Meat diet reduces risk of pancreatic cancer

Although it didn’t come right out and say it in those words, a large study of 81,922 people published in the current issue of Gastroenterology shows data indicating that a meat diet protects against the development of pancreatic cancer. The methionine.gifresearchers looked at consumption of methionine – a stand-in for meat – verses pancreatic cancer. The subjects consuming the most methionine developed pancreatic cancer at less than half the rates of those with the lowest methionine consumption. And these findings followed a dose-response curve meaning that as methionine intake went up, pancreatic cancer went down in all the groups studied, providing even more strength to the correlation.

This study uses data extracted from a couple of large, country-wide Swedish studies: the Swedish Mammography Cohort and the Cohort of Swedish Men. In 1997 researchers gave Food Frequency Questionnaires to men born between the years 1914 and 1948 and to women born between 1918 and 1952 asking them to recall their average dietary consumption over the previous year. Recently researchers from the Karolinski Institute in Stockholm pored through this data and eliminated anyone who reported bizarrely high or low caloric intakes and anyone with cancer. They evaluated the 81,922 people who made the cut for methionine and vitamin B6 intake. They then checked to see how many of these subjects had developed pancreatic cancer over the intervening 7.2 years and correlated these cases with quartiles of methionine and vitamin B6 consumption. It turns out that there isn’t a correlation with vitamin B6, but there is a significant correlation with methionine consumption.

Men who consumed the most methionine had under a third the cases of pancreatic cancer as compared to those who are the least. Women with the highest methionine intake had about half the pancreatic cancer rate as those with the lowest intakes. Men and women eating the most methionine, considered together, had only 44 percent of the rate of pancreatic cancer as compared to men and women with the least dietary intake.

There are a couple of interesting things of note about this study. First, my usual disclaimer: I hate data gathered from Food Frequency Questionnaires because it’s not the most reliable. But, because it is so much less expensive compared to other methods of obtaining data, almost everyone any more uses it, so we have to live with it.

The most interesting thing I found was that only one line in the study talked about what kinds of foods contain a lot of methionine. Buried in the discussion section is this line:

Foods rich in methionine include fish, poultry, meat, legumes, and dairy products.

I don’t know why they put legumes in there because there is no comparison in terms of methionine content between fish, poultry, meat and dairy products and legumes. If you look at a list of all the foods containing methionine, you’ll find the foods at the top of the list are all meats of one sort or another. I ran a search on methionine levels in 100 grams (about 3 1/2 ounces) of various foods and found that poultry contains about 1000 mgs/100 grams, beef, depending on the cut, about 950 mgs/100 grams, fish about the same (although smoked salmon could go as high as 1800 mgs/100 grams). Cheeses run about 850-950 mg/100 grams. (The only thing on the list above meat, fish, poultry and dairy products is dried seaweed at 1150 mgs/100 grams, but when was the last time you ate 31/2 ounces of dried seaweed.) When you get to legumes on the list you find that soybeans are first at about 450 mg/100 grams followed by all kinds of other beans in the 350-250 mg/100 gram range. It’s pretty obvious that meat provides the most bang for the methionine buck. To get the same amount of methionine that you would get in one 12 ounce steak you would have to eat almost 2 1/2 cans of beans.

I’m sure the authors didn’t make much of the sources of methionine for reasons of nutritional politics. No one wants to be responsible for telling people to eat meat, God forbid.

Another intriguing sentence buried in the paper without comment is this one:

We also considered adjustment for other potential confounders, including physical activity, aspirin use, vitamin supplement use, and intakes of alcohol, red meat, coffee and tea; however, because adjustment for these variables did not alter the risk estimates, they were not included in the final multivariate analysis.

In other words, we were sure that we would find that exercise, aspirin, and vitamins would decrease the risk and that alcohol, red meat, coffee and tea would increase the risk. But since they didn’t, we ignored them. With this one sentence we can see the bias of the researchers. Why even look at red meat unless you suspect it as a culprit?

Why would methionine (and by extension, meat) reduce the risk of pancreatic or any other cancer?

