Cancer Patients Need Proper Diet and Exercise (cont.)
Moderator: what is the difference between saturated and monosaturated fats
Hendel: Saturated fat would be fat that derives from animal or dairy, because dairy derives from animal. So it's fats that are extremely implicated in cancer production, and those are the foods like red meats with fat built in marbleized, butter, dairy products that are full-fat or whole-fat, and addition to those, there's a subgroup called transfatty acids, and those are things like "coconut oil," "partially-hydrogenated oils," and these are heavily implicated in many diseases, including heart disease, strokes, and those are particularly implicated in colon cancer.
On the other end are the monounsaturated fats, which are things like avocados, olive oil, the fat you'll find in soy or tofu, nuts... these are the foods that we're trying to embrace in moderate amounts, because we believe they help healthy processes and may help prevent heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. We do want those fats as part of our diet. It's kind of the difference between good and bad fat, but in America, we've become so fat-phobic that we embraced a whole new group of foods high in sugars, and I think we went overboard on those in an effort to stay away from fat, and when you look across the book at professionals who talk about health, their principles have always been that of moderation; don't cut it out completely. Treat it as a dessert, or a "treat", an intermittent food.
I think we went overboard when we started to become an obese nation in trying to cut out fat, and became high calorie eaters. That's not any better, because it starts a whole new group of issues. Obesity is definitely being implicated in specific cancer, so if you're going to trade off fat for calories, you haven't accomplished a whole lot.
Moderator: What is the role of vitamins in cancer - are there some to embrace and some that do not help or actually harm?
Hendel: There is a concept out there in cancer genesis called "the free radical concept." There are free radicals that occur in the body, and these are groups of atoms that can cause damage to cells. They can impair the immune system and they can lead to things like infections, degenerative diseases (heart disease, cancer). We do need small amounts of them because they provide energy, but if they overwhelm the system, they can cause things that we believe ultimately lead to cancer. So what we want to do is bind up those free radicals, and stop their function. And the antioxidants are the group of vitamins that do that, particularly Vitamin A, beta carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin E. Even melatonin is considered an antioxidant, and there are even certain herbs that have antioxidant properties. So the role of vitamins is extremely important in cancer prevention, but you want to be careful because if you've been diagnosed with cancer, and are undergoing therapy, you need someone knowledgeable to tell you what vitamins to be taking, because at the time you're trying to use vitamins to prevent free-radical damage, you might be feeding mutant cells. You really have to approach it in a careful fashion, but if you're talking about cancer prevention, taking antioxidants is extremely important.
Clearly, they have other benefits across the board for other issues. There's a lot of research on this particular topic, and I'm constantly being faxed with various studies being done. And one of the antioxidants is lycopene and up until a few years ago, there was conflicting information about whether it did fight certain cancers. But there is a center called the Fred Hutchinson's Center, and they've done a lot of research on vitamins, and up until recently (their last publication was back in late 1999) they found that some experimentation found lycopene in tomatoes to prevent cancer, and they had the same number of different experiments that showed the opposite. Recently, UCLA's doctor Heber came out with a new study where he showed V8 juice and other tomato products, and he said that he's proven that V8 juice is the cancer warrior of choice. So his study is quite compelling because drinking a can of V8 a day is a really easy thing to do, and if that's all it takes to prevent certain changes or minimize certain changes, it's the really easy thing for the average person to do. And that's a compelling study, and Americans have to take up and notice. Big Macs aren't going to do it, bottom line.
Moderator: Are there free radicals that occur outside the body?
Hendel: Yes, there are free radicals that occur outside the body, but most people that ask that question are referring to environmental stressors that can cause changes. The story in my family is a good indication; I used to walk around quite proudly because there wasn't cancer even in distant relatives. Not a single relative developed cancer until my mother did. She developed it in her 60s, and was on hormone replacement therapy long after her hot flashes had subsided, and I was unaware of that. She had been a woman who had yo-yo dieted all her life, and had a lot of emotional stress in her life, and she spontaneously developed cancer at age 62. I use "spontaneously" with caution, though she had a yearly mammogram. We have to assume that in one year, a very aggressive cancer began to grow, and I'm not sure whether I can attribute that growth to one choice she made, but it's quite obvious that some of her lifestyle choices was a good explanation for simulating something that was there. I like to think of cancer as a dormancy, and only when you flick it does the switch turn the cancer on. She didn't take vitamins, was a very heavy protein eater, and to this day, we don't have an explanation as to why someone like my mom developed cancer. So I clearly implicate lifestyle, those free-radical contributions, her lack of doing stress detoxification, and individuals need to think of all those pieces of the pie as being contributing factors. I would like to comment and say that most professionals believe that lifestyle can ultimately prevent it if it's going to happen; we have to account for the genetic factor and that we're exposed to thing we never think about, but even under those circumstances, leading a really healthy or nutritious lifestyle can possibly prevent or minimize some of the cancers we ultimately succumb to.