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Episode 147
The Doctor's Farmacy

Is Cancer Caused By Sugar?

Open the Podcasts app and search for The Doctor’s Farmacy. If you’re viewing this site on your phone, you can just tap on the

Tap the subscribe button and new shows will be added to your library.

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If you or someone you know has had cancer, this episode is going to matter to you. And since the odds are now that 1 in 3 adults in the US will get cancer, this really is a topic that matters to all of us. 

The school of thought around cancer used to be focused only on the genetic component. But we now know that our environment—the air we breathe, the food we eat, even our relationships—have an enormous cellular impact on our ability to prevent and treat cancer. 

I’m excited to sit down with Dr. Jason Fung on this episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy to talk about his amazing work in the field of cancer research and why this environmental component should give us all hope. 

Dr. Fung and I dive into the role insulin plays in cancer and why the right diet is so imperative in preventing cancer or during the healing process. Insulin acts as a growth factor in the body, which is one of the reasons too much insulin leads to obesity. It’s also why insulin will support the growth of cancer cells. A diet high in sugar and refined carbs lets insulin run wild, which is why dialing in our food choices is so essential in the fight against cancer. 

Dr. Fung shares some fascinating results of using fasting and/or the keto diet to dramatically decrease insulin. Fasting has also been found as a useful adjunct to chemotherapy, as it helps to put cells into a quiet repair mode which lessens the really uncomfortable symptoms of chemo most people experience. 

Cancer patients are often told to eat lots of carbs and sugary foods to keep their weight up—this couldn’t be more dangerous! Dr. Fung and I discuss why previous cancer recommendations are outdated and what the future holds for tackling this growing problem. 

We also discuss obesogens, autophagy, metabolic disease, and so much more on this week’s episode. I hope you’ll tune in. 

This episode is brought to you by Bioptimizers, Thrive Market, and Apeel.

Bioptimizers’ Magnesium Breakthrough formula contains 7 different forms which all have different functions in the body. There is truly nothing like it on the market. Right now you can try Bioptimizers Magnesium Breakthrough for 10% off, just go to bioptimizers.com/hyman and use the code HYMAN10 at checkout.

Right now, Thrive is offering all Doctor’s Farmacy listeners an amazing deal. Select a free gift from Thrive Market when you sign up for a 1-year membership. And, any time you spend more than $49 you’ll get free carbon-neutral shipping. Just head over to thrivemarket.com/Hyman

Food waste is one of our most glaring environmental, climate, and social problems. Apeel, a family of plant-derived coatings that, when applied to the outside of produce, keeps it fresh two times longer, is doing amazing things to extend the shelf life of fruits and vegetables. If you want to learn more about Apeel, check out their frequently asked questions page at apeel.com/faqs.

I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
Mark Hyman, MD

In this episode, you will learn:

  1. How our understanding of cancer and cancer treatment has shifted over the past several decades
    (2:46 / 7:10)
  2. Why cancer medicine has fallen behind other areas of medicine
    (6:55 / 11:19)
  3. The major role that diet and nutrition play in the development of cancer
    (8:41 / 13:05)
  4. What we can learn about cancer from Inuit people and other populations who historically ate traditional diets
    (12:33 / 16:57)
  5. Insulin’s role in cell growth, cancer development, and chronic disease
    (17:23 / 21:47)
  6. Snacking, fasting, cancer, and chemotherapy
    (24:38 / 29:49)
  7. The ketogenic diet and cancer treatment
    (32:51 / 38:02)
  8. The risks of environmental chemicals on the human body
    (35:58 / 41:09)
  9. How to reduce your risk of getting cancer, and the link between obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cancer
    (38:46 / 43:57)
  10. New thinking around cancer screenings
    (43:56 / 49:07)

Guest

 
Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman, MD is the Founder and Director of The UltraWellness Center, the Head of Strategy and Innovation of Cleveland Clinic's Center for Functional Medicine, and a 13-time New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

 
Dr. Jason Fung

Dr. Fung is a physician, author, and researcher. His groundbreaking science-based books about diabetes and obesity, The Diabetes Code, The Obesity Code, and The Complete Guide to Fasting have sold over one million copies and challenged the conventional wisdom that diabetics should be treated with insulin. Dr. Fung is also the co-founder of The Fasting Method, a program to help people lose weight and reverse type 2 diabetes naturally with fasting. His latest book, The Cancer Code: A Revolutionary New Understanding of a Medical Mystery, was just released. 

Transcript

Dr. Jason Fung:
The environment, which is predominantly diet and nutrition, plays a huge, massive role in the development of cancer and something which very rarely we talk about.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Welcome to The Doctor’s Farmacy. I’m Dr. Mark Hyman and that’s Farmacy with an F, F-A-R-M-A-C-Y, a place for conversations that matter. If you or someone in your family or somebody you know has had cancer, this conversation’s going to matter a lot because it’s with an extraordinary physician, Dr. Jason Fung, who I know as a friend. He’s a physician, he’s an author, he’s a researcher, and he’s done some groundbreaking work on covering the root causes of disease in science-based books about diabetes and obesity. You might have heard about them, The Diabetes Code, The Obesity Code, The Complete Guide to Fasting, which is fantastic, and I recommend that a lot for people who are interested in intermittent fasting, time restricted eating, long-term fasts. He’s sold over a million copies and really challenged the whole idea that diabetes should be treated with insulin, which is… actually, I agree with, which is a problem because it’s too much insulin that causes type 2 diabetes and we keep giving more, which actually causes worse problems.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
He’s the co-founder of The Fasting Method. It’s a program to help people lose weight and reverse type 2 diabetes naturally with fasting. He has been featured on CNN, Time Magazine, the Atlantic, Forbes, The Toronto Star and lots of other groups, and his new book, The Cancer Code: A revolutionary new understanding of a medical mystery, is out now. This is an incredible book. It looks backwards on here, but don’t worry about that. It’s an incredible book that is leading the way in a new understanding of how we have to think about cancer because so much of our thinking about cancer is really outdated. I call it the poison, burn, slash method, which is actually how we treat cancer, pre-archaic. We’re going to look back in 20 to 50 years and realize that we were on the wrong track. Welcome to The Doctor’s Farmacy, Jason.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Thanks for having me, Mark. Great to be here.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Let’s get right into it. Cancer is one of those things that is challenging to address and it’s something people really fear. I mean, heart disease we understand, diabetes we understand, even Alzheimer’s, for the most part, we do understand it. Cancer is still a mystery for many and still, even for science in how we approach it from a scientific point of view. There’s been lots of theories about it, a lot of them then turned out to be wrong and our approach has been misguided, which is why 50 years after the war on cancer was started by President Nixon, we still really haven’t won. Right?