According to the authors of the study, methionine’s ability to act as a methyl donor is their best guess. WARNING: DO NOT READ THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH UNLESS YOU WANT TO GO BRAIN DEAD. I’ll interpret it after.

Biological plausibility for a relation between methyl group–deficient diets and risk of pancreatic cancer includes a high, specific requirement for methyl group donors the pancreas contains high levels of folate derivates, including 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, which is the product of the reaction catalyzed by 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR). 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate serves as the methyl group donor for the remethylation of homocysteine to methionine, thereby ensuring the provision of S-adenosylmethionine necessary for biologic methylation reactions, including DNA methylation. Aberrant DNA methylation patterns may contribute to carcinogenesis, possibly by influencing genomic stability, gene expression, and the susceptibility of genes to muations. Animals fed diets deficient in methyl group donors (methionine and choline) have altered pancreatic acinar cell differentiation and impaired exocrine function of the pancreas. Furthermore, animals treated with ethionine, an inhibitor of cellular methylation reactions, develop acute pancreatitis. Supplementation with dietary methionine has also been shown to suppress the development of pancreatic cancer in the postinitiation phase of pancreatic carcinogenesis in hamsters. A possible role of reduced methyl group availability in pancreatic carcinogenesis is further supported by recent findings from 2 case-control studies showing that a functional polymorphism of the MTHFR gene, C677T, modified the risk of pancreatic cancer. The 2 studies reported that individuals carrying the MTHFR 677TT (variant) genotype, which is associated with decreased enzyme activity, lower plasma folate levels, and elevated plasma homocysteine levels, had a statistically significant approximately 2- to 5-fold higher risk of pancreatic cancer compared with individuals with the 677CC genotype. Another case-control study found no relation between the MTHFR C677T polymorphism and risk of pancreatic cancer. However, separate analyses in the same study showed that pancreatic cancers with reduced MTHFR function due to loss of an MTHFR allele had more DNA hypomethylation and more chromosomal deletions.

What does it all mean?

To understand it you need to understand the process called methylation. Methylation is the addition of a methyl group to another molecule. A methyl group is a carbon with three hydrogen atoms attached to it. Simplistic as this process of attaching a methyl group to another molecule seems, without it there would be no life.

Let’s look at a few examples.

Methylation regulates the fluidity of our cell membranes. The cell membrane needs to be rigid enough to provide support for the cell but at the same time fluid enough so that the receptors and other proteins in the membrane communicate with other cells and with hormones circulating throughout the body. With age, the fluidity of the cell membrane decreases, hindering these processes. The insulin resistance that comes with aging is thought to be in some measure due to the decrease in membrane fluidity and the resulting loss of function of the insulin receptor. The fatty substances making up the cell membrane are called phospholipids. Methylation of these phospholipids increases the fluidity of the membrane.

Methylation helps move fat out of the liver. A consequence of insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia is an accumulation of fat in the liver, which, if not dealt with, can lead to inflammation, fibrosis, cirrhosis and even liver cancer. Providing plenty of methyl groups helps mobilize this fat.

Each cell in each of our bodies has all the genetic material necessary to produce all the tissues in the body. But liver cells produce more liver cells, lung cells produce other lung cells, stomach cells produce more stomach cells, etc. You wouldn’t want your liver to be producing skin cells, or even worse, your skin growing a liver. Yet skin cells have all the DNA to make liver just as liver has all the DNA to make skin or any other tissue in the body. What activates the DNA in the liver to make liver cells and suppresses the DNA that makes everything else? DNA methylation. Methyl groups on DNA regulate the expression of the genes.

As you might imagine proper methylation is essential for the growth of an embryo. As the cells in the growing embryo divide and multiply, methylation helps them along by determining what cells differentiate into what in order to have a healthy infant.

Methylation basically gives the cells a memory of who they are so that liver cells always produce other liver cells and skin cells more skin cells and so on. Sometimes, however, if the process of methylation breaks down, these cells can lose their ‘memory’ of who they are and start producing cancerous cells instead of the cells they should be producing.

Methionine is the body’s super methylating agent. It acts as a methyl donor, providing a methyl group as needed. It also acts as a team player along with other substances to transport methyl groups from one molecule to another. Methionine comes from the diet, but it can also be produced from homocysteine.

