Saturday, September 7, 2013

Ancient Inuit Health: Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma

I frequently see people claiming that precontact Inuit never had cancer.  Some people even believe that the traditional Inuit diet high in cholesterol provided protection against malignancies.

Hansen performed autopsies on eight mummies from Qilakitsoq, all dated to the 15th century, long before European contact [1].  One was a woman aged ~50 y who had extensive destruction of the base of her skull, which according to Hansen was "most probably caused by a malignant tumour spreading in the bone."  He further comments:
 
"The changes are identical to those which can be seen in patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma.  This cancer type is particularly frequent among people of Inuit origin in Greenland, Alaska and Canada....In fact, the current incidence is about 25 times greater in Greenlanders than in Danes. Presumably, a nasopharyngeal carcinoma was the cause of death in this woman."
Hence, the low carbohydrate diet of precontact Inuit probably did not render them immune to cancer,  contrary to the suggestions of Stefansson in Cancer: Disease of Civilization


7 comments:

Charles Grashow said...

http://www.meandmydiabetes.com/2010/03/24/loren-cordain-caution-on-saturated-fats-disaster-with-grains-will-be-public-after-march-25th/

What this guy did, he was a physician, an MD PhD by the name of Zimmerman. Zimmerman was a pathologist, and he was lucky enough to be in Alaska when a 400 AD, so we’re talking 1600 year old, frozen Inuit mummy was recovered. He did an autopsy on this, and he sectioned the coronary arteries. So this is 400 AD. These people had never seen white people. They had only eaten what Steve Phinney had suggested people eat–fat and protein–and significant atherosclerosis in a 53 year old Inuit woman, on pathology. That wasn’t just the only case. He then was privy to another group of frozen Eskimo bodies that were recovered in Barrow, Alaska, and these people date to about 1520 AD, so just slightly after the time Columbus had discovered America. Once again, noinfluence of Western civilization. So presumably, they were living at Barrow, 60 degrees north, they were eating meat and fat their entire life. They might get a little bit of berries sometime in the summer. Extensive atherosclerosis was in the older woman, who was 30. All three of them were osteoporotic. They were severely osteoporotic on that type of diet. So you can give this to people who claim that all we needto eat is meat and fat.

http://www.meandmydiabetes.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Atherosclerosis-in-Pre-Westernized-Inuit.pdf

And then I’ll take this one step further, and here’s another obscure paper because we’re no longer allowed to perform these experiments in primates in which we feed them atherosclerotic diets and try to induce an MI.

That means a heart attack. A Myocardial Infarction. An MI.

In 10 rhesus monkeys and two other monkeys, they were able to induce myocardial infarctions,and electrocardiographic abnormalities, unexpected and relative sudden
death in these non human primates are also consistent with signs that are frequently observed in humans. This is an obscure paper that absolutely needs to be addressed by the unlimited saturated fat type groups.

http://www.meandmydiabetes.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Atherosclerosis-Primates-Bond-1980.pdf

Charles Grashow said...

Palmitic acid is atherogenic. And there’s not an experiment in humans or animals or tissue to show that it doesn’t down regulate the LDL receptor. This is a point that is never addressed in Gary Taubes’s book or Eric Westman’s articles, or Ron Krauss. You need to address the down regulation of the LDL receptor. That controls the flux of oxidized LDL in and out of the intima.

If we believe the results of this pathology, that we have atherosclerosis in people who never consumed carbohydrate, always ate a high fat, high protein diet, this atherosclerosis who always consumed a high fat, high protein diet. Then the question comes up, did they ever suffer a fatal MI. My opinion is that they probably didn’t.

Even though they had hardening of the arteries, plaque, they might not have had the inflammatory conditions that cause heart attacks.

Bingo, there you go!

They had a lot of plaque in their arteries, they had hardening of the arteries, but did that mean they had a heart attack?

No! What kills you is not plaque in the arteries. What kills you is the rupture of the plaque. What causes the rupture of the plaque . . .because I think what happens is that atherosclerosis goes forth. Our bodies wall it over, we wall it out, and the lumen of the artery actually expands to compensate for the thickness of the intima. What
kills us in the Western world, we have this atherosclerotic process going on, like we have in these Inuit. But in contrast to them, we havea pro-inflammatory diet. If you took these 1600 year old Inuit women and fed them bread along with their high fat diet, I would be almost certain that you would see myocardial infarctions.

To unequivocally say that saturated fats do not cause atherosclerosis, is sheer folly. We know that they do. We awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine to Brown and Goldstein for saying that Palmitic acid down regulates the LDL receptor. Unless we’re going to take that Nobel Prize back, you cannot deny that information. So, I would like to hear a response of how in the world LDL receptors are not down regulated by palmitic acid.

Money quote - "They had a lot of plaque in their arteries, they had hardening of the arteries, but did that mean they had a heart attack?

No! What kills you is not plaque in the arteries. What kills you is the rupture of the plaque. What causes the rupture of the plaque . . .because I think what happens is that atherosclerosis goes forth. Our bodies wall it over, we wall it out, and the lumen of the artery actually expands to compensate for the thickness of the intima. What
kills us in the Western world, we have this atherosclerotic process going on, like we have in these Inuit. But in contrast to them, we havea pro-inflammatory diet. If you took these 1600 year old Inuit women and fed them bread along with their high fat diet, I would be almost certain that you would see myocardial infarctions."

Your thoughts

George Henderson said...

If you were eating a diet very - very - high in omega 3, you would have frequent nosebleeds, as Inuit and Eskino are recorded as suffering. You would probably need unusual blood clotting compensations (from a western perspective) to survive. You would also have a high rate of peroxidation from those VLCFA, and indeed a high intake of peroxides from fermented and rancid fats.
Add to that poorly ventilated fires and a high intake of soot from burning blubber, then even without viral infections, cancers and atherosclerosis become likely.
It shouldn't be a mystery viewed from the perspective of the occupational cancers and other diseases that used to be common in industrial societies.
And that probably still are prevalent, but are conveniently blamed on the dietary factors that accompany them.

Rex said...

Those are some great links Charles, thanks for that...

Here's the big question I would like to be able to answer:

"Are meat and/or dairy and/or seafood ever a dietary requirement for optimal human health in the long run?" In other words, can all human beings obtain optimal health over the course of their entire lives without eating any animal food whatsoever?

I would also pose the same question about cold-extracted, unrefined vegetable oils.

My current thinking is that animal products and extracted oils are actually necessary for us as a species to achieve optimal long term health and maximal life span...that said, it almost goes without saying that for most people, the problem is not eating too little but too much of these foods...I know it is possible to live as a vegan, but does this diminish life expectancy?

In addition, the effects of refined oils and feedlot meat of questionable quality on human health have not been adequately researched and compared to those of high quality unrefined, cold-pressed organic oils and organic pasture-raised meats, dairy and wild seafood. In our industrial food system, the former are unquestionably easier and less expensive to produce and distribute...

Charles Grashow said...

cold-extracted, unrefined vegetable oils

Which oils from veggies are you talking about?

Rex said...

I would start with olive oil and sesame oil since these both have a long history. Organic peanut oil as well since conventional varieties may have aflatoxin residues...

Healthy Longevity said...

There has also been suggestive evidence of breast cancer found in a pre-contact Inuit mummy.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1036622/pdf/medhist00046-0118b.pdf

The paper below refers to a number of cases of Inuit diagnosed with breast cancer in the very early 1900’s, before such a significant transition to the western diet.
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00410791