Dr. Jason Fung:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Really, what is cancer? What makes it develop? What causes it and why is it so common? I mean, one in three people. Right?

Dr. Jason Fung:
Yeah. These are actually great questions because the thing about cancer is that there’s all these paradoxes. We get stuck in this genetic paradigm where, oh, it’s this random mutation that causes cancer. That’s sort of the paradigm we’ve used for 50 years, and it leaves a lot to a lot of certain unexplained problems. I approach it trying to see where we’ve come from and then where we are taking it, so getting back to the slash and burn sort of thing, it’s like I call that the first paradigm of cancer. That was that cancer was this cell that basically grew too much. That was our thought, so the logical treatment therefore is to find ways to kill cells. That’s really what gave us surgery, which is cutting, and radiation, which is burning, and chemotherapy, which is basically poison. That’s why it worked actually, it worked very well in some cases, but there’s a lot of side effects. People, their hair was falling out, they were throwing up and all that stuff. Right?

Dr. Jason Fung:
Then, in the 1970s, the paradigm shifted. We needed to understand cancer at a deeper level, so we said, okay, well yes, we know that cancer cells are growing, but why are they growing? That’s the real question. As we started to unravel DNA and genes and chromosomes, we said, “Aha, this is the answer here. It’s a genetic defect,” so if you have growth genes, well, if you have a mutation, a random mutation in a growth gene, you can get cells that grow too much. That’s where the whole paradigm shifted and it’s important because it changes the whole treatment.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Now, instead of trying to find ways to kill cells, we switched, and we said, “Let’s fix those genetic problems.” Through the 80s and 90s as we worked on these and some incredible successes. We had Imatinib, which was used for a type of leukemia, and really a game changer. Just fantastic stuff. The mortality from chronic myelogenous leukemia just fell. Then there’s Trastuzumab, which was for breast cancer, the HER2/neu receptor, so it also changed the game. It was a fantastic drug, so we thought, okay, this is great. All we’re going to need to do is figure out the one or two mutations in breast cancer, one or two mutation in colon cancer, we’re going to find the drugs, we’re going to cure cancer. That was the thought through most of the 90s and so on.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Then, the problem was it didn’t work out that way. As we did the… in 2000, we completed the Human Genome Project, and we sequenced all the genes. We thought, okay, well here we go. We’ve got the roadmap to curing cancer, but of course it didn’t. Then, we embarked on an even more ambitious program, which was The Cancer Genome Atlas, which sequenced not just one human genome, but the cancerous… we took the cancer from 33,000 samples and we took all the genomes, like sequenced the entire genome and said, “Okay, great. We’ve got a thousand cases of breast cancer, let’s compare them, let’s figure out what kind of mutations we have, let’s get the first top one or two, we’ll solve the problem.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Of course, what we found was not one or two mutations, so for breast cancer, for colon cancer, for these common cancer, there’s 50 to a hundred. It was just complete bedlam. Right?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dr. Jason Fung:
[crosstalk 00:06:18] patients in your oncology clinic, which you have patient A with breast cancer, a hundred different mutations, and patient B with the exact same looking cancer, a hundred completely different mutations, so that’s not going to work because the whole idea of developing a hundred drugs was just… that wasn’t going to work. That was the death of the genetic paradigm. That’s really why we made so little progress from 1980 to 2010 when this whole thing began to fall apart.

Dr. Jason Fung:
That’s really the problem. We’ve been stuck in this paradigm and now we started to shift into a whole new paradigm of cancer, looking at it from a evolutionary standpoint. The whole idea of this genetics, I mean, it still persists. If you go to the American Cancer Society and so on, it says, “It’s a genetic disease of gene mutations,” and so on, but that whole process failed because you can measure it by how much useful treatments there are. Really, the number of useful genetic treatments is probably countable on one hand sort of thing.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Sure.

Dr. Jason Fung:
All the early stuff we got, and this is why cancer medicine has really fallen way behind almost every other area of medicine. If you look at heart disease, in 1960, for example, so the number one and two killers of Americans is heart disease and cancers. That’s always been number one and number two. In 1960, heart disease killed about twice as many people as cancer and now they’re neck and neck, which means [crosstalk 00:07:53] made more progress in the treatment of heart disease than cancer. Cancer is just almost as bad as it was when we started the [inaudible 00:08:00].

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s true.

Dr. Jason Fung:
This is the thing, is that as we move into this new paradigm, and this is what I get into, it’s a really interesting story, but-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I’ve had two members of my family that died from cancer, so I get it. My sister had cancer twice.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Yeah… and oh, that’s terrible, but the thing about it is this new paradigm we talk about is important because when you talk about evolutionary medicine, now you talk about the importance of the environment because that’s what really drives evolution is the environment that you’re in. For so long, we thought about this as a disease of genetic mutations, we concentrate on genes and not on other things that are going to increase your risk of cancer. The environment, which is predominantly diet and nutrition, plays a huge, massive role in the development of cancer and something which very rarely we talk about.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dr. Jason Fung:
I reviewed the study, so in 1981, the US Congress said, “Okay, we need a study. Let’s figure out what causes cancer.” They got the best people, it was updated in 2015, and we said, “Okay, let’s calculate the population attribution faction,” which is basically how much of cancer is due to say tobacco smoke. About 35% of cancer is caused by tobacco smoke. Well, diet is actually at 30%, so it’s like it’s almost as high as tobacco smoke.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Way above everything else, like the pesticides and the chemicals, all the stuff we worry about, wood dust and asbestos, those all do cause cancer, but on a population basis, it’s almost all tobacco smoke. We know, of course, to stop smoking, but also diet is huge.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. Jason, I remember in 19… it was 1985. I think I was on my rotation in oncology as a medical student and I said to the cancer doc, the oncologist, I said… because I was always interested in nutrition, and actually, I remember in college I took a nutrition course and I had a little manual of scientific studies that was on nutrition and cancer back in 1980. I was paying attention already back then and I said to the attending physician, I said, “Tell me, what do you think is the percent of cancers that are caused by or made worse by diet?” I thought he would say, oh, 10%. He said, “70%.” I was like, “Whoa.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I think when you think about functional medicine and the approach you’re taking, it’s a very different model of thinking about cancer. Yes, if you have a tumor or something, you might need to get it cut out or you might need radiation or you might need some chemo at some point, but the question that never really gets asked is, one, why did the cancer develop in the first place and how do I change those conditions, and two, how do I actually create a healthy immune system and a healthy soil to actually make sure that the cancer can’t grow? As a functional medicine doctor, I often say we’re very much like regenerative farmers where we focus on soil health as opposed to industrial farmers, which use a lot of chemicals, pesticides, they say antibiotics, and glyphosate and herbicides, to make the plant healthy.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I remember being at this conference on nutrition. I don’t know why they invited me. It was all the big food companies, the big ag companies and I was invited to give a talk, which I did, and I didn’t hold back anything. I’m sitting next to this guy at dinner. I’m like, “What do you do?” He says, “Well, I’m in plant medicine.” I’m like, “Plant medicine?” I said, “What is that?” He said, “Well, we make pesticides.” I’m like… so I think, okay, got it.

