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Ask Dr. Mike: Aspirin Resistance, and Protecting Yourself From Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Here you'll find the answers to a wealth of health and wellness questions posed by Healthy Talk fans. Listen in because what you know helps ensure healthy choices you can live with. Today on Healthy Talk, you wanted to know:

My dad was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). I want to take steps to prevent this from happening to me. Is there anything specific I should do?

There are some things you can do in order to help protect your chances. The first thing is diet, maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for developing CLL. Other foods like green tea, green vegetables, seafoods, nuts and seeds. Some other ways you can protect yourself is by not smoking, and limit your red meat intake.

Is it true that Aspirin doesn't work in some people?

Yes, this is true. About 25 percent of the population will not respond to Aspirin.

If you have a health question or concern, Dr. Mike encourages you to write him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call in, toll-free, to the LIVE radio show (1.844.305.7800) so he can provide you with support and helpful advice.

RadioMD Presents:Healthy Talk | Original Air Date: May 5, 2015
Host: Michael Smith, MD

You're listening to RadioMD. It's time to ask Dr. Mike on Healthy Talk. Call or email to ask your questions now. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call: 877-711-5211. The lines are open.

So, my first question and I think I want to spend some time with this because it's an opportunity for me to highlight one of the Life Extension protocols and if you—I've talked about these protocols before. At the Life Extension Foundation we have over--I don't know the number anymore. It keeps going up. I would say probably close to 200 health protocols and it includes theories on why these diseases develop, conventional treatments, lifestyle, integrative therapies. I mean, they're extremely up to date and comprehensive and so let's spend some time with this one.

The question is: "My dad was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia or CLL. I want to take steps to prevent this from happening to me. Is there anything specific I should do?"

Wonderful. Let's just go right—no. Not wonderful your dad has CLL. I'm sorry to hear about that but it's wonderful that you are wanting to take some proactive steps. Prevention is the key, right? And there's a history of this in your family, so that's awesome that you want to take charge and learn about things you can do to prevent CLL in your own body. So, let's talk about this the first thing—and again this is from the Life Extension protocol. Maintaining a healthy weight is extremely important. An estimated 20% of all cancers are caused by obesity and obesity is associated with an increased risk of developing leukemia.

A study of a little over 1000 leukemia patients and over 5000 control subjects found that higher body mass index was linked to greater risk of all these different forms of leukemia. AML, CML, and CLL, like your father has. So, we have to maintain a healthy weight. That's the first thing. Now, how you go about doing that? That's a whole other discussion, isn't it? So, maintain that healthy weight. Second thing, obviously, avoid smoking and there were some stats here that the protocol went over and I'm not going to get into that. Just don't smoke. Consume a healthy well-balanced diet.

This is from Nutrition and Cancer 2013:

"Three hundred twenty-three adults," —now in this case, the type of leukemia they had was called acute myelogenous leukemia, AML, but I do think we can extrapolate this to all these forms of leukemia.

"Three hundred twenty-three adults with AML and 380 controls found that AML risk was significantly decreased among those who consume the most dark green vegetables, seafoods, nuts and seeds. Risk was significantly increased among those who consume the most red meat."

So, just a nice balanced diet. You know, your protein from different sources, healthy carbs, healthy fats and maintain that healthy weight. So, don't overeat is a great way to prevent CLL, or any form of leukemia really. Now, when it comes to a specific nutrient, I think the best thing you can do is green tea. There is tons of green tea research in preventing and treating all forms of leukemia. Now, the main anti-oxidant in green tea is called "EGCG" and that's been the focus of most of the research. In two studies involving adults with leukemia, green tea consumption was associated with a 50% decrease risk of leukemia.

The association was dose dependent and that risk was reduced as the number of cups of tea consumed per day and number of years of tea consumption increased. So, the more you drink the better. I mean, obviously, there's a point where. You can't drink....Well, I couldn't drink ten cups of green tea a day. I struggle with one or two a day. I don't really even do that all of the time, so what might be a better option here would be maybe a couple of glasses of high quality green tea with maybe a capsule that has the EGCG standardized to it. So, that might be where the supplement itself rather than the tea drinking could come in. Here was another study about green tea. This was published in Clinical Cancer Research 2009:

"EGCG has been shown to inhibit tumor growth and in leukemia, cell line experiments it induced apoptosis."

That's that programmed cell death and it did that through activating this pathway known as the reactive oxygen species pathway. This pathway is often a pathway that is used by cells when it's time to die off and cancer cells shut that pathway off so they can grow more. Green tea reinitiated that pathway in cancer cells, so it's not just a prevention thing. It's also maybe even a treatment option for you. And specifically for your dad. Now this one piece of research is really interesting. This was published in Leukemia Research 2006 and it was a what are called "case reports" where they were looking at individuals who were using green tea, green tea supplements, green tea the drink. It comes from Mayo Clinic. It says here they detailed the cases of 3 early stage CLL patients.

So, again, this really could apply to your dad as well. On their own initiative, they began taking polyphenol-rich green tea extracts or green tea while under medical observation. All three had objective measurable improvement in leukemia signs or laboratory indices and an indication of cancer regression while taking only green tea extract and no other treatment. It was these case studies coming out of Mayo that really led to some of the research I just talked about in 2009 and 2013 came from these case studies. Green tea by itself--no other treatment--improved some of these markers for cancer progression.

So, very encouraging. So, if you want to prevent CLL, watch your weight, don't smoke, eat a balanced diet, try to limit the red meat and if you are going to do the red meat, grass-fed beef is the best way to go. It has a nice balance between Omega-6 and Omega-3. Take some green tea--2,3,4 glasses of green tea every day with a capsule that's standardized to a high potency EGCG.

Again the Life Extension protocol's are extremely detailed and they go into much more about green tea. They also mention the importance of Vitamin D in leukemia's, Vitamin C, curcumin, even melatonin and I've talked about that before on the show. Melatonin--most people think, "Oh, that's the sleep hormone," and it is but melatonin, because it does help you go through the proper sleep stages and it's going through those sleep stages where a lot of the repair and regeneration of healthy tissue occurs and people who take melatonin and sleep better have better outcomes when it comes to all cancers.

And so, melatonin is something to also consider, especially if you're not sleeping well and you want to treat or prevent, really, any cancer. Go check out the rest of the protocol at Just go ahead and just search. You go to that home page. There's a search bar at the top like at most websites and just type in "leukemia" and the protocol will pull up.

Alright spent some time there but I think that was important. I think I only have about 60 seconds left let me do this quick question here:

"Is it true that aspirin doesn't work in some people?"

Yes, it is true. About 25% of the population will not respond to aspirin. So, if you're on an aspirin regime because you've had a heart attack or a stroke or maybe it runs in your family or you're at high risk for those things, there's a good chance it may not work with you. There's a test you can actually take it's called "Aspirin Works". It's a test that's offered by many different labs and it will determine the ability of aspirin to have the positive effect in your body, so if you're on aspirin therapy that might be something you check out-- "Aspirin Works".

This is Healthy Talk on RadioMD.

I'm Dr. Mike.

Stay well.