit less risk.

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    1. Frank Moore

      Consultant

      In reply to Wendy Seana Blake

      That's your choice Wendy - but a researcher confronted by Evidence of the cancers, addiction, FASD and FAS, liver disease etc, ought to clearly and unambiguously advise you to "give up" the toxic, addictive, carcinogenic and teratogenic fluid - whether or not it is or isn't "organically produced".
      Sucking up to an audience isn't called for here.

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  33. House Family

    logged in via LinkedIn

    With regard to red meat, we have a couple of family members who have lived to over 100, and several into their 90s, including my parents, who have lived on red meat three times a day almost every day of their lives. A local bloke who passed away only 2 years ago at 99, lived on almost nothing else. He would throw a bag of meat and potatoes over his horse's neck on Monday morning, head out for the week, and live on nothing else all week. The difference is that all the meat they ate was from free-range, paddock raised and almost totally grass-fed cattle, sheep and goats.
    It is most important with the scientific research of to-day to find out how the "problem food", which may have caused the cancer or health problems, is produced!

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    1. Neville Mattick
      Neville Mattick is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grazier: ALP Member at A 4th Generation Grazing Station

      In reply to House Family

      Totally agree with you about grass fed livestock.

      My family has always had a large dependence on home slaughtered meat, with none of the Cancer risks mentioned in this interesting article above.

      We also have always had our own dairy and large consumption of whole raw milk (which I might add lasts many-fold in refrigeration compared to the commercial equivalent which is virtually off before it hits the cup).

      Education is vital too, we just had a calf "PK'ed" and the butcher thought "it was too lean for consumers although a nice light cutter". Market distortion exists too, our grass fed stock are discount at auction too !

      This is a fundamental problem that meat full of essential amino acids from grass fed and or a sucker (as our kills are) aren't marbled so not palatable and tough - the reverse is actually how it eats.

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    2. Anthony Gallas

      Student, University of Life

      In reply to Neville Mattick

      I'm envious, Neville. I spent my first 15 years on farms, and we always had our own milkers. Jersey was best. Meat was killed on farm. All grass fed, naturally. No cancers in our family, and after 55 years on town/city tucker, none in me either. Perhaps there is a protective effect from all that unmodified food.

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    3. Rosemary Stanton

      Nutritionist & Visiting Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Neville Mattick

      Neville

      Did you perhaps mean to note that grass-fed meat has higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids? I doubt there's much difference in amino acids and there's certainly no lack of amino acids in any form of meat.

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    4. Neville Mattick
      Neville Mattick is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grazier: ALP Member at A 4th Generation Grazing Station

      In reply to Anthony Gallas

      Indeed Anthony, although having said what I did, all things need to be in balance, I reckon if our family didn't have other foods around the red meat it could be a problem.

      Occasionally I have noticed some prefer just beef and chips for example, this could be something to avoid, mix it with a salad or vegetables and even feedlot beef probably becomes less risky - cancer wise.

      I still reckon lashings of porridge is the best out there!

      Anyway, not to be to far off topic good luck Anthony, it sounds as though your farm experience has you in good stead.

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  34. Anthony Gallas

    Student, University of Life

    Well, after reading through all the posts and watching the debate going backwards, forwards and round in circles, nothing has convinced me to change my eating habits which Rosemary Stanton would consider less than ideal. I'll keep on eating red meat, ham, bacon, sausages, mettwurst, fish and chips(occasionally), full fat cheddar, the odd meat pie. Cake, biscuits, chocolate, icecream as well, and 2 to 3 milky coffees every day. On the plus side, I don't smoke and try to drink only good wine. I'm 71 and in excellent health, enjoying life. Why should I change?
    I'm off to another subject now. Happy arguing!

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  35. Pip Cornall

    logged in via Facebook

    Hi Jeff - as I said - nice article.
    Not sure if you saw my question about ketogenic diets for cancer patients. It is all the rage currently. Do you know much about it?

    I do think the point that is missing here is bio personalisation and genetic adaptation. You can see that also from many of the comments by people on meaty low veg diets in old age and good health or our grandparents. They defy current 'new age' nutritional advice.

