The science is undeniable: preventing and even reversing cancer could be as simple as altering your diet and depriving the cancer of its favorite food – sugar.
This article was originall published by Well Being Journal and republished with permission. To view the original posting, click here.
In 1924, Otto Warburg, Ph.D., a Nobel Prize winning biochemist, proposed the hypothesis that cancer is a metabolic disease, that affects the way cells use food to make energy. Warburg believed that cancer cells exhibit a preference for using sugar to fuel themselves, even when the oxygen needed for normal cellular energy processes is available.1,2,3,4 He wrote:
“Cancer, above all other diseases, has countless secondary causes. But, even for cancer, there is only one prime cause. Summarized in a few words, the prime cause of cancer is the replacement of the respiration of oxygen in normal body cells by a fermentation of sugar.”1
Until recently, Warburg’s hypothesis had been marginalized by the persistent belief in the oncology world that cancer is a genetic disease. However, in his new book, Cancer as a Metabolic Disease: On the Origin, Management, and Prevention of Cancer, Thomas Seyfried, Ph.D., has put Warburg’s work back in the medical limelight.5
In his book, Seyfried argues that cancer is not a genetic disorder, but is, indeed, a metabolic disease. He suggests that the focus on genetic causes is why so little progress in curing or even treating cancer has been made. This is evident when we look at the milestones for cancer research. For the last forty years, the oncology research community has been focusing on genetic causes and drug-based treatments, and the results for the patients have been dismal.
What does it mean to say that cancer is a metabolic disease? Metabolic diseases are conditions in which the metabolism, or the making of energy from the food we eat, is dysfunctional or abnormal in some way.
Normal body cells are able to efficiently use the food we eat and the oxygen we inhale to complete normal cellular respiration and make adenosine triphosphate (ATP), our main cellular energy source. Most of this energy-making process happens in the mitochondria, tiny organelles that are the “powerhouses” of the cell. There are two types of primary food-based fuels that our cells can use to produce energy.
The first cellular fuel is glucose, which is also called blood sugar. Glucose mostly comes from carbohydrates in our diet, and is converted into energy in our cells via a process called glycolysis. In normal cells, glycolysis is a source of other molecules that flow into the mitochondria to complete normal cellular respiration.
The second type of cellular fuel, ketone bodies, come from fatty acids. There are various kinds, and they come from fats we eat or from the metabolism of fats that have been stored in our fat cells. This fat metabolism process is calledketogenesis, and the shift in metabolism that favors fats as the primary source of energy is called ketosis.
Ketone bodies, or ketones, are an important part of human metabolism. They act as a backup system when blood glucose levels fall, through either starvation or carbohydrate restriction. Ketones allow normal cells to be metabolically flexible, so to speak. When glucose levels are low, most normal cells will switch to using ketone bodies for fuel. Even the brain and nerve cells, which are highly dependent on glucose, can use some ketone bodies if there are enough of them circulating in the blood. This ability of a normal cell to use ketones when glucose is unavailable is a sign of good cellular health. It indicates the cell’s mitochondria are working correctly.
In contrast, cancer cells are unable to utilize ketones when glucose is low. Cancer cells have damaged mitochondria, and they lack metabolic flexibility. Since they can’t use ketones, cancer cells must have glucose to stay alive and grow.
In other words, most cancer cells are vulnerable to any metabolic change that denies them blood sugar or a source of sugar for fuel.
What Does the Scientific Evidence Say?
The general direction of cancer research in the last forty years has been overwhelmingly biased toward genetic factors, and little progress has been made toward a cure or even effective care. Thomas Seyfried has shown in his studies that cancer can be treated with metabolic dietary therapy with good results.
The types of cancers that are most vulnerable to a restricted ketogenic diet are generally those which are more visible on a FDG-PET scan. FDG stands for 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose, which is a drug used to detect cancers. The drug is a metabolically neutral glucose analog (it can’t be broken down like normal glucose) to which a radioactive isotope has been added. Since cancer cells have an affinity for glucose, the glucose analog in the injected drug accumulates in the tumor and the radioactive signal can then be easily seen on a PET (positron emission tomography) scan. The more sugar the particular type of cancer uses, the more likely that a restricted ketogenic diet will put metabolic pressure on it and slow or stop its growth.
