Top 10 Nutrition Myths (Part 2)

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Truth and Lies About Calcium, Sugar, Cholesterol, and Antioxidants for Those Undergoing Cancer Treatment

(Editor’s note: Last month we published the first part of Dr. Rona’s list of ‘Top Ten Nutrition Myths’. This month we bring you the second part.)

This list of nutrition myths hasn’t changed much in nearly 40 years. I hear  about one or more of them every day in my private practice. The people making these erroneous assertions tend to be very dogmatic in their views. The source of these misleading facts is most often practising medical doctors untrained in nutritional medicine, or those who are just plain out of date. Here are the most widely known fake news items in natural medicine that die hard.

FALSE NEWS #3 – Only Dairy Products Can Provide Adequate Calcium

It is true that cow’s milk has the highest calcium content, but many studies demonstrate that its absorption is inferior to that seen with calcium from plant sources. Dark green leafy vegetables have relatively high calcium concentrations. With the exception of spinach (due to the high oxalate content), the calcium from greens is very well absorbed.  Kale and other members of the same food family such as broccoli, turnip greens, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, and mustard greens are excellent sources of both calcium and magnesium – an important trace mineral that aids calcium utilization which is found in only small amounts in cow’s milk.

A large number of excellent whole food supplements high in both calcium and magnesium are available in health food stores. These include wheat grass, spirulina, chlorella, barley green, green kamut, blue green algae, and several others.  They all make ideal supplements for children because they are easy to mix with juices, are highly bioavailable, easily absorbed, and have a very healthy balance of dozens of trace minerals, antioxidants, vitamins, amino acids, and essential fatty acids.

Other natural sources of calcium include cooked beans and peas, seaweeds, sprouts (e.g. alfalfa), seeds and nuts like sesame, pumpkin, and hazelnuts, as well as whole grains (e.g. corn tortillas, quinoa).

The big issue about getting enough calcium has to do with prevention of osteoporosis. It’s not about how much calcium you get in the diet as it is about how much of that calcium you keep in your bones that’s important. And that all depends on magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin K, strontium, and numerous other factors like exercise and drug intake. In one study of Japanese women who consumed no dairy products and had low calcium intakes, it was found that they had the lowest incidence of osteoporosis when compared to their American counterparts. North American women on a dairy-rich diet who also supplement with calcium actually had a significantly higher incidence of osteoporosis than Japanese women consuming their ancestral diet.

FALSE NEWS #4 – Sugar, In Moderation, Is Safe and Does Not Cause Any Illnesses

About two decades ago, a very well known Canadian Complementary Medicine doctor lost her medical license for appearing on TV and stating that sugar was the cause of dozens of different diseases. Times have, fortunately, changed and the only people saying that sugar is harmless are those involved in, or somehow affiliated with, the sugar industry. For example, the makers of cola drinks are still blaming the obesity epidemic on lazy people who do not exercise. Despite a great deal of evidence to the contrary, spokespersons for soda pop companies say that sugar has nothing to do with obesity. This is clearly false news.

Study after study demonstrates that sugar consumption is directly or indirectly associated with poor health. Simple sugars feed harmful intestinal yeasts, fungi, toxic organisms, and all forms of cancer. The volume of supporting literature for this is staggering. Here is a partial list of health conditions associated with high sugar consumption:

  • obesity
  • eating disorders
  • cardiovascular disease
  • atherosclerosis
  • high blood pressure
  • increased platelet stickiness
  • adult onset diabetes mellitus
  • gastrointestinal disease (diverticulosis, irritable bowel syndrome, etc)
  • gallstones
  • immune suppression
  • dental caries
  • recurrent infections
  • depression
  • reactive hypoglycemia
  • candida syndrome
  • learning disabilities
  • anxiety
  • chronic pain syndromes
  • ADHD in children and adults

FALSE NEWS #5 – Eating Foods High in Cholesterol Is Bad for You

Over 85% of the cholesterol in our blood does not come from the diet but from manufacture by the liver. If cholesterol is so terrible, why is it found in every normal cell in the body? Cholesterol is protective and part of all the body’s cell membranes, bile acids, and steroid hormones. Deficiency, or low cholesterol, has been associated with a higher risk of cancer and immune disorders, including AIDS, in numerous studies. We need cholesterol to make all of our steroid hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, etc). The body also manufactures vitamin D under our skin from cholesterol. So, if you suppress cholesterol with statin drugs like Lipitor and Crestor, you also suppress your vital steroid hormones and vitamin D.

