Hi, Wild Heart!
Get comfortable—I have some fascinating research to share with you today.
I think it’s safe to say most of us would love to live long, healthy, thriving lives. However, only around .01% of the world’s population live to see their 100th birthday.
I bet you’d love to know their secret!
Science might be able to help with that…in 1993, an important paper on longevity described a genetic mutation that doubled a roundworm’s lifespan (from 30 days to 60, which is impressive in roundworm years!).
That’s extraordinary—almost unbelievable—if you think about it. A single gene, double the lifespan?
It’s been called the Grim Reaper Gene, and it’s comparable to the IGF-1 receptor in humans. Now, what if similar mutations of the IGF-1 receptor explained why some humans live so long? And is it just a matter of luck if we get it or not, or can we control the expression of these genes?
In experiments around IGF-1, researchers have discovered that our liver produces much more of the growth hormone when we consume animal proteins. That means that those of you who are plant-based already have less of it in your bodies. And it’s crazy how fast it changes: IGF-1 levels have been shown to drop significantly just 11 days after people switched to a plant based diet. In women, the drop can improve their ability to reduce breast cancer growth; in men, it could suppress prostate cancer growth up to eight times more effectively.
All because of that IGF-1 hormone, it would seem.
Of course, this hormone is an important part of the human body, and children need it to grow. It’s interesting to note, however, that the same IGF-1 deficiencies that can lead to dwarfism also seem to defend against cancer growth. In 200 cases of IGF-1 deficiency, not a single subject developed cancer.
All this could explain why animal product-based low-carb diets seem to correspond to shorter life spans. But since these low-carb diets are high in both animal fats and proteins, it’s hard to say if it’s the fat or the protein leading to poor health…until now!
A recent study followed 6,000 American men and women over age 50 for 18 years. It found that those under age 65 who consumed a higher proportion of animal protein were at a 75% higher risk of mortality overall—and four times more likely to die of cancer. When the proteins were plant-based on the other hand, those higher risks disappeared.
Know what other habit makes us four times more likely to die of cancer?
Yep, smoking cigarettes.
Put very simply, these results suggest that consuming a diet high in animal protein is just as deadly as smoking.
When we look at how cancer really progresses, we realize that the most important thing is slowing cancer cell growth. Diets heavy in meat, eggs, dairy and other animal proteins seem to do just the opposite, by increasing IGF-1 levels in the body.
Plant foods (including proteins), on the other hand are free and clear—enjoy all you want! And drop the cigarettes while you’re at it.
T T Fung, R M van Dam, S E Hankinson, M Stampfer, W C Willett, F B Hu. Low-carbohydrate diets and all-cause and cause-specific mortality: two cohort studies. Ann Intern Med. 2010 Sep 7;153(5):289-98.
P Coffer. OutFOXing the grim reaper: novel mechanisms regulating longevity by forkhead transcription factors. Sci STKE. 2003 Sep 23;2003(201):PE39.
T H Ngo, R J Barnard, C N Tymchuk, P Cohen, W J Aronson. Effect of diet and exercise on serum insulin, IGF-I, and IGFBP-1 levels and growth of LNCaP cells in vitro (United States). Cancer Causes Control. 2002 Dec;13(10):929-35.
H Noto, A Goto, T Tsujimoto, M Noda. Low-carbohydrate diets and all-cause mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e55030.
N E Allen, P N Appleby, G K Davey, R Kaaks, S Rinaldi, T J Key. The associations of diet with serum insulin-like growth factor I and its main binding proteins in 292 women meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2002 Nov;11(11):1441-8.
Originally published at wilddonna.com