Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
19 Jan

High Fat Diet Linked to Breast Cancer?

One of the great things about our growing community is how people like Denise Minger have emerged from near obscurity to become recognized leaders in certain areas. When it comes to parsing the scientific studies, very few people have the combination of skills, understanding of the scientific method and probability, AND the willingness to dig deep into the minutiae to get to the essence of a study. Denise is one of those rare people. If you haven’t read Denise’s take-down of the China Study, you owe it to yourself to do so.

Lucky for us, Denise has taken the time to dig into the latest research on diet and breast cancer in today’s guest post. (Thank you!) Without further ado, Denise…

If you’ve been scanning the health news lately (or live within earshot of some gloating low-fat adherents), you might’ve noticed a flurry of recent headlines linking fat and cholesterol to breast cancer. In case you haven’t, this should get you up to speed:

Catch the drift?

These doomful blurbs sprang from a mouse study published earlier this month in the American Journal of Pathology, showing that mice fed a higher-fat, cholesterol-enriched diet developed bigger and more aggressive tumors than mice eating their normal “chow” diet. According to the researchers, this suggests that “cholesterol accelerates and enhances tumor formation.” And if the news stories are to be trusted, that means we should curb the fat and toss back some statins with our Healthy Whole Grain dinners.

Even if you’re not a woman, chances are good that you’ve encountered one before, and maybe even spent some time inside one’s womb. And considering about one out of every seven women will face breast cancer in her lifetime, dietary links with this disease tend to be a hot topic for health-minded folks of either gender. So what’s going on with this study? Can it tell us anything important, or is it another one for the lame-research slush pile?

Of Mice and Women

If you don’t want to trudge through the full text of the study linked above, here’s the rundown. The researchers took two groups of mice: one wild, ordinary-mouse-on-the-street strain and one special strain that’s predisposed to developing mammary tumors. For both the wild and the tumor-prone mice groups, half got a standard chow diet and half got a Western diet. These are the only food details offered in the paper:

Female mice hemizygous for the PyMT transgene were given either a Western diet (57BD; LabDiet, Richmond, IN) containing 20.2% fat, 16.8% protein, and 48.0% carbohydrate, or a chow diet (5010; LabDiet) containing 4.5% fat, 23.0% protein, and 50.1% carbohydrate, at age 4 weeks and thereafter ad libitum. Although fat content of the diet was increased, carbohydrate content was not altered. Moreover, energy values of the 2 diets were similar (4.43 kcal/g and 4.14 kcal/g for Western and chow diets, respectively).

Fair enough. From this description, you’d think the main difference between the diets was fat content: 4.5 percent in one and 20.2 percent in the other (with slightly lower protein and carbohydrate levels to compensate). But whenever we hear a diet described only in terms of macronutrient ratios with no assurance that the food variables are controlled, it’s usually a bad sign (and an inevitable slush pile omen). Fortunately, Google exists. Even though the paper’s lips are zipped about the actual ingredients of the diets, the spec sheets for both the chow diet 5010 and “Western diet” 57BD are posted online, so we can figure out exactly what these mice were eating.

Food vs. “Food”

It turns out the chow-diet mice—the ones who got fewer tumors—were feasting on a mix of:

  • Ground corn
  • Dehulled soybean meal
  • Wheat middlings
  • Fish meal
  • Ground wheat
  • Wheat germ
  • Brewers dried yeast
  • Ground oats
  • Dehydrated alfalfa meal
  • Porcine animal fat
  • Ground soybean hulls
  • Soybean oil
  • Dried beet pulp
  • And a bunch of added vitamins and minerals.

Not exactly a five-star cuisine, but most of these ingredients aren’t alien substances to mice. It’s passable fare.

But what about the high fat diet that promoted so much tumor growth? Was it the same as above, just slathered in a few pats of butter? Alas, the “Western diet” mice weren’t even eating food. Along with a small amount of added cholesterol, their diet consisted of:

  • Sucrose (31%)
  • Milk fat (21%)
  • Casein (19 %)
  • Maltodextrin (10%)
  • Powdered Cellulose (5%)
  • Dextrin (5%)
  • And the typical vitamin and mineral array.