Elevated levels of homocysteine are thought to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. If we have plenty of folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6 we can easily convert homocysteine into methionine, which is why doctors always recommend folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 to treat elevated levels of homocysteine. Although theoretically these substances will reduce homocysteine by converting it to methionine, in my experience and from what I’ve read in the medical literature, vitamin b12 does most of the heavy lifting in this process.

A number of studies have shown that, in general, vegetarians tend to have higher homocysteine levels than do non-vegetarians. Vegetarians get plenty of folic acid, which is found in fruits and vegetables and they get plenty of vitamin B6. What they’re lacking is vitamin B12, found only in foods of animal origin. Based on this fact alone, the case can be made that vitamin B12 is essential in converting homocysteine to methionine.

When one eats meat, one gets plenty of vitamin B12 and plenty of methionine. Homocysteine stays low as the vitamin B12 drives its conversion to methionine, providing even more methylating power.

The densely written paragraph that I quoted from the article makes the case that the cancer-fighting properties of the high methionine diet come about because of the increase in methylating potential the additional methionine brings. I agree, but I think there is another reason as well.

Methionine is a sulfur-containing amino acid. The immune system relies on a steady supple of sulfur to keep it humming along, and sulfur only comes in on sulfur-containing amino acids. Carbs and fats have no sulfur, only oxygens, carbons, and hydrogens. A steady supply of sulfur-containing amino acids is essential to proper immune function. Foods of animal origin are the primary sources of these amino acids, which is another reason vegetarians seem to be afflicted with more than their share of colds and other illnesses. The immune system, in addition to warding off bacterial and viral infections, is constantly on the prowl for cells that have – thanks to problems with methylation – converted into cancer cells. A properly functioning, vigilant, immune system attacks cancer cells and wipes them out before they have a chance to divide and become an actual cancer.

Methionine, then, by methylation and by immune enhancement should decrease the incidence of not just pancreatic cancer but other cancers as well. And methionine is found in meat. So, meat consumption should decrease the incidence of cancer because it supplies a large load of methionine. Why didn’t they just say so in the article. Nutritional correctness, I suppose.

I, however, am far from ‘nutritionally correct,’ so I will say it.

EAT MEAT–PREVENT CANCER!

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24 thoughts on “Meat diet reduces risk of pancreatic cancer

  1. Gah! Eat meat?! No way! 😉 Great post Dr. Eades. Before you even said it, I had guessed at their reasoning for including legumes: they didn’t want to piss off the vegetarians by putting only animal products. We wouldn’t want anyone to get any impression other than “vegetarians are healthy and meat-eaters are going to die of cancer.”

    Hi Scott–

    Yeah, you’re right.  We wouldn’t want anyone getting the impression that meat could possibly be god for us.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  2. “We also considered adjustment for other potential confounders, including physical activity, aspirin use, vitamin supplement use, and intakes of alcohol, red meat…”

    As red meat contains large amounts of methionine, it is statistical garbage to try to adjust for it. You can’t adjust away the source of what you are studying.

    Hi Mike–

    It is of course idiocy.  But it shows how entrenched the bias is.  I figure they were hoping to find that red meat somehow raised the risk, so that they could point to fish and poultry as the best sources of methionine while encouraging people to avoid red meat and stay somewhat ‘nutritionally correct.’

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  3. you are a clever old bugger aren’t you ?!

    Many thanks as always..many many thanks

    God knows I work at it.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  4. EAT MEAT–PREVENT CANCER AND A HOST OF OTHER AILMENTS

    BY DR. MICHAEL EADES

    Hey old bugger; clean out your refrigerator next year. Right now your ass should be strapped to a chair in front of a desk upon which rests a word processor and a lamp so you can get cracking on a book that I’m convinced will garner boo-koo attention and hopefully the boo-koo dinero that you deserve for having the huevos to write what others (academia castrati) are apparently too frightened to write. I could go on but I don’t want to cut further into your writing time.

    Just find me a publisher willing to come up with a boo-koo advance for such a book and I’m in.

