Dietary cholesterol linked to increased breast cancer risk
The breaking medical news of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) revealed on June 27 that nine studies linked dietary cholesterol with an increased risk for breast cancer.
PCRM cited a meta-analysis published in Nutrition Research.
“Researchers assessed nine studies that encompassed 387,069 participants and followed dietary cholesterol intake and cancer incidence rates. Those who consumed the most cholesterol had a 29-percent increased risk for breast cancer when compared to those who consumed the least,” wrote PCRM.
“Since our bodies make plenty of cholesterol for our needs, we do not need to add any in our diet. Cholesterol is found in all foods that come from animals: red meat, poultry, fish, chicken, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products. Choosing lean cuts of meat is not enough; the cholesterol is mainly in the lean portion. Many people are surprised to learn that chicken contains as much cholesterol as beef, 25 milligrams per ounce,” said a previous PCRM report titled “Cholesterol and Heart Disease.”
PCRM also stressed that every 4-ounce serving of beef or chicken contains 100 mg of cholesterol. Most shellfish are also high in cholesterol.
On the other hand, PCRM said no foods from plants contain cholesterol, since plants do not have a liver to produce it.
Every 100 mg of cholesterol in an individual’s daily diet adds roughly five points to the person’s cholesterol level, although this varies from person to person. In practical terms, 100 mg of cholesterol is contained in 4 ounces of beef or chicken, half an egg, or three cups of milk.
People can reduce their cholesterol levels dramatically by changing the foods they eat. For every 1 percent you reduce your cholesterol level, you reduce your risk of heart disease by 2 percent. For example, a reduction from 300 mg per per deciliter to 200 mg/dl (i.e., a one-third reduction) will yield a two-thirds reduction in the risk of a heart attack. For some people, the benefits are even greater.
PCRM stressed studies which showed that replacing animal protein with soy protein reduces blood cholesterol levels even when the total amount of fat and saturated fat in the diet remains the same. PCRM also cited the advantages of a high fiber, plant-based diet.
“Soluble fiber slows the absorption of some food components, such as cholesterol, and reduces the amount of cholesterol the liver produces. Every 10 grams of fiber per day reduces the risk of dying by 10 percent. Oats, barley, beans and some fruits and vegetables are all good sources of soluble fiber. There is no fiber in any animal product. An average American eats 10 to 15 g of fiber per day. The recommended daily amount is 20 to 35 g per day. Eating a vegetarian diet would allow you to consume more fiber from foods including cereals, dried beans and peas, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.”
The website of scientist T. Colin Campbell cited PCRM’s “Cancer Facts: Meat Consumption and Cancer Risk” that discussed the carcinogenic compounds in cooked meat. Heterocyclic amines, a family of mutagenic compounds, are produced during the cooking process of many animal products, including chicken, beef, pork and fish. The article cited that even meat that is cooked under normal grilling, frying, or oven-broiling may contain significant quantities of these mutagens. The longer and hotter the meat is cooked, the more these compounds form. In some studies, grilled chicken formed higher concentrations of these cancer-causing substances than other types of cooked meat.
In a previous Inquirer Science and Health interview with Campbell, he stressed: “If Filipinos decided to eat plant-based diets and seriously rejected fast-food chains, they would gain much stature, more health, and be much richer and independent in the future.”
The book “The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health” which he coauthored with physician Thomas M. Campbell II, cited the role of diet in preventing the disease. “Animal protein increases the levels of a hormone, IGF-1, which is a risk factor for cancer, and high casein (the main protein of cow’s milk) diets allow more carcinogens into cells, which allow more dangerous carcinogen products to bind to DNA, which allow more mutagenic reactions that give rise to cancer cells, which allow more rapid growth of tumors once they are initially formed.”
It stresses that genes by themselves do not determine the onset of disease. Rather, they are activated, or expressed, and nutrition plays a critical role in determining which genes—good and bad—are activated.