Bon appétit.

It’s a marvel the Western diet got labeled “high fat and cholesterol” when it’s only 21 percent fat and nearly a third pure table sugar. It’s also a marvel that the researchers pegged the tumor-enhancing effects of the Western diet on its cholesterol content rather than on any of the other differences it had with the chow diet (for example: everything). In fact, the protein source alone might play a role in spurring the big, speedy tumors found in the Western diet rats, since so much of their diet was casein. Dare I reference my old pal T. Colin Campbell, whose research showed isolated casein tends to boost tumor growth in rodents when it exceeds 5 percent of their diet? I dare. There may be something uniquely cancer-promoting about isolated complete proteins (like casein) in a purified diet, probably due to the fact that they promote growth in general but lack the matrix of protective substances found in whole foods.

But the most interesting thing here is that hefty dose of sucrose in the Western mouse diet. Even back in the 80s, researchers were noting an association between sugar consumption and breast cancer, speculating that:

A possible connecting link between sugar consumption and breast cancer is insulin. This is an absolute requirement for the proliferation of normal mammary tissue and experimental mammary tumours may regress in its absence. Insulin secretion occurs in response to blood glucose level and could be excessive if the regulatory mechanism is overtaxed by large sugar intake.

There’s a growing body of research addressing the insulin-breast cancer link, and unlike with fat, the findings are more consistent. High insulin is associated with a greater risk of death from breast cancer, may lead to a greater risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women, and may be a risk factor for breast cancer independent of estrogen. Although insulin responses to sugar vary between mouse strains, there’s some evidence that mice fed sucrose as their primary carbohydrate (opposed to other foods like cornstarch) have higher levels of insulin and insulin-like growth factor 1. Both insulin and IGF-1 can potentially stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells and hike up testosterone levels (which also has some compelling links with breast cancer). And one study examining the effects of different sources of protein, fat, and carbohydrate on mammary tumors in mice showed that the sucrose-eating mice had 100 percent tumor incidence by the end of the study.

Since the researchers were mostly concerned with fat and cholesterol in this study, they didn’t examine potential pathways between tumor growth and insulin, or consider whether the high sugar and casein content of the Western diet had anything to do with cancer promotion. I’ve got a hunch there are some untapped clues there, but from this study, we’ll never know for sure.

The Cholesterol Connection

Although most of the media outlets pounced on the “high fat” part of this study, the researchers themselves were more intrigued by the effects of cholesterol. Interestingly, the mice exhibited lower cholesterol as their tumors grew—suggesting that the tumors seemed to guzzle cholesterol and use it for cell proliferation, causing a drop in serum levels. (This jibes with a trend we’ve seen in humans, where certain cancer patients have significantly lower cholesterol than the rest of the population.) The researchers speculate that lowering blood cholesterol could help limit tumor growth in humans, and they conclude: “Drugs that target cholesterol metabolism could be used in addition to drugs that may facilitate the elimination of breast cancer cells.” (Did you hear that? Could it be the joyous clinking of the statin companies’ wine glasses?)

Even if tumors (breast or otherwise) do hoard cholesterol, there’s no way to tell from this study whether cholesterol actually promotes their growth, and if deliberately lowering your levels would do a darn thing for cancer prevention. In fact, the researchers note that “it is not unreasonable to assume that liver function may be affected in this disease” and that “plasma lipoprotein levels could be influenced by reduced hepatic lipoprotein secretion”—in which case the breast tumors might not be reducing cholesterol by using it for their own growth, but the body is simply producing less of it.

So What Do We Take Away From It All?

This study might’ve uncovered an interesting role of cholesterol in tumor growth, but it’s hard to tell what the significance would be even if that’s the case. Given the total lack of a control diet and the sketchy assembly of ingredients in the Western cuisine, we can’t glean much of anything about the role of fat or cholesterol in human breast cancer. The only things saving this study from that slush pile are the three nuggets of wisdom it confers: Don’t be born a tumor-prone mouse, don’t eat a foodless diet based on table sugar and casein, and read the full text of studies before letting news headlines make you nervous.

