Monthly Archives: February 2019

Stem Cell therapy – Beware.

Beware the stem cell clinics mimicking trappings of science

Clinical Ethics Research

If you sign up to a clinical trial, you may think whatever treatment you’re getting has been signed off on by an ethics board and has at least passed some safety and efficacy tests. 

But when it comes to stem cell treatments, you may be being misled. 

In Australia, and worldwide, stem cell treatments have been marketed as a cure for everything from autism to dementia, and websites adopt the language and trappings of science to lead patients into thinking the approach is part of mainstream medicine. 

Some clinics are going so far as to register seemingly legitimate trials on the US government-run database,, to recruit customers then charging them thousands of dollars for the service. 

Ironically, the public clinical trial registry was created in 1997 to increase transparency around research, in part by declaring the scope of a trial at the outset in order to prevent modifying the outcomes afterwards. But it is often also used by patients and clinicians to find trials they may be eligible for. 

It turns out this free and relatively unmonitored database can also be a good way of advertising unproven and potentially dangerous treatments under the guise of legitimate clinical research. 

Unlike legitimate research however, these trials demand money for the therapy and often never publish clinical data in peer-reviewed journals, instead choosing to only publicise positive anecdotes.

One of these clinics with registered trials on the government database was behind the high profile cases where three of its patients went blind or had severe vision loss after having stem cell therapy for age-related macular degeneration. 

Clinical trials are just one of the “tokens of legitimacy” that Canadian health law expert Professor Timothy Caulfield says clinics use to portray themselves as being part of the medical establishment and exploit the trust customers have in science and scientific institutions. 

Others include renting space in, or near, universities and hospitals to increase their appearance of legitimacy. 

“The other thing these clinics are doing is using predatory journals to make it look like they’re publishing in this space,” the Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy explained. 

“So when you have a website that has a clinical trial registered on it and that looks like they have publications, it becomes really difficult to tease out the real stuff from the fake stuff.” 

Even crowdfunding campaigns are contributing to misrepresentation, according to a study published in the journal, Regenerative Medicine, last week. 

Across 78 different campaigns, which raised around half a million dollars for stem cell treatments, campaigners commonly described the treatment as being part of a clinical trial, sometimes even calling them “government-approved clinical trials”. 

Campaigners often believed their participation would contribute to the scientific literature and benefit thousands of future patients, the authors reported. 

These shoddy practices were under the magnifying glass at the EuroScience Open Forum in Toulouse last week, where experts revealed the tactics clinics are using to manipulate customers into believing the treatments have more mainstream acceptance in the medical community than they really do. 

Hyping up the possibility for cure and downplaying or omitting the risks is commonplace both in the media and in the industry itself.

Professor Ana Iltis, at the US center for Bioethics, Health and Society at Wake Forest University, said one way to describe this was that “stem cell clinics are providing incomplete, slanted and sometimes even false information to get people who are in need of treatment to agree to do something that puts them at physical risk and that costs them a great deal of money”.

“It involves an unfair taking advantage of their need and lack of knowledge, and deceives them for the clinic’s gain.” 

Hair dye is toxic – could natural alternatives be made to work?

Hair dye is toxic – could natural alternatives be made to work?

January 8, 2019 2.20pm SAST Symonenko Viktoriia/Shutterstock


  1. Madeleine Bussemaker Lecturer in Chemical Engineering, University of Surrey

Disclosure statement

Madeleine Bussemaker receives funding from Food Waste Net (BBSRC grant BB/L013819/1) and the Plants to Products Network (BBSRC grant BB/L013797/1).


University of Surrey

University of Surrey provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation UK.

