How you can fight back—by winning the battle of the bulge
If you read this month’s front-page article, the lethal dangers of immunity rot should be burned into your brain by now.
This age-related erosion of the immune system leaves seniors more susceptible to any number of threats—like the flu, pneumonia, and shingles. But a depleted immune system also wipes out your body’s most important defense against cancer… and as a result, places you right in the disease’s crosshairs.
So it’s no mystery why more than 60 percent of new cancers—and more than 70 percent of cancer deaths—occur in patients over the age of 65. But that doesn’t mean younger Americans are safe…
In fact, if the latest reports are anything to go on, more young adults are facing down cancer diagnoses than ever before. And not because age has battered their immune system… but because obesity has.
Six different cancers striking earlier than ever
Let’s allow the statistics to speak for themselves—because frankly, they’re chilling.
Recent research shows a rise in six different obesity-related cancer diagnoses among young Americans between the ages of 25 and 49 over the last two decades. Which isn’t necessarily surprising, given the fact we’re in the middle of a national obesity crisis.
But here’s what is surprising: The increase in cancer rates among this young demographic actually outpaced those among older adults (ages 50 and older) in the same timeframe. I don’t know about you, but I find that pretty disturbing.
The six obesity-related cancers that were prevalent in this younger demographic were:
- Colorectal cancer
- Gallbladder cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Pancreatic cancer
- Uterine cancer
And get this: The younger the person, the higher the likelihood of being diagnosed with one of the six cancers in question.
For example, the average yearly change for pancreatic cancer was 1 percent or less among people 40- to 84-years old. That jumped to 1.3 percent among 35- to 39-year-olds—and even higher, to 2.5 percent among 30- to 34-year-olds.
The youngest group—people between the ages of 25 and 29—saw a 4.3 percent rise in pancreatic cancer. Which is more than four times as high as their oldest counterparts. But the researchers didn’t observe this trend when they looked at data on cancers without ties to obesity.1
That’s rather telling. And especially concerning, considering the fact that over the last 35 years, U.S. obesity rates have risen by 60 percent among American adults—and more than doubled among kids.
Faulty NK cells are the common thread
This trend may look like an anomaly on the surface—but recent research suggests that a lot of the same mechanisms are at work. In fact, as it turns out, obesity may be every bit as destructive to your immune defenses as aging. And to those critical natural killer (NK) cells, in particular.
Scientists from the U.K.’s Trinity College Dublin, Boston’s Harvard Medical School, and Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital recently teamed up to evaluate obesity’s impact on immune surveillance—that is, the process by which your immune system hunts down cancer and destroys it before it has a chance to grow.
Their research focused on NK cells—which, as I explained on page 3, form the front lines of your body’s efforts to weed out tumor cells. The scientists experimented with immune cells from both humans and mice.
And their findings go a long way toward explaining the shocking uptick of cancer among younger obese people.
For one thing, they found that in obese patients, fat “clogs up” NK cells’ machinery in such a way that, while they can still track down and capture rogue tumor cells, they are no longer able to destroy them.2
But here’s the good news: This effect was completely reversible.
Scientists were able to “reboot” the NK cells simply by restoring the metabolic pathway that the fat buildup blocked.
Sugar kills your immune system, too
Clearly, age isn’t the only cause of immunity rot (immunosenescence). Obesity also plays a role. And it doesn’t take a genius to see that, for younger people in particular, the path between the two is paved with sugar.
Research shows that consuming 100 grams of sugar—the amount you get in roughly two cans of soda—weakens your immune system by 40 percent.
This immune-suppressing effect takes hold within 30 minutes of consuming sugar. And it lingers for up to five hours afterwards. So if you eat or drink something else containing sugar within that window, you start the whole cycle over again.3
Essentially, if you consume sugar on a daily basis, your immune system is perpetually suppressed. Add the effects of immunosenescence, and you’re looking at critically impaired immune function.
Not only that, but unlike healthy cells, malignant cells rely on a steady stream of sugar to thrive and grow quickly. So when you consume it, you aren’t just destroying your immune system. You’re actively feeding your cancer at the same time.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Sugar kills. The science can’t get any clearer here, folks. And if you want to dodge this bullet, you need to give it up—for good.
Battle cancer and obesity with staples from my A-List Diet
Sugar may be their favorite food, but cancer cells can’t metabolize fatty acids or ketones.
Your body generates these compounds when both blood sugar and emergency “stowaway sugar” stores are depleted, and it starts burning fat for energy. This is exactly what happens when you’re on a low-carb, fat-rich “ketogenic” diet—like, for example, my A-List Diet.
