Myeloma and Diet: A Possible Connection

I spent most of this past weekend baking butter-ridden, U.S.-style Xmas cookies and (of course!) tasting them since every year I try new recipes that have to pass my own personal and very strict “quality control” tests.  Most of these cookies are full of stuff that’s no good at all for us (oh yes even white sugar and flour), with the possible exception of my oatmeal spice ones, which contain turmeric as well as other spices. So of course today I am posting about a study that makes a possible connection between what we eat and the risk of developing myeloma. Cookies don’t seem to be on the list of foods that prevent myeloma (although I may work on changing that). Hmmm, I wonder why… 

The full study, published in the December 2007 issue of "Cancer Causes Control," is available online, see: It was conducted in Connecticut on 179 women between the ages of 21 and 84, diagnosed with myeloma between 1996 and 2000. Since you can read it on your own, I won’t go into too much detail. I would like, however, to highlight a few of the most significant points:

  1. “Only a handful of studies have evaluated the association between diet and multiple myeloma, and results have been inconclusive.” Previous studies, of course.
  2.  “Intakes of protein, fat, and dietary fiber were not associated with multiple myeloma risk.”
  3. “Intake of vitamin A was associated with a statistically significantly decreased risk of multiple myeloma.”
  4. “There were no clear associations between consumption of various fruits and multiple myeloma risk.”
  5. “There was a suggestion of an elevated risk among individuals within the highest quartile of hard candy, jam, jelly, honey, and syrup […] consumption.” HONEY? Oh, bother!
  6. “alcohol intake was inversely associated with multiple myeloma.” Coffee and tea made no difference.
  7. The study gives us another reason to take omega-3, since these “essential fatty acids found in fish, have been shown to limit mouse myeloma cell growth in an experimental study.” Interestingly, omega-3 was a crucial supplement in the Washington Post story that I referred to in yesterday’s post. The cancer world appears to be a small world after all…

The study found that some dairy foods were associated with risk of developing myeloma: ice cream (drat!), custards and cream soups. Vice versa, higher intakes of fish, tomatoes, fruit, vegetables and alcohol were associated with a lower risk.

And read this: “In laboratory studies, vitamin D has been shown to inhibit growth of myeloma cells by inducing cell cycle arrest, down-regulating the anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 protein, and increasing the activity to caspase 3 protease, a regulator of apoptosis…” Okay, I admit, I have been collecting heaps of material on vitamin D, and I also have begun taking vitamin D3 once a week (thanks to my vitamin-D-obsessed-with-good-reason friend Sherlock), but I haven’t gotten around to dealing with this topic mainly because it’s so incredibly HUGE. I will figure out something over the holidays.

The study’s finding about tomatoes is interesting. One usually associates lycopene with prostate cancer prevention, but here it is suggested as being important in the prevention of myeloma, too. Oh, and the business about alcohol intake doesn’t mean we should all become heavy drinkers. It simply means, according to the study, that the flavonoids in beer and the resveratrol in wine may have a preventive effect. These researchers have the humility (I like that!) to point out that their sample size was very small and specific, that they had a low response rate and so on. More and better research is needed, clearly. Nonetheless, it was an interesting read.

Final point: I wonder if I have enough time before Xmas to come up with a luscious turmeric tomato broccoli codfish cookie? Hmmm.


  1. Hi Margaret

    Sorry not been back since last week, I run a scout group and what with all the end of term school and scout events I’ve been kept busy. Anyway, have you had your vitamin D and B12 tested?
    When I eventually persauded my doctor to test mine 18 months ago, my vitamin D was low and my B12 on the low side of normal, for the last 18 months I have made sure I get two sun holidays a year and supplement with a large dose of Vitamin D3 as natural fish oil which is also high in Vitamin A. I get tested regulary to make sure I’m not overdosing, I have found that it has improved the way I feel. Even though I do high doses my levels are for most of the year at ok levels by having a boost of sun twice a year I then have much better results, this obviously would indicated that my body dosen’t process the vitamin D supplements very effectively and sunlight seems for me to be by far the best method of boosting my levels.

