Just what is it about low insulin that is so protective?

Many things. Low insulin decreases the effective bioactivity of cancer-promotional hormones like IGF-I and estrogen by increasing the liver’s production of proteins that block their action. These hormones increase cancer risk by stimulating cell multiplication and thereby boosting the rate at which mutations occur in tissues sensitive to their action; these hormones also suppress a process called apoptosis that kills off many pre-cancerous cells before they can become cancers. Low levels of insulin and of IGF-I bioactivity also enable the protective process of autophagy, which is sort of like vacuuming out the old and damaged cell constituents so that they can be replaced with shiny new ones. And maintaining low insulin for most of the day enables your body to burn your stored fat so you have a chance to get leaner. Insulin is the primary hormonal signal that causes fat cells to store and retain fat, and it also blocks fat burning in other tissues. This probably explains why the Heller’s patients often lose a lot of weight. And getting lean or staying lean greatly reduces your risk for vascular disease, diabetes, and many cancers.

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