    ALSO: It is said that millions of Europeans adapted over thousands…

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  36. Paul Rogers

    Manager

    Several posts here have invoked examples of family members or friends who have "done the wrong things" in relation to diet and lifestyle and still lived long lives without cancer -- suggesting that advice about healthy eating in relation to cancer risk reduction is false or irrelevant.

    Most of us have examples of this. I had an uncle who smoked 20 a day all his life and lived to 85; no lung cancer. Means nothing; and when I say it means nothing, I mean it means nothing for others. What it may mean…

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    1. Tim Crowe

      Associate Professor in Nutrition at Deakin University

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      Well put Paul. I saw on the news once that someone jumped out of a plane and their parachute failed, but they somehow survived because of the way their fall was broken. Would any one jump out of a plane without a parachute based on this anecdote? Sure, you may survive, but your RISK of dying is very large. There also have never been any randomised controlled trials with parachutes involving real humans, yet we take the observational evidence here to be pretty clear. Same with smoking - there never have been and never will long-term randomised controlled in this area. The link with red meat and colorectal cancer achieved the highest level of evidence rating because of the consistency of findings across from laboratory, animal, ecological, and observational and is supported by a plausible biologic mechanisms.

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    2. John Holmes

      Agronomist - semi retired consultant

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      In your examples, there are other issues at play, traffic pollution resulting in P10's and less from exhausts for example. Also cause other issues in bodies beside lung cancers. Is this a need to ban internal combustion powered cars in preference for electric cars. Spend some time in a large Chinese / Indian city and one would suggest yes

      What seems to be missing from much of this debate are quantified hazards. Are we talking about 1 excess cancer per billion, 100 million or just 10 individuals…

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    3. House Family

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Tim Crowe

      Tim, do they look into the red meat in more detail? i.e. - how it is produced, are hormones used in its production? is it lot-fed with grain and additives? does the animal have lots of fat cover?
      or is it lean, free-range, muscular from the exercise of walking, naturally pasture raised etc.???

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  37. Paul Rogers

    Manager

    Readers, allow me to make some observations about nutrition articles on The Conversation in general. I have enjoyed a range of articles from well-known and experienced dietitians and nutritionists, like this one from Tim Crow, teasing out the basics of healthy eating and the subtleties of new cutting edge research. Commenters tell their stories and have opinions, and of course some disagree.

    At the same time, regular readers may notice what I call the "nutrition sceptic". Having followed the global…

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    1. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      Personally, I find your comparison of CC scepticism with nutrition scepticism quite amusing.

      I for one believes that climate science is settled. The sceptics on C haven't got a leg to stand on.

      Nutrition, however, is never settled. One decade we are told to stop consuming butter and eat margarine instead, the next we are told the opposite. This will never happen with climate science.... Show me where 97% of nutrition scientists all agree on everything......

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    2. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      "One decade we are told to stop consuming butter and eat margarine instead, the next we are told the opposite."

      Who told you the opposite? I rest my case.

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    3. rory robertson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      Paul,

      Your comment - directed at me? - is a bit silly and "over the top". At least you might have spelled Tim's name - "Crowe" - correctly! In fact, I have never written about climate-change on TheConversation nor anywhere else. Importantly, factual information on nutrition is likely to help rather than hurt public health: you should not be frightened of "inconvenient truths" in the nutrition space.

      Readers, the link between "body fatness" and various cancers is widely recognised, even by the WCRF…

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    4. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      So Paul....... you consume margarine?

      I rest my case........

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    5. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Mike, the Australian Dietary Guidelines do not mandate margarine. You don't need to use a spread at all. What they do recommend is that "where possible, replace foods containing saturated fats with foods that have polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats."

      This has been a solid recommendation for many years. If you prefer a modest use of butter, I'm sure you will get by ;-). I prefer avocado, hommus or raw peanut paste myself.

      Margarine, these days, is not full of trans fats and does have some vitamin D and A added, which may be important for some people.

      So, my question remains unanswered: Who told you the opposite? Dietary guidelines in most western countries are similar.

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    6. rory robertson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      Paul,

      For the record, according to an ABC investigation, there may still be plenty of "trans fat" in the spreads Australian consumers are offered:

      "In 2005 Choice examined the properties of a range of butters, margarines and spreads.15

      Products with a trans fat content of between 6-8% were not uncommon and the brands
      providing these spreads would be familiar to many Australian consumers – Coles, Bi-Lo,
      Black and Gold, IGA, etc. While this assessment is dated, it was conducted in a period since…

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    7. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      Ants and bugs actually......... try this: put 2 saucers in your garden, one with a teaspoon of marg on it, and one with a teaspoon of butter.

