ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS (EFA’S)
Posted: August 15, 2009
Hundreds of people from the community just participated in the 2009 Relay For Life out at the Edgar County Fairgrounds. Always a touching event, participants walk to raise money and awareness for the American Cancer Society, often in memory of someone they knew who has battled cancer.
With that in mind, it’s always good to think about things we can do to prevent cancer before it occurs, if possible. So I’d like to share some information from an interesting book I just finished: “The Hidden Story of Cancer” by Brian Scott Peskin, B.S.E.E., M.I.T., and Amid Habib, M.D.
With a background in engineering and mathematics, Peskin has applied his particular expertise to the cancer research that has been completed in the last century, and come up with some interesting findings. He says much of the relevant information was actually known in the 1930’s and 1940’s, but researchers didn’t want to believe it, so they went off in a different direction.
The current trend in research is to use the Genome Mapping Project to try and figure out genetic causes. Unfortunately, after mapping 1.3 genes, and spending over $1.3 billion, there hasn’t been any real movement.
Other research has been disappointing. Several 5 and 7 year studies have been recently published, showing that eating more fruits and vegetables had no significant effect on preventing cancer.
But Peskin’s research is suggesting that the real cause of cancer isn’t genetic at all. Instead, it’s due to poor cellular respiration, because of the unhealthy foods we’ve been eating, especially in the last 50 years.
What he means is that our cells aren’t able to take in oxygen in sufficient quantities, so they start to become unhealthy, and eventually, cancerous. The primary cause is due to a lack of what are called Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s)—called Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s.
As we’ve shifted from whole, natural foods to more prepared foods, manufactures started adding Trans Fats to give them longer shelf life. They also started using more Omega-6 (vegetable oils), including cheaper Canola and Soy based oils, which Peskin says were never meant for human consumption.
Instead, they were originally meant to be used as food for farm animals and also for industrial applications. The Trans Fats and unhealthy Omega-6’s that are wide spread now, actually can “poison” otherwise healthy cells. Anything that had vegetable oil in the ingredients is suspect.
Even foods with “0” Trans Fats might still actually have some, because the government only requires that there are less than .5 grams to be called “0” grams. So if you eat several portions with “0”, you might still be getting several portions with .49 grams—still a ticking time bomb.
Researchers have established that cancerous cells have poorer “respiration” than otherwise healthy, normal cells, which means their ability to uptake oxygen is compromised. Research also shows that EFA’s in the correct amount and balance can improve cellular respiration.
In essence, the EFA’s act like anti-inflammatory drugs, directly in the cell. They also help improve oxygenation which is the breath of life, even at the cellular level. This helps explain why people taking Omega-3 supplements often see improvements in a wide variety of inflammation driven conditions.
Recent studies of cancer patients being treated with radiation, but also supplementing with EFA’s, have shown significant improvements over treatment with radiation therapy alone. The EFA’s apparently help keep new cells from being affected by the disease and the treatment.
Peskin has also shown the recent trend to avoid Omega-6’s altogether, in favor of supplementing only Omega-3, isn’t the best approach. It might even be putting people at risk.
The research shows that our cells actually need a healthy amount of what is called parent Omega-6. So not only do we need to curtail our eating of the different processed (especially junk) foods, we need to make sure we’re getting enough of the pure, “good” Omega-6.
The first of five anti-cancer steps Peskin recommends is that we get a blend of 1:1 or 2:1 of what’s called parent Omega-6 to parent Omega-3. That means we need an equal amount of Omega-6 and Omega-3, or no more than twice as much Omega-6 as Omega-3, quite a bit different from what health practitioners (and myself) have often recommended.
For me, the surprise is that there are “good” Omega-6’s, and that the cells actually need them. Also, overdosing on Omega-3 (fish oil) can be very harmful, because it can cause other problems in the cells. It’s a little complicated when you try to look at the bottles, but here are the things to look for.
When you buy Omega-6, it should have these derivatives of “Parent” Omega-6: GLA and CLA (or LA), like Flaxseed Oil, Safflower Oil, Sunflower Oil or Pumpkin Oil. Other oils aren’t nearly potent enough, and some are downright harmful. If you eat anything cooked in vegetable oil (packaged or otherwise), your cells are undoubtedly getting the harmful Omega-6’s, so it’s important to supplement this with the good Omega-6’s to offset them.
When you buy Omega-3, it should have these derivatives of “Parent” Omega-3: EPA and DHA. Typically found in fish oil, it’s important to not over do these. Make sure that you are getting close to a 1:1 ratio between the quality Omega-6’s to offset any poor Omega-6 you might be getting.
You’ve got to look closely at the blend to make sure it’s balanced. One strategy is to buy them separately, but I went to the GNC website, and they offer several products that combine the two, for around $20-$24.
Adding high quality EFA’s to your daily routine is probably the simplest, yet most important thing you can do, and people that do it report back to me quite quickly that they feel better. They might also help keep you from getting cancer.
Peskin had 4 other anti-cancer steps, including (2) getting enough minerals, which can improve cellular function. He also suggests (3) eating enough animal based protein, to ensure proper cellular development.
He says we need to (4) limit the number of carbs we eat each day. The amount is pretty radical, and quite restrictive: no more than 60 g of carbohydrates a day. This is very similar to the Atkins diet.
His reasons are because carbs (glucose) are the primary fuel for cancer cells—they can’t live on fats or proteins. Glucose also “sticks to your blood proteins, slowing down the blood flow due to high viscosity, reducing the amount of oxygen reaching the cells. This plays a big role in whether the cancer will metastasize or not, which is what kills you.
Finally, he suggests (5) we take a herbal detoxifier each day to help minimize the effect of any carcinogens and harmful additives in our foods. Look for one containing Sheep Sorrel, Burdock Root, Slippery Elm Bark, and Turkish Rhubarb Root.
Wow, that was pretty intense, but worth it, I hope. It was a tough read, but I tried my best to break it down to what we really need to know. In my opinion, the EFA’s are a no-brainer. We’d be dumb not to do them, along with more minerals, and good protein, too.
The carbs, I’m not so sure about, but we certainly can restrict them to just one a meal, and avoid the worst of them, most of the time—especially the junk foods. Just cutting back could make a difference.
If you already have cancer, restricting carbs might prolong your life because it could choke off the food supply to the cancerous cells. The EFA’s could then help keep it from spreading and keep your good cells oxygenated. The herbal detoxifier is another one that most people probably won’t do, but I could be wrong. You can find it at GNC or your health food store.
The winner from Biggest Loser “8” Week Six was Tammy Hewitt, who lost 2.5% of her body weight and 4.0 lbs. She won a $20 gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance. Second place went to Shawn Bowers, who lost 2.1% of his body weight and 5.9 lbs. Third place went to both Vicki Riggen and Brittany Cline who both lost 1.8% of their body weight and 2.7 lbs.