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*November/December 2004 issue of Dr. Greger's Newsletter*

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  • Michael Greger, M.D.
    ************************************** November/December 2004 issue of Dr. Michael Greger s Monthly Newsletter
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 27, 2004

      November/December 2004 issue of Dr. Michael Greger's "Monthly" Newsletter


      CONTENTS (online at http://www.DrGreger.org/newsletters.html)

      I. Latest Updates in Human Nutrition
      A. AGEd Meat
      B. Vegans Need to Eat More Greens, Beans, and Nuts
      C. Raw versus Cooked Vegetables for Cancer Prevention
      D. Meat, Cheese, Eggs, and Lymphoma
      E. Berries to Prevent Metastases?
      F. Cancer-Fighting Cranberries
      G. Eggs and Ovarian Cancer

      II. Mad Cow and Cancer DVDs Now on Video

      III. Personal Update--Spring 2005 Speaking Tour



      A. AGEd Meat

      The acronym of Advanced Glycoxidation End-products (AGE's, also known
      as glycotoxins) is an appropriate one. These AGE's accumulate in
      joints and cause arthritis;[1] they accumulate in the brain
      contributing to Alzheimer's disease,[2] and they accumulate in
      arteries causing high blood pressure[3] and atherosclerosis.[4] They
      build up in the eye and cause cataracts,[5] build up in the kidneys,
      contributing to kidney failure,[6] and build up in the penis causing
      male erectile dysfunction.[7] In fact there's a whole theory (the
      Maillard Theory) that blames nearly all the complications of aging on
      the buildup of these toxic compounds.[8]

      Where does this AGE stuff come from? Like free radicals, our body
      naturally produces these toxic AGE's every day. But, also like free
      radicals, there are a number of external sources we have control over
      so as to minimize our exposure. Cigarette smoke, for example, is a
      potent source of these glycotoxins,[9] but we also get them through
      our diet.

      Researchers at Mount Sinai recently measured the amount of AGE's in
      over a hundred common food items. They found that the five foods most
      tainted with Advanced Glycoxidation End-products (per serving) were
      broiled hot dogs, oven-fried chicken, oven-fried fish, McDonald's
      Chicken Nuggets, and broiled chicken breast. It turns out AGE's are
      found predominantly in meat.

      In fact, investigators with the famous Women's Health Study reported
      this September that the AGE's in meat may be why women who eat meat
      five or more times a week are at significantly higher risk for
      developing diabetes.[10]

      Dry heat, protein and fat seem to conspire to produce these
      glycotoxins. So while a broiled hot dog has over 10,000 units of
      AGE's per serving, a boiled hot dog has just under 7,000 (an apple or
      banana, in comparison, only has about 10 units). "Foods that contain
      mostly carbohydrates," the researchers note, "starches, fruits,
      vegetables.... contain the lowest AGE concentrations." At high enough
      temperatures, though, high fat and protein plant foods like broiled
      tofu and roasted nuts can also form significant AGE concentrations as

      The Mount Sinai researchers offer three suggestions for decreasing
      one's intake of AGEs: "Firstly, reduced intakes of AGEs can be
      achieved by reducing high-AGE sources such as full-fat cheeses, meats
      and highly processed foods..." Secondly, they recommended using
      cooking techniques that minimize AGE formation. In general, boiling,
      steaming, and microwaving were the cooking methods resulting in the
      least amount of AGEs, whereas frying, roasting and broiling were the
      worst. "Third," the investigators conclude, "the importance of
      selecting unprocessed nutrients when possible cannot be
      overemphasized." They noted, for example, that the AGE content in
      infant formula was found to be a 100-fold higher than in human breast
      milk, and expressed concern that this could lead to immune
      abnormalities in the developing infant.[11]

      The pharmaceutical industry is scrambling to find way to somehow
      counteract AGE's within the body,[12] but perhaps a smarter strategy
      is for people to just not consume so many of them in the first place.
      This means centering one's diet around whole plant foods which have
      ideally not been exposed to temperatures above about 400 degrees