      Now watch which one gets eaten by the wildlife, and which one is totally ignored.......

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    8. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Mike, yes, the broad premise of antrhopogenic global warming is settled, that is, that human activity is causing rapid warming of the planet due to excessive carbon dioxide release. Yet the fine details of rate of warming, sea level rises, effects on climate, environment, biology, and land use etc will receive ongoing study and debate for sure.

      The parallels with the nutrition sciences are clear. Most dietitians and nutritionists know what the general range of healthy eating is, and this is reflected…

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    9. rory robertson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      Paul,

      You wrote, "...this does not mean that nutrition scientists won't disagree over finer details...".

      Finer details! If Metabolic Syndrome - aka, "insulin resistance syndrome" - should be our guide for fixing obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and related maladies including cancer - rather than the primitive, mistaken "science" of saturated fat, LDL cholesterol and heart disease - then dietitians and health authorities are recommending a (harmful) HIGH-carb diet to the fat and sick rather…

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    10. Michelle Bruce

      citizen

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      I'll take the word of ants and other bugs over the advice of nutrition professionals any day. I remember when nutrition professionals used to come to my school and teach us that McDonald's food is healthy because it has all the important food groups, like bread, meat, lettuce and cheese. McDonald's burgers were also promoted as the latest word in science in the 1990s, both in North America and in China. It isn't all that surprising when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in the U.S. receives…

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    11. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      Mike and Michelle,

      I think you're onto something with the ants. Why not test all your food on ants? You could then write the book. I suggest:

      "The Formica Diet -- Eat Like an Ant"

      (You'd prob have to fudge the sugar ant thing, though.)

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    12. Michelle Bruce

      citizen

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      I don't want to write a book, I couldn't care less what other people eat and I am not interested in making money from this. I therefore, have no need for 'fudge'.

      Sugar mimics honey. When you feed sugar to bees for a prolonged period, bees get sick. That has already been published by bee keepers.

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    13. rory robertson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to rory robertson

      Tim (Crowe),

      On top of the issue of trans fat (above), what's the latest on polyunsaturated "vegetable oils" in Margarine causing cancer?

      Hasn't that been a nagging issue in the literature for decades, including via the disturbing results of the famous LA Veterans Administration Hospital Study? http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140673671910865/abstract

      Is that a bit of a worry? My understanding is that our margarines and processed food supply include heaps of added seed oils, so too Australia's dietary guidelines: http://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/how-much-do-we-need-each-day/sample-meal-plan-men

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    14. Rosemary Stanton

      Nutritionist & Visiting Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Michelle Bruce

      Michelle

      I agree that it should never be permitted for anyone from a fast food company to come and advertise their wares to school kids. I also do not think professional associations should take funds from food companies.

      It makes sense to take information from people who are not conflicted. In the US, you have the wonderful Professor Marion Nestle and her excellent website.

      In Australia, we have a National Health and Medical Research Council who produce our dietary guidelines - based on an exacting evidence base which is clearly stated on their website and in publications.

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    15. Rosemary Stanton

      Nutritionist & Visiting Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to rory robertson

      Rory

      I have just returned from a few days away and don't intend to go over all your emails, especially as so many are basically 'cut and paste' jobs.

      I do, however, take issue with your accusation that I (and also my colleague Professor Lee) do not think there is great need to change the national diet to address diet-related health problems. That is simply untrue and we (and many others) have fought long and hard to get Australians off junk foods and onto healthier foods.

