Dr. Brian Works On His Deck Clean
Dr. Brian Petroff is a gym member you rarely see unless you are in the gym at an off hour. Brian is a research physician currently looking at cancer and how different variables impact it’s growth or recession. This includes various lifestyle and supplement routines.
As a boy scientist, I bend his ear whenever I can to learn more. I got Brian to answer a few questions on current items of interest.
Q: Tell our readers about your current role ?
I’m a translational scientist in breast and ovarian cancer research, shuttling back and forth between promising basic science and human cancer prevention trials trying to identify new and improved ways to prevent cancer in women. I’m exposed to a fair bit of nutrition as a cancer prevention strategy, but my main specialty is hormonal effects on cancer risk.
Q: I am a believer in supplementation. I take a multi product, Omega 3, Vitamin D and some spices like cinnamon and turmeric Do you take any supplements?
I’m a big believer in fish oil and vitamin D as well as multivitamin to cover the bases, both from personal experience and the work I’ve seen in cancer prevention. Curcumin (tumeric) is another up and coming natural product for cancer prevention as well as green tea and flaxseed.
Q:Green tea is showing up in a number of nutraceuticals. Beside a potential link to cancer prevention are you aware of any fat cell apoptosis findings?
I know that work is out there – my overall impression is that green tea can be helpful for fat loss in a very modest way, but then again, every little bit helps when you’re fighting body fat.
Q: Is there a blanket recommendation for supplements at this point and what do we know specifically about Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Omega 3 (Fish Oil).
Even the experts hesitate to make blanket recommendations, but my response would be that most people need more of all of those. We know pretty definitively that vitamin D levels are often too low with decreased sun exposure and increased sunscreen use, although this has improved as more people supplement. For fish oil, we know that western diets typically skew the omega 3:omega 5 ratio and fish oil can help to correct this resulting in a number of health benefits.
Q: What is your position on dietary practice? Paleo, Zone, SAD ?
I personally am a lowish carb/high protein guy, but have always been more focused on my workout than my diet. I know this is mistaken, but then again my goals have always been strength rather than body composition.
Q: T.S. Wiley penned a book called LIGHTS OUT and drew links with the advent of the light bulb and cancer. Has your work found any link between disturbed (shortened) sleep and malignant tumors ?
I’m not familiar with that one but have seen some basic studies showing impact of altered circadian rhythmicity on carcinogenesis.
Q:So a shift worker (24 on / 24 off) is going to pay a price with their health ?
It’s possible. I am aware of several studies showing a slight increase in cancer incidence (and several other diseases) when you look at night shift workers vs. daytime workers as populations. However, these studies are generally confounded, making it difficult to dissect the effect of photoperiod from other things that are different about night shift workers. Personally, I have worked both shifts and feel much healthier on day shift, like most people. I think a big problem with night shift work is the inability to get good quality sleep. It sounds simple but we know that is very important.
Q: Do people over due monostructural cardio routines like running and cycling?
That’s an easy one for me. Yes. I think everyone benefits from strength training, almost regardless of your goals.
Q:Is there a mortality link with excessive monostructural cardio plans?
I’m not aware of specific mortality data on that issue – you probably know that area better than me. What I can say is that the trend for weight loss interventions for cancer prevention studies is away from relying on one exercise or just dietary intervention. Like everyone else, people in the cancer prevention arena are finding that getting the weight (i.e. fat) off, while not easy, is not so difficult as keeping it off. So we’re moving to multifactorial and even changing regimens for diet and exercise studies. I like the idea (I think it I heard it from Dan John) that weightlifting increases the “size of your glass” (i.e. your total metabolic capacity or degree of flux) making fat loss goals easier. Fat loss, of course, would benefit mortality.
Q: What about alcohol consumption? Is it generally safe?
Alcohol consumption is a dose dependent minor risk factor for breast and ovarian cancer (and lots of others). However, resveratrol (a main pigment in red wine) is being actively studied for its beneficial impact on cardiovascular health and cancer risk.
Q:Do we know at this point how much wine (resveratrol) we need to consume to get the benefit ?
Well, I don’t want to oversell it. 1-2 glasses per day is the usual figure given for the health benefits. We haven’t established that for cancer yet.
Q: What have you unearthed regarding intermittent fasting?
One of my students came in last week with a draft of a review article he is writing mainly focused on intermittent fasting as a cancer prevention strategy. There are some animal studies out there showing cancer prevention with alternate day calorie restriction and some human data showing weight loss and benefit to diabetics. I think the most exciting thing about IF is the potential for better long term compliance. Also, it makes some sense that this approach might get around the resetting of nutrient homeostasis (going into “conservation ” mode) that plagues some of the standard diets.
Q: How are your lifts progressing?
Never fast enough, but I’ve had a number of PRs over the past year. I lifted in my first O lifting meet a couple of months ago and had a PR there. Coach Dan is a big help.
Q: Do you have a post exercise nutrition practice?
Broadly speaking, I try to get some calories and protein down ASAP after a workout. I’ve never settled on a particular product, although chocolate milk is alway a favorite (and cheap).
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