The real role of cholesterol in the body is to serve as a defence against free radicals.  The more free radicals (peroxides, petrochemicals, tobacco smoke chemicals, fungal mycotoxins, etc) that are invading the body, the more the liver will manufacture cholesterol to help neutralize the toxins.  It is these free radical toxins, not the cholesterol, that produce the arterial damage resulting in hardening of the arteries and heart disease. High blood cholesterol levels should therefore be regarded as a red flag indicating the presence of high levels of free radicals, oxidant damage, and infestation of the body with fungi or other pathogenic microorganisms (bacteria, parasites, etc). High blood levels of cholesterol should, at most, be considered a risk factor for heart disease and not the real cause.

Furthermore, high carbohydrate diets are more likely a cause of elevated cholesterol than high fat intake. For more correct information on cholesterol see my earlier articles on the subject in Vitality’s internet archives.(1)(2)

FALSE NEWS #6 – Taking Antioxidant Vitamins and Minerals Does Not Mix Well with Chemotherapy or Radiation Treatments for Cancer

I find Toronto area cancer specialists (oncologists) to be a rather dogmatic bunch, and that’s putting it kindly.  In the past two years, the advice they have been providing about nutritional supplements is nothing short of scary. One of my cancer patients told me that his oncologist would refuse to treat him with chemotherapy if he took any antioxidants, especially high dose vitamin C.  Another provided a 6-page hospital-endorsed instruction booklet censuring the use of any vitamin, mineral, herbal, or antioxidant supplement for any patient receiving chemotherapy. The rationale for this advice was that antioxidants “protect cancer cells” and cause their spread. A third oncologist stated that intravenous vitamin C would offset the benefits of chemotherapy or radiation therapy because the latter treatments are oxidizing while the former are anti-oxidizing (this despite numerous published articles proving that high dose intravenous vitamin C kills cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone).

Oncologists are quick to support their arguments by referring to a much criticized and poorly done study by the American Cancer Society’s Dr. Gabriella D’Andrea (“Use of Antioxidants During Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy Should Be Avoided”; CA Cancer J Clin 2005; 55:319-321).

According to Ralph W. Moss’ books and recently published journal articles, the numerous factual distortions and unproven assertions made in the American Cancer Society’s position on the use of antioxidants have been exposed as nothing more than superstition. Without exception, the negative statements about antioxidants are myths based on faulty theoretical beliefs.  In fact, recent scientific evidence published in peer reviewed cancer journals concludes that the opposite is true.  Antioxidants not only reduce the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy but they also make these mutilating treatments work much better in terms of enhanced patient survival.

One recent example of this is the landmark study in the May 2007 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Cancer Treatment Reviews, which concluded that there is no evidence that antioxidant supplements (vitamins A, C, E, selenium, zinc, coenzyme Q10, and others) interfere with the therapeutic effects of chemotherapy agents. Rather, they may actually help increase survival rates, tumour response, and the patient’s ability to tolerate treatment.  This study, conducted by Dr. Keith Block, Dr. Robert Newman, and their research group, evaluated 845 reports of clinical trials from five scientific databases that examined the effects of taking natural antioxidant supplements concurrent with chemotherapy.  According to Dr. Keith I. Block, lead author of the study and Medical Director of the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment:

“This review demonstrates that there is no scientific support for the blanket objection to using antioxidants during chemotherapy. In addition, it also appears that these supplements may help mitigate the side effects of chemotherapy. This is significant because it increases the likelihood that patients will be able to complete their treatment.”

