On the Subject of Cancer and Diet: My Interview with BBC Radio
Being interviewed by Sheila Dillon for BBC Radio this week was a great pleasure for me. Sheila is a food expert with an interest in the relationship between food and cancer.
A key question was the relevance of a U.K. book, "Food to Fight Cancer," by Richard Beliveau and Denis Bingras. This beautifully illustrated book summarizes the health benefits of everything from cabbage to chocolate! But the question is: can one really fight cancer with food alone? My answer quite simply was no! I stressed that one cannot eat one's way out of cancer.
In 2013, for myeloma in particular, there are many novel therapy approaches to treatment, which work extremely well: VELCADE, Thalomid, REVLIMID, plus new agents, POMALYST and KYPROLIS. These are the mainstays of treatment.
So what aspects of food are important? Eating "real food" is the most important step to healthy living. Avoid processed and fast foods as well as sodas, as I have discussed in previous blogs. Do not go overboard. There are only limited data to support the added value of particular healthy vegetables, fruits, herbal drinks, and juices.
In "The Blue Zones," a book by Dan Buettner about places in the world where people live to be over 100 years old, the diets are rather simple plant-based diets that include omega-3 fatty acids and usually some red wine with polyphenols. What is missing are the fast foods and sodas.
"That's all very well for people living in beautiful 'Blue Zones' with wonderful air and water, but what about us living in London or Los Angeles?" Sheila asked.
My answer is that we have to do the best we can to create our own "blue zones." Eating as healthfully as we can undoubtedly boosts our immune systems, as does reducing stress, getting exercise and sleep. As they say on Ikaria--the Blue Zone island close to Turkey--naps are OK!
But where does one get this kind of advice and specific help?
Unfortunately, doctors are really not trained in detailed nutrition and health as they should be! The focus is on disease. So
it is important to seek the best advice possible from experts such as Sheila Dillon, as well as authors, such as Nina Planck (author of "Real Food") and Michael Pollan (whose new book is "Cooked"). If you want to really know what NOT TO EAT, the new bible on this is, in my view, "Salt Sugar Fat" by Michael Moss, who provides a comprehensive, sobering look at the processed food industry.
So, there you have it! Focus on the new treatments we have, but also pay close attention to what you eat. These are exciting times in myeloma research. The IMF's Black Swan Research Initiative is for the first time redefining and searching for a cure! Exciting times indeed!
Check back at the IMF website for the air date of Dr. Durie's interview on BBC Radio 4.
Dr. Brian G.M. Durie serves as Chairman of the International Myeloma Foundation and serves on its Scientific Advisory Board. Additionally, he is Chairman of the IMF's International Myeloma Working Group, a consortium of nearly 200 myeloma experts from around the world. Dr. Durie also leads the IMF’s Black Swan Research Initiative®.