    Cheers– 

  5. The more people avoid red meat, the more red meat there is for me to eat. I want to give Rachel Ray a thump on the head. I heard that she had a doctor on her show dissing low carb / protein diets. He said that it causes the blood to become acidic and it causes cancer. It erks me to see so many people willing to open their mouths and let anything fly out.

    Jesus wept. 

  6. Yes, many many thanks Dr. E. At the risk of sounding all treacly, I’d like to say thanks. It was because of you (and other lowcarb advocates) that my husband and I had the courage to set aside the “healthy” diet recommended by his oncologist. Like most people who are newly diagnosed with cancer, we were terrified, willing to do anything the doctor suggested. His cancer had already metastasized. Surgery plus palliative care and life extension was all the oncologist had to offer, and not much of that. Now, two years beyond the most optimistic projections, he is clear of lesions. The oncologist says that he is off the charts for care guidelines. Recovery or even remission in colon cancer that has metastasized to the lungs is statistically nonexistent. That is really nice, but the most important part is that he is HEALTHY. The cancer will likely return, but meanwhile he’s able to do everything and anything. He enjoys his life and his food and his family and all his usual pursuits. Other than the cancer, he is the healthiest 67 year old I know.

    Now for the treacly part. I believe that what you are doing not only saves lives but preserves quality of life. I thank you and look forward to all your posts.

    More! More! More!

    Hi Marilyn–

    Thanks for the kind words.  They really mean a lot to us.

    I applaud your initiative in seeking out the best diet and having the courage in the face of a life-threatening illness to follow it.

    I obviously can’t say for sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the cancer isn’t in remission.  I’ll keep all my fingers crossed. Keep me posted.

    Best–

    MRE 

  7. from todays Times (UK)

    Supplements ‘raise death rate by 5%’
    Nigel Hawkes, Health Editor

    Vitamin pills commonly taken by millions of people are doing them more harm than good, an analysis of the evidence has concluded.

    Three supplements — vitamins A and E and beta carotene — appear to increase the death rate of those taking them. Vitamin C and selenium have no effect.

    The results, published in Journal of the American Medical Association, suggest that money spent on vitamin supplements is wasted. In response, the British Heart Foundation said people should not take supplements but should concentrate instead on eating a healthy diet.

    The new study is a meta-analysis — a procedure in which many earlier studies are collected together to produce the most accurate verdict.

    It was carried out by a team led by Goran Bjelakovic of Copenhagen University Hospital and colleagues, using methods developed by the Cochrane Collaboration, the leading international group specialising in the analysis of what works in medicine.

    Supporters of vitamin supplements, which are consumed regularly by up to ten million Britons, believe they can act as antioxidants, preventing highly active oxygen radicals in the body damaging molecules such as cholesterol, to cause heart disease. The theory seemed plausible, and some initial trial results appeared to lend it support. But as better trials were done different results emerged.

    The Copenhagen team considered 68 randomised control trials, involving 232,606 people, and published by October 2005. Of these, they rate 47 trials as being of the best quality, with the rest more prone to bias of one sort or another.

    Taking only the 47 low-bias trials — involving 180,938 people — they found that supplements as a whole increased the death rate by 5 per cent.

    When the supplements were taken separately, beta carotene increased death rates by 7 per cent, vitamin A by 16 per cent, and vitamin E by 4 per cent.

    Vitamin C gave contradictory results, but when given singly or in combination with other vitamins in good-quality trials, increased the death rate by 6 per cent.

    Selenium was the only supplement to emerge with any credit. It appears to cut death rates by 10 per cent when given on its own or with other supplements in high-quality trials, but the result is not statistically significant. The team concludes: “Our findings contradict the findings of observational studies claiming that antioxidants improve health.

    “Considering that 10 to 20 per cent of the adult population in North America and Europe (80-160 million people) consume the assessed supplements, the public health consequences may be substantial.”

    They say there are several possible explanations. One is that oxidative stress is not the cause of conditions such as heart disease for which it has been blamed, but may be a consequence of such conditions.

    Alternatively, by eliminating free radicals we may interfere with essential defensive mechanisms such as apoptosis (programmed cell death), phagocytosis (the destruction of foreign tissue, including bacteria) and detoxification. But the team adds that they examined only the use of synthetic vitamins.

