Cancers of the breast and prostate look more and more like diseases of inflammation. They appear to occur more often in people with lifestyles that cause inflammation, and people who have been diagnosed with these cancers live longer when they adopt anti-inflammatory lifestyles.
In North America one in seven women will develop breast cancer, and virtually all men will develop prostate cancer if they live long enough.
• A 10-year follow up study shows that men with prostate cancers that are most likely to kill them (Gleason scores 7-10) live longer when they adopt an anti-inflammatory diet (Int J Cancer, May 31, 2016).
• Women who eat a pro-inflammatory diet are far more likely to develop and die from breast cancer (Br J Cancer, May 24, 2016;114(11):1277-85). Women with breast cancer who adopted an anti-inflammatory diet lived much longer than those who didn't (Eur J Nutr, July 31, 2015), while women with invasive breast cancer who adopted an anti-inflammatory diet were less likely to die from that disease (Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, April 2014;23(4):575-83).
• Men with both prostate cancer and diabetes (an inflammatory disease) die much earlier than those with prostate cancer but without diabetes (J Diabetes Complications, May-Jun 2016;30(4):591-6).
• People who eat a pro-inflammatory diet are at increased risk for all cancers (Eur J Nutr, Jan 29, 2016 29, epub ahead of print). Men who eat a pro-inflammatory diet are at markedly increased risk for developing prostate cancer (Br J Nutr, Jan 2015;113(2):278-83).
• Eating red meat (which is pro-inflammatory) is associated with increased risk for breast cancer (Int J Cancer, Apr 2016;138(7):1609-18), while drinking alcohol, which is also pro-inflammatory, is associated with increased risk for estrogen-driven (estrogen receptor positive) breast cancer in women (J Natl Cancer Inst, Nov 2, 2005;97(21):1601-8).
• Inflammation as measured by a CRP blood test greater than 10 mg/L predicts how long women with breast cancer survive (Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, Jan 2014;23(1);189–99).
• Exercise is an anti-inflammatory lifestyle habit, while inactivity is pro-inflammatory. Exercise speeds up the breakdown of estrogen in a woman's body, while inactivity slows it down (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, March 2016;48(3):439–448). Women with high estrogen levels are at increased risk for breast cancer.
• People who follow anti-inflammatory cancer prevention guidelines can reduce all cancer incidence rates by 10 to 45 percent. They can also reduce risk of death from any cancer by 14 to 61 percent (Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, July 2016).
How Inflammation Can Lead to Cancer or Recurrence of Cancer
The presence of inflammation shows that your immune system is active. Your immunity is supposed to be good for you because it prevents germs from getting into your bloodstream and killing you. Your immunity also seeks out and destroys the millions of defective cells (cancer cells) that your body produces every day. However, an overactive immunity (too much inflammation) can use its cells and proteins to attack and destroy the DNA in healthy cells, altering them so they become cancer cells that can overgrow, invade healthy tissue and kill you.
My Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle Recommendations
• Eat a diet that is high in anti-inflammatory foods
• Try to exercise every day
• Avoid being overweight
• Avoid tobacco
• Restrict or avoid alcohol
Anti-inflammatory foods that you should eat include fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains (not ground into flour). beans, coffee, tea, and fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna or sardines.
Pro-inflammatory foods to restrict include sweetened beverages and sugar-added foods, foods made with flour and other refined carbohydrates, red meat (meat from mammals), processed meats, fried foods, butter and margarine.
More on Anti-Inflammatory and Pro-Inflammatory Foods