      The Dietary Guidelines…

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    16. rory robertson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to rory robertson

      Readers,

      Manufactured polyunsaturated oils are not on Tim's list in his article above (nor is sugar) - and no-one seems keen to discuss the issue - but there do appear to be well-based concerns regarding polyunsaturated oils and cancer. For example,

      "[In the US]...the FDA has been investigating other strange compounds that pop up in vegetable oils during processing: monochlorpropane diols and glycidol esters (MCPDs), which are also produced by heat and have been targeted by the European Food and…

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    17. Michelle Bruce

      citizen

      In reply to Rosemary Stanton

      Rosemary, your article makes some big claims and you cite the Journal of the American College of Nutrition as your main source of information. My point was that the American food and drug industry is highly corrupt and well meaning Australians should be wary of following American nutritional guidelines. The nutrition professionals that came to my school introduced themselves as nutrition experts and mentioned no links or sponsorship from the fast food sector. This is the problem these days, it is…

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    18. Rosemary Stanton

      Nutritionist & Visiting Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Michelle Bruce

      Michelle

      We're now way off the topic of this Conversation so I won't go on. However, let me assure you that the Australian Dietary Guidelines have always been prepared by Australian experts and we do not just follow US guidelines.

      I am not sure which of my many pieces you are quoting, but I cite many publications and certainly would never confine myself to the Am Coll Nutr.

      Let's discuss things further in some future Conversation on nutrition as this one is now way to unwieldy.

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    19. Michelle Bruce

      citizen

      In reply to Rosemary Stanton

      I was simply quoting your own article above Rosemary: 'Six new nutrition cancer prevention guidelines published today in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition reinforce some sound advice.....' You then go on to say what those guidelines are, adding that the 'eat more soy food' part 'barely made it to the limited level of evidence' mark. Why you would take pains to re-publish something which came from the American College of Nutrition containing strongly worded material which barely made it to the limited level of evidence mark is anyone's guess.

      I quite like the free and searching nature of this discussion and don't think it should be wielded in any particular direction, but I have no objection to moving onto something else. There was an interesting series on Aboriginal rights which I am sorry to have missed entirely.

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    20. Tim Crowe

      Associate Professor in Nutrition at Deakin University

      In reply to Michelle Bruce

      Hello Michelle - I was the author of the article, not Rosemary. And the reason some of the lower-quality recommendations were cited was done to contrast to how the WCRF assessed the evidence to put them in context as some of these 6 recommendations are over-played

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    21. Michelle Bruce

      citizen

      In reply to Tim Crowe

      And so you are Tim! Thanks for the correction. Rosemary's replies gave me the impression she was the author. Easy mistake to make and just as easily corrected.

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    22. Michelle Bruce

      citizen

      In reply to rory robertson

      I think it's probably linked to overconsumption of both sugar and meat Rory. No one can deny that Western cultures have a predilection towards gluttony which causes a multitude of health problems. But having meat every day (ethical and animal welfare considerations aside) is simply environmentally unsustainable. The world can't feed 10 billion people with beef (unless it is beef of the lab grown variety). For now everyone is going to have to make some changes to their diet, and this means cutting down on meat consumption. If it leads to a reduced chance of cancer, that's a fine reward for making environmentally responsible choices.

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    23. rory robertson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Michelle Bruce

      Michelle,

      Let's not conflate scientific evidence on the basis for a healthy human diet - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19082851 ;
      http://authoritynutrition.com/23-studies-on-low-carb-and-low-fat-diets/ ;
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0GSSSE4l8U - with opinions about what might be the best path for the environment.

      Or at least, let's get a stronger agreement on the former so we can restructure food production and the food supply in a way that is as sympathetic as possible to both the environment and human health.

      Michelle, I agree that these conversations should be wide-ranging. In any case, there is plenty of room to discuss diet and the environment on this separate Conversation: https://theconversation.com/healthy-diet-healthier-planet-26152#comment_408566

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    24. Rosemary Stanton

      Nutritionist & Visiting Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to rory robertson

      Rory

      Your first reference is for 12 weeks, 40 people, 20 in each group. All on restricted calories. No long term follow up. Did you read the whole thing and check the confidence intervals?

      The second reference is to a blog site which looks at 23 studies. How were they selected? How many of them are long term? How many of them use thousands of people?

      No one is doubting that a low carb diet can be used for short-term weight loss. Any diet with reduced energy intake will lead to weight loss. What we need are long-term results for healthful outcome. So far, we don't have these and the 12 month results for low carb diets don't show any advantages over other low energy diets.

      Check out the National Weight Control Registry results for people who have maintained their losses of at least 15kg for at least 6 years. I've posted the references before, but they're not hard to find.

      Bowel cancer, by the way, can take many years to develop.

