Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Carbs Cause Cancer, Not Fat

If you're a human being, and you are, more than likely you've been affected by cancer in some way.  Whether it's a close relative, or a friend, or someone more distant, we've all dealt with it.  I've been one of the lucky ones, though.  I only had my first encounter with the deadly disease a few months ago, when my good friend Shawn's mother passed away after a battle with breast cancer.  She was a wonderful woman, and it certainly was, and continues to be, a difficult time for all involved.

Unfortunately, nobody truly understands what causes cancer to develop.  Sure there are some things we know can cause cancer, like excessive sun exposure.  But the truth is there are more unknowns that knowns.  Take diet for example.  It seems intuitive that cancer would be linked to what we eat, and no doubt it is.  But what foods actually cause cancer?  Which foods protect against it?  And how would you even go about studying something like this scientifically, when the disease takes a lifetime to develop?

Well there seems to be have been a breakthrough, according to this recent video presentation by Craig Thompson, President and CEO of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.  And I quote...

"If you overfeed somebody with fat, you don't increase their cancer risk at all.  You overfeed somebody with carbohydrates, and you dramatically increase their cancer rate.  And protein is halfway in between."

Do a double take if you need it.  Queue up the video at about 27:10 for the real meat and potatoes.  And I repeat...  Overeating fat does not increase your risk for cancer, but overeating on carbohydrates DRAMATICALLY increases your risk for cancer.  And I'd like to reiterate, this is not some bozo on the internet saying this... this is the president and CEO of the #2 ranked cancer hospital in the country.  This is mainstream news.  This is real.

Now.  Here are my points, displayed in an organized fashion.

1.)  Eating fat does not increase your cancer risk.  And I've said this before, like two years ago in fact (1, 2, 3).  You've been fed a load of bullshit.  I told you so.

2.)  We eat too many carbohydrates.  In the past few decades, we as Americans have increased our caloric intake.  Many of us are eating more calories than we need.  Fact.  However... our fat intake has barely changed.  The extra calories we're eating are coming from CARBOHYDRATES (4)!  This does not bode well for our cancer risk.  

3.)  We do not eat too much fat.  Although Mr. Thompson feels that overeating on fat is perfectly fine for your cancer risk, he still thinks you should keep the fat in check for the sake of your heart health.  According to him, "Right now, every dietary guideline that you've learned about in school was developed for heart fitness.  You're much, much less likely to die of the diseases associated with heart disease [on a low fat diet].  And so we've had a dramatic decrease of almost 60% in the deaths in one generation from heart disease."

Okay, so we've had a 60% decrease in deaths from heart disease... but we're not eating less fat!  There are plenty of reasons we're not dying as often from heart disease, like a reduction in societal stress (believe it or not, it's true (5) ) and widespread use of statin drugs (they may not save lives, but they certainly reduce your risk for heart disease (6) ). 

4.)  Eating fat, specifically saturated fat, does NOT increase your risk for heart disease.  If there's anything I've talked about exhaustively on this blog, it's this very topic... the best of which can be found HERE, while related articles can be found here and here.  This man's specialty is in cancer, and I think he should stick to what he knows best.

5.)  Go enjoy a stick of butter!  Okay not really, that's gross.  But a small slab??  Ain't nothin' wrong with that!

I leave you with a little poem I wrote...
Fat doesn't give me cancer,
And it won't give me heart disease. 
Why don't I stop worrying then,
Pass the butter, please!