Cancer Cells LOVE Acid

June 07, 2011

Cancer Cells LOVE Acid Competency: Anti Cancer LifeStyle 

 Reference:  Lisanti et al Kimmel Cancer Center, Jefferson Medical School,  Published online in Cell Cycle, June 1, 2011 

 Our bodies are constantly maintaining a very delicate balance of acid and alkali.  We keep our pHs (our acid measurement) in a very precise narrow range.  Cancer cells don’t like that range.  They want more acid and they make a tiny microenvironment of acid around themselves.  That leads to a relationship of the cancer cells to the cells around them in which the cancer cells accelerate the aging of the cells around them in order to make a more acid environment. Dr. Lisanti had previously discovered that cancer cells stress out nearby cells, forcing them to make more lactate.  That makes their “micro-environment” more acidic, because lactate is an acid.  They cause “oxidative stress”, which then pushes the lactate-making process.  Oxidative stress is another word for inflammation in the connective tissue.   In effect, the cancer cells make the cells around them grow older faster by making them inflamed and stressed by higher amounts of oxidative stress. 

 The findings were so significant that they authors published three separate papers together to flesh out their work.  One paper documented the ability to predict which breast cancer patients would have metastases by the aging signature of the cells, in other words, their inflammation and aging pattern that looked almost identical to Alzheimer’s aging and inflammation.   A second paper documented the “lactate shuttle” in which the cancer cells force local cells to make more lactate (an acid) with a subsequent lactate shuttle into the cancer cell where it gobbles the lactate up.   The heavy duty scientific name of the lactate pumps is MCT1 and MCT4 .  These pumps exist in muscle and you feel them when you run so hard your muscles burn and you get terrible shin splints.  

Well, cancer cells are doing all that to the cells around them, giving them “cancer splints”.  They are acting like queen bees, making all the slave cells around them work hard to feed them. And that’s the mechanism the queen bee cancer cells use to get more lactate, and make more acid.  They use the body’s natural protective mechanism of inflammation and turn it on its head to stimulate themselves to grow. "What we found is that cancer cells are accelerating aging and inflammation, which is making high-energy nutrients to feed cancer cells," says Dr Lisanti.  The implications are huge.  We can retard cancer by making an alkaline environment, be eating antioxidants, by reducing our acid load. 

 WWW:  What Will Work for Me.  This is FASCINATING.  I’m totally wrapped up in this because it gives second-hand confirmation why eating tons of vegetables, bright-colored foods high in antioxidants reduces your risk of cancer.  It also confirms why we should think about our diet being “alkaline” – again, eating more vegetables and less meat.  I much prefer cheese and pizza.  Cancer does too!  Back to the dinner table: time to be serious about more fruits and vegetables.  Summer is here. Gorge! 

 Written by John E Whitcomb, MD Brookfield Longevity and Healthy Aging Clinic 17585 W North Ave, Suite # 160 Brookfield, WI 53045