PURE Juicer asked Ilene Ruhoy, MD, Ph.D. to help us make a deeper connection to western medicine, the body, and medicine through the food and juicing. Dr. Ruhoy is a board-certified neurologist, with a fellowship in integrative medicine at the University of Arizona with Dr. Andrew Weil, and has her Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology. She is now our Chief Medical Officer and we are grateful for her passion and expertise.
Image by https://www.newscientist.com/term/cancer/
By Ilene S. Ruhoy, MD, PhD
The Burden of Cancer in America
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the world. The cumulative cost of cancer care in this country is more than $150 billion. This disease is a scourge on our societal health and well-being. There are approximately 1.8 million new diagnoses of cancer each year in the United States. Almost every American is affected on some level either by a personal diagnosis or the diagnosis and suffering of a loved one.
What Scientific Research Has Taught Us
Billions of research dollars dedicated to finding the causes of cancer – which is unregulated cell growth – have left us with more questions than answers. Over 40 years of research has taught us the cause of cancer is likely multifactorial and includes the contribution of genetics, exposures to environmental toxins, infectious disease, and autoimmune disease. We have also learned just how complex the precise mechanism of cancer development and progression is. Fortunately, our dedication to research has given us great strides in treatment and management options of different types of cancers – some have the potential of cure. Though some treatment options available can result in toxicity, there is no rigorous scientific evidence that a pure natural approach will cure an otherwise untreated or non-responsive cancer.
Prevention: Make Your Body Stronger
Prevention of cancer is an oft-discussed topic not only amongst researchers, scientists, and physicians but others working in the health and wellness space including on the internet and social media sites. The lack of a complete and in-depth understanding of the mechanism of cancer has prevented us from truly knowing how to definitively prevent cancer. But there is a consensus that maintaining optimal health through nutrition can serve as a strong basal defense against the formation and/or the reproduction of atypical cells. This is largely because our cellular turnover mechanisms at times go wrong and can manufacture an atypical cell. Our immune system is tasked with the role of surveillance for foreign, or non-self, presences and will target atypical cells to try and combat their division. A strong immune system and optimal health can only help in this biological effort. In addition, optimal health through proper nutrition also reduces the risk of many of the illnesses that plague Americans including diabetes, obesity, and hypertension which in turn are proven risk factors for other leading causes of death such as heart attack and stroke. Image by https://eatwelltobewellrd.com/3-keys-to-building-a-strong-immune-system/
The Science of Cancer Cells
Cancer cells are cells that undergo unregulated growth via various dysregulation of pathways including the loss of apoptotic mechanisms which means mechanisms that regulate cell turnover. Apoptosis is programmed cell death. This process is complex and includes many steps and is mediated by multiple signaling pathways. It is a normal part of cellular turnover. All tissues of the body need optimal biomass for proper functioning and rely on the ability of cells to turnover when they are under stress, incur DNA damage from exposures, or are targeted by the surveying cells of our immune system. Maintaining a healthy and functioning immune system is key to healthy cell survival. (Note: Apoptosis is mediated by proteolytic enzymes called caspases, which trigger cell death by cleaving specific proteins in the cytoplasm and nucleus. Caspases exist in all cells as inactive precursors, or procaspases, which are usually activated by cleavage by other caspases, producing a proteolytic caspase cascade.)
Apoptosis is inhibited by several molecules in cancer cells, specifically regulator proteins. Therapies approved for use in cancer treatment directly target these molecules while others indirectly affect apoptosis pathways via their role in inhibiting the proliferation of cancerous cells and the resultant response of the apoptosis signaling pathways to the inhibition of proliferation. Importantly, mitochondria, which are key intracellular organelles, play a large role as a cellular source of energy for cell survival and cell death. These organelles help to control apoptosis as well as other means of altered autophagy seen in cancer cells. Autophagy is a catabolic process by which cellular components are turned over and is important for organ health. It is a complex process and any change in its efficiency can pose risk to organ function and overall health. More on mitochondria in the coming months.
Diet & Cold-Pressed Juicing: Key Factors in Cancer Prevention
There are many variables that may lead to an increased risk of cancer. Some are not much in our control, but diet is a modifiable risk factor and therefore of great importance. Nutrition can play a critical role in enhancing oxidative phosphorylation (The main source of energy in muscle and other cells and produces much more energy from glucose than does glycolysis), which is the bioenergetic means of the mitochondria, support apoptotic pathways, enhance detoxification pathways, and contribute to a robust and healthy immune system.
Fruits and vegetables are a tremendous source of substrates, co-factors, and other phytonutrients that work to maintain physiologic cellular activity. Juicing is an effective means of obtaining high quantities of these compounds to further enhance beneficial activity. Some fruits and vegetables in particular contain higher quantities of anti-tumor nutrients.
Strengthen Immune Performance Using Fruits & Vegetables
For example, ellagic acid found in blackberries, pomegranates, and strawberries has been shown to enhance T-cell activity, an important cell line of the adaptive immune system. Studies have further demonstrated the inhibition of tumor cell proliferation and induction of apoptosis as a result of two compounds called sulforaphane and ursolic acid. Sulforaphane is found in high quantity in the cruciferous family of vegetables but in particularly high quantity in broccoli seed sprouts. Ursolic acid is found in apples and cranberries.
