This Type of Saturated Fat Fuels Cancer Growth
Our bodies produce cancer cells every day. The immune system is constantly scanning our body for these mutations. And will trigger a killswitch within such a cell when it finds one. The killswitch initiates the destruction of the cancerous cell before it has a chance to replicate. The immune system follows by breaking down the cell and sweeping it from the body.
Occasionally, however, such a mutated cell will replicate faster than the immune system can kill them. What makes a cancerous cell grow and expand so quickly? Scientists have been asking this question for decades. A breakthrough discovery has found the answer. And it ties right into other research linking certain diets with cancer.
Research links palmitic acid to cancer growth
The newest research on cancer has revealed that a saturated fat prominent in Western diets makes cancer cells grow faster. The fatty acid is palmitic acid.
This fatty acid is a central fat contained within animal-based foods.
Over the past two decades, research from around the world has consistently found a correlation between diets rich in animal fats and higher cancer rates. We’re talking all types of cancer here – from breast cancer to colorectal cancer. (I extensively cover this evidence in my book, “The Ancestor’s Diet.”)
In research funded by the Worldwide Cancer Research at the Institute for Research in Barcelona found a type of protein – called CD36 – on the cell membranes of cancer cells. This protein signals cancer cells to metastasize. (To metastasize means to spread).
The CD36 protein is stimulated by a certain type of saturated fatty acid – palmitic acid.
Professor Salvador Aznar Benitah at the Institute for Research headed up the research. It was published in the prestigious journal, Nature.
Dr. Benitah’s team consistently found the CD36 proteins on metastatic cancer cells from a host of patients with a variety of different cancers. These included oral cancer, skin cancer, ovarian cancer, lung cancer and breast cancer.
Dr. Benitah’s team confirmed the CD36’s role in cancer by applying CD36 to non-metastatic cancer cells. The application led these cells to become metastatic.
Dr. Benitah stated:
“Although we have not yet tested this in all tumor types, we can state that CD36 is a general marker of metastatic cells, the first I know of that is generally specific to metastasis.”
The researchers then tested cancer cells against different types of diets, and found that high-fat diets stimulated the CD36 protein. This in turn produced greater cancer cell metastasis.
Then the researchers focused upon which fatty acids in high-fat diets initiated more cell growth. They ended up finding that palmitic acid specifically sparked metastatic cancer growth.
“Fat is necessary for the function of the body, but uncontrolled intake can have an effect on health, as already shown for some tumors such as colon cancer, and in metastasis, as we demonstrate here.”
Other research indicates palmitic acid’s role in cancer
Yes, this new study is revealing the mechanisms involved in palmitic acid’s role in cancer growth. But other studies have also implicated palmitic acid’s role in cancer. Multiple studies have indicated this.
In one study, palmitic acid fueled the growth of liver cancer cells in the laboratory. In another, palmitic acid was shown to fuel the cascaded growth of liver cells.
In yet another, palmitic acid-fueled liver cancer was found to involve an uncoupling protein (uncoupling protein-2). The researchers stated:
“Results demonstrated that uncoupling protein-2 was associated with autophagy during palmitic acid-induced hepatic carcinoma cells injury.”
Other studies have shown how palmitic acid is related to metabolic abnormalities. A study that involved researchers from University of Hawaii at Manoa studied 312 people for ten years in China. They found that those whose diets had lower levels of palmitic acid and stearic acid also had lower rates of metabolic abnormalities.
Research from Germany’s Friedrich Schiller University found that one of the byproducts of palmitic acid consumption is 2-Dodecylcyclobutanone. And 2-Dodecylcyclobutanone appears to produce mutations among human colon cells. These are linked with colon cancer.
Researchers from Hong Kong Baptist University found that melanoma cell cultures and tissue cultures where melanoma was growing had higher concentrations of palmitic acid. They also found that cancer cells pretreated with palmitic acid grew into significant tumors. The researchers stated:
“Recently, an isotopic fatty acid tracing-based metabolomics study revealed that cancer cells including melanoma incorporated exogenous palmitic acid into structural and signaling lipids, suggesting that exogenous fatty acids, such as palmitic acid, also play an important role in melanoma pathogenesis.”
Researchers from Poland’s Lodz University of Technology identified several Raman diagnostic markers for early identification of breast cancer. One of these markers is significant to our discussion: Palmitic acid.
Why? Because Raman imaging found high levels of palmitic acid within ducts during cancer growth.
Foods high in palmitic acid
Note that Dr. Benitah speaks of uncontrolled fat intake. This is a key components of the Western diet – where palmitic acid consumption is prevalent to the extreme.
More specifically, palmitic acid is most prevalent in animal foods – meat and dairy. This includes red meat, poultry, eggs, fish and game meat.
Full fat dairy will also contain a considerable amount of palmitic acid. The butterfat content of whole milk can contain 29 to 31 percent palmitic acid. Whole milk will typically contain 3.25 percent butterfat. Low-fat milk will contain 1 percent butterfat, while a skim milk or nonfat milk can contain virtually no butterfat, and thus none or little palmitic acid.
Palm oil can contain, as a percentage of total fat, 44 percent palmitic acid.
Coconut oil and vegetable oils also contain a small amount of palmitic acid – 9 or 10 percent of total fat content or so. These are a fraction of the levels compared to animal foods due to the smaller addition of vegetable oils in foods. Vegetable fats also contain significantly higher levels of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which significantly overtake their fractional saturated fat content.
These fat content percentages are deceiving when comparing plant-based diets to the Western diet. This is because plant-based foods have a very low fat content in general compared to animal-based foods. Plant-based foods contain significantly lower fat content by weight. And a significantly lower fat content per calorie.
What does this mean to my risk of cancer?
This news is significant, first, for those who have been diagnosed with some form of cancer. Decreasing consumption of saturated fats and specifically, palmitic acid, should help reduce the metastasis of their cancer.
This means such metastasis may be easier to control with other cancer treatments. Talk to your doctor. Perhaps you can share this article with your doctor.
In a previous article, we discussed how refined sugar also stimulates cancer growth. By reducing both refined sugars and saturated fats from our diet, we can reduce the primary fuels of cancer cells.
Secondly, this news also helps those of us who are trying to prevent getting cancer. There are many carcinogenic toxins in our world today. These can produce numerous mutations in our cells that can turn cancerous. But we can help prevent those cancer cells from turning into tumors by eating a diet that is low in palmitic acid.
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Case Adams is a California Naturopath and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies. “My journey into writing about alternative medicine began about 9:30 one evening after I finished with a patient at the clinic I practiced at over a decade ago. I had just spent the last two hours explaining how diet, sleep and other lifestyle choices create health problems and how changes in these, along with certain herbal medicines and other natural strategies can radically yet safely turn our health around. As I drove home that night, I realized this knowledge should be available to more people. So I began writing about health with a mission to reach those who desperately need this information. The strategies in my books and articles are backed by scientific evidence along with wisdom handed down through traditional medicines for thousands of years.”