Government researchers have never looked beyond smoking as the end-all, be-all cause of lung cancer for the past three decades. And they pushed smoking prevention and cessation as the one and only way to reduce lung cancer.
But ongoing research — and even basic biology — show that many other factors affect lung cancer risk. Including your diet.
In fact, a new study found eating healthy fruits could help former smokers — and even non-smokers — improve lung health and function.
Of course, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) funded a disastrous, nonsensical study in the 1980s that helped halt nutritional research into lung cancer for about 30 years. Conducted by researchers with Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the study followed current or former shipyard workers, and current or former smokers who had increased risk of lung cancer.
But instead of looking at fruit or vegetable consumption, as the new study does, the political scientists at NCI back then chose to focus on their darling “nutrient-of-the-moment,” synthetic beta-carotene. They administered it to participants to see whether it would alter the risk of lung cancer.
And boy did it alter risk — but not in the way they wanted…
Turns out, synthetic beta-carotene pills actually increased the risk of lung cancer in the participants!
At the time, some experts speculated that an isolated synthetic carotenoid may have functioned chemically as a harmful oxidant, instead of performing naturally as an antioxidant.
And that theory makes sense…
What we call an “antioxidant” can transform into a harmful “oxidant,” depending on the environmental circumstances encountered in food, the GI tract, the blood, and the tissues of the body.
Other experts suggested the synthetic beta-carotene pills interfered with absorption of natural carotenoids present in the diet.
Whatever the reason, this poorly conceived study tragically helped put a halt to any and all research exploring nutritional ways to prevent lung cancer. But not before the pills’ big pharma manufacturer made a fortune on just the rumor that NCI was studying beta-carotene as an “anti-cancer” agent. Plus, the manufacturer’s vice president sat on the NCI advisory board. (How very convenient…)
In the end, the NCI beta-carotene study ended up harming study participants and setting back the nation’s research program on diet and cancer by decades.
Worse yet, NCI ignored promising, well-founded research that indeed had the potential to save lives. In fact, my own research at the time had begun to zero in on a real method to prevent lung cancer…
NCI ignores well-founded nutritional research
I found a strong association among fruits, vegetables, and a lower risk of chronic disease, including cancer. Specifically, I found vegetables that contain other carotenoids — including lutein and lycopene (which give them their yellow, orange, or red color, as in tomatoes) — could help prevent cancer.
Instead of picking up this promising trail of evidence, my political bosses at NCI actually tried to suppress my research. (For this reason and others, I soon left the NCI and accepted a position as an Associate Medical Director at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.)
Eventually, I published my findings in the Journal of the NCI, through outside independent editors. And I received the Young Investigator Award that year at Walter Reed for doing it.
But, even after being published, the NCI still ignored all my findings.
That’s why I was so pleased to see researchers finally begin to pick up on this vein of research and re-examine nutritional ways to prevent lung cancer in former smokers. They’re even looking specifically at the lycopene in tomatoes, a part of my original research.
Eating tomatoes improves lung function in former smokers
For the new study, researchers with Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore assessed diet and lung function in more than 650 adults in 2002. Then, they assessed their lung function again 10 years later in 2012.
The lung function tests measured how much air a person can exhale over one second and inhale over six seconds. Other factors such as age, height, weight, gender, physical activity, and socioeconomic status were taken into account in determining the association between diet and lung function.
They found that adults who ate more than two servings of tomatoes a day had better lung function and a slower of rate of decline in lung function, which happens normally from the age of 30.
Among former smokers, the effect was even stronger, suggesting that these dietary factors helped to repair any damage done by tobacco to the lungs. These findings clearly show there’s much more to lung health than what the mainstream has alluded to.
Overall, the study reinforces the common-sense recommendation to eat more fruits and vegetables, and avoid processed foods. It also shows that a healthy diet can help alleviate — and even reverse — smoking-related effects on the lungs.
Furthermore, don’t let doctors warn you away from eating fresh fruits because you have, or are at risk of developing, diabetes or pre-diabetes. As I explained recently, fructose — the natural sugar in fruits — doesn’t affect metabolism the same way as processed table sugar, artificial high-fructose corn syrup, and other carbs found in packaged foods and beverages.
And people managing diabetes and pre-diabetes need the nutrients in fresh fruits as much as — or more than — everyone else.
1. Eat 6 to 8 portions of fresh fruits and vegetables per day.
2. Incorporate organic fresh tomatoes into your weekly meal plans, year-round.
3. If you’re a smoker or former smoker, make sure to ask your doctor to annually order a low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) screening. It’s an excellent way to detect lung cancer at the earliest stages possible, when it’s still curable.
4. Supplement with 10,000 IU of vitamin D daily. (On Friday, I’ll tell you exactly why vitamin D is so important to lung health. Stay tuned!)
For additional drug-free strategies to prevent and treat lung cancer and the many other forms of this disease, refer to my brand-new, just-released, online learning tool, the Authentic Anti-Cancer Protocol. For more information, or to enroll today, click here.
“Dietary antioxidants and 10-year lung function decline in adults from the ECRHS survey,” European Respiratory Journal, December 26, 2017; 50: 1602286