Another group of produce that is powerful for cancer prevention are cruciferous vegetables. These include broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, chard, mustard greens, and kale. They are powerful because they contain 3,3′-diindolylmethane (DIM) and indole-3-carbinol (I3C), which are bioactive indoles (An organic compound that serves as a signaling molecule), that have been shown to target proteins that aid in the process of carcinogenesis (The cellular transformation to a cancer cell), as well as proteins that are involved in ineffective apoptosis. Juicing is a more effective means of getting these health benefits as cooking has been shown to reduce the bioavailability of these compounds. In addition, these vegetables contain large amounts of fiber and while that is incredibly healthy for the GI tract, it is difficult to eat enough of the whole food form to consume high quantities of the cancer prevention compounds. But for sure, some of the whole forms should be eaten as well.
Mangiferin in mangos is a powerful tool in cancer prevention efforts as well. It is a bioactive compound that has shown great promise in anti-tumor potential. It targets pro-inflammatory factors and cytokines as well as slows the cell cycle that contributes to proliferation and has inhibitory effects on migration signaling which slows the risk of metastasis. Along with quercetin and resveratrol, mangiferin is also an incredible antioxidant that helps to eliminate reactive oxygen species that can create damage to the DNA and cause wayward reproduction of cells. Quercetin and resveratrol can be found in apples, grapes, and lychee.
Phytochemicals such as betalain, a betaxanthin found in gold or yellow beets, and carotenoids such as lutein and alpha-carotene found in sweet potato and beta-carotene found in spinach and carrots as well as in nectarine and pomegranates have intense anti-inflammatory activity that protects against chronic disease. They also have the ability to stimulate effector cells of the adaptive immune system and stabilize those of the innate immune system. Additional carotenoids include lycopene in tomatoes, astaxanthin in spirulina, and curcumin in turmeric.
Plants Are Medicine for Prevention
The plant world contains a road map to protect our risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. Choosing to consume the variety of fruits and vegetables offered to us by the earth in its infinite wisdom is a piece of how we can take back control of our health, our bodies, our future, and our destiny.
- Cool Cruciferous – Kale, Broccoli, Green Cabbage
- Xanthin Thrill – Golden beets, yellow pepper, carrot
- Fantastic Flavonoid – Spinach, apples, lemon
- Oxidant Oh Boy – Kale, black grapes, blackberries, garlic
- Red Notice – Pomegranate, red grapes, red pepper, strawberries
Shownto the right: Cool Cruciferous
Watch David, our founder, make a Cool Cruciferous Juice:
As a board-certified neurologist serving adults and children, I’m excited about our topic for March; the brain and neurology. Sign up for our blog notifications and please add comments or questions below.
Ilene Ruhoy, MD, Ph.D.
About Dr. Ruhoy
Ilene S. Ruhoy, MD., Ph.D. is a board-certified neurologist and founder and medical director of the Center for Healing Neurology, an integrative neurology practice in Seattle, WA. She is also the new medical director for the EDS/Chiari Center at Mt. Sinai South Nassau Hospital.
Originally from New York City, she trained in both pediatric and adult neurology at the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital. She is a graduate of the University of Arizona Integrative Medicine Fellowship and is also a graduate of the Helms Medical Institute Acupuncture for Physicians certification program. Her Ph.D. is in Environmental Toxicology.
Dr. Ruhoy serves as the Chief Medical Officer for PURE Juicer, LLC and is the co-editor of Integrative Neurology, an Andrew Weil, MD Integrative Medicine series, published by Oxford Press in July 2020.
She is a plant-based advocate as she is passionate about food as medicine and the medicinal purposes of plants.
Links to references used by Dr. Ruhoy for this blog:
Jaman S and Sayeed A, Ellagic acid, sulforaphane, and ursolic acid in the prevention and therapy of breast cancer: current evidence and future perspectives. Breast Cancer 2018 Sep;25(5):517-528.
Chang H, et al. Dietary Flavonoids and the Risk of Colorectal Cancer: An Updated Meta-Analysis of Epidemiological Studies. Nutrients. 2018 Jul 23;10(7):950.
Milani A et al., Carotenoids: biochemistry, pharmacology and treatment J Pharmacol. 2017 Jun;174(11):1290-1324.
Lechner JF and Stone GD. Red Beetroot and Betalains as Cancer Chemopreventative Agents. Molecules. 2019 Apr 23;24(8):1602.
Gold-Smith F., et al. Mangiferin and Cancer: Mechanisms of Action. Nutrients. 2016 Jun 28;8(7):396.
Thomson CA, et al. Chemopreventive properties of 3,3′-diindolylmethane in breast cancer: evidence from experimental and human studies. Nutr Rev. 2016 Jul;74(7):432-43.
Higdon JV, et al. Cruciferous vegetables and human cancer risk: epidemiologic evidence and mechanistic basis. Pharmacol Res. 2007 Mar;55(3):224-36.
Tang SM, et al. Pharmacological basis and new insights of quercetin action in respect to its anti-cancer effects. Biomed Pharmacother. 2020 Jan;121:109604.
Rauf A, et al. Resveratrol as an anti-cancer agent: A review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2018 Jun 13;58(9):1428-1447.
Dandawate PR, et al. Targeting cancer stem cells and signaling pathways by phytochemicals: Novel approach for breast cancer therapy. Semin Cancer Biol. 2016 Oct;40-41:192-208.