This has been proven in several studies. In 1995, Linda Nebeling, Ph.D., and her research team put two young girls with brain cancer on a ketogenic diet with the idea that reducing glucose availability should slow the growth of the cancer. The results were very positive. There was a 21.8 percent decrease in glucose uptake at the tumor sites in both girls, indicating that tumor growth was slowing.6
Recently, Eugene Fine, M.D., completed a trial study using a ketogenic diet to treat ten people with advanced, so-called incurable cancer. His results were also promising. At least five of the patients were able to achieve very high ketone levels, which resulted in disease stabilization or remission. Patients also reported that when their ketones were elevated, the side effects of standard radiation therapy and chemotherapy weren’t as debilitating.7
Several studies have shown that ketone bodies help diminish the side effects and increase the efficacy of more mainstream cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy. In short, the presence of high levels of ketones make cancer cells more vulnerable to the standard cancer treatments. And there is compelling evidence that ketone bodies are protective of normal cells because they help reduce the inflammation caused by mitochondrial oxidative stress.8,9
Thomas Seyfried’s team has shown in several studies that calorie restriction in conjunction with a restricted ketogenic diet improves cancer outcomes because the diet can reduce tumor blood vessel growth; promote cancer cell suicide factors (apoptosis), destabilize the tumor DNA, reduce tumor size, reduce cancer-growth-stimulating IGF-1 hormone, and reduce inflammation.10-14
That’s a good track record for a dietary treatment. And a big, big plus for the patient because the diet is inexpensive, as cancer treatments go, and there are no toxic side effects associated with the diet as there are with mainstream treatments.
Treatment Goals of a Restricted Ketogenic Diet
The first and most important fact to know about using a restricted ketogenic diet is that it is very powerful, metabolically speaking. It is advisable, before implementing the diet, to make arrangements to have a health care professional who is knowledgeable about ketogenic diets monitor patient progress.
The successful implementation of a restricted ketogenic diet has three goals:
The primary goal is to reduce circulating blood sugar and insulin levels and, at the same time, increase ketone levels significantly. When blood sugar levels fall low enough and blood ketones are high, cancer cell metabolism and growth can be slowed or stopped. The purpose of higher levels of circulating ketones is to make it possible for the patient to tolerate the very low blood sugar levels that will starve the cancer. Normally, when blood sugar is very low, the brain triggers a hormonal cascade to tell the liver to break down glycogen, a form of stored glucose, to increase blood sugar. This results in the uncomfortable symptoms of low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia. But when ketones are available at high levels in the blood, the brain switches over to using ketones for about half of the fuel it needs, which reduces the likelihood of a hypoglycemic warning. This is metabolic flexibility in action.
The second goal is to use caloric restriction and targeted fasting to minimize any “after meal” blood sugar and insulin spikes that can fuel the cancer. Caloric restriction and intermittent fasting help reduce baseline glucose and insulin levels, and boost ketone production. The ketogenic diet is an excellent tool for this purpose because high-fat foods are very satiating, and elevated ketone levels have the metabolic effect of reducing hunger.
The third goal is to provide treatment for any side effects associated with the diet. This could include introduction of medications to support dietary goals, or changes to medications as the diet progresses. This is another reason why a doctor or a qualified nutritionist or dietitian should be involved to monitor progress when the diet is implemented.
Given the successful use of a restricted ketogenic diet to treat cancer in controlled studies, one would think that mainstream medicine would at least be curious about metabolic dietary therapy. But, so far, little has been disseminated in the media, and many of the big cancer organizations have not embraced the idea.
Last December, The 700 Club, a news program on CBN, ran a story on using a ketogenic diet to treat cancer.15 On the day that show aired, my Ketogenic Diet Resource website (www.ketogenic-diet-resource.com) received over 10,000 visitors, and it continued to receive several thousand visitors each day for weeks afterward.
Clearly, people were interested. I began to get emails from people all over the world, wanting to know how to implement a restricted ketogenic diet for cancer treatment. The emails were hopeful, and many people wrote and said they had asked their physician or a local dietitian for help, only to be refused because of either a lack of knowledge or an unwillingness to step outside the “standard of care.”
Quite a bit of information about ketogenic eating has been available on my website for some time, and Well BeingJournal has published two of my articles on ketogenic diets (November/December 2012, Vol. 21, No. 6, and July/August 2012, Vol. 21, No. 4); however, after several months of trying to cobble together bits and pieces of information to send back to the people who wrote, it became clear to me an ebook was needed so that a more comprehensive guide could be offered.
I contacted Thomas Seyfried, Ph.D., to ask for permission to reference material and studies from his book, and wrote to Dominic D’Agostino, Ph.D., a ketogenic diet expert at the University of South Florida to ask for assistance in writing the book. I’m happy to say the response was overwhelmingly positive from both gentlemen, and after several months of hard work, the book is now available on my website at: www.ketogenic-diet-resource.com/cancer-diet.html.