    Ann Walker, of the Health Supplements Information Service, a body funded by the industry, said that the study carried the same flaws as another analysis that questioned the health of supplements. She said that both combined the results of trials on two different classes of people: those with no known ill-health, and those who were already suffering from conditions such as heart disease. “In my view, the results of these mixed-sample meta-analyses are worthless,” she said.

    Ellen Mason, a cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “There are good scientific reasons for believing that antioxidant supplements might protect against heart disease but a number of clinical trials have failed to provide any robust evidence in favour of this. We would recommend that you only take substances, whether dietary supplements or drugs, proven in well-conducted clinical trials.”

    Hi Simon–

    Thanks for the article. I cover it in my most recent post.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  8. Even in europe there is such a hesitation to say anything negative about vegetarianism. Vegetarianism has been associated with virtue in the public mind for so long that to suggest it is unhealthful or anything less than pure and correct is to invite a sh*tstorm of protest from every corner. (Don’t even get me started on the sanctimonious PETA folks.)

    One of the frustrating things I have found lately is that some lady without any qualifications or credentials has written a book for women with PCOS in which she extols the virtues of vegetsoy-itarianism and warns about the “hormones in meat.” (I still have not seen this book, but I know it exists because I keep haivng to shoot down this idea that vegetarianism will make the symptoms go away.) Great idea, take a woman who is already estrogen dominant and predisposed to thyroid disease and feed her SOY! You can imagine the result…the experiment for the woman in question usually ends badly.

    Come to think of it, you guys should submit a book proposal on another version of Protein Power specifically to address PCOS women. It is amazingly effective for intervening with the entire constellation of symptoms. The only difference would be minor tweaks in emphasis. Since estimates now put the PCOS population as high as 8-10% of females in the U.S., you have a built in audience just waiting for you and the only other books in that area (with PCOS in the title they sell like hotcakes) do not deal with the idea of nutritional treatment so much as weight loss.

    Why goodness, if I had the fancy white coat I would do it myself. 😉

    Toodles.

    Hi Anne–

    I’ll run the idea of such a book up the flagpole with my agent and see what she says.  Unfortunately the reason such a book probably wouldn’t sell is buried in your comment.  Strange as this may sound, people are not interested in health, they are interested in weight-loss.  I suspect that’s why most of the books you’ve seen have been written around weight-loss.

    Thanks for the suggestion.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  9. I’m a meat eater but my girlfriend is an ovo- lacto- vegetarian. She takes SAMe to enhance her mood and swears by the stuff.

    I’m curious, is there much in the literature that shows a link between meat eating (or methionine consumption) and depression prevention?

    Also, what are the odds that a B12 supplement would help get more bang for the SAMe buck?

    Hi Vince–

    Sorry it took me so long to get to your comment.  You got hung up with all the spam. 

    SAMe has been showed in multiple studies to enhance mood.  I haven’t seen any literature linking meat consumption to prevention of or treatment for depression (that doesn’t mean such studies don’t exist, I’ve just never seen them), but I can tell you that many patients over the years have reported mood enhancement when going on a low-carb, higher-meat diet.

    SAMe, which is made from methionine is a great methylating agent.  When it loses its methyl group in the process of methylating an another molecure, it becomes homocysteine, a molecule harmful in large quantities.  Vitamin B-12 is essential in converting homocysteine back into methionine, which can then convert to SAMe.  So, yes, vitamin B12 gives a lot more bang for the SAMe buck.  That’s why meat is such a great food–it provides it all.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

    Thanks

  10. It’s a good thing that the precurser of 5-methyltetrahydrofolate doesn’t associate with Potassium, because the resultant 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate potassium reductase would be a real (MTHFKR)

    It could happen!

    Clever.  Very clever.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  11. Thanks for interpreting the medical jargon! I find that the more I understand the bodily processes and what should be happening, the more I am able to explain to friends and colleagues why I am a low-carb, no sugar eater for life. They’ve watched me lose 109 pounds in 3 years, become a ballroom dancer in my “senior” years, and become vibrant and healthy. NOW they want to know why I eat this way! I continue to get useful info from your website that helps me explain why I eat this way. Thanks for your great work.

