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LMU 89 – The Dietary Connection to Cancer: Decoding the Link between High-Fat Diet, Obesity, and Tumor Initiation


LMU 89 – The Dietary Connection to Cancer: Decoding the Link between High-Fat Diet, Obesity, and Tumor Initiation

NMU 89 – How the High-fat North American Diet Shown to Initiate Colon, Breast and Pancreatic Cancer

Lidestyle Medicine Update (May 5, 2018)


The intricate interplay between diet, obesity, and cancer continues to bewilder researchers and health enthusiasts alike. Amidst the labyrinthine web of factors, a remarkable study emerged, shedding light on the perplexing connection between the typical high-fat North American diet, obesity, and the elevated risk of specific cancers. Published in the esteemed journal Cell Reports in April 2018, this study unveils a trail of insights that could rewrite our understanding of cancer initiation and progression.

The Lurking Threat: Colon, Breast, and Pancreatic Cancer

Colon cancer, breast cancer, and pancreatic cancer loom large as formidable adversaries on the global health horizon. With colon cancer ranking as the second leading cause of cancer death, breast cancer gripping women’s lives with its stealthy clutches, and pancreatic cancer leaving a trail of despair with its grim prognosis, the stakes are undeniably high.

The Unravelling: A Journey through Cancer Development

The narrative of cancer is woven through stages, each unveiling a different facet of the enigmatic disease. The initiation stage marks the birth of a cancer cell—a transformation from normalcy to malignancy. This nascent malignant cell may lie dormant, biding its time, or sprout into a full-fledged tumor. This pivotal moment, known as the tumor promotion stage, propels the narrative into one of proliferation and progression. Metastasis, the bittersweet dance of cancer cells through the body’s corridors, adds a sinister layer to the tale. Amidst this intricacy, questions lingered—how does a high-fat diet, coupled with obesity, trigger the genesis of cancer?

Epithelial Defence Against Cancer (EDAC): A Guardian Unveiled

In the midst of these queries, the study unfurled a groundbreaking revelation—the ability of normal colon, breast, and pancreatic cells to sense the emergence of malignant cells in their vicinity. Dubbed “epithelial defence against cancer” (EDAC), this process harnessed the power of healthy cells to stand as silent sentinels against impending malignancy. An orchestra of anti-tumor activity unfolded, orchestrated by these vigilant guardians. Yet, obesity and the habitual consumption of a high-fat diet cast a pall over this defensive prowess.

The Fat Culprits: Saturated Fats and Linoleic Acid

The study spotlighted certain fats as the orchestrators of this subversion—saturated fats and omega-6 fat linoleic acid emerged as the villains. These fats held the capacity to disarm the guardian cells, rendering them powerless against the burgeoning malignant cells. Linoleic acid, notorious for constituting 7% of the North American diet, emerged as a prime culprit. Vegetable oils, rich repositories of this fat, beckoned for alternatives—olive oil, canola oil, and the protective embrace of flaxseed oil, abundant in omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid.

A Symphony of Inflammation and Energy

The narrative unfolded to reveal more layers—high-fat diets intertwined with inflammation, birthing a dance of inflammatory fibroblasts and macrophage cells. Omega-6 fat’s role in the production of the notorious prostaglandin series-2 further fuelled the flames of cancer development. The stage was set—a symphony of energy production, metabolic survival, and the intricate dance of cancer initiation played out on the cellular canvas.

The Remarkable Anomaly: Lung Cancer

The study’s pages bore witness to an intriguing anomaly—a high-fat diet’s inability to hinder lung cells’ pursuit of eradication against malignant cells. Here, the link between obesity, high-fat diet, and lung cancer remained tenuous, evoking questions that nudged at the peripheries of understanding.

A Glimpse into the Future: Cancer Preventive Medicine

As the study’s tapestry unfurled, it beckoned us to glimpse into the future—cell competition and cancer preventive medicine standing intertwined. The realms of obesity and diet, once entwined with the mysteries of cancer initiation, now stood illuminated by the beacon of EDAC and its intricate dynamics.

Conclusion: Navigating the Path Forward

With this revelation, the compass of cancer research takes a new bearing. The pages of Cell Reports in April 2018 stand as a testament to the intricate dance of cellular defence, the subversion orchestrated by fats, and the symphony of inflammation and energy that weave the narrative of cancer initiation. As the journey to decode the enigma of cancer continues, this study offers a vital thread to weave into the tapestry of cancer prevention and holistic well-being.


1. Sasaki A, Nagatake T, Egami R et al. Obesity suppresses cell-competition-mediated apical elimination of RasV-12-transformed cells from epithelial tissues. Cell Reports, vol 23, issue 4. P:974-982. April 2018. 


Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great

Dr. Meschino

Dr. James Meschino


Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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