If you have cancer or know someone who does, I invite you to explore the possibility that a change in diet might help in the fight against that cancer. At the very least, it can offer some relief from the side effects of standard treatments.
To learn more about natural, evidence-based interventions for Cancer, use the GreenMedInfo.com Research Dashboard:
1. Warburg O. The Prime Cause and Prevention of Cancer, March 7, 2013.
2. Warburg O. On the origin of cancer cells. Science 1956;123:309–314.
3. Warburg O. The chemical constitution of respiration ferment. Science. 1928;68:437–443.
4. Warburg OH. The classic: The chemical constitution of respiration ferment. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2010 Nov;468(11):2833-9. Reprint.
5. Seyfried TN. Cancer as Metabolic Disease: On the Origin, Management, and Prevention of Cancer. Wiley: 2012.
6. Nebeling LC, Miraldi F, Shurin SB, Lerner E. Effects of a ketogenic diet on tumor metabolism and nutritional status in pediatric oncology patients: two case reports. J Am Coll Nutr 1995;14:202–208.
7. Fine EJ, Segal-Isaacson CJ, Feinman RD, Herszkopf S, Romano M, Tomuta N, Bontempo A, Sparano JA. A pilot safety and feasibility trial of a reduced carbohydrate diet in patients with advanced cancer. J Clin Oncol 2011, 29 (suppl; abstr e13573).
8. Abdelwahab MG, Fenton KE, Preul MC, Rho JM, Lynch A, Stafford P, Scheck AC. The ketogenic diet is an effective adjuvant to radiation therapy for the treatment of malignant glioma. PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e36197.
9. Stafford P, Abdelwahab M, Kim D, Preul M, Rho J, Scheck A. The ketogenic diet reverses gene expression patterns and reduces reactive oxygen species levels when used as an adjuvant therapy for glioma. Nutr Metab 2010, 7:74.
10. Seyfried TN, Sanderson TM, El-Abbadi MM, McGowan R, Mukherjee P. Role of glucose and ketone bodies in the metabolic control of experimental brain cancer. Br J Cancer. 2003 Oct 6;89(7):1375-82.
11. Seyfried TN, Sanderson TM, El-Abbadi MM, McGowan R, Mukherjee P. Role of glucose and ketone bodies in the metabolic control of experimental brain cancer. Br J Cancer. 2003 Oct 6;89(7):1375-82.
12. Seyfried TN, Mukherjee P. Anti-Angiogenic and Pro-Apoptotic Effects of Dietary Restriction in Experimental Brain Cancer: Role of Glucose and Ketone Bodies. In: Meadows GG, editor. Integration/Interaction of Oncologic Growth. 2nd ed. New York: Kluwer Academic; 2005.
13. Zhou W, Mukherjee P, Kiebish MA, Markis WT, Mantis JG, Seyfried TN. The calorically restricted ketogenic diet, an effective alternative therapy for malignant brain cancer. Nutr Metab (Lond) 2007;4:5.
14. Zuccoli G, Marcello N, Pisanello A, Servadei F, Vaccaro S, Mukherjee P, Seyfried TN. Metabolic management of glioblastoma multiforme using standard therapy together with a restricted ketogenic diet: Case Report. Nutr Metab(Lond). 2010 Apr 22;7:33.
After decades of wrongful cancer diagnoses and treatments, and millions harmed, the National Cancer Institute and high gravitas journals like JAMA finally admit they were wrong all along.
Back in 2012, The National Cancer Institute convened an expert panel to evaluate the problem of cancer’s misclassification and subsequent overdiagnosis and overtreatment, determining that millions may have been wrongly diagnosed with “cancer” of the breast, prostate, thyroid, and lung, when in fact their conditions were likely harmless, and should have been termed “indolent or benign growths of epithelial origin.” No apology was issued. No major media coverage occurred. And more importantly, no radical change occurred in the conventional practice of cancer diagnosis, prevention, or treatment.
Essentially, in one sleight of the semantic hand, entire swaths of the U.S., and global population, who thought they had “lethal cancer,” and were subsequently treated for it, often with violent procedures and treatments, were being told that “oops….we got that wrong. You never had cancer after all.”
If you look at the problem through just breast cancer overdiagnosis and overtreatment in the U.S. over the past 30 years, it has been estimated that approximately 1.3 million women were wrongly treated. Most of these women still have no idea they were victims, and many have identified with their “aggressors” in Stolkholm syndrome like fashion, because they think their “lives were saved” by unnecessary treatment, when in fact the side effects, both physical and psychological, have almost certainly reduced both the quality and duration of their lives.
