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Mythbusters: Nutrition Addition

  • Lifestyle factors
  • Naturally occuring exposures
  • Medical treatments
  • Workplace exposures
  • Household exposures
  • Pollution
Environmental Factors
  • How the indivual was exposed to a carcinogen
  • How long the individual was exposed to a carcinogen
  • The intensity of the carcinogenic exposure
  • Individual's genetic makeup
Cancer Causing Potential of Carcinogens

:substances and exposures that can lead to cancer


International Agency for Research on Cancer (ICRC)

A blessing and a curse!

The Internet

Joe Shmo

Social Media/Ads

Reputable Sources

Conflicting Messages

A "nutritionist"

Nutrition "myths" can stem from a variety of sources:

Where does misinformation come from?

500 agents

  • Chlorinated drinking water
  • Ceramic implants
  • Coffee
  • Electric fields
  • Fluorescent lighting
  • Hair coloring products

323 agents

  • Gasoline
  • Aloe Vera Whole Leaf extract
  • HIV Type 2
  • Aspartame
  • Marine Diesel Fuel

95 agents

  • Lead Compounds
  • Nitrate or Nitrite non-arsenical insectisides (occupational exposures of spraying and application of)
  • Red Meat consumption

127 agents

  • H. Pylori
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Coal (indoor emissions from household conbustions)
  • Estrogen-Progesterone Oral Contraceptives
  • Processed meats

not classifiable

possibly carcinogenic to humans

probably carcinogenic to humans

carcinogenic to humans


Group 3

Group 2B

Group 2A

Group 1

What are some everyday items/foods that you have been told cause cancer?

  • Eggs
  • Soy
  • Supplements
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Red Meat
  • Alkaline Water
  • Artificial Sweeteners
  • Dairy
  • GMOs


Should I eat them or not?


  • 6 grams protein
  • 5 grams fat
    • Saturated: 1.5 grams
  • 180mg cholesterol
  • Great source of:
    • B12
    • Folate
    • Choline
    • Vitamin A
    • VItamin D
    • Phytonutrients (depending on their diet)
      • Lutein
      • Zeaxanthin

Egg Nutrition

  • Eggs are highly nutritious, affordable and accessable.
  • According to the AHA, "the 2019 science advisory said studies have not generally supported an association between dietary choesterol and cardiovascualr risk"
  • According to WHO, eggs are among the most digestable protein
    • Eggs: 97%
    • Dairy: 95%
    • Meat 94%
    • Plants: 45-80%
  • Studies that link eggs to cancer (Colorectal and Prostate) lack a clear, direct link
    • Men who consumed more eggs per week also consumed more red meat, did not exercise regularly and were more likely to smoke
  • Other studies show that eggs have a protective effect against colon cancer


True or False:...

Soy Causes Cancer

  • This myth stems from a study in rats looking at isoflavones
  • This study suggests that large doses of isoflavones increased the risk of estrogen positive breast cancer in rats due to it acting like estrogen in the rats bodies
  • Humans and rats process soy quite differently, and these results have not been shown human populations
  • In fact, most studies in humans have shown there is little to no estrogen effect from soy, and has even been shown help prevent breast cancer in Asian women


  • Phytoestrogens are much weaker than human estrogen
  • They are also structually different from human estrogen
  • Phytoestrogens do not turn into estrogen when you consume them
  • Moderate intake of soy foods does not increase cancer growth
  • Natural food forms of soy are safe for consumption, even for those with a cancer diagnosis (ex. tofu, edamame, soy milk)


  • Limited evidence suggests that foods containing isoflavones may decrease the risk of lung cancer in non-smoking individuals
  • Limited evidence suggests that foods containing soy may decrease the risk of death from all causes in breast cancer survivors 12 months or more after diagnosis


Moderate Intake of Soy

  • 1-2 Servings = 25-50mg isoflavones
  • What is a Serving?
    • 1/3 cup tofu
    • 1 cup soymilk
    • 1/2 cup edamame
    • 1/4 cup soy nuts
  • Studies show that up to 3 servings per day in Asian popoulations is NOT linked to increased breast cancer risk

True or False...

Supplements May Help Prevent Cancer

  • There is no reliable evidence that supplements help prevent cancer
  • Supplements have not been shown to offer any benefit over whole foods
  • Bottom line, a varied diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and plant foods is the best way to reduce your cancer risk (The New American Plate)
  • Always check with your healthcare provider before starting any supplements


True or False...

Sugar Feeds Cancer

  • In short, no. There is no evidence that the sugar consumed in your diet preferentially feeds the cancer cells over your body's healthy cells
  • Sugar or carbohydrates is your body and brain's main source of fuel
  • Even if you cut out sugar in your diet completely, your body is able to make sugar from fats and proteins
  • The link between sugar and cancer is more indirect, as eating high sugar foods may lead to a higher body fat content, which may contribute to cancer risk


Gluconeogenesis:the creation of glucose from non-carbohydrate sources stemming from protein and fat

  • Sugar is the food for all cells, not just cancer cells, and does not need to be cut out from our diets completely
  • Your body will continue to synthesize sugar, regardless of if you eat it in your diet or not
  • Making sure we monitor our processed sugar intake may help prevent cancer in the long run
    • no more than 9 teaspoons/36g for men and 6 teaspoons/25g for women)
  • Sugar is found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains that contain fiber which has been shown to be cancer fighting


True or False...