(To order yourself a copy of The A-List Diet, head over to www.AListDietBook.com, visit a major book retailer, or search for it on Amazon!)
These are the facts, plain and simple. If you want to naturally build your immune system to beat cancer—and virtually any other disease—your body needs to start using fat, not sugar and carbohydrates, as its primary fuel. And this also happens to be the single best way to curb inflammation, strengthen immunity, and shed pounds.
Regular exercise (about 150 minutes per week), stress management (like meditation), and plenty of sleep (seven to nine hours per night) are equally essential—for both weight loss and immune fortification. But for patients whose immunity is already compromised (and that includes anyone carrying excess weight), extra support is often necessary.
And with another flu season upon us, I can’t think of a better time to circle back around to my protocol for immune health. To read my full list of recommendations, see the sidebar below.
Get ironclad immunity at any age
For anyone looking to reinforce their immune system, I always recommend a combination of the following herbs and supplements:
Dimethylgycine HCl. Dimethylglycine (DMG) is a naturally occurring amino acid and a powerful antioxidant. Research shows it can help keep you healthy by optimizing both your humoral and cell-mediated immune responses.4 In simpler terms, DMG ensures your body’s hardworking immune cells and the antibodies they generate both stay on high alert. I recommend 250 mg, three times daily.
Larch tree extract. This extract is standardized for arabinogalactins—a class of polysaccharides that offers powerful benefits to your immune system. In fact, one recent clinical trial showed that people taking larch arabinogalactan were 23 percent more likely to stay healthy than those who didn’t.5 Of course, given arabinogalactin’s unique ability to stimulate the activity of NK cells, these impressive results are hardly a surprise. I recommend 216 mg, three times daily.
Maitake D-fraction®. Research on this powerful extract (which comes from an ancient mushroom) has picked up serious steam over the last several decades. Laboratory and animal studies show it may help to modulate key immune cells, including macrophages, T-cells, NK cells, and interleukin-1 and -2.6 I recommend 20 mg, three times daily.
Beta 1,3 glucan. Beta glucans are actually sugars extracted from the cell walls of baker’s yeast. And they’re one of the few forms of sugar I can stand behind. They don’t contribute to obesity or blood sugar imbalances. Plus, they offer some of the most powerful immune support in nature’s arsenal. Lab studies suggest that they may modulate immune cell activity. Even better—human trials support this evidence, with results showing clear benefits of beta glucan supplementation in subjects with stressed immune systems.7-9 I recommend 70 mg, three times daily.
Olive leaf extract. This ancient Mediterranean health secret is as respected now as it was in Biblical times. These days, it just has the research to back it up. And that includes evidence that olive leaf extracts deliver a long list of phytochemicals that may keep your immune system primed.10 I recommend 100 mg, three times daily.
These herbs and supplements will help you to batten down your body’s hatches. You can find them at your local supplement shop.
- Sung H, et al. Emerging cancer trends among young adults in the USA: analysis of a population-based cancer registry. The Lancet, 2019 DOI: 10.1016/ S2468-2667(18)30267-6
- Michelet X, et al. “Metabolic reprogramming of natural killer cells in obesity limits antitumor responses.” Nat Immunol. 2018 Dec;19(12):1330-1340.
- “Role of sugars in human neutrophilic phagocytosis,” Am J Clin Nutr 1973; 26(11): 1,180-1,184
- Graber CD, et al. “Immunomodulating properties of dimethylglycine in humans.” J Infect Dis. 1981 Jan;143(1):101-5.
- Riede L, et al. “Larch arabinogalactan effects on reducing incidence of upper respiratory infections.” Current Medical Research and Opinion 2013; 29(3): 251-258.
- “Maitake Mushroom,” American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org), accessed 11/14/13
- Talbott SM, et al. “Baker’s yeast beta-glucan supplement reduces upper respiratory symptoms and improves mood state in stressed women.” J Am Coll Nutr. 2012; 31(4): 295-300.
- Carpenter KC, et al. “Baker’s yeast β-glucan supplementation increases monocytes and cytokines post-exercise: implications for infection risk?” Br J Nutr. 2013 Feb 14;109(3):478-86.
- McFarlin BK, et al. “Baker’s yeast beta glucan supplementation increases salivary IgA and decreases cold/flu symptomatic days after intense exercise.” Diet Suppl. 2013; 10(3): 171-183.
- Alt Med Rev 2009; 14(1): 62-66.