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Dietary Risks for Heart Disease, Stroke, and Type 2 Diabetes: The Importance in CLL

In science and medicine, information is constantly changing and may become out-of-date as new data emerge. All articles and interviews are informational only, should never be considered medical advice, and should never be acted on without review with your health care team.

This is not an article about CLL, but in a way it is.

The link between heart disease and cancer is becoming stronger. See

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is likely no exception.

There is recent evidence that even precancerous blood clones are associated with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease in this interesting New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) article:

Inflammatory processes underlie both killers.

Obesity increases not only heart disease, but cancer risk too. See and for more details. Weight reduction reduces the risk.

Diabetes increases the risk of developing cancer and metformin, a drug used to treat diabetes, lowers that risk.

But this Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) article is about diet and cardio-metabolic diseases, not cancer.

Take Aways:

  • Diet is a factor in 45% of cardio-metabolic deaths.
  • Excess sodium intake presents the highest risk.
  • Other dietary risks in order of importance are:
    • Low nuts and seeds
    • High processed meats
    • Low seafood omega-3 fats
    • Low vegetables
    • Low fruits
    • High sugar sweetened beverage

No surprise there.

For us with CLL, we also should be optimizing our diet by eating more of our nuts, seeds, rich omega-3 fat sources, veggies and fruits, and less salty foods, processed meat, and sugary drinks.

We should do this for two strong reasons.

First, we already have chronic lymphocytic leukemia. We don’t need another problem that, at worst could shorten our life and at best, complicate our CLL therapy.

Second, all these dietary findings and the obvious recommendations that arise from this research for preventing cardio-metabolic disease, while not proven to control our cancer, just make good sense for those of us with CLL.

Here is a link to the full JAMA article:

On a personal note, as many of you know, I am vegan (no meat, eggs or dairy), never drink sodas and watch my sodium intake. I get my Omega-3 from flaxseed oil, so I am a believer. In fact, I would go further and argue strongly for a plant-based diet to help us lower our risk of the two big killers, cancer and hear disease.

Here is a link to well-written, well-referenced article on this topic by my friend, Dr. Jim Werner from our website: Well worth a read.

Stay strong and eat healthy

Brian Koffman, MD 11/14/17