      B. Vegans Need to Eat More Greens, Beans and Nuts

      Low fat vegetarian and vegan diets have proven remarkably successful
      in the treatment of heart disease,[30] diabetes,[31] and high blood
      pressure.[32] Many practitioners are hesitant, though, to put people
      on such diets fearing their nutritional adequacy. This is ironic,
      given that when people switch from an omnivorous diet their intake of
      many nutrients greatly improves. They tend to eat less saturated fat
      and cholesterol, of course, but also experience favorable increases
      in antioxidants like B carotene and vitamin C, B vitamins like
      thiamin and folate, and minerals like magnesium and potassium.[33]

      The Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine (a great
      organization--visit http://www.pcrm.org) recently published a dietary
      analysis of a few dozen women transitioned to a self-selected low fat
      vegan diet. Although the intakes of most vitamins and minerals
      improved or stayed the same, the consumption of some nutrients
      dropped. They conclude: "To increase intakes of these nutrients,
      people following a low-fat vegan diet should emphasize legumes
      [beans, lentils] and whole grains for protein; supplemental sources
      of vitamin D and B12, such as fortified cereals and soymilk to
      increase vitamin D and B12 intakes; leafy greens, beans, and
      fortified soymilks and juices to increase calcium intake; and whole,
      unrefined grains, nuts and seeds to increase phosphorus, selenium and
      zinc intakes." [33]

      There are so many wonderful vegan convenience foods out there now,
      but the healthiest (not to mention often cheapest and more
      environmentally friendly) foods are still those that grow out of the


      C. Raw versus Cooked Vegetables for Cancer Prevention

      We know that vegetables in general prevent cancer, but a researcher
      at the Columbia University School of Public Health recently attempted
      to determine whether they are more protective raw or cooked.
      Unfortunately, we have no studies directly comparing raw versus
      cooked veggies, so researchers had to review the totality of
      available research (published over the last decade) in an attempt to
      tease out the difference.

      Cooking destroys some cancer-fighting nutrients, yet enhances the
      absorption of others. For example, by cooking your dark green leafy
      vegetables, studies show you may be destroying half of the
      antioxidant carotenoids.[13] At the same time, cooking may double
      carotenoid bioavailability, such that in the end your body might wind
      up with the same amount.[14]

      Cooking vegetables increases the content of one type of fiber
      (soluble), which may help prevent cancer by decreasing insulin
      levels, but cooking decreases the content of another type
      (insoluble), which may help prevent cancer in a different way (by
      binding and excreting carcinogens).[15]

      Cooking may reduce cancer risk by destroying some of the pesticides
      present in non-organic produce,[16] but cooking also destroys enzymes
      that may have beneficial effects. Wait, though, the American Dietetic
      Association just reviewed raw foods diets (October 2004) and
      concluded that one's stomach acid destroys the plant enzymes anyway
      so it doesn't matter if cooking destroys them first.[17] Yes, but
      digestion starts in the mouth, not in the stomach.

      Raw garlic (in homemade salsa, guacamole, pesto, etc.) may be
      healthier than cooked because of an enzyme called alliinase, which
      produces a DNA-protecting compound called allicin when chewed in your
      mouth. One minute worth of microwaving, though, completely
      inactivates this enzyme, such that when you then chew it you absorb
      little or none of the protective allicin compound.[18]

      The same thing happens in broccoli. There's an enzyme (called
      myrosinase) that produces special compounds whenever the plant's cell
      walls are ruptured (i.e. when you chew) that rev up your own liver's
      ability to detoxify carcinogens. But cooking inactivates the enzyme,
      such that people chomping down on steamed broccoli only seem to get
      about a third as much of these special cancer-fighting compounds.[19]
      At the same time, cooking one's broccoli seems to increase the
      bioavailability of other cancer-fighters (called indoles) which help
      your body control hormone levels. Bottom-line, we should eat a
      combination of both cooked AND raw vegetables, which is exactly what
      the Columbia researcher found:

      "It is clear from this review that both raw and cooked vegetables are
      inversely related to [in other words protective against] several...
      cancers. Although more of the studies showed a statistically
      significant inverse [protective] relationship between raw vegetables
      and cancer than either cooked or total vegetables, the literature is
      too varied to compare definitively... In the meanwhile the public
      should be encouraged to increase their vegetable intake and to
      consider eating some of them raw."[20]


      D. Meat, Cheese, Eggs, and Lymphoma

      Since the 1970's, the incidence rate of lymphoma, a cancer of the
      body's lymphatic system, has nearly doubled. Although the increase is
      not completely understood, a number of risk factors have been
      uncovered. The latest study, published by researchers at the
      University of Toronto, looked at dietary factors for this often fatal

      The most significant dietary indicators of risk found were meat,
      cheese, and eggs. Those eating meat every day seemed to have a 30%
      greater risk of developing lymphoma. Those that ate just 3 servings
      of cheese a week had a 38% increased risk, and those that ate three
      eggs a week had a whopping 49% greater risk.[21]

      Those that ate nine or more servings of dessert foods like cake,
      cookies, and doughnuts every week were also at increased risk (24%).
      Investigators speculate that this may be due to the trans fats
      (partially hydrogenated oils) present in these foods. So to all the
      junk-food college vegans out there living off Little Debbie cake
      doughnuts this holiday season... please reconsider. :)


      E. Blocking Metastasis with Berries?

      The difference between a benign tumor and a malignant tumor is the
      ability to spread. No matter how big most tumors get, as long as they
      don't spread to other parts of the body, you're usually pretty safe.
      Your body knows this, and so attempts to wall off any tumors by
      wrapping them in scar tissue. A benign tumor turns malignant when it
      learns how to break free by secreting enzymes (called
      metalloproteinases) that can dissolve the scar tissue cage your body
      encased it in. There are components of our diet, though, that can
      inhibit this jailbreak enzyme and keep the tumor in its place.

      We know there are special phytonutrients in blue-green algae, green
      tea and in the spice turmeric that inhibit this tumor enzyme and thus
      may help keep tumors at bay. For the first time, though, a new study
      shows that berries also seem to contain substances that powerfully
      inhibit these tumor enzymes. The researchers conclude: "The raspberry
      extracts, blackberry extracts, and muscadine [grape] extracts, or the
      fruits themselves could potentially play a role in cancer prevention
      by blocking metastasis."

      Cranberries are one of the cheapest (and healthiest) berries, but
      tend to only be available this time of the year, so make sure to buy
      extra and freeze them. Frozen in an airtight container they should
      keep for nearly a year.


      F. Cancer-Fighting Cranberries

      Cranberries, one of only three commonly-eaten fruits native to North
      America, have been shown to exert a wide variety of health benefits
      including the prevention of urinary tract infections.[22] In 2002,
      researchers dripped a number of fruit extracts on human liver cancer
      cells in a Petri dish to see if any of them would slow down tumor
      growth. Out of the near dozen common fruits they tried, the most
      potent inhibitor of cancer growth was cranberries.[23] So in 2003,
      researchers pitted cranberries against three other types of human
      cancers--breast, cervical and prostate--and the cranberries won
      again, significantly restraining cancer cell proliferation.[24] Now
      UCLA researchers are back, this time testing cranberries against a
      whole panel of 9 different human cancer cell lines.

      Sprinkling just a few millionths of a gram of powdered cranberries on
      human oral, colon and prostate cancer cells brought their growth to a
      screeching halt, inhibiting their proliferation as much as 99.6%. The
      researchers concluded "The observed antiproliferative activities of
      cranberry phytochemicals against tumor cells provide some basic
      evidence for the potential anticancer effects of cranberry
      polyphenols and suggest that studies of cranberry extracts should be
      carried out... ultimately in human cancer prevention trials."[25]

      What do you do with cranberries though (other than sauce, that is)?
      Check out
      http://vegweb.com/recipes/fruit/index-fruit-cranberries.shtml for
      some healthy cranberry recipes. I'm sipping some blended into my flax
      smoothie right now as I type.