At the time, I based this on available research on the natural history of DCIS, and the extremely high survival rates from DCIS, as well as the fact that breast cancer related mortality had not declined in pace with the expansion of so-called “zero” or “early stage” cancers detected through mammography screenings, as would be expected if these diagnoses actually represented harmful clinical entities. To learn more about this still underreported tragedy in women’s healthcare, watch Dr. Gilbert Welch’s video on the topic below:
An international panel of doctors has decided that a type of tumor that was classified as a cancer is not a cancer at all.
As a result, they have officially downgraded the condition, and thousands of patients will be spared removal of their thyroid, treatment with radioactive iodine and regular checkups for the rest of their lives, all to protect against a tumor that was never a threat.
Their conclusion, and the data that led to it, was reported Thursday in the journal JAMA Oncology. The change is expected to affect about 10,000 of the nearly 65,000 thyroid cancer patients a year in the United States. It may also offer grist to those who have been arguing for the reclassification of some other forms of cancer, including certain lesions in the breast and prostate.
The reclassified tumor is a small lump in the thyroid that is completely surrounded by a capsule of fibrous tissue. Its nucleus looks like a cancer but the cells have not broken out of their capsule, and surgery to remove the entire thyroid followed by treatment with radioactive iodine is unnecessary and harmful, the panel said. They have now renamed the tumor. Instead of calling it “encapsulated follicular variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma,” they now call it “noninvasive follicular thyroid neoplasm with papillary-like nuclear features,” or NIFTP. The word “carcinoma” is gone.
Many cancer experts said the reclassification was long overdue. For years there have been calls to downgrade small lesions in the breast, lung and prostate, among others, and to eliminate the term “cancer” from their name. But other than the renaming of an early stage urinary tract tumor in 1998, and early stage ovarian and cervical lesions more than two decades ago, no group other than the thyroid specialists has yet taken the plunge.
In fact, said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society, the name changes that occurred went in the opposite direction, scientific evidence to the contrary. Premalignant tiny lumps in the breast became known as stage zero cancer. Small and early-stage prostate lesions were called cancerous tumors. Meanwhile, imaging with ultrasound, M.R.I.’s and C.T. scans find more and more of these tiny “cancers,” especially thyroid nodules.
“If it’s not a cancer, let’s not call it a cancer,” said Dr. John C. Morris, president-elect of the American Thyroid Association and a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic. Dr. Morris was not a member of the renaming panel.
Dr. Barnett S. Kramer, director of the division of cancer prevention at the National Cancer Institute, said, “There’s a growing concern that many of the terms we use don’t match our understanding of the biology of cancer.” Calling lesions cancer when they are not leads to unnecessary and harmful treatment, he said.”
The article goes on to discuss the fact that while some major medical centers are starting to treat encapsulated thyroid tumors less aggressively, this is still not the norm in the rest of the country. It is a consistent pattern that there is an over decade long lag between changes in evidence and the clinical practice of medicine, which is therefore far less “evidence-based” as is commonly claimed and/or assumed.
Clearly, the truth about cancer’s true nature, and the cancer industry’s misrepresentations, is beginning to come to light via the very institutions like JAMA and the major media who have been responsible, historically, for generating so many commonly held misconceptions on the topic.
Remember the last time you used your phone and it left a nice warm spot on your face? – Is that causing cancer?
Michael Aranda tells you all about the radiation on your cell phone.
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According to the WHO’s new report, processed meats cause cancer, and red meat likely causes cancer.
The Washington Post reports that twenty-two scientists were invited by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer to assess the association between more than sixteen types of cancer and the consumption of red meat and processed meat.
The scientific panel spent seven days in early October examining more than 800 epidemiological studies from the U.S., Europe, Japan, Australia, and elsewhere. Multiple ethnicities and global diets were reviewed during the study which was published in the journal Lancet Oncology.
On October 26th, the WHO group “classified consumption of processed meat as ‘carcinogenic to humans’ on the basis of sufficient evidence for colorectal cancer,”PBS reports.
Cancer of the colon is the second most lethal form of cancer in the United States, responsible for 50,000 deaths per year. Because “knowledge is power,” hopefully this news will inspire millions to take preventative action and adopt a plant-based diet for their health and the good of the planet.
In addition, the “consumption of red meat was also positively associated with pancreatic and with prostate cancer.”
Processed meat now falls into “group 1,” which means it ranks as high as tobacco smoking, the most dangerous variants of human papillomavirus (HPV) and asbestos exposure in terms of causing cancer. Red meat is classified as a “group 2A” carcinogen.
With this news, a definite assertion has been made on the connection between eating meat and cancer. Many studies in recent years have linked to the two activities, but no source has outright stated what the WHO declared this week.