The Conversation is funded by the National Research Foundation, eight universities, including the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Rhodes University, Stellenbosch University and the Universities of Cape Town, Johannesburg, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Pretoria, and South Africa. It is hosted by the Universities of the Witwatersrand and Western Cape, the African Population and Health Research Centre and the Nigerian Academy of Science. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a Strategic Partner. moreRepublish this article

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Do you really know what you’re putting on your hair? Many hair dyes you can buy in the shops or hairdresser contain toxic chemicals that can cause skin problems or even increase the chances of DNA mutations (a potential cause of cancer). As a result (and to save money), many people are turning to supposed natural alternatives, with the internet showcasing a plethora of home-made and plant-based concoctions. Yet very few of these provide much evidence that they colour hair.

My colleagues and I recently conducted research to see if ultrasound, which is used to encourage fabrics to absorb dyes, could also help natural hair colours to be more effective. But while the results were positive, we also found that the treatment – and some of the natural dyes themselves – can also cause hair damage.

Hair dyes work by filling strands of hair with coloured chemicals, which enter through the hair’s pores. In permanent dyes, two types of molecule go through these holes and then react to form a bigger type of molecule that is too large to come out again. Semi-permanent dyes, meanwhile, only penetrate the outer layers of the hair and use chemicals that like to stick to the keratin protein in hair. In both cases, alkaline solutions such as ammonia can help to swell the hair, open up the hair cuticles and widen the pores to improve penetration and enhance the colour.

A huge range of natural products are recommended online for covering grey hairs, creating highlights or even changing the entire hair colour. Suggested substances include coffee, tea, beetroot, carrots, onion skins, nigella seeds and a tasty concoction of vinegar and soy sauce. Since these are all things we eat, they are inherently non-toxic, but most articles that recommend them suggest reapplying every week or fortnight and provide little evidence they actually work.

A common suggestion for highlighting is to use lemon juice, honey and sunlight. The sun’s ultraviolet rays damage hair melanin which results in a yellowed colour, and the small amount of citric acid in lemon juice can speed up this reaction. But the acid can also shrink the shaft of each strand, leaving hair thinner, and strips the hair of essential oils and moisture.

You can also buy hair dyes that use naturally derived ingredients. If you don’t mind having purple hair, one natural ingredient that has been shown to work is blackcurrant extract. However, the most common ingredients in natural dyes are henna or indigo, with henna’s use dating back to the ancient Egyptians. When mixed with indigo, henna can create a range of shades from brown to black. These colour extracts work in a similar manner to temporary dyes and are adsorbed onto the surface of the hair. But like other plant-based dyes, henna treatments are limited by their messiness and the need to frequently reapply them.

Henna hair dye is natural but limited. fotolotos/Shutterstock

To see if we could improve the hair dyeing properties of natural hair dyes, my colleagues and I recently tested the effects of ultrasound on samples of goat hair. Much to the relief of the university ethics review board, this didn’t involve taking a goat to the local hairdresser. Samples of light-coloured goat hair provide a consistent source for testing and it has similar properties to human hair.

We already know that ultrasound can improve the performance of natural dyes on wool, silk and cotton. It creates a pressure wave in liquids that grows and collapses tiny bubbles, creating microturbulence that, depending on the ultrasound’s characteristics, can help the liquid’s molecules move around faster. Under certain conditions, ultrasound can also open up the pores of natural materials. Our results showed that, with the right settings, ultrasound could halve the typical two-hour dyeing time of henna-based dyes.

Hair damage

But we also took magnified images of the hair using a scanning electron microscope before and after different treatments. These showed that, when ultrasound was applied for long enough, it changed the hair structure, creating a different shape hair follicle that has previously been seen in ectodermal dysplasia patients.

In some cases, there was also some surface damage to the hair, most likely from erosion caused by the ultrasonic bubbles collapsing near or on the hair surface. The images also showed that henna-based dye can damage the outer layer or cuticle of hair, which is typically linked to dry and damaged hair.

Overall, ultrasound under the right conditions was able to create a more intense colour that was more resistant to washing than using the henna dye on its own, and without damaging the hair. But before you go sticking your head in an ultrasonic bath, we need to work out all safety implications. Our next step will be to look at how ultrasound can be used in the best way to enhance different dyeing formulations without damaging hair and how this can be used in the real world.