For More Insightful Research Analysis Visit Denise’s Blog, Raw Food SOS

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Excellent analysis here. I just love what media can do to blow things out of proportion. I will not be surprised if someone tells me in the future that all the eggs we eat in my family will give my wife breast cancer!

    bruce wrote on January 19th, 2011
    • I agree. News like this create paranoia and a stress response. Followed by inflammation and eventually disease process kicks in. Lets listen to our bodies pre installed intelligence and follow or hearts rather then indoctrinated research. Enjoy your pastured eggs, they will be healthy as long as a chickens healthy too :)

      Aram Hovsepian wrote on January 19th, 2011
  2. Wow, excellent work dissecting this. This encourages me to maintain my thorough skepticism of research articles. It is exhausting to apply this level of scrutiny, but ultimately it is necessary. If only we could explain that to a lot of these scientists…

    David wrote on January 19th, 2011
  3. Love reading breakdowns of studies like these from a statistical perspective. It’s information that is often very hard to find! Thanks Denise!

    One thing I wonder – what is the remaining mystery percentage of macronutrient in each of the diet? Those given percentages don’t add up to 100 in either case, not even close. The “chow” diet totals 85%, and the “western” totals 77.6%.

    Kris wrote on January 19th, 2011
    • Probably the vitamin/mineral mixture…

      Brian Kozmo wrote on January 19th, 2011
      • there is no calorie in vitamins or minerals and therefore they do not enter in the macronutrient %. The explanation is a big mistake in this article. Protein, Carb and Lipids must add up to 100%. the only other factor is alcohol but I doubt the diets included alcohols.

        vanessa wrote on January 24th, 2011
  4. The absence of fish meal in diet 2 may also be a significant difference, since omega-3 fatty acids have anti-tumor properties.

    Tim wrote on January 19th, 2011
  5. Brilliant.

    Slowcooker wrote on January 19th, 2011
  6. Mark,

    I’m living with a couple of scientist students from University of Maryland, and to be perfectly honest, they are terrible. They overlook information that they deem “unneccesary”, they poo-poo anything unconventional, and ultimately they are looking more and more to be backing Conventional Wisdom on faith rather than through science. It is horribly frustrating to deal with this utter blindness.

    Thank you for your continued effort clearing through the muck of modern society.

    Matt wrote on January 19th, 2011
    • Nice! I am an undergrad there, I hope I don’t meet them! But it’s important to be able to change the way people think about these things for the better.

      Avishek wrote on January 19th, 2011
    • Funny. I learned how to critically think at UMD. I guess it boils down to who your mentors are and how open your mind is.

      Paleohund wrote on January 19th, 2011
  7. Denise Minger rocks! What a great writer and analyst!

    JoelG wrote on January 19th, 2011
  8. Denise Minger, you effing rule.

    You should really do this full time, you’re so good at it. I don’t know how you would make a living at it, but the talent is definitely there.

    Matt Lentzner wrote on January 19th, 2011
  9. That is awesome, I always get so frustrated when I see those headlines, great she can break it down and straighten it out!

    Dollface wrote on January 19th, 2011
  10. Kudos to Niesy yet again –

    and jeeeze – a study up against a 1/3 SUGAR diet ??- do you get the idea that these studies are absolutely set up to create the sensations that drive the CW to its anti-meat/fat/cholesterol frenzy?

    i do – and i posted this yesterday but the thread got so long i would like to bring it up again – the is from a PEER REVIEW MEDICAL JOURNAL: “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False”

    DaiaRavi wrote on January 19th, 2011
  11. That is some sloppy research protocol…

    jill wrote on January 19th, 2011
  12. Now would you like to have a go at the Statin study that’s made all the news today here in the UK!

    I had to turn the radio off after about 30 seconds as I yelled ‘change what you eat’!

    Kelda wrote on January 19th, 2011
  13. Wow science is so awesome .. . great analysis, if I hadn’t read the full text I wouldn’t have known that their diet was actually sucrose and 21% fat

    Avishek wrote on January 19th, 2011
  14. Cosigning on all.