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    25. rory robertson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Rosemary Stanton

      Rosemary,

      Thanks for your response but you have got to be kidding! You are happy to dismiss 23 randomised-controlled trials (RCTs) - the gold standard of science, all published in respected journals - of Low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diets, yet have no comment on the mistaken science of saturated fat at the heart of Australia's dietary guidelines? http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2010/01/13/ajcn.2009.27725.full.pdf+html (Note that study features 5–23 years of "follow-up of 347,747 subjects…

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    26. Michelle Bruce

      citizen

      In reply to Mike Stasse

      I don't know Mike, Tovar is making some big generalizations in his article. There are many type of farmers who have different relationships to the land and the eco system in general. Here is one type of farmer very common in the USA:

      http://www.hlntv.com/video/2014/07/10/chicken-abuse-uncovered-nc-farm

      There are also different people all over the world, with very different habits. I don't know who the 'we' he refers to are, but I am pretty sure me and Tovar have very different diets.

      I don't…

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    27. Michelle Bruce

      citizen

      In reply to rory robertson

      Hi Rory. I think we should take a wide view in discussing causes of cancer because of the very nature of the disease. Food production is not only relevant to the quality of the product consumed, but to impact on human habitat. You can't divorce one from the other, they are all pieces of the puzzle. Looking at the parts without the whole will only lead to confusion. And the truth is that much of the discussion is policy driven and comes in the form of infomercials.

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  38. Karen Bevis

    Health Sector

    There seems to be some confusion in this article between calcium and dairy. Yes dairy contains calcium, but it is dairy that raises the risk of prostate cancer, and calcium that may provide some protection from colorectal cancer. Surely then the answer is not a balancing act between trying to protect onself from two cancers with seemingly conflicting risk factors if one looks only at dairy as a source of calcium. Rather it is the choice to consume calcium from sources other than dairy. Dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds (nut butters, tahini), tofu set with calcium, and fortified non-dairy products are all good sources of calcium. Many indigenous peoples, such as Australian Aborigines, did not consume the milk of other species before white man came. Many cultures still have little dairy intake, and experience low rates of osteoporosis compared to western cultures. We don't need to rely on dairy for our calcium.

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    1. rory robertson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Karen Bevis

      Karen,

      Before you get carried away convicting cow's milk, cheese and butter of causing cancer, you might consider the flimsiness of the WCRF's "evidence", as discussed here earlier with Rosemary Stanton: https://theconversation.com/six-foods-that-increase-or-decrease-your-risk-of-cancer-28270#comment_414858

      Readers, still outstanding is the question of the extent to which trans fats and polyunsaturated "vegetable oils" in margarines and other (home-made or imported) manufactured foods consumed in Australia cause cancer: https://theconversation.com/six-foods-that-increase-or-decrease-your-risk-of-cancer-28270#comment_417681

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    2. Rosemary Stanton

      Nutritionist & Visiting Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to Karen Bevis

      Karen

      There is no single food that is essential. An adequate diet can be constructed with or without animal products. For that reason, the Dietary Guidelines include a range of foods within each of the 5 food groups.

      Nor is osteoporosis related to a single factor. Populations who do or do not include milk, cheese and yoghurt develop osteoporosis. Other factors include consumption of fruit and vegetables (protective), weight bearing exercise (also protective), not smoking or consuming large quantities of alcohol. There are others, but we'e getting off topic so I'll stop there.

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    3. Terry J Wall

      Still Learning at University of Life

      In reply to Karen Bevis

      Karen,
      but then there is the Masai and many other nomadic tribes of people who drink 95% of their dietary needs from cattle, with some sheep and goats milk. The other 5% is meat when available.
      Ok it is not pasteurized which will be a component of why they are slim, athletic, attractive, strong teeth and plenty of smiles. Way better in every regard to those eating largely maize meal. Ya gotta love America and their ability to turn maize into sugar, dairy spread and most any thing else. Maybe that explains a lot.