So far, it doesn’t look like there are any natural hair dyes without their downsides. But there is definitely room for new products that don’t involve smearing smelly, sticky food into your hair.

Impact of screening mammography on mortality from breast cancer before age 60 in women 40 to 49 years of age.

Curr Oncol. 2014 Oct;21(5):217-21. doi: 10.3747/co.21.2067.

Impact of screening mammography on mortality from breast cancer before age 60 in women 40 to 49 years of age.

Author information

Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON. ; Women’s College Research Institute, Women’s College Hospital, Toronto, ON.
Women’s College Research Institute, Women’s College Hospital, Toronto, ON.
Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON.



Whether screening mammography programs should include women in their 40s is controversial. In Canada, screening of women aged 40-49 years has not been shown to reduce mortality from breast cancer. Given that screening mammography reduces mean tumour size and that tumour size is inversely associated with survival, the lack of benefit seen with screening is puzzling and suggests a possible adverse effect on mortality of mammography or subsequent treatment (or both) that counterbalances the expected benefit derived from downstaging.


We followed 50,436 women 40-49 years of age until age 60 for mortality from breast cancer. Of those women, one half had been randomly assigned to annual mammography and one half to no mammography. The impact of mammography on breast cancer mortality was estimated using a left-censored Cox proportional hazards model.


Of 256 deaths from breast cancer recorded in the study cohort, 134 occurred in women allocated to mammography, and 122 occurred in those receiving usual care and not allocated to mammography. The cumulative risk of death from breast cancer to age 60 was 0.53% for women assigned to mammography and 0.48% for women not so assigned. The hazard ratio for breast cancer-specific death associated with 1 or more screening mammograms before age 50 was 1.10 (95% confidence interval: 0.86 to 1.40).


Mammography in women 40-49 years of age is associated with a small but nonsignificant increase in the risk of dying of breast cancer before age 60. Caution should be exercised when recommending mammographic screening to women before age 50.

I Need to Know: ‘is it normal to get sore down there after sex?’

I Need to Know: ‘is it normal to get sore down there after sex?’

February 18, 2019 6.00am AEDT Sex should never hurt.


  1. Melissa Kang Associate professor, University of Technology Sydney

Disclosure statement

Melissa Kang does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.


University of Technology Sydney

I Need to Know is an ongoing series for teens in search of reliable, confidential advice about life’s tricky questions. If you’re a teen, send us your questions about sex, drugs, health and relationships, and we’ll ask an expert to answer it for you.

Hi! I only recently have gotten a boyfriend and have started having regular sex. After 2 or more days, it starts to get a bit sore down there. Is that normal? I just assumed it was pain from friction, but I don’t know if that’s right and I’ve never sought help because it’s a bit embarrassing!

Sandra, 17, in Sydney

Key points

  • Sex should never hurt
  • if it does, tell the person to stop
  • get checked out by a GP or sexual health clinic to make sure it’s not something that needs to be treated – better safe than sorry.

Hi, and thanks for your question! You’re not alone in finding that sex isn’t always straightforward. By sex, I assume you mean intercourse. What I’m not sure about is where you mean by “down there”. In a woman’s body, down there is lots of places!

The Conversation, CC BY-ND

To start with, sex shouldn’t hurt, and if it does, a good tip is to say “stop”, no matter what! The aftermath of sex also shouldn’t hurt – whether it’s two minutes, two hours or two days later.

Even very vigorous intercourse where there’s lots of friction should not actually hurt. It can happen if there’s not enough natural (or artificial) lubrication or if there’s some muscle tension in the vagina. Both of these can be signs of not being fully aroused (turned on) beforehand or during sex, or being a bit anxious about having sex.

Read more: Female sexual dysfunction or not knowing how to ask for what feels good?

A new partner or relationship can bring some anxiety for each person. It can affect the way a woman’s body (or a man’s) gets aroused and how comfortable sex feels. Good communication with your partner about what feels good is really helpful.

