August 4, 2010
Is this "essential" nutrient causing lung cancer?
Have you ever wondered why people who don't smoke get lung cancer? I have. Some work in industries, such as factories and mines, where their lungs are at risk. But many people without any of these factors fall victim to lung cancer. Well, a new study says it could be something you eat.
According to a report out of Korea, a component of processed food might be involved. However, in this case, it's not the nitrites in processed meats. It's the phosphorus. Yes, this essential nutrient appears to be the culprit. But you can have too much of a good thing.
In this study out of Korea, scientists fed animals extra inorganic phosphorus. They found that the animals eating large amounts of phosphorus developed larger and more aggressive tumors in their lungs compared to animals not eating extra phosphorus. The animals ate either 0.5 or 1.0% of their diet as phosphorus. That's a range that most modern humans will eat in prepared and processed "foods."
There are a growing number of people with non-small-cell lung cancers of unknown origin. It's very hard to treat. These scientists found that excess inorganic phosphorus stimulates the same cancer-signaling pathways found in these types of tumors.
All living organisms need a moderate level of phosphate. But phosphate found in food is called organic, as it binds to living molecules. Inorganic phosphate use is relatively new. Phosphoric acid is probably the most common. Most soft drinks have loads of it. But food manufacturers also put it in prepared food to improve the texture.
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Phosphorus use has exploded in the last two decades. Back in the 1990s, most people ingested only 470 mg per day. But now, the average American eats as much as 1,000 mg per day.
Again, the standard American diet is the main overall cause of most of our maladies. Aside from triggering cancer pathways, dumping inorganic phosphates into what we eat directly contributes to osteoporosis. Every phosphorus ion seeks out and couples with a calcium ion. Then your body eliminates it in your urine. Inorganic phosphorus is not something you want to eat.
I don't recommend reading labels. If you're reading a label, it means you're eating something synthetic made by man. God's food does not have labels. But, if you are really compelled to eat "foods" with labels, please check for added phosphorus. You don't need it, as there is plenty of organic phosphorus in wholesome God-made food.
Ref: Am J Resp and Crit Care Med., 1010; Baker, Sherry. "Processed Foods Linked to Lung Cancer," www.thoracic.org, 30 December 2008.