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  39. rory robertson

    logged in via email @gmail.com

    Rosemary and Tim (Crowe),

    Earlier on this thread, I wrote: "On meat, eggs, cheese and milk, I worry that the false demonisation of these traditional and healthy foods - via fluffy faulty "science" and mistaken dietary advice: first, the saturated fat and/or cholesterol in them supposedly would give us heart disease (nope!); and now meat and milk supposedly will give us cancer (...nope!) - is robbing many of Australia's children of the opportunity to grow big and strong like their forebears": https://theconversation.com/six-foods-that-increase-or-decrease-your-risk-of-cancer-28270#comment_414858

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    1. Rosemary Stanton

      Nutritionist & Visiting Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to rory robertson

      OK Rory

      Happy to reply to this case study - although it is not directly related to the topic.

      I agree that a child who is put on a vegan diet has risks that need to be addressed.

      This issue is included in the NHMRC Infant Feeding Guidelines which include the following information (page 91):
      "Care needs to be taken with a plant-based diet to ensure that supplies of iron and zinc are adequate..
      "Mothers who follow a vegan diet shoulod breastfeed their infants for as long as possible, 2 years or…

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    2. rory robertson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Rosemary Stanton

      Rosemary,

      I'm grateful for your detailed response on veganism/vegetarianism and the health of children. I do appreciate it. I think your assistance on that topic is very helpful.

      At the same time, I'm bemused by your insistence that I should "Please desist from ...claims that milk, cheese, meat and eggs have been demonised", as that is "simply untrue".

      Again, look above, Rosemary. The headline is: "Six foods that increase or decrease your risk of cancer", with sub-headings: "3+4. Avoid red and…

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  40. Paul Rogers

    Manager

    The headline could read like this: "Mediterranean Diets Best for Diabetes", because that's what the evidence says. Traditional Mediterranean diets are low in red and processed meat and high fruit, veg, beans, whole grains, olive oil and fish. You can reduce your risk of bowel cancer and prevent or manage diabetes at the same time.

    In meta-analyses and systemic reviews, Mediterranean diets topped low-carb diets for weight loss and glycaemic control (HbA1C). There is no need to risk dangerous low-carb, high-meat diets when a Mediterranean diet is superior, and ticks all the healthy eating boxes as well.

    "Systematic review and meta-analysis of different dietary approaches to the management of type 2 diabetes." http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/97/3/505.long

    "Mediterranean diet and type 2 diabetes." http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24357346

    Note that these reviews looked at the cumulative evidence from dozens of randomised studies and not cherry-picked data.

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    1. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      An addendum to the above. Red meat is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, and so are low-carb diets in long-term studies. Red meat consumption is also associated with an increased risk of total, CVD, and cancer mortality. Further studies are not doubt required to elaborate risk more precisely.

      "Red meat consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: 3 cohorts of US adults and an updated meta-analysis." http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21831992
      "Changes in red meat consumption and subsequent risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus: three cohorts of US men and women." http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23779232
      "Red meat consumption and mortality: results from 2 prospective cohort studies." http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22412075
      "Low-carbohydrate diet scores and risk of type 2 diabetes in men." http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21310828

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    2. rory robertson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      Paul,

      I'm sorry, but I had to laugh when I looked at the various links you posted. Your king-pin researcher - Harvard's Professor Walter Willett - is so busy publishing stuff willy-nilly - meat causes diabetes! - that he's forgotten to be consistent. Here he is saying much of what I am saying: "If Americans could eliminate sugary beverages, potatoes, white bread, pasta [from the Mediterranean?], white rice and sugary snacks, we would wipe out almost all the problems we have with weight and diabetes…

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    3. rory robertson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to rory robertson

      Paul,

      While I am on the topic of the unreliability of sugar data in particular, here's what the Australian Bureau of Statistics yesterday said more generally about the reliability of its recently released national nutrition survey: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4364.0.55.007~2011-12~Main%20Features~Under-reporting~730

      So, again, my advice to you and others is to be a bit careful about drawing strong conclusions about what causes cancer and/or type 2 diabetes on the basis of studies that do not properly measure the consumption of added sugar, and then do not properly deal with the impressively high correlation between sugar and meat, in both individual and national diets.

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    4. Mike Stasse

      Retired Energy Consultant

      In reply to rory robertson

      I salute your staying powers Rory......

      Thanks for all that research...

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    5. Rosemary Stanton

      Nutritionist & Visiting Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to rory robertson

      Rory

      Can I suggest that if you persist in statements such as claiming that highly respected Professors who have spent many years publishing their research results are 'clownish' (which you've used several times) or describing Professor Walter Willett as 'your king pin' researcher who you say publishes 'willy-nilly', and if you persist with the "cut and paste" contributions, I think you are breaching the Conversation's community standards.