Dr. Jason Fung:
[crosstalk 00:11:45]

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I think this whole idea that you’re bringing forth is so important. Talk about this analogy of the seed and the soil and cancer and why we’re ignoring the soil conditions in the body and the environmental issues and diet and also, lifestyle and stress and environment chemicals, all those factors.

Dr. Jason Fung:
The idea of the seed and soil actually goes way back. I mean, it was written about 60 or 70 years ago, but then of course, everybody forgot about it because the point is that genetics, this whole focus we had on finding mutations in genetics really talks about the seed. It doesn’t talk about the environment that you’re in and if you have a seed, of course, it has the ability to grow, but it needs the right conditions, the proper soil to grow. What we always seem to not talk about is how certain populations that live a traditional lifestyle almost never get cancer, other than the ones that we know that are say virally caused.

Dr. Jason Fung:
If you go back, so Denis Burkitt was this legendary Irish surgeon and he went to Africa and he discovered Burkitt’s lymphoma and stuff and it’s a very interesting story, but he looked at these Africans with eating a traditional diet, living a traditional lifestyle, and he said, “Boy, these people just don’t get cancer.” The whites, of course, were getting colorectal cancer at the same rate as they were in the UK, for example.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dr. Jason Fung:
He called these things diseases of civilization, so obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cancer would come as people changed their lifestyle. You see this actually all over the world. The [Inuie 00:13:33], in the far north, some people used to call the Eskimos, again, eating a traditional diet very high in say animal… whale meat and seal blubber and stuff, that’s their traditional diet. They never get those cancers that we get. I mean, they get some viral cancers, but they don’t get like colorectal cancer, breast cancer. In fact, the university in Ontario, Canada, used to send an expedition to the Arctic Circle every year to find out why these people were immune, but of course they weren’t actually immune because as soon as, in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, they changed their lifestyle to Western lifestyles with the bread and sugar and all that sort of processed foods that we eat, then you started to see all the cancers.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Clearly, it wasn’t a genetic problem because the gene pool of these Africans or these [Inuie 00:14:29] were not changing, but it was the soil… and it comes back, of course, to diet and lifestyle, which is the most important thing because that’s the main thing that’s changing as these people come over. That is what is the biggest determinant of cancer. These [Inuie 00:14:47] go from being considered immune to cancer, to high rates of cancer. Of course, they’re eating sugar all the time. There’s tons of smoking and all this other stuff.

Dr. Jason Fung:
You see this everywhere, so you see this, say, in Japan where you can look at the Japanese women in Japan compared to a Japanese woman in San Francisco, and of course, the person in San Francisco has about double or triple the rate of breast cancer compared to the Japanese woman in Japan.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Jason Fung:
It’s like, this is clear evidence that the most important thing we need to focus on is not the genetics of the problem. It’s the soil problem. Right?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dr. Jason Fung:
The seed is [crosstalk 00:15:27]

Dr. Mark Hyman:
My favorite story is Polish women, who from Poland, eat 30 pounds of sauerkraut a year and they have almost no breast cancer and it effects their microbiome because it’s a pre probiotic food. Plus, cabbage has all sorts of phytochemicals that fight cancer. Though, when they moved to the United States, they get cancer at the same rates and American women because they stop eating all the sauerkraut.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Yeah, absolutely. These are the things that are really important because if you can figure it out, of course, then you have the ability to do the opposite. You could take a woman in San Francisco and cut her risk of breast cancer by a factor of two or three. Imagine how amazing that would be. I mean, with genetics and all this stuff, we’re talking about like, you’re making progress in inches compared to diet and lifestyle where you’re talking about huge leaps and jumps. You’re not talking about like 10% higher risk. In medicine, how we go, “Oh, it’s statistically significant. There’s a 10% lower risk.” It’s like, you’ve seen [crosstalk 00:16:31] never get cancer. It’s crazy the magnitude of improvement you can get.

Dr. Jason Fung:
On the other hand, [crosstalk 00:16:39]

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Instead of 10%, it’s 200% or 300%, right?

Dr. Jason Fung:
Exactly.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s like a totally different-

Dr. Jason Fung:
Exactly. It’s a totally different order of magnitude.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Scale.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Yet, we focus all of our resources on saying, “Oh, let’s figure out this genetic condition, which might affect 1% of these cancer patients,” and [inaudible 00:17:00]. It’s like, okay, let’s not do that. Let’s try and figure out the other stuff. Like, what is it? Is it the sugar? Is it fermented foods? Is it processed foods? What is that because that’s so important, but unfortunately, it gets so little research money and you just start talking to people. People want the other stuff. Right?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
People are listening and wondering, okay, this whole soil thing makes sense. Right? You want to create a hostile environment for cancer to grow. How do we build that hostile environment instead of a fertile one that most of us have for cancer?

Dr. Jason Fung:
Yeah. That’s a great question. I talk about in the book, about what is it that makes cells grow? What’s really important is growth factors. Our body contains natural growth factors that increase the rate of growth and one of the big things of the last 15-20 years has been the realization that our body contains nutrient sensors, which are hormones that go up when you eat, but they also are precisely the same hormones that our body uses as growth factors. The most important one is insulin. Insulin, of course, is a well-known metabolic hormone, so you eat, and insulin goes up. Assuming you’re eating carbohydrates and proteins, a mixed meal, you eat, insulin goes up. More importantly, what it is, is a nutrient sensor, tells your body that food is available. The reason that’s important is because your body only wants to grow when nutrients are available. You’re saying you don’t want more cells to continue to grow if there’s no food available. That’s not a good survival strategy.