    Pamela wrote on January 19th, 2011
  15. I am so thankful for Denise and people like her. We can’t get this info anywhere else, and it’s desperately needed. It angers me that these so-called scientists get any attention at all, since they are a blot on the reputation of any real scientist.

    Cate wrote on January 19th, 2011
  16. Love how they called sucralose and casein a “western diet.” I was expecting the mice to be eating Big Macs and fries. :) Great job Denise!

    Sonia wrote on January 19th, 2011
    • They might be better off with Big Macs and fries. Worth a study, at least by these standards.

      Louise D. wrote on January 19th, 2011
      • Might be better off with ground up cereal boxes. Let’s see how mice do on Chocolate Coated Sugar Bombs. Don’t they carry the American Heart Association Seal of Approval?

        Walter Bushell wrote on June 4th, 2013
    • Got news for you…take a look at what folks are putting into their shopping carts next time you go to the grocery store…most of the “food”, which I prefer to call food-stuffs because it is really not food, is carb-laden, which breaks down to “sugar”. If it does not fly, swim, walk on four legs, or grow from the earth, it is not food.

      Cj wrote on January 19th, 2011
      • Yes! As soon as my wife and I opened our eyes to what is “food,” we see people at restaurants and the grocery store and look at what they are buying or eating and always follow up with “Yup, no mystery there,” or a scarcastic “I don’t know WHY I can’t lose weight”

        KnuckleDragger wrote on January 19th, 2011
      • You’re not kidding. When you look at the cart, you begin to understand why so many people are suffering from weight, health and social issues.

        Becky wrote on January 20th, 2011
  17. There have been many studies like this before, same set up, different date, and every time they have been refuted due to the fact that a mouse, or certain types of mice have not evolved to devour these types of diets, even if the diet was pure in fats, many mice evolved eating grains and because of that, flourish on low fat,grain diets. We humans evolved differently. Secondly the diets that contain fat’s always contain more sugar, etc, Anti fat people, give it a rest, you can’t win this one!

    mark king wrote on January 19th, 2011
    • The anti fat people have *money* behind them, so yes they can and are winning.

      Walter Bushell wrote on June 4th, 2013
  18. So, that was a beautiful first read of the day. Thanks!

    On a similar note, my foray into resarching my health began in 1998, when I found out I had two breast tumours. I had been eating extremely low fat, so high carbs in whatever form, and even though I still ate lots of veggies and (very lean) meat, it wasn’t enough to keep my body from disease.

    At that time, I was also breathing in a lot of xylene, acetone, and chemicals from rubber cement because I was in art college, spending about 60 hrs per week in that environment.

    After only four months of this high carb, low fat, chemical-breathing regimen, I was deathly ill.

    My college happened to ban all breathable/vapourous chemicals over the break during which my tumours were found, and I quit my low fat regime, and changed to grain-free, dairy-very-limited, and whole-unprocessed food. I quit everything with a solvent- shampoo, lotions, soap, antipersperant, detergents, etc…, anything in a package, really.

    Four months later, and after a LOT of sleep, I was tumour-free and have had no recurrence despite having an otherwise still frustratingly fragile constitution, and few year’s return to limited grain-eating with my whole foods.

    My understanding of cancer at that time was that isopropyl alcohol is a solvent that shuts down the immune response specifically to cancer, sugar feeds tumours, and if there’s a tumour growing somewhere in the body, it isn’t a specific type of cancer, but a whole terrain that is diseased, so treating a tumour is like sweeping the sand off the beach.

    It’s the terrain that has been made hospitable to disordered function of the immune system responses. It has to be wholistically addressed so that the body regains its structural/functional integrity, which naturally doesn’t include the development of disease.

    I have a much more wholistic understanding of the body now, but that was enough information at that time for me to develop my own protocol, and heal from cancer.

    I don’t consider anedotes science, but I do know that removal of solvents from my life, holing up to sleep, and eating fat, whole foods and no grain, were the only changes I made to my life then- no meds, no chemo, no surgery, no radiation, just me, being told I was crazy, but considering that if my body was that sick, why would I subject myself to even more strain from drugs and iotrogenic trauma?