If you have background worry about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or pregnancy, that can definitely affect enjoyment of sex. Getting armed with knowledge and equipment to prevent any unwanted consequences of sex should be a routine part of getting into a relationship for both parties.

The cause of your pain also depends on where it is – is it at the opening of the vagina, or other parts of the vulva? Is it related to peeing, and is it always in the same place?

Inflammation (redness and soreness) can cause pain – this could be from inside the vagina such as with a thrush infection (which is not sexually transmitted) or from the skin in the vulva (which could be from dermatitis or a skin condition).

Some STIs cause pain in the genital area, for example herpes (caused by the cold sore virus), but you would be likely to notice the sores as well. A common STI such as chlamydia often has no symptoms, but could cause pain higher up in the pelvic area or when you wee. A condition known as vulvodynia causes chronic pain, not just from having sex – it can also be triggered by the conditions mentioned above.

Read more: Health Check: what controls our sex drive? When and why do we feel like sex?

You deserve to be enjoying a happy and healthy sex life, and not feeling embarrassed about one of the most natural experiences in the world – even if it’s not always going right. It’s important you do get personal advice, since this could be something that needs treatment. It would be good to have a doctor or sexual health clinic check up, and this can all be done completely confidentially.

Low Dose Naltrexone in the Treatment of Fibromyalgia.

Curr Rheumatol Rev. 2018;14(2):177-180. doi: 10.2174/1573397113666170321120329.

I have been using LDN for many years for the treatment of all forms of autoimmune diseases. It generally works well in fibromyalgia as well, especially as there appears to be no other effective treatment available.

Low Dose Naltrexone in the Treatment of Fibromyalgia.

Metyas S1, Chen CL1, Yeter K1, Solyman J2, Arkfeld DG1.

Author information



ConclusionFibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder characterized by diffuse musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, sleep disturbance and cognitive impairment.


A significant number of fibromyalgia patients do not respond adequately to the current drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for fibromyalgia treatment including pregabalin, milnacipran, duloxetine. Thus, there is still a need for adjunctive therapies.


Naltrexone is an opioid receptor antagonist used to treat alcohol and opioid dependence. It is hypothesized that low dose naltrexone causes transient blockade of opioid receptors centrally resulting in a rebound of endorphin function which may attenuate pain in fibromyalgia.


Two small prospective pilot studies have previously shown that treatment with low dose naltrexone may be an effective, safe, and inexpensive treatment for fibromyalgia.


This prospective study lends further support to the preliminary body of evidence that naltrexone is a well tolerated and likely effective treatment option in the community setting. Further large prospective controlled trials are still needed.

Copyright© Bentham Science Publishers; For any queries, please email at

The evolution of the human menopause.

Climacteric. 2019 Feb 4:1-6. doi: 10.1080/13697137.2018.1547701. [Epub ahead of print]

The evolution of the human menopause.

Lumsden MA1, Sassarini J2.

Author information


The females of most species die soon after ceasing to reproduce, their purpose in life being to ensure survival of their kin. Human females may live more than one-third of their lives after they cease to reproduce, a property shared by few species, one of which is Orca whales. Orcas have been extensively studied because families live together in stable units or pods and individual whales have distinctive markings, enabling them to be identified. The females survive long after the menopause, one possible reason for this being that the older females provide a survival advantage since they are seen to lead the pods more often than younger females or males, thus providing a survival advantage in times of food shortage. The female lifespan is increasing in most countries worldwide, principally due to decreased infection and maternal mortality. Women are now more active through middle and into older age. Whatever sort of life they wish to lead, women need to be as fit as possible to facilitate healthy aging. Chronic diseases that affect millions of women are cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, cancer, and dementia. The incidence of all these is increased by obesity, the prevention of which is a major challenge in our society. Hormone therapy may have a place for some women but for many others taking control of their health by lifestyle intervention is a major contributor to disease prevention. It is our duty as doctors to encourage this at every opportunity to help all women live a fruitful and healthy old age.

