Picture your lawn in the springtime—at the beginning, a few precocious dandelions, then an army of weeds invades your space. We slay them with herbicides, we patiently dig out their roots, yet they continue to multiply.
But what if we changed the soil they grow in? What if we made that soil inhospitable to uncontrolled growth and spread?
In the past years, a new branch of science called nutrigenomics has started looking at how nutrition can change the soil that cancer grows in– how compounds in the foods we eat can turn cancer genes off or on. Nutrition works in various ways, boosting the immune system, for example, or interfering with chemicals and processes that promote cancer growth.
Two major nutritional culprits are emerging: inflammation, triggered by bad fats, and insulin, spiked by sugars, including carbs.
Many researchers developing anti-cancer drugs are now turning their attention to these same culprits and looking at how our metabolism of fats and sugars drives the cancer process. The popular anti-diabetes drug metformin, which lowers blood sugar and hence insulin, has dramatically decreased cancer rates in diabetics with certain kinds of cancer; scientists are now studying its use in cancer patients who don’t have diabetes. They’ve also been developing drugs that turn off cancer’s master switch, NF-kappa B, the most pro-inflammatory factor that cancer cells secrete.
Fortunately, we can do a lot in our own private labs. We can indulge in green tea and exotic spices to help block NF- kappa B cells. We can watch our consumption of insulin-raising sugars and inflammatory fats. Indeed, there are thousands of ways we can tend our own soil and make our bodies inhospitable to this weed called cancer.
Boy have we got a lot to talk about.