    Anyway. Headlines that say that animal fats kill just don’t phase me. I know for sure that they’re wrong.

    imogen wrote on January 19th, 2011
    • Animal fats do kill! The animals! So we can eat them, nom nom.

      Sara wrote on January 19th, 2011
      • lmao!

        imogen wrote on January 19th, 2011
        • kill *people who eat them*


          imogen wrote on January 19th, 2011
    • Wow! Thank you for sharing! That was a great confirmation for me. You did a great thing for yourself and I think that your testimony would help many people.

      Just wondering… did you eliminate high carb fruits? Were you eating mostly low carb whole foods?

      Thanks so much and I hope to hear back from you! :0)

      JERUSHA B. wrote on January 19th, 2011
      • Yes, I incidentally did low carb because I genuinely don’t enjoy much sweet fruit. My choice fruits have always ben tart berries, so that’s what I ate the most of, and I add in a tart navel orange, snack on lemon slices, and also avocado and olives.

        I didn’t know about “low carb” then; I just tried to eat as cleanly as I knew how, and to avoid things that caused me to feel ill, like grapes, apples, bananas, and other sweet fruit. Grains made me sleepy, so they were an easy-to-spot problem.

        I started eating bone-in, skin-on meats, too, because quitting packaged foods meant buying meat from farmers at the market, and they would hack the carcasses apart right there, and laugh if asked for “boneless, skinless.” So, again, it was incidental to seeking clean food that I happened upon what ultimately allowed my body to heal.

        Now I know why it worked! Lol. If I had not been healing, there’s no doubt that I would have continued to seek information, but it *was* working, so I just kept doing what I was doing.

        imogen wrote on January 20th, 2011
        • Thank you so very much for your reply!!! It was wonderful to get more information and I am sure that your post will help many others as well!!!!!!!!

          Thanks again and may you always have great health!!!!

          JERUSHA B. wrote on January 20th, 2011
    • Almost a year later, I just wanted to say thank you, Imogen, for sharing your story too. As a 31 year old woman fighting breast cancer while pregnant, it is encouraging to read success stories from others who healed themselves through dietary and lifestyle changes. It has been 3 months since my diagnosis and a lot of alternative cancer-fighting protocols say to avoid meat. I still eat 2 eggs a day (from our own chickens) for baby’s sake, but I’m really missing my grass-fed, hormone-free beef! This article and your comments give me hope that I can eat red meat again too! Anyway, thank you for sharing!

      Harobe wrote on January 6th, 2012
  19. It seems to me to be a classic case of declaring a conclusion then doing everything you can to prove it.

    Great article here.

    Scooter wrote on January 19th, 2011
  20. Even if the mice ate a diet higher in fat composed of real food and this resulted in higher cancer rates — well so what? This shouldnt be generalized to humans. Why? Because mice are herbivores and eat foods very different from a natural human diet.

    skunk1980 wrote on January 19th, 2011
    • No, mice and rats are omnivores. They are used in studies because their digestive systems have similarities to humans.

      Aaron Curl wrote on January 20th, 2011
  21. My wife, doesn’t miss a beat.

    Wife: As far as I know, only one thing has ever been proven to be linked to breast cancer.
    Me: What’s that?
    Wife: Having breasts.

    part-time girevik wrote on January 19th, 2011
    • Bah ha ha ha!

      Yes, I just wanted to write a post laughing.

      Your wife is one smart cookie… Erm, beef jerky. Smart beef jerky. It really doesn’t have the same ring though, doesn’t it? Do you think Mark can accept cookies for their literary value?

      Caitlin wrote on January 19th, 2011
  22. Though not nearly of Denise’s caliber, I, too have discovered some inconsistencies in reviewing other health studies….always blaming fat for some negative condition.

    When you dig into the guts of it, turns out that there are numerous other factors that could be responsible, but are never accounted for. So how can people believe all these studies?

    Kim wrote on January 19th, 2011
  23. Couldn’t it just be that people with high cholesterol are just not as prone to cancer?

    JERUSHA B. wrote on January 19th, 2011
  24. What about the maltodextrin and dextrin listed in the “western” diet in the study? I thought those are corn-based sugars, so it appears the diet may have been close to 40% sugar!!!

