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Solely about 1 in 10,000 individuals reside to be a 100 years outdated. What’s their secret? I focus on this in my video Animal Protein In comparison with Cigarette Smoking.

In 1993, a serious breakthrough in longevity analysis was printed a few single genetic mutation that doubled the lifespan of a tiny roundworm. As an alternative of all worms being lifeless by 30 days, the mutants lived 60 days or longer. This lifespan extension was “the biggest but reported in any organism.” This methuselah worm, a “medical marvel,” is “the equal of a wholesome 200-year-old human.” All due to a single mutation? That shouldn’t occur. Presumably, ageing is attributable to a number of processes, affected by many genes. How might knocking out a single gene double lifespan?

What is that this ageing gene—a gene that so quickens ageing that if it’s knocked out, the animals reside twice as lengthy? It’s been known as the Grim Reaper gene and is the worm equal of the human insulin-like development issue 1 (IGF-1) receptor. Mutations of that very same receptor in people might assist clarify why some individuals reside to be 100 and different individuals don’t.

So, is it simply the luck of the draw whether or not we received good genes or unhealthy ones? No, we will activate and off the expression of those genes, relying on what we eat. Years in the past I profiled a exceptional collection of experiments about IGF-1, a cancer-promoting development hormone launched in extra quantities by our liver after we eat animal protein. Women and men who don’t eat meat, egg white, or dairy proteins have considerably decrease ranges of IGF-1 circulating inside their our bodies, and switching individuals to a plant-based diet can considerably decrease IGF-1 ranges inside simply 11 days, markedly bettering the power of ladies’s bloodstreams to suppress breast most cancers cell development after which kill off breast most cancers cells.

Equally, the blood serum of males on a plant-based diet suppresses prostate most cancers cell development about eight instances higher than earlier than they modified their diet. Nonetheless, this dramatic enchancment in most cancers defenses is abolished if simply the quantity of IGF-1 banished from their techniques because of consuming and residing more healthy is added again. That is one technique to clarify the low charges of most cancers amongst plant-based populations: The drop in animal protein consumption results in a drop in IGF-1, which in flip results in a drop in most cancers development. The impact is so highly effective that Dr. Dean Ornish and colleagues appeared to have the ability to reverse the development of early-stage prostate most cancers with out chemotherapy, surgical procedure, or radiation—only a plant-based diet and way of life program.

After we’re youngsters, we’d like development hormones to develop. There’s a uncommon genetic defect that causes extreme IGF-1 deficiency, resulting in a kind of dwarfism. It additionally apparently makes you successfully cancer-proof. A research reported not a single loss of life from most cancers in about 100 people with IGF-1 deficiency. What about 200 people? None developed most cancers. Most malignant tumors are coated in IGF-1 receptors, but when there’s no IGF-1 round, they might not have the ability to develop and unfold.

This may increasingly assist clarify why lives seem like reduce brief by consuming low-carb diets. It’s not simply any low-carb diet, although. Particularly, low-carb diets primarily based on animal sources seem like the issue, whereas vegetable-based low-carb diets have been related to a decrease threat of loss of life. However low-carb diets are excessive in animal fats in addition to animal protein, so how do we all know the saturated animal fats wasn’t killing off individuals and it had nothing to do with the protein? What we’d like is a research that follows just a few thousand individuals and their protein intakes for 20 years or so, and sees who lives longest, who will get most cancers, and who doesn’t. However, there had by no means been a research like that…till now.

Six thousand women and men over age 50 from throughout america have been adopted for 18 years, and people underneath age 65 with excessive protein intakes had a 75 p.c improve in total mortality and a fourfold improve within the threat of dying from most cancers. Does it matter what kind of protein? Sure. “These associations have been both abolished or attenuated if the proteins have been plant derived,” which is sensible given the upper IGF-1 ranges in these consuming extra protein.

The sponsoring college despatched out a press launch with a memorable opening line: “That rooster wing you’re consuming might be as lethal as a cigarette.” It defined that “consuming a diet wealthy in animal proteins throughout center age makes you 4 instances extra prone to die of most cancers than somebody with a low-protein diet—a mortality threat issue similar to smoking.” And once they say “low-protein diet,” what they really imply is getting the really useful quantity of protein.

“Nearly everybody goes to have a most cancers cell or pre-cancer cell in them sooner or later. The query is: Does it progress?” stated one of many lead researchers. That will rely upon what we eat.

“[T]he query just isn’t whether or not a sure diet permits you to do effectively for 3 days,” a researcher famous, “however can it provide help to survive to be 100?” Extreme protein consumption isn’t solely “linked to a dramatic rise in most cancers mortality, however middle-aged individuals who eat plenty of proteins from animal sources…are additionally extra vulnerable to early loss of life generally.” Crucially, the identical didn’t apply to plant proteins like beans, and it wasn’t the fats; the animal protein gave the impression to be the wrongdoer.

What was the response to the revelation that diets excessive in meat, eggs, and dairy might be as dangerous to well being as smoking? One diet scientist replied that it was probably harmful as a result of it might “harm the effectiveness of necessary public well being messages.” Why? As a result of a smoker would possibly suppose “why hassle quitting smoking if my cheese and ham sandwich is simply as unhealthy for me?”

This jogs my memory of a well-known Philip Morris cigarette advert that attempted to downplay the dangers of smoking by saying that if we predict second-hand smoke is unhealthy, growing the danger of lung most cancers 19 p.c, consuming one or two glasses of milk each day could also be 3 times as unhealthy with a 62 p.c increased threat of lung most cancers. What’s extra, doubling the danger is regularly cooking with oil, tripling our threat of coronary heart illness is consuming non-vegetarian, and multiplying our threat six-fold is consuming plenty of meat and dairy. So, they conclude, “Let’s maintain a way of perspective.” The advert goes on to say that the danger of most cancers from second-hand smoke could also be “effectively beneath the danger reported…for a lot of on a regular basis gadgets and actions.” So, breathe deep!

That’s like saying we shouldn’t fear about getting stabbed as a result of getting shot is a lot worse. Or, if we don’t put on seatbelts, we’d as effectively have unprotected intercourse. If we go bungee leaping, we’d as effectively disconnect our smoke alarms at dwelling. Two dangers don’t make a proper.

After all, you’ll notice Philip Morris stopped throwing dairy underneath the bus as soon as they bought Kraft Meals.


The IGF-1 story is so pivotal that it’s one of many first video collection I ever produced for NutritionFacts.org. I’m so glad I used to be in a position to launch this long-awaited replace. If you need a blast from the previous, watch the unique collection beginning with Engineering a Remedy.

For extra parallels between the tobacco trade and the meals trade, see:

What concerning the cell phone trade? Does Cell Cellphone Radiation Trigger Most cancers?

For extra on wholesome ageing and longevity, see:

It’s necessary to notice the so-called low protein consumption is definitely the really useful protein consumption, which is related to a serious discount in most cancers and total mortality in center age, underneath age 65. However did you discover that it says not amongst older people? All of that is coated in my video Growing Protein Consumption After Age 65.

In well being,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: Should you haven’t but, you may subscribe to my free movies right here and watch my reside, year-in-review displays: