The Chinese proverb that’s helping researchers lower liver cancer

While we tend to hear a lot about cancer of the lungs, breasts and colon, liver cancer tends to be ignored — kept as kind of a dirty little secret.

Yet, deaths from this cancer are skyrocketing.

In fact, according to the CDC, from 2000 to 2016 alone, deaths due to liver cancer in the U.S. rose by a whopping 43 percent in men and 40 percent in women. This took liver cancer from its spot as the ninth leading cause of cancer death in our country to number six!

But there is good news…

Researchers have found a simple way to keep your liver healthy and decrease your risk of liver cancer dramatically — and their inspiration came from an ancient Chinese proverb…

How fatty is your liver?

You see, one of the main reasons for the rise in liver cancer is due to a condition known as fatty liver. And it’s pretty much what the name implies — an accumulation of fat in the organ.

The rate of fatty liver has been increasing significantly across the world and in the U.S. in particular. It occurs from taking in excess calories that create more fat in the liver than it can break down. You can think of it as a fatty body causing a fatty liver. People who are obese or have diabetes and high triglycerides are prime targets for fatty liver.

Related: How to stop drinking yourself fat

And the thing is, when fat builds up in your liver, your chances of ending up with a tumor there are far greater.

This got an international research team led by Shinshu University School of Medicine to beg the question: Can eating less suppress liver cancer caused by a fatty liver?

Would it lower the amount of fat in the vital organ — and would that translate to lower cancer risk? And how much less would have to be eaten to see improvements?

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Eating less to suppress liver cancer

Previously, the team was able to show that eating a diet too rich in cholesterol, saturated fats and trans-fats increased the incidence of liver tumors.

This time they wanted to go the other way and prove the truth of an old Chinese proverb that says, “to live a long and healthy life, eat until the stomach is 70 percent full. Then you will live healthy, and it might lead to longevity.”

So, they put mice on a diet.

Over a 15-month period, some of their mice ate normally, while others had their food intake reduced by 30 percent — in order to hit that “70 percent full” target from the proverb.

And the results are in…

The team was able to show that reducing food intake by 30 percent or eating until you are just 70 percent full is effective in reducing the likelihood of developing liver cancer from fatty liver.

In fact, they found that the incidence of fatty liver-related liver tumors fell from a massive 41 percent to just 8 percent in a little over a year, simply by cutting back on the amount of food eaten.

Why dietary restriction works

According to the researchers, you’re less likely to get cancer when you cut your calories for a number of reasons since reducing food intake:

  • Suppresses the cell proliferation that allows cancer to run wild.
  • Reduces oxidative stress that damages cells.
  • Lowers the inflammation linked to cancer and other chronic diseases.
  • Decreases the senescence that alters the cellular environment.
  • Combats insulin signaling which promotes cancer.
  • Increases autophagy so that your body can clean out damaged cells and reduce the likelihood you’ll develop cancer.

A good way to get there: Switch to using a small plate to make your portions look bigger than they are and eat slowly. That way your brain has time to receive that “I’m getting full” signal from your belly before you’ve eaten too much.

For more tips on reducing your food intake read 2 Old-school Golden Rules for Health and Longevity by Margaret Cantwell.

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Sources:

Trends in Liver Cancer Mortality Among Adults Aged 25 and Over in the United States, 2000–2016 — CDC

Eating less suppresses liver cancer due to fatty liver — EurekAlert!

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.