Thomas Ramey Watson

Plant based diets lower cancer risks

How do our cells know when to tip the scale in favor of more dividing with less dying and when to come back into balance? A key signal is IGF-1, a growth hormone called insulin-like growth factor number one. IGF-1 levels go up when you’re a kid so you grow and then come back down when you’re done growing. Should your levels stay a bit too high as an adult, though, there’s a constant message sent to your cells to grow, grow, grow, divide, don’t die, keep going, keep growing. Not surprisingly, the more IGF-1 we have in our bloodstream, the higher our risk for many types of cancer.

When you’re a kid, growth is good, but too much growth when we’re all grown up can mean cancer. In my 90-second video, Cancer-Proofing Mutation, I describe Laron Syndrome, a type of dwarfism caused by congenital IGF-1 deficiency. Those affected don’t have that IGF-1 spurt in childhood so they grow up short-statured, but not having an excess of IGF-1 in their systems as an adult makes them nearly cancer-proof. This raises the question of whether one can achieve the best of both worlds by ensuring adequate IGF-1 levels during childhood and then suppressing excess growth promotion in adulthood. This can be done with a plant-based diet as I described in last week’s Care2 posts Cancer-Proofing Your Body and Treating an Enlarged Prostate With Diet, as well as in today’s video pick above.

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