    Enaid wrote on January 19th, 2011
  25. The main problem with these experiments is that we only hear .01% of the actual science behind the experiment and those experimenting seem to think that the body is a closed system, un-impacted by other important factors… Bummer so many people will be reacting in a scared manner to studies like this — and most likely taking the wrong steps…

    Nicky Spur wrote on January 19th, 2011
  26. I would have stopped at the diets. I apparently knew more about control groups in high school than these people do. The only interesting result would have been if they were the same. The fact that the two groups had different results doesn’t prove anything. What a waste of research money.

    Eric wrote on January 19th, 2011
  27. The biggest crime in nutrition research today is the case-control studies in which only one variable ought to be changed (for example, fat content), but actually 10 or 12 or 20 variables are actually changed (like the two entirely different chow recipes here). Researchers then stick their results in a fancy statistical package and churn out some barely significant numbers, all in the belief that they’ve tested one variable (not even realizing how many confounders they let into the mix!).

    Who is approving these studies in the first place? I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I do have to wonder just how much drug company money is driving these sloppy setups.

    Dawn wrote on January 19th, 2011
    • A major problem is that in nutrition science you can’t change just one variable when you’re dealing with macronutrients.

      For instance, suppose you are studying the effect of saturated fat on cancer. You have two groups of mice, and feed one ten times more saturated fat than the other group. However, for the “control” group, do do you feed them a diet with fewer fat calories than the fat group, or a diet with the same number of calories contained in ten times more unsaturated fat?

      Whichever you choose, the “control” group will have more than one variable different from the experimental group.

      Tim wrote on January 20th, 2011
      • This is true, but they would have come closer to relevant results if they’d at least fed both groups actual food.

        In a nutritional study, the fact that from an evolutionary understanding and solid evidence of this, bodies metabolise specifically *food* for nutrients seems a rather significant consideration that isn’t demonstrated by this study.

        I’d *expect* to end up with cancer on the diet given those mice- either group! The difference is most likely one of endurance (how *long* it would take to succumb to cancer) than of macronutrient make-up.

        imogen wrote on January 20th, 2011
    • Unfortunately the level of statistical education required to gain a science degree is dismally basic so that any monkey can become a scientist and start spreading their ignorance backed up by a bunch of pretty numbers.

      Bushrat wrote on January 20th, 2011
  28. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Denise!

    How do we stem the tide of all this junk science given legitimacy by the agro-pharma-media-industrial complex? Whoever approved that study design needs to be banned from anything called science and the outlets who published it at face value need to be publicly shamed.

    slacker wrote on January 19th, 2011
  29. Thank you Denise for once again leveling your laser beam focus on tearing apart another poorly designed nutrition study. I’ve looked into it and it turns out that just about the whole enterprise of animal research linking diet to disease (mostly rodent or lagomorph research) compare “standard” lab diets that look an aweful lot like the SAD to high-fat diets that actually usually have just as much if not more sugar then the conventional one AND the higher proportion of fat comes from industrial oils (e.g., crisco or other oils containing high amounts of oxidized linoleic acid). For shame! The whole enterprise is built on faulty treatment diets! I have a rat lab and would love to start investigating high-fat diets consisting of industrial oils versus natural oils to see if there are large differences (which I suspect there will be). Just have to get funding to do this, which will be very difficult in today’s funding climate and with the prevailing conventional wisdom. NIH is full of scientists who adhere to the current models (they’ve based their careers on them so they’ve got a vested interest in NOT questioning them!).

    Aaron Blaisdell wrote on January 19th, 2011
    • Have you read this paper?

      ““Control” laboratory rodents are metabolically morbid: Why it matters” PNAS April 6, 2010 vol. 107 no. 14 6127-6133

      Tim wrote on January 20th, 2011
    • Just submit your proposal as “an investigation into health advantages of an industrial oil supplemented diet vs one high in saturated fats,” then act all surprised when you publish findings.
      If you’re allowed to.

