Life Extension Update
More than a third of global cancer deaths caused by modifiable factors
A study published in the November 19 2005 issue of The Lancet concluded that one-third of the deaths from cancer worldwide are due to risk factors that could have been modified. Previous studies have examined the effects of risk factors on cancer mortality, but most have examined only one risk factor, one type of cancer, or one population.
Dr Majid Ezzati of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and colleagues estimated mortality from cancer attributable to nine risk factors: overweight and obesity, low vegetable and fruit intake, physical inactivity, smoking, alcohol use, unsafe sex, air pollution, indoor smoke from coal use, and contaminated injections in health care settings. By reviewing published studies and government reports, they determined that 2.43 million of the 7 million worldwide cancer deaths in 2001 were caused by the joint effect of these factors. Of these deaths, 1.6 million were among men and .83 million of them were women. Over a third of the deaths were from lung cancer. Smoking, alcohol use and low fruit and vegetable intake led individual risk factors for global cancer deaths.
Despite the fact that they account for only 15 percent of the world’s population, high income countries accounted for 29 percent of the cancer deaths and 31 percent of deaths attributed to the nine risk factors. Among low and middle income countries, Europe and Central Asia had the greatest number of cancer deaths attributable to these factors.
The authors cite an article published in a previous issue of The Lancet in which the writer (Sporn, MB) “states that the obsession with curing advanced disease has prevented progress in the war on cancer.” Dr Ezzati concluded, "Primary prevention through life-style and environmental interventions remains the main route for reducing the global cancer burden. If implemented, reduction of exposure to well-known behavioral and environmental risk factors would prevent a substantial proportion of deaths from cancer.
Cancer is a disease caused by genetic mutation. Most people have a difficult time grasping the molecular complexities of genes and their relationship to cancer. To bring this down to the simplest level, the following definition from the New England Journal of Medicine (Haber 2000) should enable lay persons to understand how genes are intimately involved in cancer processes: "Cancer results from the accumulation of mutations in genes that regulate cellular proliferation."
Human studies show that about 70% of gene mutations are environmental and, thus, relatively controllable based on what we eat, whether we smoke, or exposure to genotoxins or radiation (Ljungquist et al. 1995; Herskind et al. 1996; Finch et al. 1997). Antioxidant supplements have become popular because they reduce gene damage inflicted by free radicals. However, it takes more than antioxidants to adequately protect genes against environmental mutation.
The most prevalent cause of environmental genetic mutation is the food we eat every day. While certain foods are particularly genotoxic, even healthy foods result in the body being exposed to small amounts of carcinogens. A consistent finding in epidemiological studies is that people who consume the most calories have significantly higher incidences of cancer (Kuska 2000; Winick 1991). There are several mechanisms that explain why overeating causes cancer, but one reason is that more gene mutations occur in response to higher food intake.
The first line of defense against the many carcinogens in the human diet is agents that prevent gene mutation. Many antimutagenic agents have been identified in fruits and vegetables, the most potent being the indole-3-carbinols, the chlorophylls, and chlorophyllin (Negishi et al. 1997). The traditional dietary antioxidants should be considered only as a secondary line of defense against cancer because it is more important to inactivate or neutralize carcinogens in the first place than to try to protect the cells and proteins downstream from their effects. Chlorophyllin is the modified, water-soluble form of chlorophyll that has been tested as an antimutagenic agent for more than 20 years.
On November 10, 2005, a speech was made before the United States House of Representatives that exposed the FDA’s attempts to censor health information from the American public.
The purpose of this speech was to introduce the Health Freedom Protection Act (H.R. 4282), a bill that would prohibit the FDA from denying consumers access to truthful health information.
The text of this historic speech has been reprinted below. We encourage you to read this historic declaration that enumerates illegal actions perpetrated against the American public by the FDA.
After you read the speech, please use the take action now button to email your Representative on Capitol Hill in support of the Health Freedom Information Act (H.R. 4282).
Free Speech and Dietary Supplements
"Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce the Health Freedom Protection Act. This bill restores the First Amendment rights of consumers to receive truthful information regarding the benefits of foods and dietary supplements by codifying the First Amendment standards used by federal courts to strike down the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) efforts to censor truthful health claims. The Health Freedom Protection Act also stops the Federal Trade Commissions (FTC) from censoring truthful health care claims.
"The American people have made it clear they do not want the federal government to interfere with their access to dietary supplements, yet the FDA and the FTC continue to engage in heavy-handed attempts to restrict such access. The FDA continues to frustrate consumers’ efforts to learn how they can improve their health even after Congress, responding to a record number of constituents’ comments, passed the Dietary Supplement and Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA). FDA bureaucrats are so determined to frustrate consumer access to truthful information that they are even evading their duty to comply with four federal court decisions vindicating consumers’ First Amendment rights to discover the health benefits of foods and dietary supplements.
"FDA bureaucrats have even refused to abide by the DSHEA section allowing the public to have access to scientific articles and publications regarding the role of nutrients in protecting against diseases by claiming that every article concerning this topic is evidence of intent to sell a drug.
"Because of the FDA’s censorship of truthful health claims, millions of Americans may suffer with diseases and other health care problems they may have avoided by using dietary supplements. For example, the FDA prohibited consumers from learning how folic acid reduces the risk of neural tube defects for four years after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended every woman of childbearing age take folic acid supplements to reduce neural tube defects. This FDA action contributed to an estimated 10,000 cases of preventable neutral tube defects!
"The Health Freedom Protection Act will force the FDA to at last comply with the commands of Congress, the First Amendment, and the American people by codifying the First Amendment standards adopted by the federal courts. Specifically, the Health Freedom Protection Act stops the FDA from censoring truthful claims about the curative, mitigative, or preventative effects of dietary supplements, and adopts the federal court’s suggested use of disclaimers as an alternative to censorship. The Health Freedom Protection Act also stops the FDA from prohibiting the distribution of scientific articles and publications regarding the role of nutrients in protecting against disease.
"This legislation also addresses the FTC’s violations of the First Amendment. Under traditional First Amendment jurisprudence, the federal government bears the burden of proving an advertising statement false before censoring that statement. However, the FTC has reversed the standard in the case of dietary supplements by requiring supplement manufactures to satisfy an unobtainable standard of proof that their statement is true. The FTC’s standards are blocking innovation in the marketplace.
"The Health Freedom Protection Act requires the government bear the burden of proving that speech could be censored. This is how it should be in a free, dynamic society. The bill also requires that the FTC warn parties that their advertising is false and give them a chance to correct their mistakes.
"Mr. Speaker, if we are serious about putting people in charge of their health care, then shouldn’t we stop federal bureaucrats from preventing Americans from learning about simple ways to improve their health. I therefore call on my colleagues to stand up for good health care and the First Amendment by cosponsoring the Health Freedom Protection Act."
(This speech was made on behalf of approximately 20 members of the House of Representatives. As a matter of policy, Life Extension does not endorse political figures or political parties. We believe that whom you choose to politically support is a personal decision. Life Extension prefers to stick with the substance as opposed to praising any particular individual or political group.)
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