    And thanks for your kind words.

    MRE 

  12. Fascinating info — thank you for blogging about this. My son receives treatment for a genetic methylation disorder at the Pfeiffer Center in Illinois, he’s what they call “undermethylated”, and needs supplemental methionine, methyl-B12 and Trimethylglycine. Coincidentally, his paternal Grandfather and Grandfather’s sister both died of pancreatic cancer.

    THe undermethylation causes him to produce lots of histamine in addition to homocysteine, and during his treatment (going on one year now) I’ve been surprised to see his allergies completely disappear. The Pfeiffer Center uses whole blood histamine level as a marker for undermethylation.

    As far as folic acid, methyl groups are used up when converting folic acid to the active form used by the body (folinic acid), so my son gets supplemental folinic acid instead.

    The Pfeiffer Center says high homocysteine can also be caused by an “overmethylation” problem resulting from insufficient ratios of B6 and Folic acid to methyl groups. People with this problem have extremely low histamine levels, and are supposed to avoid supplemental methionine, SAMe, or other sulfur-based supplements. This problem is not genetic, instead is caused by diseases or lifestyle choices that deplete B vitamins.

    The way I understand it, someone with high homocysteine can have an imbalance in either the “B vitamin side” of the methylation cycle, or the “sulfur donor side”.

    We’ve been eating per Protein Power guidelines for about 6 years now, and I suspect my son’s problems would have been much worse if we had been on a high-carb, low-meat diet.

    Hi Amanda–

    Thanks for the interesting comment.  I pretty much go along with everything the Pfeiffer Center has to say (as least as you reported it) except maybe for the part about excess methionine (at least from meat)  I suspect there may be a little ‘nutritional correctness’ in their approach to that one.  Typically when meat is eaten not only is methionine supplied but all the necessary B vitamins to deal with it as well.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  13. Sir thanks yr post on faith and smarts.

    If i understood you correctly yr point ref faith was..its different from rationality ?
    As a person of faith is using the self same brain that affords it(him/her) to be smart, learned and perhaps wise in other areas i take it that if that self same then believes in a life after life they are far far from rational and thus smart… by my definition, of course !
    It’s to me a less fun version of Father Christmas and the tooth fairy for adults.
    Point of fact those don’t say someone dies but then, really they don’t die.

    That was my point too i.e more faith is a sure sign thats something is rotten in Denmark with the reasoning and rationality powers again and of course by my def.
    It never ceases to amaze me that a person can be learned in one or differing areas and yet believe something that basically equates to well we don’t really die.
    Well read smart folks use more rationalizations and intellectualizations than uneducated folk but its amounts to the same thing..we don’t actually die..fully.
    I find it kinda sad though of course its a source a great comfort to gesquillions of folks.

    That whomever would believe that we are somehow special, that a part of us is immune to the forces of biology is as far as i can see fantastical and basically ridiculous.

    Agree that it was wrong to compare Western folk of faith to folks of extreme faith as assume most Westerners wouldnt off a another simply cos they had a different faith.
    Islam en masse still seems to ‘see’ the world in a mythic way a la 500 or more years ago;however less violentin the West belivers are, all people of faith have the shared absurd notion of life after life.
    And i think it blights potentiality for compassion and humanity and can be used as a truly gross rationalization (not that we humans need one ult!) for the most heinous acts.
    Are you a believer in life after life if i might ask,please ?
    As always thanks yr polemic

    Sinc

    Hi Simon–

    Do I believe in life after life…?

    The way you’ve set up the question, if I say Yes I categorize myself as an irrational idiot.  If I say no, then I get a thousand emails from people trying to save my soul.

    Let me put it this way: I believe in quantum mechanics.  If you believe in quantum mechanics, you can believe anything.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  14. Actually, I thought you would explore the possibility that oversecretion of insulin could be a cause of pancreatic cancer. It did not appear that one of the variables adjusted for was carb intake. Having said that, I am glad to actually see some actual biochemistry (on the part of the researchers) to explain the results. This is what seems to be missing in the cholesterol hypothesis where statistics are tortured to prove their premise.

