Animal protein (Methionine) & Cancer

Studies show that if we adopt a Whole Foods Plant Based Diet our chances of getting cancer may decrease significantly. Here is how; 

In 1974 a landmark paper was published showing for the first time that human cancer cells have absolute methionine dependency. They observed that human normal cells can grow well in a petri dish without the amino acid methionine but cancer cells died (1).  

This methionine dependency was also shown in another study carried out in 1993, but this time with fresh tumours taken from patients with different cancers like colon, breast, ovary, prostate and skin. These tumours seem to have biochemical defects that makes them methionine dependent (2).    

As methionine is sourced mainly from food, in order to help cancer prevention, a good strategy might be to lower our methionine intake by eliminating methionine rich foods from our diet (3). See below methionine content food chart;


Methionine content in foods


As you can see the biggest  source of methionine are animal foods, specially chicken and fish. Which means that adopting a plant based diet might be beneficial in this case. But not only that, animal protein also increases the level of our growth hormone IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor 1), but what’s the effect of IGF-1 on cancer? The answer to this question next…

1-B. C. Halpern, B. R. Clark, D. N. Hardy, R. M. Halpern, R. A. Smith. The effect of replacement of methionine by homocystine on survival of malignant and normal adult mammalian cells in culture. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 1974 71(4):1133 – 1136.
2-H. Y. Guo, H. Herrera, A. Groce, R. M. Hoffman. Expression of the biochemical defect of methionine dependence in fresh patient tumors in primary histoculture. Cancer Res. 1993 53(11):2479 – 2483.
3P. Cavuoto, M. F. Fenech. A review of methionine dependency and the role of methionine restriction in cancer growth control and life-span extension. Cancer Treat. Rev. 2012 38(6):726 – 736.


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