Are You Truly Hypothyroid?

Are You Truly Hypothyroid?  Caution for Those Seeing a Functional Medicine Provider

Dr. Ruscio 3 Comments Category: Thyroid Disorders, Videos

The field of functional medicine has become too liberal with labeling someone as ‘hypothyroid’.  This might sound appealing, “Yes, I finally have a diagnosis”.  However, the hidden danger is that taking unneeded thyroid medication can make your symptoms worse.  Let’s detail how to know if you are truly hypothyroid.

Dr. Michael Ruscio, DC: Hey, this is Dr. Ruscio.  Let’s discuss if you’re truly hypothyroid. This is something that I discussed in the past but I just got out of a visit with someone who was told they were hypothyroid and they were put on Armour thyroid, and they felt terrible the entire time. Actually gaining weight, losing hair, becoming more fatigued, having lower moods and having trouble with sleeping.

Now, why might this happen? Perhaps you’ve heard me comment before that while I appreciate much of what the field of integrative and alternative medicine does, unfortunately, as someone who practices in that field, I think the liberal use of thyroid medication and doling out a diagnosis of being hypothyroid, has increased to the point now where we really need to call attention to it and amend this problem.

[Continue reading below]

Dr. R’s Fast Facts Summary

Why might this happen?

  • Functional Medicine (and alternative medicine) use ranges that are a bit more narrow than conventional medicine.
    • This results in practitioners doling out a diagnosis of hypothyroid and liberal use of using thyroid medication
    • Downside – patients can be treated with treatments that they don’t actually which makes them feel worse
  • The problem emanates from the educational model of functional and alternative medicine – might be a bit too progressive

What can you do?

  • Get a second opinion
  • Check the labs yourself
    • If your TSH is not flagged high by the lab, and correspondingly your free T4 is not flagged as low then you most likely do not need thyroid hormone
    • The lab would have “high” next to it, or “bold”, or “out of range”

What if you want to try thyroid hormone to see if you feel better?

  • For someone who may have non-optimal levels, a trial on a thyroid hormone medication to see if they feel better is not a bad idea
  • After 4 to 12 weeks, if someone is not clearly feeling better, then that is likely not the right treatment

What else could it be?

  • Look to your diet and lifestyle and look to your gut health
    • Improving these aspects often times improves symptoms

DrMR: Now what happens here? Well, in functional medicine, we will sometimes use ranges that are a bit narrower than conventional medicine will use. This, in some cases, has merit. However, we have to be careful with being too liberal in how tight of a range we use because the downside is we can start diagnosing people with a condition who actually don’t have it and therefore patients can be treated with treatments that they don’t actually need. This is exactly what is happening more often than not. I would say now I probably see a case of this a month, and I just got done with one. And so it is something that needs to be called attention to. And I don’t think it’s the fault of the provider, I think the providers are trying to do the best they can, and I think the problem emanates from the fact that the educational model and functional and alternative medicine might be a bit too progressive.

So what happens is, someone is told they have hypothyroid when they actually don’t.  The short story is, if you’re seeing a natural provider or even a conventional provider who’s operating in more of an integrative, functional and progressive model (again, that’s a good thing) to safeguard against the fact that the person you may be working with might be operating under a model that’s way too progressive with the use of thyroid hormone, I would get a second opinion.

Now, there’s a fairly easy way to check this even if you can’t get a second opinion. If your TSH is not flagged high by the lab, and correspondingly your free T4 is not flagged low by the lab (not by the clinician); the lab would have a high next to it, or bold, or out of range, if you don’t see both of those, then you most likely do not need thyroid hormone. Now, for someone who is suffering and not feeling well, I understand someone telling you, oh, these thyroid levels aren’t where they should be, and this could explain your fatigue, your depression, your constipation, your loose hair. I understand how attractive that is, but it’s important that we don’t fall prey to a promise that does not have the appropriate substantiation attached to it. And unfortunately, I think this is happening more often than it should be in the realm of integrative and functional medicine care for thyroid.

