The benefits of strength training are well-documented and extensive. From increasing bone density to improving cholesterol, resistance training should be included in any exercise routine. Recent research is showing that people with more lean muscle mass may be at an advantage when it comes to fighting cancer.
A study in the British medical journal Lancet found that cancer patients with increased levels of lean muscle mass lived on average 10 months longer than those with lower muscle mass. While other studies have shown that people who exercise have lower levels of cancer, it is unclear whether lifting weights prior to or after the cancer diagnosis has the greatest effect.
The researchers still are not sure exactly what causes lean mass to have a protective effect. My take would be this- lean muscle mass increases our metabolism, burning fat. Stored fat in the body produces excess estrogen, which has been linked to certain cancers (this is one of the reasons Hormone Replacement Therapy in post-menopausal women increases the risk of cancer). So by reducing fat mass the progression of cancer is slowed.
We also know that fat tissue causes the release of a variety of chemicals called cytokines. These chemicals chronically increase inflammation in the body. It has been well demonstrated that inflammation is the root cause of many types of cancer, as well as cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity. People with more lean muscle mass have lower levels of inflammation, and therefore are better prepared to stave off diseases such as cancer.
So get started today! Don’t wait until it’s too late to begin anti-inflammatory (and anti-cancer) habits. Exercise regularly with weights, eat an anti-inflammatory diet (lots of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and protein), and supplement your diet with quality nutritional products.
If you want the support of physicians trained in natural and preventative medicine, contact our office today. Dr. Walker and Dr. Sancetta can help develop a plan of action for you to achieve your goals!
Some interesting research is being brought to the forefront in the synthetic vs. whole food supplement debate. The more time I spend studying, the more intuitive sense it makes to me that natural whole food supplements are superior to their synthetic counterparts. It is impossible to replicate in a lab the nutrients the healthy foods our bodies are designed to function on.
All of the nutrients in whole food supplements, like the Optimal Health Systems line we carry in the practice, are derived from natural sources. Also, the minerals in the supplements we use are bound with amino acids to significantly increase absorption.
These studies illustrate not only the possible superiority of whole food supplements, but also the potential dangers of synthetic vitamins.
Synthetic Vitamin C Supplements May Lead to Heart Disease
Researchers from the Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research found that “regular intake of [synthetic] vitamin C pills may quicken the thickening of artery walls, a condition known as atherosclerosis”. Of the 573 men and women studied, those that had consumed at least 500 milligrams of ascorbic acid Vitamin C supplements a day, developed an inner artery wall layer 2.5 times thicker than that of people who did not take the synthetic supplements. However, the researchers found “no evidence that vitamin C from food caused heightened atherosclerosis progression. According to researcher James H. Dwyer, “When you take in vitamins from food, you take them in with a large number of other components of that food. It is plausible that the protective effective of a diet occurs because of the interaction of many components of those foods.”
Rado, Alicia. “Too much of a good thing? Large doses of vitamin C linked to atherosclerosis”. HSC Weekly, Feb 25, 2000; Vol 6, No 7.
Synthetic Vitamin E Harmful
According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the synthetic form of vitamin E (alpha-tochopherol) does an incomplete job of neutralizing certain compounds and can actually block beneficial natural nutrients in the body. Stephan Christen, lead author of the study, said consuming over 100 international units of alpha-tocopherol may be harmful. Christen said he hopes vitamin/pill companies will soon begin adding gamma-tocopherol to their formulas so consumers can receive the full benefits from vitamin E.
Recer, Paul. “Vitamin E pills may pose risk.” The Arizona Republic, April 1, 1997.
Synthetic Vitamin C May Contribute to DNA Damage
According to an article published in the journal Science, researchers found that “the [synthetic] vitamin C pills taken by millions of health-conscious Americans may actually help produce toxins that can damage their DNA, a step toward forming cancer cells”. Ian A. Blair, the study’s lead author, said they found that synthetic “vitamin C was highly efficient in converting lipid hydroperoxide [a compound produced in the body from fat in the diet] into gene-damaging toxins.”
Recer, Paul. “Lab Study Finds Vitamin C Dangers.” The Washington Post, June 14, 2001.
Beta-Carotene Provides No Benefit in Cancer Prevention
“Former blue asbestos workers known to be at high risk of asbestos-related diseases, particularly malignant mesothelioma and lung cancer, were enrolled in a chemo-prevention program using vitamin A. [The goal of the study was] to compare rates of disease and death in subjects randomly assigned to [synthetic] beta-carotene or retinol.” Results of the five-year study “confirm other findings of a lack of any benefit from administration of large doses of synthetic beta-carotene.”
de Klerk NH et al. Vitamin A and cancer prevention II: comparison of the effects of retinol and beta-carotene. Int J Cancer 1998 Jan 30; 75(3):362-7.
You read that correctly. As you can probably imagine, WHAT you eat matters, but the idea is still pretty powerful. When you hear the phrase “You are what you eat”, do you actually think about what this means? As we’ll discuss today, this is very literally true, and has some incredible applications.
If you think back to eighth grade biology, you remember the pictures of a human cell. Big squishy round thing in the middle (nucleus), a covering that looks like it’s made of Skittles (cell membrane) and with a bunch of funny looking stuff floating around inside (endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondria, etc). It’s a whole lot more complicated than this, but that’s not the point. Each part of that cell is composed of fats and proteins that come from the food we eat.
The part of the cell that is especially important for our topic today is the cell membrane (the Skittle covering). The membrane is made of the fats that you eat, primarily omega-3 and omega-6 fats. If you’ve heard any thing about eating salmon or taking fish oil to increase he omega-3s in your diet, then you already know how healthy these essential fats are. Have you ever considered why?
The cell membrane (made omega-6s and omega-3s) is responsible for regulating inflammation in the body. When you think of inflammation you probably think of a sprained ankle or when you hit your thumb with a hammer. This is acute inflammation, and it’s normal and healthy. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is when your body is always producing low levels of pro-inflammatory chemicals. This chronic inflammation occurs when the cell membranes have too many omega-6s and not enough omega-3s. When the body is always inflammed this leads to problems such as heart disease, arthritis, chronic pain, even cancer.
This is why supplementing wiith omega-3s (fish oil, flaxseed oil) and eating foods rich in omega-3s helps to fight inflammation. Even more important is limiting the amount of omega-6 fats in your diet. These are found primarily in grains, vegetable oils, and processed foods. Studies have shown that a diet rich in omega-3s helps to prevent conditions ranging from heart disease to Alzheimers. In Europe, fish oil is prescribed to help patients recovering from a heart attack or stroke. In my practice, I’ve found patients who are supplementing with omega-3s have less pain and recover faster. If you have questions on what type of fish oil is best or how much is necessary for you, our staff can help you make good decisions.
So next time you’re about to eat another meal of processed, pro-inflammatory, omega-6 laden food, decide if you want to be eating to cause pain, or if you want to choose health! If back or neck pain is keeping you from doing the things you love, be aware that the inflammation in your body might be related to the inflammation from your plate!