Do Genomics and Metabolomics Solve Cancer? Maybe!March 21, 2021
Genomics, Cancer and Metabolomics - Big Words but May Solve Cancer
Just say the word, "Solve Cancer" and everyone perks up and pays attention. But the current method we are following hasn't worked. Chemotherapy of solid tumors only delays the cancer, for the most part. Surgery works, some of the time if you catch it early enough. Why are so many of us getting cancer, so young in life? Well, let's see what the field of Genomics and Metabolomics might offer.
First of all, genomics. If a woman has the BRCA gene, her risk for breast cancer/ovarian jumps a lot. (72% by age 80). But that's only 2% of breast cancers. Let's look into the human genome and measure all your SNPs, (genetic mutations we all carry which increase risks for various diseases. For example, having CYP 19A1 results in lower estrogen in postmenopausal women and better response to aromatase inhibitors if chemotherapy is warranted. You can take a deep dive into Vitamin D, inflammation, MTHFR, and many other genes to paint a picture of benefit or risk from various SNPs. Genes point to potential risk.
Metabolomics points to what is actually happening. What proteins and compounds does your body actually make in the environment you are living? That's metabolomics. With that in mind, here is the cutting edge of research right now, an edge that might offer a thread of hope.
The hypothesis: we start life in a healthy state, and our bodies were programmed to always try to get back to that state of optimal health. Our bodies were also programmed to stop being fertile, and then decline and get out of Dodge to allow the next generation to take over. Throughout most of human history, we lived to about age 35, with only 5-10% of humans living into their 50s or 60s. We now recognize that we have three stages of disease. 1) Healthy, no disease. 2) Apparantly healthy but measurable defects - a prodrome state. The prodrome state has "pressure" or "guidance" to swerve us away from optimal health towards illness and disability. 3) Disease. The treatment of disease by our modern health system returns us to 2) not 1). That's the problem. You cut out your cancer with surgery, and you are still in "Prodrome", even if you actually cut out every single last cancer cell. Getting back to 1 is the key to "Longevity".
Here is the example. Plasmalogens. Did you know that EVERY cancer victim can be shown to have very low plasmalogens? Control groups with no cancer have normal plasmalogen levels. If you cut the gastric, colon, pancreas cancer out, your plasmalogens are still low.
Here is the series of dominoes that the hypothesis entertains. The first step is our activation of a change in "oxidants", our "redox balance" if you will. This probably happens for a variety of reasons, the first being the over-availability of calories, particularly refined grains and sugars. We always have extra pressure on our mitochondria, pushing calories in instead of sucking them out. (This is why intermittent fasting and fast-mimicking have such power, we change that dynamic to giving our mitochondria a daily/monthly break to catch up on all that extra redox imbalance.
The second step is the tipping away from redox health by consuming the largest pool of antioxidant presence in our bodies: plasmalogens. Ah! That's where the prodrome comes in. Plasmalogens make up some 70% of our axon and synapse membranes, making them incredibly fluid and capable of rapid response and action. Our nerves are so precious and so delicate that we surround them with this halo of protection. Plasmalogens have an incredibly powerful antioxidant role because of a very special bond called a "vinyl-ether" bond. It stops the oxidizing effect of free oxygen radicals cold and doesn't let it propagate. But it depletes that one plasmalogen molecule. A new one has to be made to replace it. We become plasmalogen deficient, allowing the redox state to damage other processes in our body, setting off the pathway to cancer.....and a host of other illnesses.
That vinyl-ether bond is made in the peroxisome and nowhere else. The peroxisome is so valuable, every cell has them, making tons of plasmalogens when we are young. A mysterious process degrades the activity of the very first enzyme in that manufacturing, Dihydroxyacetone phosphate acyltransferase (DHAP-AT). It is the rate-limiting step of making new plasmalogens. As we age, DHAP stops working. Follow that thread? We don't make enough plasmalogens. They are the means by which we cool off inflammation. The needle tips to out-of-control metabolism. Cancer gets started.
Let's make it a little easier. It all started when you got that bowl of extra chips when Virginia got drubbed by Ohio at the NCAAs last night. You spent 4 hours n the couch watching TV instead of walking, and worse, you only had 8 hours of no calories. Your mitochondria get getting waves and waves of calories, never being calorie deficient so they could flush out those extra reactive oxygen species. You were in a constant state of "oxidation", as was Virginia. They looked rusty.
www. What will Work for me. Bummer. The direct link isn't quite there yet but the evidence for all the steps is. Can I take plasmalogens as a supplement? Yes. Do they help prevent cognitive issues? Yes. Do plasmalogens help the course of MS and ALS? Yes. Can I take plasmalogens to prevent cancer? Ah....unknown. Can I shift my redox balance with exercise? Yes, going for a walk in about 5 minutes. (Two stars). Can I intermittently fast every day for 13 hours? Yes. (Two stars). Can I do a monthly fast mimicking diet? Yes (four stars)
References: Lipids in Health and Disease, JAMA, American Jr Human Genetics, ProdromeSciences, Biochem and Biophys Acta, Biochemie, IUBMB Life,
1. What is the metabolite in our blood that we can measure that is low in every cancer? Answer: Plasmalogen fats
2. Where are plasmalogens made? Answer: In the cellular body called the peroxisome. Every cell has peroxisomes. You can measure their function by measuring the ratio of plasmalogens and other biochemical compounds.
3. What makes plasmalogens so valuable? Answer: They are the stop sign for radical oxygen species that damage the cell so badly.
4. As we age, what happens to our peroxisomes? Answer: for reasons yet unknown the first, rate-limiting step of making plasmalogens slows down. The enzyme Dihydroxyacetone phosphate acyltransferase (DHAP-AT) just runs out of gas. If you can say that with a mouthful of chips, I give up.
5. Why would a cancer form from low plasmalogens? Answer: Ah, there is a Nobel Prize waiting in that answer. And that is where many labs are probing and looking right now. Stay tuned. At least this column has given you the insight.