      Respectful contributions are required.

      The study Paul quotes here refers to results gathered from more than 4 million person years of follow up. Did you actually read the paper (and I don't just mean the abstract as the full paper is available)?

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    6. Rosemary Stanton

      Nutritionist & Visiting Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to rory robertson

      Rory

      I was at the ABS for their release and they assured me they are noting the under-reporting. They are also aware that people specifically under-report foods high in fat and sugar and that those who are overweight under-report the most.

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    7. rory robertson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Rosemary Stanton

      Rosemary,

      Thanks for that. Yes, I agree that the ABS will be doing its best to adjust for the fact that the underlying responses to the national nutrition survey are somewhat unreliable, especially when it comes to what fat and sick people - those with "metabolic syndrome", those most at risk of various cancers - are eating.

      Awkwardly, the thing we need need to know the most about is what's hardest to get.

      That's why we need to look very carefully at other - more reliable - datasets when they…

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    8. Rosemary Stanton

      Nutritionist & Visiting Fellow at UNSW Australia

      In reply to rory robertson

      Rory

      As you have already quoted from the MJA article, for Aboriginal people "Much of this burden of disease is due to extremely poor nutrition throughout life". This begins with poor nutrition of women during pregnancy. The Aboriginal people living in remote communities do not have easy and affordable access to healthy foods and, sadly, large corporations market to them (and others) cheap junk foods and drinks.

      Of course, the problems involve added sugar - not only, but also. Why do you ignore…

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    9. rory robertson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Rosemary Stanton

      Rosemary,

      Thanks for your thoughts. In response, I would like to make several points.

      FIRST, you are absolutely right to correct me on using the phrase "willy nilly" with respect to Professor Walter Willet's publishing record. I was in a rush to be somewhere else, and at the moment of writing I confused Professor Willett with one of his co-inventors of the modern Mediterranean Diet, Dr Ancel Keys. It was Dr Ancel Keys and his overly influential mistaken claims on saturated fat and heart disease…

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    10. rory robertson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Rosemary Stanton

      Rosemary,

      The Australia Dietary Guidelines are not my sole concern at present. Indeed, I have started doing school talks based on the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines. Here's a talk that I intend to fine-tune over time as I gain a greater understanding of the ADG's weaknesses and strengths: http://www.australianparadox.com/pdf/talktoyear3boys.pdf

      For now, I'm concerned at the crisis in dietary advice in Australia via the information provided to the fat and sick - those most at risk of cancers…

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  41. Paul Rogers

    Manager

    Much of what Tim Crowe writes here is confirmed by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and their Diet and Cancer Report and updates. http://www.dietandcancerreport.org/expert_report/index.php. (Also see his links.)

    The WCRF is the global leader in reviewing and reporting on nutrition and lifestyle elements in human cancer. The Second Expert Report and Updates is an extremely thorough, detailed and meticulous analysis and presentation of the risks of dietary and lifestyle elements in human cancers…

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    1. Tim Crowe

      Associate Professor in Nutrition at Deakin University

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      And of the long, long list of dietary and lifestyle factors covered in the report that could be directly implicated in protecting against or increasing the risk of cancer, even at the lowest level of evidence quality, sugar (sucrose), margarines, and seeds oils are not even mentioned. That does not mean that 'no or little evidence' means that one day a greater level of evidence may implicate a direct link, but until then there are dozens of positive dietary and lifestyle changes a person can make that will directly affect their own risk of cancer.

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  42. rory robertson

    logged in via email @gmail.com

    Readers,

    Several times in this Conversation, I have posted information on the causes of cancer, metabolic syndrome, the history of nutrition science, and the substance of the science behind low-carb and Mediterranean diets, drawn from Nina Teicholz's 2014 book, "The Big Fat Surprise". I have just come across an audio recording of Nina discussing her book and her findings.

    For those interested, I'll leave it to you to judge if Nina knows what she is talking about, and thus whether or not I have credibility, given I am posting her material. If you are interested, just double-click and the main discussion starts about five minutes in: http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/d/d/3/dd34d09a36d82065/PaleoSolution-231.mp3?c_id=7354422&expiration=1405046140&hwt=5f4f7210dcd0e34e8b61b93233be9689

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    1. Michelle Bruce

      citizen

      In reply to rory robertson

      Hi Rory. That was an interesting talk with Nina, thanks for posting the link. I agree with much of what was said, especially the comments on low-fat milk.