“We have to be careful with being too liberal in how tight of a range we use because the downside of that, is we can start diagnosing people with a condition who actually don’t have it and therefore patients can be treated with treatments that they don’t actually need”

Now, on the other side of the coin, I’m not fully in opposition to someone who may have non-optimal levels of thyroid hormone performing a trial on a thyroid hormone medication to see if they feel better. But I would say after four to 12 weeks, one to three months, if someone is not clearly feeling better, then that is likely not something to be used and that I think is the most progressive statement that we can make. So if you are told by a progressive minded provider, doesn’t matter if they’re an MD, or a DC, or an ND, or what have you, if you’re told by a provider that you have hypothyroidism, I would inquire if it’s true hypothyroidism, or if it’s non-optimal thyroid function but not hypothyroid, and try to discern that in the conversation with the clinician. And I would also either get a second opinion or look at the labs yourself and if you’re not seeing flagged high TSH paired with flagged low free T4, then you may want to be a bit more cautious before you jump on a thyroid hormone.

Thyroid Hormone Infographic

I understand the appeal is there, but if you’re given a hormone and you don’t need it, you can actually have an exacerbation of your symptoms and feel worse. Now there’s a time and a place for considering a trial of thyroid hormone, yes, but I would first recommend going through a protocol to improve your lifestyle and your diet, and your gut health because this can be the source, in fact, in the particular case I’m referring to, this gal clearly has digestive symptoms that are likely driving her fatigue, and as we get her digestion better, she’s less bloated, less constipated, and has less abdominal pain, I am very confident her fatigue will improve.

I would make one of the first couple maneuvers to look to your diet and lifestyle, look to your gut health, my book Healthy Gut, Healthy You, lays out a plan for both of these in case you’re in need for that, but before you jump to the thyroid hormone, whatever plan you do, I would take steps to improve your diet and your lifestyle and your gut health, then re-evaluate your symptoms because the need for this thyroid hormone may not be there and make sure you are crystal clear in knowing that you actually need the thyroid hormone before you go on it. Because, while yes, often times thyroid hormone level optimization is typified as being this holy grail of wellness, unfortunately when you are not hypothyroid and you are given hormone, the hormone can actually make you feel worse. And that, of course, is counter-productive and something we want to avoid. This is Dr. Ruscio, hopefully, this information helps you get healthy and back to your life. Thanks.

10 recommendations to reduce cancer risk

10 recommendations to reduce cancer risk

Liz Meszaros, MDLinx | February 06, 2019

Based on an analysis of the latest studies and evidence available, the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) has developed and released 10 recommendations for cancer prevention

The World Cancer Research Fund has released 10 recommendations to help everyone reduce the risk of cancer, based on the strongest scientific evidence available.

“Our Cancer Prevention Recommendations represent a package of ways of life which, together, can make an enormous impact on people’s likelihood of developing cancer and other chronic diseases over their lifetimes,” noted Professor Martin Wiseman, medical and scientific advisor, WCRF International.

  1. Maintain a healthy weight. Excess body weight and obesity have been linked to many cancers, including those of the esophagus, pancreas, liver, colorectum, breast, and kidney. Other cancers that obesity or excess body weight may cause include those of the mouth, pharynx, and larynx; stomach; gallbladder; ovaries; and prostate. Strive to keep weight as low as possible, and avoid weight gain throughout your adult A body mass index measure of 18.5-24.9 kg/m2 is considered healthy among adults.
  2. Be physically active every day. The WCRF recommends that you strive to be at least moderately physically active and follow or exceed national guidelines. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends daily activity, with at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week. Broken down, that’s about 21 minutes of moderate activity, or roughly 11 minutes of vigorous activity per day—the “minimum amount necessary” according to the WHO.

 “For cancer prevention, it is likely that the more exercise you do, the greater the benefit. But                     exercise doesn’t just mean going to the gym. Moderate activity might be household chores while               vigorous activity might be swimming fast lengths in the pool or playing five-a-side,” said Susannah             Brown,  senior science program manager, WCRF International, and former international rugby                   player.