Dr. Jason Fung:
The body links them. In fact, if you look back in evolutionary times, insulin was not a metabolic hormone. It was actually a growth factor. As we evolved, we actually used the same molecule that we use as a growth factor for nutrient signaling as well. We know that insulin is a very potent growth factor. There’s this thing called insulin-like growth factor, or IGF-1, and Valter Longo actually described this group of Ecuadorian dwarves, the Laron dwarves, who actually have almost no IGF-1, so they’re very short. Turns out they’re also immune to cancer because if you don’t have that growth signaling, then the cells can’t grow and the cells that are going to be most affected are those cancer cells.

Dr. Jason Fung:
What you have to do, of course, is say that, okay, if we have too much insulin, then that’s going to be a signal to our body that we need to grow, so what can you do to reduce that insulin signaling in the body by reducing nutrient availability, which is two things. One is getting rid of the hyper-processed foods, which tends to really amplify the insulin response, so sugar, for example, is especially bad because it causes all this insulin resistance, which causes hyperinsulinemia. A lot of the refined food are very bad because they take away all the other natural components and you’re left with this big spike of insulin, like if you eat cookies, for example. Well, it’s just going to… your insulin is just going to spike up. The other thing, of course, if you eat very, very frequently, you’re going to keep insulin high all the time, so intermittent fasting is another strategy that you could use to reduce insulin. That’s [crosstalk 00:20:32]-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s what you eat and when you eat.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Yeah, exactly. It’s what you eat and when you eat because if you eat a high carbohydrate diet, which people did, like people in China, for example, used to eat a ton of white rice, but almost zero sugar and they were okay. It’s not necessarily just the carbohydrates.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I lived in a China for a while, you’re Chinese. I mean, I traveled around. I remember in 1984, I mean, they had no accoutrements of modern living. I mean, if they had to cut a board, they would use a saw to create boards. They would grind the flour, they would literally walk in circles for hours with the grain in between two giant stones, working the fields for 14 hours a day with hard labor. Yeah, you can eat a lot of rice if you do that.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Yeah, that’s true. It’s also like, it was very… it was like rice and vegetables every day, it was just rice and vegetables, rice and vegetables.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The land of milk and honey, the Chinese phrase for it is the land of fish and rice, so it’s really what they think.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You’re talking about what is the problem, which is the incredibly high amount of starch and sugar we consume, and you’ve talked about this in The Diabetes Code, The Obesity Code. This is a central driver of almost all chronic Western diseases.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, high blood pressure are caused by this phenomena of insulin resistance or too much insulin, which is driven from our diet, basically, a highly refined, processed carbohydrate diet, and also, this constant eating pattern. This thing called snacking, which I think is a modern invention, where you have a snack food industry, but I don’t snack. If you eat properly, you’re never hungry. I mean, you don’t have these spikes in insulin going up, makes you hungry, but what’s fascinating is that what you’re saying is that insulin actually fuels the cancer growth and sugar fuels the cancer growth.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Yeah.
Speaker 3:
Hi, everyone. Hope you’re enjoying the episode. Before we continue, we have a quick message from Dr. Mark Hyman about his new company, Farmacy, and their first product, the 10 Day Reset.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Hey, it’s Dr. Hyman. Do you have FLC? What’s FLC? It’s when you feel like crap. It’s a problem that so many people suffer from and often have no idea that it’s not normal, or that you can fix it. I mean, you know the feeling. It’s when you’re super sluggish, your digestion is off, you can’t think clearly, or you have brain fog, or you just feel rundown. Can you relate? I know most people can. The real question is what the heck do we do about it? Well, I hate to break the news, but there’s no magic bullet. FLC isn’t caused by one single thing, so there’s not one single solution. However, there is a systems-based approach, a way to tackle the multiple root factors that contribute to FLC, and I call that system the 10 Day Reset.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The 10 Day Reset combines food, key lifestyle habits, and targeted supplements to address FLC straight on. It’s a protocol that I’ve used with thousands of my community members to help them get their health back on track. It’s not a magic bullet, it’s not a quick fix, it’s a system that works. If you want to learn more and get your health back on track, click on the button below or visit GetFarmacy.com that’s Get, Farmacy with an F, F-A-R-M-A-C-Y, dot com.
Speaker 3:
Now, back to this week’s episode.

Dr. Jason Fung:
All of these diseases are actually diseases of too much insulin, so if you look at obesity, for example, if you were to measure the levels of insulin, people who are more overweight tend to have higher insulin. Same with type 2 diabetes. Hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance are really just sort of two sides of the same coin, so one causes the other, hyperinsulinemia can cause insulin resistance and insulin resistance can cause hyperinsulinemia. They’re really the same thing. Again, the same thing applies to cancer. This is the pattern that was noticed so many years ago that there are these diseases of too much insulin, which is that they all go together, the heart disease, and you don’t see that in people eating traditional diets because they’re not eating all the time.

Dr. Jason Fung:
I remember there was this study, this NHANES study, which is a big American survey of lots of things, but they included dietary habits. In 1977, they found that most people ate three times a day, so breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and by 2004, it was almost up to six times a day. It’s like, wow, that’s crazy. There was never this sort of deliberate, hey, there’s good scientific evidence that we should eat six times a day. It just crept in there and I think part of it was, of course, the snack food companies wanted to promote it and people thought it was a good idea. Then, it became almost gospel, oh, you have to eat six times-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Jason Fung:
… a day. Right? I remember thinking about it a while ago and thinking, where did that suddenly sneak in? Did we have a big randomized, controlled trial that I missed somehow because I don’t think so?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
No. Mm-mm(negative).

Dr. Jason Fung:
It was just this gradual change in attitudes and you saw it because I start to think back to my upbringing in the 70s, so I grew up in the 70s and if you wanted a after-school snack, your mom said, “No, you’re going to ruin your dinner.” Right? If you wanted a bedtime snack, your mom would say, “No, you should have ate more at dinner.” It’s like, that’s just the way it was. Of course, people would have this natural fasting period from after dinner, which was say 6:00 because people ate a bit earlier back then, to like say 8:00, so 14 hours of fasting every single day without even [crosstalk 00:26:10]

Dr. Mark Hyman:
We call that breakfast.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Yeah, exactly.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Breaking the fast.