    Hi Mark–

    I’m not sure that oversecretion of insulin is a cause of cancer.  I simply don’t know.  I’ve never read an article claiming that it is.  That doesn’t mean such articles don’t exist, just that if they do, I haven’t read them.  There is a body of research showing, however, that elevated glucose is a risk factor for cancer.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  15. Dr. Eades,

    Just a quick note of thanks and one question. I happened upon your blog/website a short time ago (while researching an evolutionary approach to eating and exercise), and have been reading diligently since. How can one thank you and your wife for providing all this helpful information for free, for taking the time out of your busy schedules to personally answer your readers’ questions? Many sincere thanks.

    My question: I’m in a bit of a quandary as to how much protein is absorbed and used at a given feeding. Everything I’ve read prior has indicated that only a certain amount of protein (anywhere from 20-40 grams, depending on who you talk to), is absorbed, and anything above that amount is stored as fat. Based on your writings (and also from an evolutionary “feast or famine” perspective), I’m inclined to think this may be a falsehood, much like every other piece of nutritional advice found in mainstream sources. I’ve recently transitioned to Protein Power, and now (with limited carbs and no starchy grains), in order eat a fulfilling meal, I consume quite a bit of protein at a sitting, sometimes approaching 90 grams. Am I setting myself up for failure? I’m currently at about 8% bodyfat, and purely for vanity’s sake, I’d like to keep it that way.

    Once again, many thanks for your public service. I’d like to see the two of you nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

    Thomas

    Hi Thomas–

    Thanks for the kind words about the blog.

    I don’t think you will get into any trouble with your protein intake.  I don’t know where the idea arose that the body can only use X amount of protein at any given time, but, unless I find contrary evidence, I don’t believe is true.

    Keep eating your steak.  Congrats on the 8% body fat–that’s tough to do.

    Don’t hold your breath on the Nobel Prize.  They give those for original research–we don’t do original research, we root through other’s original research and try to make sense of it when combined with other original research.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  16. Ha, I like that term: nutritionally correct. Funny thing is that some of my friends are die-hard conservatives that rail constantly about political correctness and governmental control in our lives but yet they are all nutritionally correct like you wouldn’t believe. Mention that I cook with bacon grease and lard and they go screaming into the night.

    I once read a book in which the author was advocating a vegitarian diet and she said that no one really craves meat in general and most particularly steak. I believe that she called it “tasteless”. I don’t know what she was smoking because I very often crave a lovely rare steak right off the grill and it’s very tasty indeed. I have yet to eat a veggie that doesn’t need some sort of help (usually butter) to make it more palatable. I still shudder at the thought of the plain steamed broccoli that I ate in the old days. I had to force that stuff down. Anyway, good to know that my steak is doing something good for me.

  17. Dr. MIke

    Don’t estimate the power of cosmetic issues and the ability to breed for getting a group of women interested in health. I’m just sayin’.

    Anne 😉

    Hi Anne–

    That’s my point.  One has to exploit the cosmetic issues because people don’t seem to be interested in the health aspects of a diet much at all, unless, of course, health aspects are used to avoid dieting.  As in, Oooh, I couldn’t go on a low-carb diet, it would give me heart disease.

    Cheers–

    MRE 

  18. I’m glad you think the Pfeiffer Center’s recommendations make sense. They definitely don’t discourage meat, or a Protein Power type diet. The recommendation to avoid sulfur in cases of overmethylation only applies to nutritional supplements.

    I’ve never thought about it until now, but I expect vegetarians as a group might experience more allergy problems, if a methionine deficiency caused by lack of meat upsets the balance of their methylation cycle and causes too much histamine.

    The comment from “Vince” about his vegetarian girlfriend using SAMe for depression makes perfect sense to me. Another symptom of my son’s undermethylation disorder was depression due to low serotonin, which requires methyl groups for its formation.

    A few days ago my son got some test results back from Pfeiffer, and under their care his histamine level has gone down by half since last July. His depression has gone away, too.

    Hi Amanda–

    I’m really happy to hear of your son’s success. Congrats to him and you.