And co-author Dr. Robert Newman, Professor of Cancer Medicine at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, stated:

“This study, along with the evolving understanding of antioxidant-chemotherapy interactions, suggests that the previously held beliefs about interference do not pertain to clinical treatment.”

Antioxidants are substances that are thought to protect healthy cells from being damaged by toxins. While it is true that antioxidants protect healthy cells from being damaged by drugs like those used in standard chemotherapy, they seem to attack or further damage the DNA of cancer cells. There is no evidence whatsoever that they protect cancer cells from being killed off by radiation or chemotherapy.  The truth is that antioxidants support the cancer killing properties of these mainstream treatments while preserving the integrity of healthy cells.
According to the September 10, 2007 issue of The New Scotsman, Dr. Chi Dang, a professor of medicine and oncology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, antioxidants appear to work in a way that undermines a tumour’s ability to grow under certain conditions.  The higher the dose of the antioxidant, the less the tumour thrives.  The specific mechanism of how this works is debatable.  Proponents of high dose intravenous vitamin C therapy for cancer believe that the mechanism operating here is vitamin C’s stimulation of the production of hydrogen peroxide, a substance lethal to cancer cells but harmless to normal healthy cells.

Antioxidants play a positive role in destroying diseased cells such as the ones that occur in cancer. As is now very obvious from peer reviewed scientific studies, antioxidants are a must for any cancer patient, especially for those who are being treated with either radiation or chemotherapy.

FALSE NEWS #7 – Eating Yeast is Bad for You

Although it is true that people truly allergic to yeast should avoid it as much as possible, this is generally not true for the vast majority of health conscious people. Carlton Fredericks, Adelle Davis, and Paavo Airola, health gurus of the 1960s and 70s, all advocated yeast supplements for their rich content of B vitamins, chromium, selenium, other trace minerals, amino acids, enzymes, essential fatty acids, nucleic acids, and anti-stress polypeptides.

Brewer’s yeast and other yeast-derived products are effective remedies for menopausal hot flashes, weakened immunity, neurasthenia, anxiety, and diabetes.  They also help replace nutrients destroyed by prescription antibiotics and other drugs.

Harmless yeasts, including candida albicans, are everywhere in the body – the oral cavity, gastrointestinal tract, skin, and hair.  This is a normal fact of life. They can be found growing on practically all ripened fruits, vegetables, breads, baked goods, seeds, nuts, herbs, and anywhere that mould grows, including yeast-free bread.  They cannot be eliminated entirely and even those who take prescription anti-fungals can never claim to completely eradicate all the yeast ubiquitous in our environment as well as our bodies.

FALSE NEWS #8 – Mercury in Dental Fillings and Vaccines Is Safe

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the famous actor and father of an autistic child, Robert De Niro, recently made scientists an offer they shouldn’t refuse. They offered $100,000 to anyone who can offer proof of the safety of mercury in vaccines.(3) Unfortunately, to date, the $100K challenge offered by RFK Jr. and De Niro has brought no one forth with evidence of vaccine safety. There is no stampede of scientists bringing the proof needed to collect the $100,000. Looks bad for the drug companies so far. Maybe we have to wait a bit longer.

Of course, mercury is not the only toxin in vaccines. We also have aluminum, formaldehyde, glyphosate (pesticide), antibiotics, aborted fetal cells, and foreign genetic material in many of our vaccines. The safety of mercury in the body is controversial at best. The EPA and the WHO have indicated different levels of mercury that can safely be ingested or injected. What is certain is that mercury is both an immunity suppressor and a neurotoxin. Many in the conventional dental profession still use mercury, but the trend amongst more enlightened dentists is a movement away from using mercury dental amalgams.

Best Selling Books by Dr. Zoltan P. Rona:
Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin
Complete Candida Yeast Guidebook (co-authored with Jeanne Marie Martin)

Partial List of References and Resources

(1) “Ask the Doctor: Reader Concerned About Cholesterol Medication
(2) “Challenging the Statin Drug Dogma
(3) Global News report:

More references:

(Editor’s note: To see the complete Reference List for this article, or the entire Top 10 Nutrition Myths article, view the extended version posted at:


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