      G. Eggs and Ovarian Cancer

      Ovarian cancer has earned a reputation as a silent killer, because it
      eludes early detection and has an alarming fatality rate that hasn't
      really changed in over 50 years. Currently in the U.S. it's the fifth
      leading cancer cause of death for women. In other areas of the world,
      though, rates are as much as 5-fold lower.[26] When women move from
      low risk countries (like Japan) to the U.S. their risk jumps up,
      suggesting environmental rather than genetic factors are culpable for
      the wide variation in risk.[27] Canadian researchers recently
      published a study of dietary factors that may be to blame.

      "In summary," the researchers conclude, "our population-based
      case-control study found that women with higher consumption of
      dietary cholesterol and eggs were at an increased risk of ovarian
      cancer." On the other hand, the food that was the most powerful
      protector against ovarian cancer in this study were the cruciferous
      vegetables, like broccoli, kale, collards, etc.[28]

      Because estrogen is synthesized from cholesterol, researchers
      speculate that women with cholesterol in their diet may have higher
      levels of circulating hormones that may increase cancer risk. Other
      researchers propose that it may not be the cholesterol itself, but
      instead the organochlorine pesticides which concentrate in animal

      Eggs are one of the most concentrated sources of cholesterol in the
      food supply, but cholesterol is found in all animal foods.
      Cholesterol is made by the liver, and since plants don't have little
      livers, the only source of cholesterol in the human diet is food
      derived from animals.

      Women may be able to protect their eggs (and their lives) by not
      eating the eggs of chickens.



      If you ever wanted to stocking stuff either of my new DVDs but the
      person whose feet the stockings belong to doesn't have a DVD player,
      I'm thrilled to announce that I now have all three of my DVDs on VHS,
      thanks to the contribution of wonderfully generous husband and wife
      activist team in Washington State.

      To order by check, you can send a check for $10 postage paid to
      Michael Greger, M.D., 185 South St. #6, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130.

      To order any of the videos by credit card, go to

      As always, all the money I get from the sales of all my books, CD's,
      DVD's and videos goes not only to charity, but specifically to
      animal-friendly charities.



      Starting in January I'm going back on the road full-time until at
      least May. I'm so excited--not only will I have my new Atkins book
      out, but I've got two phenomenal new talks, an Atkins one and my
      Stopping Cancer one, both of which incorporate a dynamic rapid-fire
      slide show of images, humor, cartoons, etc. Believe me, it's like no
      PowerPoint presentation you've ever seen! In fact the test audience
      feedback (thank you Boston, Fort Myers, and Lexington) was so
      positive I'm now going back and converting ALL of my old talks into
      vibrant visual presentations.

      As if all that wasn't fun enough, I'm going to blog. Yeah, I didn't
      know what the word meant either, but it turns out there are all these
      neat new ways to have a running online diary (so-called "blogging").
      People have always encouraged me to write a book about my wild
      adventures on the road. Well, now you'll be able to read a running
      live account of my travels. I can post pictures, all my favorite hate
      mail, feedback I get from talks, and share the inspiration I get from
      all the grassroots groups across the country fighting for a healthier
      and more compassionate world.

      I plan on speaking in the following 40 states:

      District of Columbia
      New Hampshire
      New Jersey
      New Mexico
      New York
      North Carolina
      Rhode Island
      South Carolina
      South Dakota

      If you don't see your state listed, let me know and maybe we can set
      something up. If your state IS listed, then since I'm going to be in
      the neighborhood anyway and would love to pack in as many talks as
      possible (maybe I can even break my 40 talks a month record from last
      year!), go to http://www.DrGreger.org and click on the "Speaking
      Request" button to set up a talk for me in your hometown (I'll of
      course come speak for free).

