When the USDA came out with the Food Guide Pyramid in 1992, smart physicians and researchers predicted increases in heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Guess what we saw?
Increases in heart disease, diabetes and cancer. But why? Those of you old enough to remember the Pyramid will recall that fats and oils were at the top of the pyramid with the instructions to “use sparingly.” Grains, with no guidance on whole grains versus refined, made up the base of the pyramid at 6-11 servings per day.
The problem is that fats and oils, the healthy ones, are an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. But the Pyramid drove fats into the category of “fattening” in the eyes of the American public. To this day, many people think that foods high in fat will make them fat. This is just not true.
Now that I’ve gotten this out of the way, we need to move on to the meat of today’s article.
There have been some clear associations between healthy fats found in wild caught fish, nuts and olive oil and lowered rates of certain types of cancer as well as an adjunct to mainstream cancer treatment. Some examples include:
- Using omega 3 fatty acids to improve cancer outcomes.
- Olive oil use lowers colorectal cancer risk.
- EPA kills off pancreatic cancer in the lab.
- Healthy fats protect skin cells from skin cancer.
There are many more, but I think you get the idea.
This particular article is a review of the anti-cancer properties of omega-3 fatty acids. Here’s what the authors point out:
- Epoxydocosapentaenoic acids (EDPs) are compounds made from the omega-3 DHA.
- EDPs block the compound VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor). VEGF stimulates the growth of new blood vessels that is so important for tumor growth.
- EDFs block another compound called fibroblast growth factor 2 that also makes new blood vessels.
- EDFs block endothelial cell migration–another process needed to form new blood vessels.
- EDFs block the enzyme protease, which is needed for cancer cells to metastasize.
- In special cellular studies, EDPs have been shown to cut primary tumor growth and metastasis by up to 70%
- Interestingly, compounds derived from the omega-6 arachidonic acid increase angiogenesis and tumor progression.
The bottom line is that an increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats combined with a decrease in animal-based saturated fats and omega-6 fatty acids is clearly have a role to play when it comes to cancer in our bodies.
Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:
- wild caught fish
- grass fed meats (NOT grain finished) and wild game
- nuts and seeds (flaxseed, chia, almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc…)
- veg-a-fed eggs
Good sources of monounsaturated fats include:
- olive oil (extra virgin, cold pressed is best)
Foods high in omega-6 and animal saturated fats to avoid:
- vegetable oils (corn, soybean, peanut, cottonseed, etc…)
- commercially grown meats
- dairy products
If your fridge is a little short on items on the first 2 lists above and loaded with the third list, it’s time for a purge. Your future risk of cancer depends on it.