Category Archives: cancer

Mediterranean Diet Prevents Cancer in Women But Not Men

Steve Parker MD, low-carb diet, diabetic diet
Olives, olive oil, and vinegar: classic Mediterranean foods

The traditional Mediterranean diet has long been linked to lower risk of certain cancers, particularly colon, breast, uterus, and prostate cancer. That’s one reason the diets usually ranked as the #1 healthiest diet in the U.S. News and World Report’s annual diet survey. A new study of a Netherlands population suggest that the anti-cancer benefit applies only to women. From a 2020 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

In this NLCS analysis, sex-specific associations of a priori defined Mediterranean diet adherence with risks of overall cancer and cancer subgroups defined by relations with 3 major cancer risk factors (tobacco smoking, obesity, and alcohol consumption) were investigated. In women, middle compared with low aMEDr values [alternate Mediterranean diet score without alcohol] were significantly associated with a reduced risk of overall cancer and the majority of the cancer subgroups investigated. Other associations in women were not statistically significant after full adjustment for confounding, but all estimates were below 1. No association was observed between aMEDr and risk of overall cancer or any of the cancer subgroups in men. Inclusion of alcohol in the Mediterranean diet score diminished the model performance.

Even though the association of Mediterranean diet adherence with overall cancer risk is comprised of a combination of potentially diverging associations with individual cancer (sub)types, overall cancer risk is an interesting end point for epidemiological studies. It provides insight in the overall possible benefits of Mediterranean diet adherence and the potential of the Mediterranean diet as a dietary strategy for cancer prevention. Findings of previously conducted prospective studies evaluating the relation between a priori defined Mediterranean diet adherence and overall cancer risk have been inconclusive and were rarely specified by sex.

A priori defined Mediterranean diet adherence has previously significantly been associated with a reduced overall cancer risk in the total European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort as well as the Greek EPIC cohort.9,10 Comparing the highest with the lowest Mediterranean diet adherence category in the total EPIC cohort, HRs (95% CIs) of 0.93 (0.88-0.99) and 0.93 (0.89-0.96) were observed for men and women, respectively. Although inverse associations were also suggested for both sexes in the Greek EPIC cohort, only effect estimates obtained in women reached statistical significance (HRhigh vs low [95% CI]: 0.83 [0.63-1.09] for men and 0.73 [0.56-0.96] for women). In addition to the previously mentioned EPIC studies, weak inverse associations between Mediterranean diet adherence and overall cancer risk were observed in men (HRper tertile increase [95% CI]: 0.97 [0.94-1.01]) and women (HRper tertile increase [95% CI]: 0.97 [0.93-1.00]) participating in the Swedish prospective Västerbotten Intervention Programme. In the present analysis of the NLCS cohort, a priori defined Mediterranean diet adherence was not associated with overall cancer risk in men. In regard to women, although the multivariable-adjusted associations in female NLCS participants were not statistically significant in most cases, effect estimates were stronger inverse than those observed for women in the total EPIC cohort, which did reach statistical significance possibly due to the larger number of cases. Additional cohort studies in Germany and France have investigated the association between Mediterranean diet adherence and overall cancer risk in men and women together and did not observe an association. Besides the prospective cohort evidence, a reduced overall cancer risk (borderline significant, P = .05) was indicated in patients with coronary heart disease who followed an α-linolenic acid-rich Mediterranean-type diet as opposed to a control diet close to the step 1 prudent diet of the American Heart Association in the randomized Lyon Diet Heart Study. However, results should be interpreted with caution because they were based on only 24 incident cancer cases.

Source: Adherence to the Mediterranean Diet and Overall Cancer Incidence: The Netherlands Cohort Study – Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

At least we still have unequivocal evidence for the cardiovascular, longevity, and anti-dementia properties of the Mediterranean diet. Or do we?

Steve Parker, M.D.


Filed under cancer

Exercise Cuts Your Risk of Cancer by Up to 25%

Exercise is a fountain of youth available to every one

From UPI:

In findings published Thursday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers at the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health report that people who engaged in physical activity as recommended by the National Institutes of Health were able to reduce their risk for seven different types of cancer by as much as 25 percent.

This included common—and deadly—forms of the disease like colon and breast cancers, as well as endometrial cancer, kidney cancer, myeloma, liver cancer, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

*  *  *

Updated federal guidelines for physical activity recommend that people should aim for two and a half to five hours per week of moderate-intensity activity or 75 to 150 minutes per week of “vigorous activity.”