Don’t expect the beef industry to accept the organization’s recent findings, however. Said Shalene McNeill, executive director of human nutrition at the national Cattlemen’s Beef Association, to the Washington Post:
“We simply don’t think the evidence support any causal link between any red meat and any type of cancer.”
Regardless, the organization’s new position aligns with the views of other health agencies like the World Cancer Research Fund, which has said there is convincing evidence that processed meats cause bowel cancer.
What are your thoughts? Comment below and share this news!
“In India, where turmeric is widely used in the diet, the prevalence of four common U.S. cancers—colon, breast, prostate and lung—is 10 times lower,” says Goodman. Photo credit: Shutterstock
At the age of 32, Elissa Goodman was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
At that moment she recalled her teenage years tagging along with her chronically ill mother to a health ranch in Rancho La Puerta, Mexico, where she witnessed her mother and other women eschew traditional medicine in favor of a holistic approach centered around fresh, nutritious foods. Her mother was able to wean herself off of medication, so, facing her own health crises, Goodman committed to changing her diet to emphasize plant-based foods. Six months later, she was cancer-free.
Many people like Goodman—who has dedicated her life tonutrition and healthy living—believe that focusing on nutrition rather than relying entirely on conventional cancer treatments could make all the difference in fighting the disease. “One of the most basic and most powerful ways to reduce the risk ofcanceris through diet and lifestyle,” says Laura Kraber, a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner who works withDr. Frank Lipman. And this isn’t fringe science: According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), a diet rich in plant-based foods vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans can helpprevent the onset of cancer.
While there’s no definitive answer to whether or not any food could directly prevent or treat cancer, there are some things we know for sure. Cancer cells thrive on sugar and high insulin levels can also increase inflammatory responses in the body, which are a factor in the onset of cancer. Processed meat that contains nitrates can cause inflammation as well.
The idea behind an anti-cancer diet is to strengthen the immune system and addresschronic inflammatory symptoms. According to Goodman and the American Institute for Cancer Research, here are some beneficial foods to embrace:
1. Leafy Greens
Spinach,kale, arugula, romaine, collard greens, Swiss chard—they all have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. According to the AICR, carotenoids found in these veggies caninhibit the growth of certain breast and skin cancer cells.
2. Cruciferous Vegetables
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, rapini, cabbage and turnips are high in B vitamins and magnesium, as well as polyphenols, which can slow the growth of cancer cells. And since excess body fat can increase the risk of several types of cancer, the dietary fiber in these non-starchy vegetables can help—particularly withcancer in the mouth, pharynx and larynx, esophagus and stomach.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
“In India, whereturmericis widely used in the diet, the prevalence of four common U.S. cancers—colon, breast, prostate and lung—is 10 times lower,” says Goodman. The active substance in turmeric is curcumin, which can decrease inflammation andhelp the body detect and destroy mutated cells.
According to Goodman, wholegingerextract caninhibit growth of certain cancer cellsby interrupting their cell-cycle progression, impairing cancer reproduction.
5. Reishi Mushroom
“This powerful medicinal mushroom has been researched for its ability to prevent cancer cell growth, stop tumor and cancer from metastasizing, [and] build immune strength and immune response against advanced stage cancers,” says Goodman.
Probiotics like sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha and tempeh welcome beneficial microflora into the gut and regulate its pH balance, as well as maintain health of the digestive tract. Goodman adds, “the natural lactic acid and fermentative enzymes, which are produced during the fermentation process, have a beneficial effect on the metabolism and a curative effect on diseases like cancer.”
Photo credit: Shutterstock
The high concentration of the omega-3 fat, alpha-linolenic acid, eases inflammation. Flaxseeds are also a potent source of magnesium, manganese, thiamin and dietary fiber.
A polyphenol called resveratrol, abundant in the skin of grapes, has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powers. AICR lab studies found that resveratrol could inhibit cancer and tumor growth in lymph nodes, the liver, stomach and breasts. It’s also been able to kill tumors from leukemia and colon cancer.
It sounds counterintuitive—after all, high estrogen, which is found in soy, is linked to breast cancer risk. But human studies backed by the AICR show that soy actually doesn’t increase the odds of developing this disease. The dietary fiber can in fact contribute to cancer prevention. To avoid GMO soy, go organic every time.
A healthy diet will go a long way, but cancer is no joke. As Kraber says, “Although alternative treatments and protocols do exist, radiation and chemotherapy are the most successful cancer treatments that medicine currently has to offer.”
So consider these nutritious foods as a way to boost the cancer treatment that’s right for you, but obviously consult a doctor when it comes to making a life-changing choices about how best to fight the disease.