  1. Eat whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and beans. The recommendation is to include whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and legumes as a major part of your daily diet. Strong evidence supports the protective effects of whole grains and fiber against colorectal cancer. For fiber intake, 30 g/d is sufficient, and for fruits and vegetables, 400 g/d. Get at least five servings of a variety of non-starchy vegetables and fruits daily, and eat a mix of non-starchy and starchy foods if possible.
  2. Cut down on fast foods and processed foods. These foods are usually high in fat, starches, and/or sugars. Such foods are readily available, affordable, tasty, and energy-dense, but also have a high glycemic load. They include fast food, many pre-prepared dishes, snacks, bakery items, desserts, and candy.
  3. Limit your intake of red and processed meat. The WCRF recommends that you eat only moderate amounts of red meat (weekly limit: 12-18 oz) and little to no processed meats. Strong evidence links both to colorectal cancer. Red meat includes all muscle meat from mammals, including beef, veal, pork, venison, lamb, mutton, horse, and goat. Processed meats are those that have been salted, cured, fermented, and smoked, and can include ham, salami, bacon, and sausages.

“The evidence on processed meat and cancer is clear-cut. The data show that no level of intake can            confidently be associated with a lack of risk. Processed meats are often high in salt, which can also            increase the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease,” said Professor Wiseman.

  1. Limit your intake of sugar-sweetened drinks. Overconsumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has been linked to weight gain and obesity, which may increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Instead, drink water or unsweetened drinks, including tea or coffee without added sugar.
  2. Limit alcohol consumption. To prevent cancer, the guidelines recommend no alcohol. According to strong evidence, alcoholic beverages can cause cancers of the mouth, pharynx, and larynx; esophagus; liver; colorectum; breast; and stomach.
  3. Don’t rely on supplements to meet your nutritional needs. Your goal should be to meet your nutritional needs through your diet alone. Currently, no strong evidence exists that dietary supplements actually reduce the risk of cancer, with the exception of calcium for colorectal cancer. In addition, there is also strong evidence that high-dose beta-carotene supplements could increase the risk of lung cancer in some. However, there are times when supplements could be beneficial in very specific populations, including:
  • Vitamin B12 for those over 50 years old who have difficulty absorbing it in its naturally occurring form,
  • Folic acid and iron supplements for women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, and
  • Vitamin D supplements for infants, young children, pregnant women, and those who are breastfeeding
  1. Breastfeed your baby. Breastfeeding is good for mothers and babies. Researchers have provided strong evidence that breastfeeding protects mothers against breast cancer and lowers their risk of type 2 diabetes. In babies, breastfeeding promotes healthy growth and immune-system development, and later, lowers their risks of asthma, type 2 diabetes, overweight, and obesity.
  2. After a cancer diagnosis, keep following these recommendations. Although researchers are studying the effects of diet, nutrition, and physical activity on the risk of cancer in cancer survivors, there is limited to no evidence yet. But, the WCRF recommends that all cancer survivors receive professional care and guidance about nutrition and physical activity, and that they follow these Cancer Prevention Recommendations for as long as possible after acute treatment has ended.

In the end, experts hope that these guidelines will provide wide-ranging guidance—to not only help reduce the risk of cancer, even in cancer survivors, but inform scientists and researchers in their clinical studies, and guide public health policy as well.

“The Cancer Prevention Recommendations are the centerpiece of our new report. They form a global blueprint, a package that people can follow to help reduce their risk of cancer. They are useful to scientists because they can help determine future directions of research. They are useful to policymakers because they can inform the development of policy to help people follow them. They are useful to communities and families and individuals to help them reduce their cancer risk, and also to cancer survivors to highlight the best ways to further reduce their cancer risk. They are also helpful to health professionals in their work with cancer patients and the general public,” concluded Kate Allen, PhD, executive director, Science & Public Affairs, WCRF International.