Dr. Jason Fung:
[crosstalk 00:26:14] breaking the fast. That is the word that we use and it’s like somehow we went from that, where people didn’t have the obesity problems, type 2 diabetes problems because they have this natural fasting period built in that has always been there, it’s even built into the English language. Then, it’s like, “Oh, you’ve got to eat all the time.” It’s like, “Oh, you can’t ever skip your breakfast, you’ve got to snack all the time.” Right? You see it in schools, for example. Oh, they go to school and they get a mid-morning snack. Then, they have lunch, and then they have an after-school snack.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Then, they have dinner. Then, you’re playing soccer and they think that they need to have a snack in between the halves of soccer. I played soccer [crosstalk 00:26:53]

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Jason, you’ve written a lot about fasting and the effects of either time-restricted eating, which is 12, 14, 16 hour fasts every day or taking a 24-hour or 36-hour fast a week or even longer fasts for diabetes, and I’d love you to share why around cancer this is so important. On my podcast soon we’re going to have Dr. Patrick Hanaway, who is my colleague and friend, was the Medical Director at Cleveland Clinic, who had cancer and used fasting as an approach to his cancer treatment. He still got radiation, but he also did it in a way that actually reduced all the side effects to almost none, has kept him healthy now for well over a year, and this cancer was not a great one, and let him go through the process with really no issues, which was really staggering, and really went on a ketogenic diet in order to do that, which is both using fasting and ketogenic diets to drop insulin levels to almost undetectable. Can you talk about this whole idea of fasting, cancer, ketogenic diets, why it’s so important and how it connects to this whole idea of insulin resistance and high insulin levels?

Dr. Jason Fung:
Yeah, so both fasting and ketogenic diets have the same sort of goal at the end, which is trying to lower insulin because the difference between a ketogenic diet, say, and a low-carb diet is that you’re low-carb, ultra-low carb for the keto, but moderate protein because protein can also stimulate insulin whereas, some of the older low-carb diets were very high in protein, you take protein shakes or whatever. That’s generally not-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Like, Atkins, right?

Dr. Jason Fung:
Yeah, like Atkins, so high-protein-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s not a good idea.

Dr. Jason Fung:
… is not always the best idea because you can get high insulin, but you also get this high mTOR, which is sometimes not so good for cancer as well. The idea is to really drop your insulin levels and if these are diseases of too much insulin, then that’s going to be a very useful adjunctive treatment. Fasting is actually fascinating because there’s all these different things we’re discovering. One of the things, this autophagy, as you fast, of course, your nutrient sensors go down, so mTOR insulin go down, and then you activate this process called autophagy where you actually start to breakdown some of your subcellular organelles and stuff. Basically, your body’s just trying to clean house and-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s like Pac-Man coming around and cleaning up all the garbage.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Yeah, exactly. People think it’s a bad thing to-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Maybe don’t people know who Pac-Man was but that was the original video game that we all played back in the 70s. [crosstalk 00:29:25]

Dr. Jason Fung:
A classic.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It was very exciting.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Some people don’t know what Pac-man is anymore.

Dr. Jason Fung:
You can still find them sometimes. Yeah, the idea is that people think that this breakdown process is really bad for you, but it’s actually really good for you and, in fact, it’s sort of one of the keys to rejuvenating the body, that is you want to break down all your old stuff and then rebuild the old stuff that you need. The whole idea of fasting is you’re trying to put the body into this regenerative maintenance mode because what we recognized over the last little bit is that your body sort of has… you can go into growth mode or you can go into this cell maintenance repair mode. It really depends on your nutrients’ availability. When nutrients are available, you want to grow. When nutrients are not available, you don’t want to grow, and you want to go into this maintenance repair mode.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Everybody thinks growth is good, but growth is not always good, especially as an adult. I would say think about a car. If you have a sports car and you rev that engine and you’re running it fast all the time, you’re going to go fast, which is great, but it’s going to burn out much faster, so you can’t just keep revving that engine, keep redlining it. You’ve got to sometimes bring it to the shop, put it in the garage, let it rest and all this stuff.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
A pit stop.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Yeah. Exactly, a little pit stop. That’s the point of the human body, too. You can either of for growth or you can go for longevity or cellular maintenance repair. You’ve got to have a bit of both. It’s a balance there. It’s not all growth. This is where you say, “Oh, E, D, D, D, D.” Well, you’re going to put your body, your nutrient sensor are going to go up, your growth factors are going to go up, you’re going to put yourself in growth mode, but you don’t want to do that. Especially for a disease, such as cancer, which is a disease where cells are growing too much. You’re basically feeding into that growth and that’s going to be very, very bad for you.

Dr. Jason Fung:
What you do instead is you do the fasting and you put yourselves into this maintenance repair mode and that allows you to undergo both the chemotherapy and probably the radiation therapy better because with chemotherapy, we have a couple studies on fasting and chemotherapy, where what you do is you fast sort of just before and during and just after your chemotherapy. What they’ve noticed is that those people tend to get a lot less side effects from the treatment because what you’ve done, of course, is taken the cells of your normal body, you’ve put them into a more quiescence state. They’re not trying to grow. They’re actually trying to slow down and chemotherapy, the general way it works, is it kills the fastest growing cells, which are usually the cancer cells, but it also kills the hair follicles because they’re fast growing cells, it kills the lining of the GI tract, so you get nausea and your hair falls out.

Dr. Jason Fung:
If you can put those cells into a quiescence repair mode, it’s not going to sustain as much damage from the chemotherapy and instead, the cancer cells, which can’t stop their growth, they’re always trying to grow, they can’t do that, so therefore, they’re going to sustain full damage from the chemotherapy while your body is relatively protected. That’s one of the things that might be very interesting to use as an adjunct to standard treatment.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dr. Jason Fung:
I never advise not to take the standard treatment because, of course, it’s [crosstalk 00:32:50]

Dr. Mark Hyman:
There’s a lot of interesting work by Dr. Mukherjee, Siddhartha Mukherjee and others, looking at ketogenic diets and cancer. I’ve heard him present on this. This is fascinating. He wrote The Emperor of All Maladies, which is about cancer. I’m sure you’ve read that. He said that, to me, he said, “Mark, we figured out the solution to cancer.” I’m like, “What is it?” “It’s this big discovery and the cause.” I’m like, “What is it?” He’s like, “It’s sugar.” I’m like, “Yeah. I guess that’s not really news, but maybe it’s because you’re not [inaudible 00:33:17].” Then he said, “We’ve been studying ketogenic diets and seeing incredible results with pancreatic cancer, melanoma, stage four cancers that weren’t responding to anything else. On animal models, they literally were curing cancers with ketogenic diets and now they’re doing human trials.” Can you talk a little bit about some of that research and how it might be applied to people who are struggling with cancer?

Dr. Jason Fung:
Yeah. This was the big discovery of Dr. Lew Cantley, whose discovered this whole pathway to PI3K pathway that links insulin and growth and cancer. The important thing is that insulin acts as that growth factor and therefore, acts as a pro-growth and therefore, sort of pro-cancer agent. Sugar, of course, plays a big role in the hyperinsulinemia and it’s interesting, because Dr. Lew Cantley, in several of his articles or whatever he does, sugar scares me because this guy studies cancer for a living and he’s like, “Yeah, sugar just scares me.”