Source: Exercise may reduce risk for cancer by as much as 25 percent –

You can also reduce your risk of cancer by eating the traditional Mediterranean diet smoking, by not drinking excessive alcohol, and by not smoking.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Click the pic to purchase at E-book versions also available at Smashwords. com


Filed under cancer

Dr David Ludwig Calls for More Research on Ketogenic Diets

Sous vide chicken and sautéed sugar snap peas. This meal is part of a ketogenic diet.

From The Journal of Nutrition:

Recently, ketogenic diets have received substantial attention from the general public and nutrition research community. These very-low-carbohydrate diets, with fat comprising >70% of calories, have been dismissed as fads. However, they have a long history in clinical medicine and human evolution. Ketogenic diets appear to be more effective than low-fat diets for treatment of obesity and diabetes. In addition to the reductions in blood glucose and insulin achievable through carbohydrate restriction, chronic ketosis might confer unique metabolic benefits of relevance to cancer, neurodegenerative conditions, and other diseases associated with insulin resistance. Based on available evidence, a well-formulated ketogenic diet does not appear to have major safety concerns for the general public and can be considered a first-line approach for obesity and diabetes. High-quality clinical trials of ketogenic diets will be needed to assess important questions about their long-term effects and full potential in clinical medicine.

Source: Ketogenic Diet: Evidence for Optimism but High-Quality Research Needed | The Journal of Nutrition | Oxford Academic

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Click the pic below or here for a ketogenic diet.

low-carb mediterranean diet

Click the pic to purchase at E-book versions also available at


Filed under cancer, Dementia, ketogenic diet

Red and Processed Meats Not So Deadly After All?

From New York Times:

Public health officials for years have urged Americans to limit consumption of red meat and processed meats because of concerns that these foods are linked to heart disease, cancer and other ills.

But on Monday, in a remarkable turnabout, an international collaboration of researchers produced a series of analyses concluding that the advice, a bedrock of almost all dietary guidelines, is not backed by good scientific evidence.

Whew…What a relief! Dodged that bullet.

Click for Gina Kolata’s article.

Steve Parker, M.D.

low-carb mediterranean diet

Click the pic to purchase at E-book versions also available at


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Filed under cancer, Heart Disease

Do You Really Need That PPI?

“I don’t mind dying. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” –Woody Allen

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are widely used in the U.S. to treat or prevent heartburn and ulcers. For example, omeprazole is the 6th most prescribed drug in the U.S. according to one source. PPIs reduce acid production by the stomach. Doesn’t it make sense that God or Nature gave us that stomach acid for a reason? Like to kill germs or aid the digestive process?

From the British Medical Journal:

Taking PPIs is associated with a small excess of cause specific mortality including death due to cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and upper gastrointestinal cancer. The burden was also observed in patients without an indication for PPI use. Heightened vigilance in the use of PPI may be warranted.

Source: Estimates of all cause mortality and cause specific mortality associated with proton pump inhibitors among US veterans: cohort study | The BMJ

Click for UPI’s coverage.

If you suffer from frequent heatburn, try cutting down on carbohydrates.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Click the pic to purchase at E-book versions also available at Smashwords. com

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Filed under cancer, Longevity

Women With Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity-Related Cancer Risk

In general, women are a bit less likely to get cancer than men. But having type 2 diabetes and obesity negates that advantage.

“If you’re a woman with type 2 diabetes, you may be interested in a recent study done regarding obesitiy-related cancer risk. The CDC says that 40 percent of cancers in the U.S. are associated with being overweight or obese. These include cancers of the breast, gallbladder, liver, thyroid, kidneys, uterus, pancreas, upper stomach, colon and rectum, ovaries, multiple myelomas, adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, and meningiomas.

When it comes to diabetes and obesity, the duo “seem to be partly overlapping risk factors for the development of obesity-related cancer”. This especially includes breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer in those with type 2 diabetes, according to study authors.”

Source: Study Looks at Women With Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity-Related Cancer Risk

Regarding prostate cancer, I’ve seen one study that concluded diabetics are less likely to get prostate cancer.


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Filed under cancer

Can Diet and Exercise Prevent Cancer?

You need to worry about cancer because you have a roughly four in 10 chance of coming down with invasive cancer. (Skin cancers like squamous cell and basal cell are quite common, but rarely invasive.)