    Best–

    MRE 

  19. Your nutritional comparisons would make more sense if you calculated nutrient contents (like methionine) per 100 calories rather than per 100 grams. By drying a food (hence the high dried seaweed numbers), nutrient amounts get inflated.
    In order not to overeat, it is calories that must be attended to, not the overall weight of the foods.

    Geez, I had to leave something for the reader to do. And people don’t eat calories, they eat ounces. People don’t eat 1400 calories of meat, they eat 4 ounces. That’s why I put the figures per 100 grams, which is 3 1/2 ounces.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  20. Dr Eades,

    I am all over the place with my comments because I only recently found your fascinating website and am working thro the articles. So I guess there is a good chance that no one will see this question, but anyway….

    I find what you have to say very interesting. I always followed a low-protein, mostly vegetarian diet and suffered obesity most of my life. So I would like to Believe. [In fact the thought there might be a cure for my condition means I cant breathe with excitement. I so want, when people talk about the % obese, that they are not including me in that category.]

    I read your book (and Atkins book and Clarke’s book – one strives to be fair) and was reconsidering my position on meat eating.

    However, a question –
    is it not true that several studies, such as these for example:
    http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/abstract/8/15/1302
    http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/abstract/20/8/1064
    have shown methionine consumption as not such a good thing?

    Perhaps even if pancreatic cancer is reduced other cancers could be increased (altho not shown in this study I think, altho they did discard people with cancer)?
    What is the theory of why reducing methionine may increase life expectancy?

    Many thanks for your interesting articles,

    H

    Hi Hootch–

    You can’t take studies such as the ones you linked to as proving much of anything. They are rat studies and they look at methionine in large doses. Methionine in meat comes along with a host of other substances that help to deal with the so-called negative reactions of methionine – vitamin B12, for example.

    As to other cancers…there have been many, many studies that have purported to show that meat consumption causes various cancers, but upon further research, meat seems always to be vindicated.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  21. Just a doubt…

    “In contrast to normal cells, tumor cells have absolute requirement for methionine (Met), an essential amino acid”

    “In animal models, Met restriction permit to limit tumor growth and to reduce tumor volume. However, interruption of Met restriction induce the regrowth of tumor.”.

    1: Bull Cancer. 2008 Jan 1;95(1):69-76. Links
    [Methionine dependency of cancer cells: a new therapeutic approach?][Article in French]

    Durando X, Thivat E, Gimbergues P, Cellarier E, Abrial C, Dib M, Tacca O, Chollet P.
    Département d’oncologie médicale, Centre Jean Perrin, 58, rue Montalembert, 63011 Clermont-Ferrand, France.

    Marco

  22. I know I’m reviving an old post, but I hope you can help with a question about a reference to pancreatitis in the above study: “Animals fed diets deficient in methyl group donors (methionine and choline) have altered pancreatic acinar cell differentiation and impaired exocrine function of the pancreas. Furthermore, animals treated with ethionine, an inhibitor of cellular methylation reactions, develop acute pancreatitis.”

    I have an obese, diabetic friend who refuses to eat low carb because the two times she tried it (well before I knew her) she got pancreatitis, once having to be hospitalized. She’s in her fifties and also has non-alcoholic fatty liver syndrome, if that makes any difference. I’m not sure what exactly she ate during those two LC attempts, except that she “ate healthy”, which seemed to entail lots of fruits and veggies, and less bread and starches.

    Is LC not a good idea for people who get pancreatitis, or is there something she could take to reduce her chance of getting it? Is it related to her fatty liver? I have scoured all my diet books (including PPLP) for references to pancreatitis and couldn’t find anything… in fact, I’m finding little on the net that doesn’t refer to cutting back on fat/protein and increasing fiber/carbs, the antithesis of low carb.

    She is not on the internet and relies solely on what her doctors told her previously about staying away from low-carb diets in general and fat in particular.

    I don’t know why your friend got pancreatitis after following a low-carb diet – it doesn’t make sense. So, I really can’t comment without knowing a whole lot more about the situation. I can tell you that the low-carb diet is the best diet around for non-alcoholic liver disease, a disorder we discuss in detail in our new book coming out next March. The only studies showing a reversal of non-alcoholic liver disease is the low-carb diet.