      Seriously, as an undergrad bio major at UC Irvine, I had the privilege of attending, by invitation, a grad seminar course on scientific study design. We were taught that science = replicable experiments, what a confounding variable is, etc. Then we read current & classic research papers and evaluated them by these principles.
      Best class ever! -but class size was only about a dozen people, and I think it was only offered in the spring. Also it was in the psych dept. Not many of the hundreds of premeds churned out by that school ever learned what we did that quarter formally. You’d think a course covering the topic would be required by 2nd year.

      Daniel wrote on January 20th, 2011
      • Haha, that just might work. I teach this kind of scientific scrutiny in my undergraduate seminar on animal cognition. The students really enjoy finding alternative accounts for any empirical result. I coax them through the processes of setting up better designs that attempt to rule out the alternative accounts we think up. It’s a fun game, and useful! You’re right that this is severely lacking in medical school (to the best of my knowledge).

        Aaron Blaisdell wrote on January 20th, 2011
      • That’s because Psychology is a science and Medicine is not.

        DeyC3 wrote on January 21st, 2011
  30. Great information. Speaking from very recent experience men need to worry about breast cancer just as much as women, although it is much, much rarer. I am a 36 y/o male who was diagnosed with breast cancer back in November and underwent a modified radical mastectomy. Not sure weather I am going to have chemo yet or not. Mine appears to be estrogen driven and I may just have to do hormone therapy. It is a life changer. I had 17 lymph nodes removed and now have to take precautions to try and avoid getting lymphedema. A little less of lifting heavy things for me now!! I am pretty bummed that I don’t get to follow the upper body portion of the Primal Blueprint Fitness program as much as I was trying to before. Just wanted to mention this. Men need to keep in mind that they too can get breast cancer.

    Jacob wrote on January 19th, 2011
  31. People look at the P.O. or the D.M.V. or government schools, and understand why they are nightmares of inefficiency. But then they act surprised when government science turns out to be sloppy mess rigged by lobbyists and bureaucrats to funnel money, not make discoveries.

    We are doomed by our faith in authority. Yet again.

    John Howard wrote on January 19th, 2011
    • PO for post office? it’s no longer government-run.

      tess wrote on January 20th, 2011
  32. >

    Jacob wrote on January 19th, 2011
  33. Nark & Denise:

    Fabulous job of outting this study! After reading this I am amazed this got through peer review! Well, with the anti-fat bias out there perhaps not so amazed but it shows just how people, both men and women, lose all reason & logic when it comes to certain aspects of female anatomy….LOL.

    Peter Defty wrote on January 19th, 2011
  34. Peer Review is merely an appeal to authority, no more proof of quality than a celebrity endorsement.

    Peer Review is P.R., nothing more.

    John Howard wrote on January 19th, 2011
    • Good to point out….peer review is only as useful as the “peers” doing the reviewing. Since most published studies in JAMA et. al. are done by CW thinkers (I use that term looslely…like the way my pre-primal pants fit), it stands to reason that their “peers” share their views, so as long as the study doesn’t rock the SS Status Quo, these studies are published in journals that include this tripe.

      It’s like being convicted by a jury of your “peers,” also known as “a group of people who weren’t important/smart enough to get out of jury duty.”


      Jared wrote on January 20th, 2011
  35. Look at the first paragraph from emaxhealth: “Researchers at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson determined how the American diet that high in fat and cholesterol makes cancer tumors grow and spread faster, in a mouse study.”

    The stuff being espoused here borders, if not is, a flagrant CRIME. Imagine the people coming across this stuff and then further deciding to eat lower fat and thus get health problems?

    I hope she sent her writing to the lead researcher, Philippe G. Frank, and the entire team at Thomas Jefferson University, as well as to the American Journal of Pathology, EMaxhealth, DrCutler, and the Medical Daily. It probably wouldn’t do anything, but at least they’d realize there’s more and more people not buying their BS.