Alcohol Causes Cancer

  • Alcohol has been found to contribute to various different types of cancer
    • Head and neck, esophageal, stomach, breast, colon, and liver cancers
  • It is the third leading modifiable factor that increases cancer risk, right behind cigarette smoking and excessive body weight
  • The AICR recommends no more than one glass per day for women and two for men


True or False...

Meat Causes Cancer

  • Much evidence has pointed to processed meat causing cancer
  • These processed meats include, but are not limited to ham, sausage, hot dogs, peperoni, beef jerky, and deli meat (group 1 carcinogens per WHO in 2015)
  • There are three chemicals of concern that are found in these meats:
    • Heme is a pigment found mostly in red meats
    • Nitrates and Nitrites are added to processed meat for freshness
    • Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) + polycyclic amines (PAH) are produced when meat is cooked at high temps


  • Research also points to limiting red meat consumption (beef, pork, lamb) to 12-18 ounces per week due to its heme content
    • Heme may damage cells, and may cause bacteria in the body to produce harmful chemicals
  • This comes out to three 4-6 oz portions of red meat throughout the week


  1. Mix it Up
    1. Switch up what you grill. Try chicken, fish, shrimp, etc
  2. Marinate
    1. Marinating meat for 30 minutes can reduce formation of HCAs
    2. vinegar + citrus + oil + herbs + spices
  3. Pre Cook
    1. Reduces the amount of time meat is exposed to high heat and smoke which reduces HCA production
  4. Trim Fat
    1. Reduces flare ups from drippings thus reducing HCAs
  5. Add Color
    1. Grilling fruits and vegetables does not produce HCAs and makes a delicious side

AICR Safe Grilling Tips

  • Eat red and processed meats in moderation, if at all.
  • Try:
    • Reducing meat portions (eating one sausage instead of two)
    • Meat-free Mondays
    • Substituting chicken or fish for beef in recipes
    • Substituting beans and lentils for meats


True or False...

Alkaline Water/Diet Prevents Cancer

  • There have been no studies showing a link between alkaline water/diet and the treatment or prevention of cancer
  • Do cancer cells thrive in an acidic environment or do the cancer cells create an acidic environment when they metabolize?
  • Is the alkaline aspect of the alkaline diet suspect to be beneficial because of the pH or the fact that individuals are following a healthy diet rich in plant foods?
  • More research is needed.
  • Your body is a tightly regulated system with many mechinisams to keeps its pH between 7.3-7.4, any higher or lower is a serious medical condition
  • This myth was perpetuated back in 2002 with a man named Robert O. Young who wrote a book called pH Miracle. He was later sued by a cancer patient for $100 million dollars due to them omitting cancer treatment to follow his diet.


True or False...

Artificial Sweeteners Cause Cancer

  • Aspartame, Sucralose, Saccharin, Xylitol, Acetasulfame Potassium
  • Aspartame is listed in the Group 2B Carcinogens
    • LIMITED evidence points to Aspartame being a cause of cancer
    • The stregnth of evidence is the fact that something CAN cause cancer not HOW LIKELY that item is to cause cancer.
  • Per the National Cancer Institute, studies have not provided clear evidence to prove that artifical sweeteners cause cancer
  • However, there may be other reasons to limit use of artificial sweeteners:
    • alter gut bacteria, increase sugar cravings, increase hunger in response to sweet tastes, increased risk of stroke (erythritol), and increased risk of diabetes


True or False...

Dairy Causes Cancer

  • There are inconclusive results on the relationship between dairy with cancer
  • Some studies show that it may help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer and breast cancer
  • Other studies suggest it may increase risk for prostate and breast cancer
  • The Cancer Counsil "supports that the proven health benefits of dairy foods outweigh the unproven harms."


True or False...

GMOs Cause Cancer

  • There is no evidence that genetically modified organisms cause cancer, and there are no good explanations as to how they could
  • Most people believe GMOs to be unnatrual and harmful
  • Humans have been selecting plants and animals to breed for thousands of years, which essetially changes the genes of our foods, with no negative effects
  • Research continues to ensure GMOs are safe


  • Practice good food saftey (wash produce well)
  • Greater intake of conventional produce is better than small intake of organic produce
  • Variety of lifestyle factors
  • No direct association
  • Organic farming can still use natural pesticides and some synthetic pesticides
  • Individuals who ate the most organic produce were 75% less lkely to develop cancer compared to those who never ate organic.
  • Web based study of nearly 70,000 men and women
    • Began in 2009 and lasted 7 years
    • Average age: 44 years old
    • 75% women
  • 1340 indididuals reported cancer diagnosis
  • Considered lifestyle
    • Food intake
    • exercise
    • smoking status
    • demographic factors
  • Asked participants if they eat organic "most of the time" to "never" in four catagories

NutriNet-Sante Study


Thank you!