      But Nina also seems to think that a few 'experts' control food production and consumption in the US, which seems incorrect. The 'experts' work under pressure from big agricultural companies, not the other way around! In Nina's analysis the cart pulls the horse. If you take the case of low-fat milk for instance, you will see that where there was…

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  43. Mike Stasse

    Retired Energy Consultant

    Maggie Beer is starting a revolution...she wants to change the food in aged care facilities.

    When she was talking about her vision on ACA last night, she had a beautiful array of eggs, butter, full cream milk, vegetables and fruit. Very different to the food in most aged care homes. Unfortunately, most of the food in these facilities is highly processed and absolutely loaded with sugar.

    I would love to see Maggie get rid of the sugar for the aged, especially because we know excess sugar is the major cause of dementia and other chronic illness, but she is spot on about the elderly needing fats!

    The journalist said, "What about low-fat stuff Maggie?"

    Maggie said, "We need to have a diet for the aged a diet that is full of protein and richness of full fat." Very true Maggie! Fat is so essential for everyone, but especially for the very young and the elderly.

    Bring back the fat!

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  44. Paul Rogers

    Manager

    This is slightly off topic, but still relevant in the general context of food and cancer. A new systemic review and meta-analysis of low-carbohydrate diets has found *no advantage* for weight loss, cardiovascular risk, or diabetes risk in overweight and obese adults in randomised controlled trials when compared to other weight loss diets of equal energy intake over periods of up to two years.

    "Low Carbohydrate versus Isoenergetic Balanced Diets for Reducing Weight and Cardiovascular Risk: A Systematic…

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    1. rory robertson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      Paul,

      I suspect you are responding to my earlier discussion of the benefits of low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diets to fix metabolic syndrome and related maladies including cancer: https://theconversation.com/six-foods-that-increase-or-decrease-your-risk-of-cancer-28270#comment_421688

      Those LCHF diets - as increasingly used by many real doctors globally to cure real patients - tend to be roughly - in terms of total energy consumed - ~10% carbs (say <50g/day), ~20% protein and ~70% fat.

      Paul, they are…

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    2. rory robertson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      Readers,

      Happy National Diabetes Week in Australia.

      Just in: 26 prominent doctors and scientists on why low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diets should become the standard treatment for diabetes and metabolic syndrome. If that happens, I expect LCHF also will become the standard approach to minimise various obesity-related cancers.

      This paper is a very big deal. It is history in the making.

      ABSTRACT:

      "The inability of current recommendations to control the epidemic of diabetes, the specific failure…

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    3. Harry Mavros

      Humble servant

      In reply to rory robertson

      Contra the final paragraph, the vast body of literature shows that protein is the most satiating macronutrient, and that carbs and fats are a distant (and more or less equal) second.

      The idea that fat is the most satiating macro goes against what we know about 'passive' overconsumption, which is that fats are the most easy to overconsume (due primarily to their calorie density, but also to their capacity to enhance the palatibility of foods...which is why we eat more of a steak diane than a boiled…

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  45. Matt Bennett

    logged in via email @gmail.com

    Isn't the prevalence of cancer really a reflection of your immune system's health?

    I thought it is accepted wisdom that we're all developing numerous cancerous cells ALL THE TIME; a persistent and problematic cancer is merely one of innumerable spontaneous ones that is not satisfactorily dealt with by your immune system.

    Which is to say, it's not about "preventing" cancers per se, but rather being healthy enough to shrug most, if not all, of them off?

    Is this not the case?

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    1. Terry J Wall

      Still Learning at University of Life

      In reply to Matt Bennett

      It is exactly the case Matt. Cancer cells are killed off happily every day provided your immune system has the where with all to:
      1 identify the cancer cell
      2 kill it off
      3 dispose of it.

      Problem today, is that it does not suit the business model of the disease, diagnosis, drugs multinational corporations. I suspect,because of cognitive dissonance that has been put in place starting at year one in Medical colleges,this will not change until Doctors are put on salaries..

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