Dr. David Gorski is a breast cancer surgeon. He’s looked at the scientific literature on the linkage between diet and exercises, and the risk of developing cancer.

Here’s his conclusion from a review at Science-Based Medicine:

“You can reduce your risk of cancer by staying active and exercising, eating a healthy diet with a lot of plant-based foods and minimizing intake of processed meats, limiting alcohol consumption (although I think the WCRF/AICR guidelines go a bit too far in saying that you shouldn’t drink at all if possible), and maintaining a healthy weight. (Of course, if you stay active and eat a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight will probably not be a problem.) Conceptually, it’s easy to do. In practice, as I’m discovering, it’s anything but easy.”

Source: Diet and exercise versus cancer: A science-based view « Science-Based Medicine

The Mediterranean diet seems to protect against cancer.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: One of the reasons I write diet books is that I want to keep you from getting cancer.


Filed under cancer

Cancel Alcohol’s Carcinogenic Effect With Exercise

Jamesons Irish Whiskey Photo copyright: Steve Parker MD

Jamesons Irish Whiskey
Photo copyright: Steve Parker MD

It was just a few months ago we learned that you’ll die of cancer if you tipple. Well, a new study says you can counteract the carcinogenic alcohol with adequate physical activity.

A story at CNN tells us how much exercise it takes :

“Specifically, they looked at the impact of the recommended amount of weekly exercise for adults, which is 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity. That includes brisk walking, swimming and mowing the lawn, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. HHS also advises strength training for all major muscle groups at least twice a week.”

Source: Exercise can cancel out the booze, says study –

The rule of thumb on how much alcohol is relatively safe to drink is 7 typical drinks a week for women, and 14 for men.

Also remember that even one or two drinks under the right circumstances can have devastating consequences.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: All of my books have extensive recommendations on getting started with exercise, even if you’re a 300-lb couch potato.


Filed under Alcohol, cancer

Mediterranean Diet With Extra Olive Oil May Prevent Breast Cancer

From my pantry...

From my larder…

A Mediterranean-style diet with supplemental extra-virgin olive oil seemed to reduce the incidence of breast cancer in a Spanish population. This is consistent with prior observational studies that link the Mediterranean diet with lower rates of breast and other cancers (colon, prostate, uterus, and melanoma).

The study population involved 4,000 women who were followed for five years. Thirty-five new cases of breast cancer occurred in this PREDIMED study sub-analysis.

The comparison diets were a reduced-fat diet and Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts.

This is a relatively small study, so results may not be entirely reliable.

Action Plan

If you’re a woman hoping to avoid breast cancer, consider the Mediterranean diet and be sure to eat plenty of extra-virgin olive oil. A good way to do this is to use home-made vinaigrettes.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Even if you think Spaniards are jovial, you won’t find any in my books.

Reference: Mediterranean diet and invasive breast cancer risk among women at high cardiovascular risk in the PREDIMED trial. JAMA Internal Medicine, 2015. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.4838

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Filed under cancer, Health Benefits, Mediterranean Diet

Which Cancers Does Exercise Prevent?

Needs a bit more hormetic stress

“Would you spot me, bro?”

I’ve always assumed that exercise reduces the risk of cancer, contributing to the well-established fact that folks who exercise live longer than others.

But a recent study found a positive association between exercise and two cancers: melanoma and prostate. “Positive association” means the more you exercise, the higher your risk of melanoma and prostate cancer (if you have a prostate).

The good news is that exercise was linked to lower risk of 13 other cancers.

Here’s a quote for the New York Times Well blog:

The researchers found a reduced risk of breast, lung and colon cancers, which had been reported in earlier research. But they also found a lower risk of tumors in the liver, esophagus, kidney, stomach, endometrium, blood, bone marrow, head and neck, rectum and bladder.

And the reductions in risk for any of these 13 cancers rose steeply as people exercised more. When the researchers compared the top 10 percent of exercisers, meaning those who spent the most time each week engaging in moderate or vigorous workouts, to the 10 percent who were the least active, the exercisers were as much as 20 percent less likely to develop most of the cancers in the study.

I’m surprised the protective effect of exercise against cancer wasn’t stronger.

Action Plan

So how much physical activity does it take to prevent cancer? And what type of exercise? We await further studies for specific answers.

I’m hedging my bets with a combination of aerobic and strength training two or three times a week.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: If you think cancer’s bad, read one of my books. Wait, that didn’t come out right.

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Filed under cancer, Exercise