Thursday, July 26, 2007

Cancer, Longevity, Statins and the ' Ape Diet'

A customized vegetarian diet can lower cholesterol levels just as effectively as state-of-the-art drugs, according to a new Canadian study.Researchers found that a modernized "ape diet" -- one that is high in fibre, nuts, soy and extracts of leafy greens -- can reduce cholesterol by almost 30 per cent.

By Randall Parker Biomedical

The ape diet had 4 major categories of components.
The key components of the ape diet are plant sterols, found in plant oils and enriched margarines, viscous fibre, found in oats, barley and aubergine, and soy protein and nuts.
The margarines enriched with plant sterols (which compete with cholesterol for absorption) used in the study may have been the commercial brands Take Control, Benecol, and Benecol Light. To up your plant sterol content using natural foods one possibility is pecans with 95 milligrams of plant sterols per 100 grams. However, the level of plant sterols in the margarines is about two orders of magnitude greater (1.7 grams sterols in 14 grams of Take Control) and clinical trials in plant sterols have used about 2 grams per day. Still, the nuts have other heart-healthy benefits.

The researchers claim this diet works because it recreates the kind of diet humans evolved eating.

"We went right back in time to, hypothetically, five million years ago, when the diet would largely be leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds," Dr. Jenkins said.

The results of this study are sufficiently dramatic that JAMA recommends its use before cholesterol-lowering drugs are tried.

In an accompanying editorial, James Anderson, a professor of medicine at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, said the findings have dramatic public-health implications. He suggested that physicians prescribe the "ape diet" to patients before even considering drugs.

This diet is an improvement on the Garden of Eden diet the same researchers developed.
The daily volume of food was about a third of that of the Garden of Eden diet, Jenkins said, adding the people who followed it didn't complain about how much they had to eat but said they couldn't eat any more.

Those who lost weight were asked to, however.
Most of the reports on this study didn't pick up on one particularly interesting result the researchers observed.

Surprisingly, the diet also lowered the levels of C-reactive protein, considered a risk marker for heart disease.

The CRP drop was dramatic.
Equally impressive was a 28 percent drop in C-reactive protein, a substance found in the blood that is a sign of inflammation and possible heart disease. The statin group had a 33 percent drop.
The Scientist has a good recent survey of the many ways chronic inflammation appears to contribute to the development of many diseases. (requires free registration - and I really recommend taking the trouble as they are one of the better science news sites)

Peridontal disease also causes arterial inflammation and increased risk of heart disease.

However, many clinicians were unclear of the cause of elevated CRP levels. A study published earlier this year in the Journal of Periodontology reported that inflammatory effects from periodontal disease, a chronic bacterial infection of the gums, cause oral bacterial byproducts to enter the bloodstream and trigger the liver to make proteins such as CRP that inflame arteries and promote blood clot formation.

Keep your teeth clean and your gums healthy.

Excerpt from Do statins cause cancer or affect longevity?

CONCLUSIONS--Extrapolation of this evidence of carcinogenesis from rodents to humans is an uncertain process. Longer-term clinical trials and careful postmarketing surveillance during the next several decades are needed to determine whether cholesterol-lowering drugs cause cancer in humans. In the meantime, the results of experiments in animals and humans suggest that lipid-lowering drug treatment, especially with the fibrates and statins, should be avoided except in patients at high short-term risk of coronary heart disease.

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