Dr. Jason Fung:
That’s the same sort of thing that Sebastian [inaudible 00:34:28] is talking about, too. That’s the whole point is that with ketogenic diets, with fasting, and of course, fasting, you have to cycle it because you can’t obviously fast, you can’t fast forever, as opposed to ketogenic diet, which is very low carbohydrate, you could sustain that for years and years. You can’t fast forever. You need some food at some point, but the idea’s the same. What you’re trying to do is really reduce those insulin levels. They’re still, of course, studying this in terms of drugs and trying to develop these blockers to the whole pathway of PI3K and so on. I think they’ve developed a couple companies for that, but just like anything else, it’s like why would you want to do it with a drug when you can do it with your diet?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You know what’s so striking Jason is that often when people get cancer treatment, their doctors say, “Make sure you keep your weight up. Eat ice cream, eat milkshakes, have cake,” and I’m like, “What are you telling them that for? I mean, that is death.”

Dr. Jason Fung:
I know.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yet, it’s… I mean, I actually had a radiation oncologist as a patient who worked at MD Anderson and he was very aware of these studies and these issues. He tried to tell his patients, do the right thing, and he said, “All the nutritionists,” this is like the number one cancer hospital in the world, “are telling their patients to eat a lot of starch and carbohydrates and sugar to keep their weight up.” It’s just such an unfortunate situation that is going on right now.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
When we talk about cancer, we’re clearly talking about some of the risk factors, right, sugar. There’s other risk factors and one of the things that I think is very concerning to me is these obesogens, which are environmental chemicals that not only are directly toxic and carcinogenic, but they’re actually causing insulin resistance. They’re really creating a double whammy, pesticides, herbicides, additives, all these environmental chemicals that we’re exposed to, 80,000 of them, that have been developed over the last hundred years. What’s your perspective on that and how do we reduce our risks?

Dr. Jason Fung:
Well, I think that stuff is really hard because they’re not adequately studied. I mean, there’s so many chemicals and what do we know about the effect on the human body for most of these? Very, very little. Right? I mean-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dr. Jason Fung:
… they have this classification as generally recognized as safe, but I mean, that just means it doesn’t kill you within a month, right, I mean, that’s about it. All of these chemicals, like the… even the ones that we eventually find out are really bad for us, I mean, they were originally approved for use, so we trust our government to keep us safe from all these chemicals.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Jason Fung:
[crosstalk 00:37:09] rudimentary. Like, they do it and you test the toxicology in some rats, and it doesn’t kill them. Hey, nothing… you get out there and it doesn’t kill people right away, so hey, you’re good. That’s the idea that we have, but I think that unfortunately is hard to know exactly what to say because one, there’s just so many of them. They’re changing all the time on what [crosstalk 00:37:30]

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Like, the classic pesticide was DDT. Remember? It was-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dr. Jason Fung:
[crosstalk 00:37:38] date myself here a little bit, but DDT was this big, big time pesticide. It was amazing. Killed everything. Turned out it was like super, super bad for us and causing cancer all over the place. There’s all kinds of stories like that. Now, of course, there’s all these other chemicals in there and you don’t even know what they are. I mean, they’re not listed [crosstalk 00:37:59]

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. I mean, the government did write a whole report on the environmental chemicals and how they’re linked to cancer, so I think that’s a big thing. I encourage people to check out EWG.org, which is the Environmental Working Group’s website where they have guides on how to reduce your exposure through your food, through household cleaning products, through skincare products and many other ways to reduce your exposures, household cleaning products. I think the more we can do to reduce our intake of these chemicals is a good idea.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Let’s talk about how to reduce your risks. What can people do who are listening, that you talk about in your amazing book, The Cancer Code: A revolutionary understanding of the medical mystery. I encourage everybody to get a copy of The Cancer Code, it’s out now, because it really is a revolutionary understanding of cancer that I think that helps so many people. Tell us, what can we do to reduce our risk of getting cancer?

Dr. Jason Fung:
Yeah. I think the most important thing is to go after is the hyper-insulin union because we know it’s such a big risk factor. You can’t always test it, but you’ll know because if you are overweight, for example, then you want to try and get back to a normal weight. There’s lots of different ways to do that. The ketogenic diets are not the only way, you can do all kinds of different diets and vegetarian diets and paleo diets, there’s all sorts of good ones. Then, the other one, of course, is the reintroduction of intermittent fasting into the normal schedule. I think that’s really important because what we’ve lost, of course, is that balance between eating and fasting. We’ve gone to a feeding all the time model, which is not so good for growth because you’re always telling your body to grow more. Of course, if you have type 2 diabetes, which is becoming a huge, huge problem with pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes, in America it’s like it just skyrocketed over the last 15 years. That, too, is a massive, massive risk factor for the development of cancer.

Dr. Jason Fung:
The World Health Organization actually classifies 13 different types of cancer as obesity related cancer, so including breast and colorectal. That’s a huge risk factor.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And prostate and-

Dr. Jason Fung:
Prostate, yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
… colon.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Liver, pancreas, and interestingly, if you look at the types of cancer, so we’ve actually been doing really well for most cancers. Over time, as you track them through the years, most cancer is actually slowly declining except those obesity related cancers. They’re actually going up. Pancreatic cancer going up, liver cancer going up. All of these cancers are going up. They’re not rare diseases, so-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
No.

Dr. Jason Fung:
… breast cancer, for example, is very, very common. Colorectal cancer, very, very common. I think that this is one of the things that we hadn’t recognized. I went to medical school in the 90s. We never talked about diet and cancer. It just wasn’t even on the radar screen, it was crazy, except maybe a few people who are really into it, but for the most part, people just… we just didn’t talk about it. Then, it wasn’t until sort of 2003 that the first large papers started to come out that said, “Hey, this is a big risk factor.” Then you multiply it by the millions of people who have it, and that’s why it’s such a big risk factor.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Staying your normal weight includes getting your diet in order, cutting out sugar, cutting out the processed foods for the most part, adding back the intermittent fasting, which is part of a normal regimen.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
When you say that, what do you mean? You mean time restricted eating. Right? You mean 12-hour, 14-hour fast or do you mean like actually not-

Dr. Jason Fung:
Yeah, so I think that… yeah, 12 to 14 hours should be your baseline because that’s just 1970s style eating when we didn’t have so much obesity. Now, if you’re trying to lose weight or if you have type 2 diabetes, then you can extend it to say 16 hours, which is time restricted eating or you can even go further, 24 hours or even multiple days of fasting. People always worry about that, but that’s why I talk about it a lot because a lot of the stuff that we worry about simply isn’t true. People worry about, oh, they’re going to lose muscle. They can’t work, they can’t concentrate. I’m like, “All you’re doing when you don’t eat is that you’re making your body rely on your body’s own store of calories, which is sugar or body fat. That’s how your body stores calories, so you’re literally using the body fat for precisely the reason that you carry it. What could be wrong with that? What is more natural than that?”