    Brian Kozmo wrote on January 19th, 2011
  36. the Medical Industrial complex using the media for their purposes….thank you for the post.

    rik wrote on January 19th, 2011
  37. Some of the missing percentages account for fibre, moisture, vitamins and minerals. The diets are not even close in caloric content. The actual “Physiological Fuel value” is only 3.42 kcal/g of the regular mouse-chow. Though I would really like to know how they ‘inactivate’ some of the calorie content in that food…

    Interesting that this lovely composition of a “western diet” was also available as an irradiated pellet. Any mention in the (cancer) study if that was the food of choice perhaps? It was made with fats preserved with Ethoxyquin, which is a known carcinogen that also reduces the blood plasma level of Vit E and impairs Selenium (known to protect against cancer). After seeing the diet breakdown there was no point of looking at the study.

    I’d like to see a study on how much time and money is wasted on all these useless studies. Anyone???

    Priceless btw how they first list dehulled soybeans, just to add soybean hulls again later. Come to think of it, that western diet reminds me of ingredient lists one mind find on the odd tub of commercial ice cream. Just add a little artificial flavour and colour and you’re almost there…

    Daniela Huppe wrote on January 19th, 2011
  38. Kudos to Denise for her excellent analysis of this study and Mark for this wonderful platform where truth can be told. It’s so hard to get to the bottom of what hits “the news” about diet these days. It’s nice to know I have a place to come where people take time to read the fine print and decipher what really happens in those studies.

    The fish meal in one mouse pellet vs. none in another was a major stand-out when I read the ingredients in the study. Not controlling for such basic variables makes it surprising this kind of dreck gets published.

    Robin wrote on January 19th, 2011
  39. There are lies, damn lies, and statistics (sic). Mark Twain.

    Anybody besides me think it’s weird that the Susan Koman Fndn holds bake sales?????

    Mary Anne wrote on January 19th, 2011
    • Most of those foundations are just a money making machines. If anyone is looking for cure for cancer the first thing they need to do is start eating a healthy organic diet, sleep, drink water, stop stressing and enjoy life. That will cure pretty much everybody from almost everything.

      Aram Hovsepian wrote on January 19th, 2011
    • Yes!

      Joe wrote on January 19th, 2011
      • No. You can’t cure cancer by changing your diet. Advice like that has the potential to cause real harm, perhaps even kill people.

        Tim wrote on January 20th, 2011
        • Hm. I did. And so have many others. :)

          imogen wrote on January 20th, 2011
        • WRONG!!! I had biopsy confirmed prostate cancer in June of 2002. My PSA was 5.2 in July. By Jan 2003 it was back down to 2.5 and has stayed below 3.7 ever since. I have had NO treatment from any doctor, just routine PSA tests. I started a low carbohydrate, high fat, adequate protein diet in February 2002. When I got the biopsy results I started using supplements that I found researching on the internet. I used PUBMED and university sources.

          Though it would take a lot of time, I can DOCUMENT what I have done since I live alone and save all my receipts for groceries, etc. And a check with my medical insurance carrier would confirm that I have had no treatment.

          Here is a link to a plot of my PSA.
          I have ALL the lab reports for these tests.

          Larry Jensen wrote on January 20th, 2011
        • Sorry, but a diet change is really the most prominent thing that can give the body what it needs to heal… Put gasoline in a diesel’s fuel tank and it immediately stops running…

          The human body will still run on foods that don’t produce health but unfortunately not for long…

          Some people have weaker immune systems than others and those are usually the ones who die from diseases… especially from chemo and radiation!

          I tried to get my father to change his diet when he had lung cancer and he wouldn’t listen and he had radiation and chemo and three months later he died…

          On the other hand… My grandson was stricken with cancer that filled half of his body… we completely changed his diet and he was cancer free in 3 months…

          The lies have got to stop!! Way too many people die needlessly for lack of the truth!

          JERUSHA B. wrote on January 20th, 2011
  40. Nice article Denise! It’s rather unfortunate that so many studies are so poorly designed.

    I’m kind of curious about the cancer causing properties of casein protein isolate. While the science is still controversial there is evidence that certain specific variants casein protein (specifically BCM7) are highly inflammatory in the body. I wrote up a short summary of what I was able to find out back in January:

    I’m kind of curious as to what other people think about this, especially considering that I’ve added a whole bunch of whole milk back into my diet.

    Matthew wrote on January 19th, 2011

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