      I want to make it as easy as possible to set up a talk, so I'm
      planning on having a ready-made publicity kit you can download with
      preprinted fliers, press releases and step-by-step instructions on
      securing and publicizing a venue. In fact, if there is anyone out
      there with graphic design skills you'd be willing to donate to help
      me come up with fliers for all my talks, that would be very much

      In other personal news, it has been wonderful to be back at Cornell
      teaching. Tribe of Heart, makers of The Witness and the
      groundbreaking Peaceable Kingdom (PERFECT for every nonvegetarian on
      your gift list--you can order a box of 10 of their films for $100 at
      http://tribeofheart.org/shopsite_sc/store/html/index.html), were
      generous enough to put me up for my time in Ithaca this semester. I
      also, of course, want to thank Dr. Colin Campbell for sharing his
      class with me. I've had the honor to read a preprint copy of his new
      book The China Project, which is sure to shake up the nutrition world
      when it hits stores in early 2005.

      So whatever happened with the threatened lawsuit from the Atkins Diet
      Corporation? They're still threatening. After I posted their legal
      threat up on my http://www.AtkinsExposed.org website accompanied by
      my point-by-point rebuttal, they replied with "Please be advised that
      Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. reserves the right to take further action
      against Dr. Greger and his website at any time without further

      Maybe one of the reasons they're being timid is that they themselves
      are currently being dragged through the courts for almost (allegedly)
      killing one of their customers. Read the story in the "In the Press"
      section of http://www.AtkinsExposed.org (which I continually update).
      There's also a new Search function on the website, and I've recently
      added four more full-text medical articles exposing the high fat fad
      in the "Expert Opinions" section.

      The former Atkins dieter who managed to live through his massive (and
      allegedly Atkins-induced) heart attack is not suing for money. He
      just wants warning labels placed on Atkins books and products. The
      Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine lawyer representing him
      suggested this wording for the warning:

      "Works for Some People; Kills Others."


      (Full text of specific articles available by emailing

      1 Current Opinion in Rheumatology. 15(2003):616.
      2 Journal of Neural Transmission 105(1998)439.
      3 Journal of Hypertension 20(2002):1483.
      4 Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 811(1997):115.
      5 British Journal of Ophthalmology 85(2001):746.
      6 Journal of the American Society of Nephrology 11(2000):1744.
      7 Urology 50(1997):1016.
      8 Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 959(2002):360.
      9 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 94(1997):13915.
      10 Diabetes Care 27(2994):2108.
      11 Journal of the American Dietetic Association 104(2004):1287.
      12 Current Pharmacological Design 10(2004):3361.
      13 Journal of the National Cancer Institute 82(1990):282.
      14 Journal of Nutrition 128(1998):913.
      15 Plant Foods in Human Nutrition 55(2000):207.
      16 Journal of AOAC International 79(1996)::1447.
      17 Journal of the American Dietetic Association 104(2004):1623.
      18 Journal of Nutrition 131(2001):1054.
      19 Nutrition and Cancer 38(2000):168.
      20 Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention 13(2004):1422.
      21 Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention 13(2004):1665.
      22 New England Journal of Medicine 339(1998):1085.
      23 Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 50(2002):7449.
      24 Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 51(2003):3541.
      25 Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 52(2004):2512.
      26 Seminars in Surgical Oncology 10(1994):242.
      27 Cancer Research 35(1975):3240.
      28 Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention 13(2004):1521.
      29 Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention 11(2002):1112.
      30 Journal of the American Medical Association 280(1998):2001.
      31 Preventive Medicine 29(1999):87.
      32 Journal of the American College of Nutrition 14(1995):491.
      33. Nutrition 20(2004):738.


      This issue is dedicated to the memory of my feline companion Samantha
      who, after 18 years, died in my arms today, November 27, 2004.


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