Cancer: An Odyssey Part 1: Are We Fighting The Right Battle?
“My doom has come upon me; let me not then die ingloriously and without a struggle, but let me first do some great thing that shall be told among men hereafter.”
— Hector of Troy, The Iliad.
So go the last words of the warrior of the great warrior Hector of Troy upon facing his own mortality, according to Homer in The Iliad. Is there no greater doom in the modern world than a diagnosis of cancer? Cancer, along with cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative diseases compose the Big 3 killer diseases of civilization.
But, does this have to be the case?
As some of you already know and the rest of you will now be finding out, my father was recently diagnosed with cancer. Now, the doctors at the hospital assume that this is the end, as we refused conventional allopathic treatments, but are we to surrender him to die ingloriously and without a struggle?
“Did you suppose, my father, that I could tear myself away and leave you? Unthinkable; how could a father say it?”
— Aeneas of Troy, The Aeneid.
No, as another Trojan hero, Aeneas, spoke in his tale The Aeneid, by Virgil, it is unthinkable that one could presume I would take this diagnosis as a death sentence. As someone who has made nutrition and health his life's passion, to abandon my family is not an option.
Over my time in the health community, I have encountered some very intriguing ideas regarding the nature of cancer and the appropriate course of action. It is my goal over this upcoming series to dive into the theories I have put together and provide some of the mechanisms by which I believe I will be able to save my father.
Unfortunately, this protocol is the true definition of an n=1, and as you will see, much of it rebels against the current conventional wisdom regarding the cancer paradigm. But this is often the way breakthroughs are made in science. If Nobel laureate Barry Marshall didn't drink a Petri dish full of H. pylori, we may not have found the true root cause of ulcers.
My good friend Michael Roesslein over at Rebel Health Tribe uses a quote from Carl Oglesby, “It isn't the rebels who cause the troubles of the world, it's the troubles that cause the rebels.”
The prevailing theory of cancer, boiled down to its simplest form is that a series of mutations occur in the DNA which result in uncontrolled cell growth and division, that avoid inborn destruction mechanisms and subsequently invade other tissues, with metabolic changes as a consequence . Despite the widespread acceptance of and unrelenting research into the genetic theory, cancer still remains one of the most deadly and devastating diseases in the Western world.
Conversely, in the billion dollar chicken or the egg question, renowned Nobel laureate, Otto Warburg proposed that cancer at its heart was a metabolic disorder resultant from faulty mitochondrial respiration .
“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.”
— Otto Warburg
Normally, our cells generate energy in the form of ATP by way of oxidative phosphorylation, whereby the mitochondria, breaks down, or oxidizes, the nutrients we consume in the presence of oxygen. Inadequate oxygen availability results in a switch to anaerobic glycolysis, whereby lactate is produced and used as the fuel, as seen in intense exercise. But, what is interesting is that cancer cells can make that switch to glycolysis even in the presence of oxygen in a process termed aerobic glycolysis .
It has been proposed that an accumulation of oxidative damage to the mitochondria causes an evolutionary regression of cancer cells, whereby they ferment sugars and create their own hypoxic (decreased oxygen) environment . This paired with cross-talk between the mitochondrial and nuclear DNA leads to the mutations and subsequent tumor growth seen in cancer .
Now, all of this brings us down a much deeper rabbit hole that will be explored over the future articles of this series, where we will discuss the nutritional and therapeutic options to take advantage of this altered state. But, if you really want to dig deeper yourself before then, Life: The Epic Story of our Mitochondria by Dr. Lee Know, is an amazing resource on the proper functioning of the mitochondria and how issues therein can result in disease states, such as cancer. Whereas Tripping over the Truth by Travis Christofferson and Cancer as a Metabolism Disease by Dr. Thomas Seyfried represent the lay and technical books for its application to cancer, respectively.
However, regardless of whether we frame cancer as random mutations that cause uncontrolled growth or mitochondrial damage that disables the bodies ability to self regulate, the standard line of treatment, i.e. chemotherapy and radiation, is like engaging in nuclear warfare in response to a hostage crisis (which is basically what cancer cells are doing, by hijacking a previously healthy cell).
That is a common problem in the Western medicine paradigm, as also illustrated by the widespread overuse of antibiotics and their effects on the gut microbiome, whereby we immediately use the strongest and often most dangerous methods to destroy everything and hope that we can recover from the subsequent fallout.
Unfortunately, just as antibiotic misuse can result in resistant strains with concurrent a compromised microflora, chemotherapy and radiation can often result in hardier cancer cells, along with a compromised immune system .
A more appropriate response to a hostage situation is to send in a precision team (S.W.A.T. in this scenario) in a version of siege warfare. Now, you may have picked up on the framing device I have been using, regarding the Trojan War as an allegory for cancer, as it applies perfectly here.
Troy was a city under siege by the Greeks for ten years, with an impenetrable wall that no one was previously able to breach. However, using a little bit of ingenuity by way of the Trojan Horse, the Greeks were able to win by invading from the inside out.
Does cancer not represent what appears to be an insurmountable wall that can't be beaten and often takes years of agonizing battle to even possibly subdue?
As such, with a little bit of ingenuity, as exhibited by the Greeks, to bypass its defenses and by using its own isolation against it, we may be able to solve the puzzle to defeat it.
Siege warfare is primarily predicated on starving out the enemy and potentially inducing internal strife and disease, which is exactly what we will examine in the future articles.
By using a nutritional approach which starves the cancer of its main sources of fuel, e.g. glucose and glutamine, we can start to weaken it. Then, by using therapies which increase internal struggle, via oxidative stress, infiltrate its defenses, a la the Trojan Horse and strengthen the attacking army, i.e. the bodies own immune system, we may have crafted the strategy to win the war.
Stick with me through the future articles as I detail the therapies, as well as the theories and mechanisms behind each, that I am using with my dad.
“...(S)ince I for my part, will not run from him out of the sorrowful battle, but rather stand fast, to see... if I can win it.”
— Hector of Troy, The Iliad.
1) Hanahan, D. & Weinberg, R.A. (2000). The hallmarks of cancer. Cell. Vol. 100(1):57-70.
2) Warburg, O. (1956). On the origin of cancer cells. Science. Vol. 123(3191):309–314.
3) Seyfried, T.N., Flores, R.E., Poff, A.M. & D’Agostino, D.P. (2014). Cancer as a metabolic disease: implications for novel therapeutics. Carcinogenesis. Vol. 35(3):515-527.
4) Davila, A.F. & Zamorano, P. (2013). Mitochondria & the evolutionary roots of cancer. Phys Biol. Vol. 10(2):026008:8 pp.
5) Singh, K.K., Kulawiec, M., Still, I., Desouki, M.M., Geradts, J. & Matsui, S. (2005). Inter-genomic cross talk between mitochondria & the nucleus plays an important role in tumorigenesis. Gene. Vol. 354:140-146.
6) Enriquez-Navas, P.M., Wojtkowiak, J.W. & Gatenby, R.A. (2015). Application of evolutionary principles to cancer therapy. Cancer Res. Vol. 75(22):4675-4680.
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