Dr. Jason Fung:
If your sugar is high and you don’t eat, you’re going to use up the sugar and your sugar will fall. Now, that’s great news if you have a high sugar and type 2 diabetes, which of course, that high sugar drives a high insulin, which drives cancer risk and so on. Something like that is a completely natural way to get this, all of this, back in order and if you’re too far along the scale of you have too much insulin, you don’t have to stop at 14 hours. There’s nothing to stop you from taking your fast out to a couple days at a time. That’s the thing, it’s a free intervention, it’s a natural intervention, it’s been used for thousands of years. Every culture in history has used it. It’s crazy that we don’t use this sort of thing.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, what you’re talking about is just something so extraordinary and effective and the side effect is that it also prevents heart disease and diabetes and dementia-

Dr. Jason Fung:
Yeah, exactly.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
… and depression. I’m like, [crosstalk 00:43:36], so it’s like a one-stop shop for staying healthy, which is cut out the starch and sugar and practice eating in a way that we’re designed, which is take a break after dinner and don’t eat until breakfast or a little bit later in the morning. It’s so simple, it’s so obvious, and so different than our current thinking, but if you have cancer, like if you already have cancer, we can do this to reduce our risk. What about the screenings, the cancer interventions, the treatments that we have now? Should we still do those? How far can this go to really have an impact?

Dr. Jason Fung:
Screening is a very interesting problem because it sort of gets down to the seed and soil idea. All our cells in our body actually have the potential to become cancer, so your heart can get cancer, your liver can get cancer, even your placenta can get cancer. It’s crazy that every single cell in the body can become cancerous. The point is that that seed lies everywhere and that aggressive screening we found may or may not be that useful, so this is the reason why people are backing off a little bit on aggressive screening. Works very well in some cases, like cervical cancer for example, but taken too far, it was useless. The thyroid cancer, as an example, where they screened people in South Korea for thyroid cancer. Found a ton of, ton of thyroid cancer. It was everywhere, so the incidence of new thyroid cancer went up 11-fold because of screening, but the mortality was still just about the same. It didn’t impact it because most of those didn’t need to be treated.

Dr. Jason Fung:
That’s the point is that you have to… there’s a limit to the screening, but there’s well-established protocols that people have studied, so breast cancer, for example, mammograms have been studied, but their rolling… they used to say, “Oh, maybe you should start at age 40.” They’ve actually recently been moving it back down to maybe age 50. Same with colonoscopy, for example. One of the big successes of screening has been colonoscopy of removal of early cancers, so it’s made a big difference in terms of reducing colon cancer, but they’re also talking about maybe you don’t need it. They actually just rolled, I think just last two weeks ago or something, they actually said, “We should start earlier,” in part because I think that they’re worried that with the obesity epidemic, they’re actually getting more and more.

Dr. Jason Fung:
If you look at these obesity related cancers, we’re actually finding them younger and younger because the younger and younger populations are getting more of this obesity. I think it just recommended instead of age 50, they actually rolled it down to like age 45 or something to get a colonoscopy. I think it’s still a good idea to do screening because one of these cautious things, but you have to be wary. Certain things didn’t pan out the way we thought. PSA is super controversial for prostate cancer, thyroid cancer didn’t turn out to be useful, but you pick and choose. The big ones are going to be breast and colorectal, of course.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Given what you’ve learned about in this research that you did for The Cancer Code, which is in amazing book and everybody needs to get it, “A revolutionary understanding of a medical mystery.” What does the future look like for cancer because it feels to me, as a doctor, someone says, I have diabetes, I have Alzheimer’s, I have heart disease, I have an autoimmune disease, I have this… I’m like, “Great, I got that.” Cancer, it’s like, not so easy. What does the future look like in terms of prevention and treatment of cancer?

Dr. Jason Fung:
I think there’s two different things. In terms of treatment of cancer, of course, a lot of these things that we talk about are not applicable once you have the cancer. You can’t just use diet. I would never say to somebody just use the diet or just use [inaudible 00:47:34]. It’s like, no, you need to get that surgery or the radiation or the chemotherapy, whatever they’re recommending for you because by that time, you have a high risk of other issues. You can use it as an adjunct, but the treatments have come a long way because again, we’ve moved past that idea that we need to find the genetic cure for all these cancers and now we’re moving into the age of immunotherapy, which is taking this idea that cancer is this evolving new species and saying, “Well, let’s use our immune system to try and destroy it.”

Dr. Jason Fung:
We’ve been seeing some incredible successes from a therapeutic standpoint with these new agents, these checkpoint inhibitors and CAR-T and some of these other things, so really very hopeful. Of course, that depends on a lot of research dollars, so very high-tech sort of stuff.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dr. Jason Fung:
It’s more exciting from a prevention standpoint because the only real successes we have in cancer medicine are really in prevention. Stopping smoking, for example, is sort of so far ahead of anything else we do for cancer, but it’s all through prevention. Same with colonoscopies for colorectal cancer. Really, you start to see as you do more and more screening, so as you go from the 70s to the 80s to the 90s to the 2000s, for example, you can see that as people start to accept that they need to do this screening, that colorectal cancer mortality is slowly coming down.

