Cancer is a Metabolic Disease

December 24, 2012Cancer is  a Metabolic Disease Reference:  Thomas Seyfried,  PhD Cancer as a Metabolic Disease You thought cancer was 500 different diseases.  Cancer of the pancreas, the prostate, the breast, the colon and on and on.  Maybe not.  Our current method of treatment is to operate, radiate and poison the cancer.  Operations work. But radiation and chemo have sad limitations.  You get poisoned in the process and the cancer is only slowed down marginally.  Over the last 30 years, we have made only incremental improvements and despite much ballyhooing, our screening has not really saved many lives.  A close look at the data shows that all our screening work has not resulted in a decrease in the numbers of stage 3 and 4 cancers, as would be expected if we were really finding things early and eliminating them.  That’s troubling. Maybe we need to think about cancer differently and go back to the research bench.  If we can uncover the basic science of how cancer develops, we might come up with different ways of treating it.   Let me take you on a short journey of explanation and exploration and see if this makes sense to you. Otto Warburg was awarded a Nobel Prize back in the 1930s for the observation of cancerous cells being able to live in the absence of oxygen.  Why is that?   Well, fast forward 80 years and explain what he observed.   All cancers have a change in their basic metabolism. They go from consuming oxygen and glucose to make 38 ATP (that’s called oxidation) to burning glucose without oxygen but only getting 2 ATP molecules.  That’s called fermentation.    It’s much less efficient.  It also makes the cancer cell a voracious consumer of glucose.   Maybe then cancer is not 500 different diseases in 500 different tissues.  Maybe it is one disease that happens again and again in 500 different tissues, and is in fact the same disease of disordered metabolism in all situations.  It varies only by its expression based on the tissue it emerges from.  The key disorder would then be the dysfunctional process of energy breakdown.   Look at mitochondria in cancer under a microscope and see what you see.  You find disordered, disorganized mitochondria that can’t make energy anymore.    Is the first step to cancer a defect in the mitochondria?  Is that the common thread of all cancers?  Is that what makes cancers such voracious sugar eaters and inefficient energy burners? Now, if that’s the case, the cancer should be vulnerable to manipulation of its environment.  What would happen if you took away the glucose that it needed to live?   Human cells love glucose too, but normal human cells can learn to live with other energy nutrients.   Our normal cells with properly functioning mitochondria, can live with ketones, for example.  But that’s not what we like to eat.  We much prefer to eat sugar.   And the more sugar we eat, perhaps the more food we are giving to our cancer cells.  In fact, as we become more and more overweight in America, and our average blood sugar rises higher and higher, we seem to also be getting more and more cancer.  Is that coincidence or cause? Hence our reference in the book above.   Dr Sefried has taken the most aggressive cancer of all, the brain cancer called gliobastoma, a cancer that typically kills its owners in just months, and has showed that he can turn it into a much slower disease and even establish a remission.  He does it by feeding the victims a specialized diet that makes ketones in abundance, no carbs or glucose and giving them blocking drugs that block the fermentation process.  The cancer cells just fade away and can’t recover.  Without glucose they starve and the blocking drugs make their remaining energy sources go catastrophically down. WWW.  What will work for me?  The moral of this story is that all cancer thrives on glucose.  Without glucose it can’t grow.  The more overweight I am, the higher my blood glucose, the more welcoming my body is to nurturing a new cancer.   The more sugar I eat, the more energy I provide to the potentially cancerous cells within me.  I think I need to eat less sugar.  And lose weight? How about you?

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