    The reason I have had my B12 levels tested is because it is known to be effected by myeloma. This to my mind definately points to something going on in the stomach as the processing of this vitamin is done between the stomach and the small intestine this site has some very interesting info and has started a small study to test their theory (this is the doctor who supported Michael Gerin Tosh, A good overview of B12 is given on the cancer active site, surprise surprise in one study 77 per cent of people with vitamin B-12 deficiency had helicobacter pylori
    There is other info out there, but I keep losing my internet link and it’s late, so I will try and post this and come back another time.

    All the best, by the way congratulations on your fantastic results. I see my onocologist on Thursday, fingers crossed, I suspect there is no change, though for the future I hope that the increase in my turmeric supplements will show improvement in my tests.

    Thinking of you and all your followers


  2. Hi again,

    well I was going to bed, but got my link back and followed a line of research i’ve been meaning to look at for some time. I’m too tired to pick out the relative bits, but I thought you or some of the other bloggers may be interested as a follow up on the stress factor. Hers’s the link I really am retiring now, as I am not doing myself any favours, stressing my body by staying up late!!

    Best wishes


  3. Margaret, thank you for this great article… hmmm very interesting and with lots of nice references to be read over the holidays 🙂

    Sue, thank you for bringing up the B12 issue. I think we should try to understand more about it. The volume of my red cells is quite huge and my GP told me the other day that it can depend on poor absorption of vit. B12. I’ll therefore have it tested in January. We should keep an eye on it. Sue, are you taking vit. B12?
    Btw, in the first link you posted (canceraction) I can only see a title. Is that correct?


  4. Sue,
    I think you are spot on with your vitamin D recommendation. I discovered that the greatest drop in my paraprotein level was after a 5 week holiday in Australia last year. But I’ve only just realised that it might be due to the fact that I am vitamin D deficient and so I added it as a dietary supplement about a month ago. I feel much better now too.

    There is quite a lot of info about vit D preventing cancer on the internet. In fact, it was mentioned on the BBC only yesterday.
    Wikipedia is also worth reading:

    I have also taken B12 supplements in the past but, although I have adopted a mainly vegetarian diet, I don’t think B12 is as important as D in my case.

    Best wishes,

  5. Pingback: top 10 diets
  6. Hi Anna

    If you look to the top right of title there are some headings, protocol etc. click on these. I’m not sure, whether they have moved forward with the study, as I tried finding more uptodate information and couldn’t.

    I take a non yeast B complex supplement by biocare and Blue green algea (the jury is out as to whether b12 is bio available from this, but it certainly has a lot of anicdotal eviendance of helping people to recover their health.) I have also taken in the past liquid vit b12, but my last test was much better and I decided I would see what happened if I only took the B complex.


  7. I took terrible care of myself for many years. This must have contributed some to my contracting myeloma. I also worked in some toxic environments. I had a stressful life too. I think all of these things contribute to the development of any disease, yet there are people who seem the picture of healthy living who have MM. The other day, Dr. Durie was on the NBC Nightly News. He said that some people are more sensitive to toxins, which he believes cause MM. More here:


  8. This is my first visit to this website and I am very interested in its content. I have MM. I was diagnosed on 4-9-02, had a BMT in October, 2002, and my “M” protein marker has been stabile at .1 g/dl. Only recently has it come in at .2 g/dl. Nonetheless, I am interested in learning more about diet, curcumin especially. Thank you for providing this information. I tell my doctor, “Now that I am living so long, I need to think about the future.”

    I am finding more and more folks who are living many years past diagnosis. I am thrilled that softer remedies such as curcumin may be beneficial to removing or interrupting the condition called Multiple Myeloma. Thank you for your efforts to get this information out to the folks that need it.

    Warm regards,
    Pat Forber, Denver, Colorado

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