Dr. Jason Fung:
That’s where the future lies. I’m hopeful because we’re starting to bring into sort of a clear picture that, hey, all of these things, these dietary things, that we talk about are so important. Like, stuff that you write about, for example, so well, that, hey, this is great news that people are paying attention to it because those are the cancers that are rising in terms of numbers. Those are practically the only cancers that are rising in numbers-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dr. Jason Fung:
… are the obesity related cancers. If we can understand that, if we can make people aware of that, of the dangers of sugar, so for example, sugar intake I think peaks at around year 2000, but prior to that was really going up very high. Right?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dr. Jason Fung:
People are drinking their Gatorades and stuff. They were like, “Oh, yeah. I just worked out, so I’m going to have a Gatorade.” It’s just full of sugar. Right? People don’t do that anymore. I look around, like how-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You’d be surprised. You live in Canada. People maybe are better over there. Here in America it’s still sugarpaloosa.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Yeah, probably. Probably. I think that plays a big role-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I mean, look, 88% of us are metabolically unhealthy and the translation of metabolically unhealthy means you’re insulin resistant.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Think about that. Almost nine out of 10 Americans are on track for these diseases caused by too much insulin, including cancer.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Yeah, including cancer and all those other diseases you talked about, Alzheimer’s and all that sort of stuff. Part of it, I think, is if you look at the total number, like total amount of sugar, it has been going down, but it’s still very high. I think that’s the big problem. There’s a lot of corporate interest and so on. Like, a few years ago, Coca Cola was revealed as giving like a million bucks… remember this story? They gave a million bucks to the University of Colorado to develop the Global Energy Balance Network or something like that. Remember that?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yes. Yes, yeah. I wrote about that in my book, Food Fix. Yeah, that was a big scientific mess.

Dr. Jason Fung:
It was like a… it’s a horrible story because here you have a university taking millions of dollars from Coca Cola, which obviously is pedaling something very unhealthy, and was ready to go to war against people like you and me who keep saying, “Look at food as medicine and what you put in your mouth is super important.” The university [crosstalk 00:51:45]

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s not just calories are all the same. Right.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Exactly. This whole calories is the same, that always gets me all riled up because it’s like you’re telling me that a hundred calories of cookies is the same as a hundred calories of broccoli. That’s the dumbest thing, like honestly.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, it’s just because of the law of thermodynamics. The idea is that it’s calorie to calorie because when you burn it, it releases the same amount of energy. That’s true, that’s absolutely true in a vacuum, but not when you eat it because when you eat it, it interacts with your microbiome and your hormones and your brain chemistry and so many different factors that drive benefit or cause harm.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Honestly, it’s crazy that we believe it because if we take a hundred calories of cookies and eat it versus the salmon, for example, or egg or whatever, the hormonal response is completely and utterly different between those two foods. Same calories, different foods, completely different hormonal response. Insulin shoots way up with the cookies and it’s like you have to pretend that that’s completely irrelevant. This is physiology. Right? Calories [crosstalk 00:52:49]

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Jason, I just reviewed The Endocrine Society position paper on obesity and prevention and treatment that was published in 2018 and they were very clear on it. A calorie is a calorie is a calorie and weight loss is about energy balance. I’m like, “What is going on here? Are they not paying attention to the science?” These are top scientists at the major medical universities.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Yeah.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
These paradigms get so entrenched and so stuck. We just get so off track. It’s really unfortunate. It takes a long time for paradigms to shift. It took 50 years from the time that the Semmelweis discovered that we should wash our hands before surgery to prevent childbirth fever or death in women who are giving birth because of infection. 50 years before they actually started washing their hands before surgery and the guy died in disgrace with his theories completely ridiculed because doctors couldn’t believe that they would be causing an illness. They would never want to harm their patient, so how could it be that they were causing it by not washing their hands? We’re in a tough situation. It takes literally decades for paradigms to shift.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Not just that, but remember the whole 1980s, the low-fat era. I sort of did all my training through that era and there’s those step one and step two diets, if you remember from [crosstalk 00:54:09]

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yes, of course.

Dr. Jason Fung:
It’s like, so if you have a heart attack, you go on this low-fat diet. If you had another one, you had an ultra-low-fat diet. Then, it’s like-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That made things worse.

Dr. Jason Fung:
It made things worse, absolutely. I mean, talk about the French paradox about how these French are eating full fat milk. It’s like, oh my god. How come [crosstalk 00:54:28]

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Butter and cheese and cream. Right. No heart attacks. Right?

Dr. Jason Fung:
How are they not having heart attacks? They’re actually having a third of the heart attacks of Americans. Then, of course, it was crazy because that whole paradigm took 20 years before people started to say, “Oh, hey, look here’s some studies on nuts, which are high in fat, and they’re really good for you, and fatty fish, they’re really good for you, and avocados and they’re really good for you, and olive oil.” It’s like, it took 20 years of us demonizing all kinds of fat before we finally said, “Oh, it’s a healthy fat.” I was like, “Okay, that took a lot longer than you think it should have taken.”

Dr. Jason Fung:
It’s the same idea. It’s the same thing with sugar. Right? Sugar was fine because it was low fat. That was the thing that you could find in the 80s and 90s-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
SnackWell cookies.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Yeah. It wasn’t just that, the American Heart Association was out pedaling, saying, “Oh, cut the fat but eat the sugar.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s still in our recommendations. Even our dietary guidelines are so contradictory. On one hand they say we shouldn’t worry about fat anymore and on the other hand, they have all these promotional education materials, like the Go, Slow foods like… which we’re saying low fat, and still recommending low fat milk for school lunches.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Remember all those sugary cereals and they all had that health check on it. It’s like [inaudible 00:55:46]

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Oh, my god. The American Heart Association, yes, it’s Fruit Loops and Trix are for kids and Cocoa Puffs are all heart healthy because they have no fat.

Dr. Jason Fung:
Yeah. It’s like, they have 50 grams of sugar in one serving. It was ridiculous, so these-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So true.

Dr. Jason Fung:
… paradigms take a long time. I think that calories’ thing, I’m sort of disturbed a bit to hear that they’re still thinking that [crosstalk 00:56:11]

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. I mean, it’s true. It’s true. Well, your contribution and understanding of cancer has been so great with this book, The Cancer Code. I encourage everybody to get a copy of it. It’s really fantastic. Jason, you really inspired me to even eat less sugar than I already do and feed my cells right and create a healthy soil because that’s the key here. We know how to create a healthy soil and it’s the obvious thing. It’s not just not eating sugar, but it’s also eating phytochemical rich food, lots of fruits and vegetables, lots of good fats, nuts and seeds, whole foods, getting rid of all the ultra-processed stuff, exercise, sleep, relaxation, stress reduction, all of these things are the things you need to create a health soil. Also, getting your nutrient levels up. Right? A lot of us are nutrient deficient in vitamin D, which has been linked to cancer incidents if you’re deficient.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Your book covers all this stuff. It’s just fantastic, and [inaudible 00:56:57] get a copy. Jason, thank you so much for being on The Doctor’s Farmacy, been really a pleasure to have you. If you love this podcast, please share it with your friends and family on social media. I bet they want to hear it. If you want to leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you and your thoughts about your journey with health and maybe cancer, and, of course, subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. We’ll see you next time on The Doctor’s Farmacy.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

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