Sunday, November 6, 2016

Tripping Over the Truth about Cancer

Tripping Over theTruth: The Return of the Metabolic Theory of Cancer Illuminates a New and Hopeful Path to a Cure by Travis Christofferson is a surprisingly interesting collection of stories about the history and findings of cancer research.

One of the stories in the book is about Dr. Warburg who in 1924 discovered that cancer cells can only live on glycogen (sugar) and later that cancer cells have fewer mitochondria than healthy cells. Dr. Warburg’s  extraordinary brilliance, his personal sacrifices to contribute to understanding cancer, and the dedication of his students make the story an inspiring read.

The book describes three shocking revelations from recent discoveries made at the multinational Cancer Genome Atlas project funded by the National Cancer Institute, started in 2006.

First: most cancers are not caused by genetic damage to DNA, which mainstream medicine believes (except Dr. Warburg and his students) to be the primary cause of cancer since the discovery of DNA in the 1950s.

Second: the body does a remarkably good job of repairing DNA; most cancer cells have far less DNA damage than anyone realized, which destroyed the accepted model of cancer known as the “Somatic Theory of Cancer“.

Third: tumors are rarely comprised of just one type of cancer cell and instead consist of thousands of genetically different cancer cells. This explains why cancer growths are so resistance to chemotherapy and radiation. Cancer growths with thousands of versions of DNA are far more likely to survive compared to a mass of cells with the same DNA. Sadly, it also explains why if cancer returns it is much harder to treat; the cancer cells that survived initial treatments are not affected by the same subsequent treatments.

The book describes a discovery in 1978 that strongly pointed to cell mitochondria damage being the cause of cancer. Cancer researcher Cyril Darlington found that  x-rays with enough energy to damage the DNA in the cell nucleus did not cause cancer, yet when the energy in x-rays was increased enough to damage cell mitochondria, it did cause cancer. Sadly this research was totally ignored until Thomas Seyfried wrote his landmark book in 2012 “Cancer as a metabolic disease”. Mitochondria controls cellular growth rates, apoptosis (programmed cellular death), and intracellular communications. When the mitochondria of cells are damaged, it causes rapid cell replication (from days to hours), the cells become immortal and never die, and they tell nearby cells to redirect the blood flow to support their rapid growth.

One of the strangest discoveries the book describes is that when the cell’s mitochondria is damaged, it sends an emergency message (known as a “retrograde response”) to the cell’s nucleus. The nucleus attempts to help the mitochondria by sending it pieces of DNA to help it survive without oxygen. These pieces of DNA activate some cell functions like high-growth and deactivate other functions like DNA repair which can cause cancer cells to replicate. Ironically, these changes can also damage the DNA of the cell nucleus because it is no longer being repaired. Cancer researchers who thought that DNA damage was the cause of cancer didn’t realize it was just a side effect of mitochondria damage.

One disturbing fact is that despite the number of smokers being cut by 50% in the last 40 years, cancer incidence is going up as is cancer mortality. In fact, the mortality rates are increasing so fast that the author predicts cancer will soon over take heart disease as the number one cause of death. This contradicts what I had been hearing from the media, about most cancers having effective cures and that a cure to all cancers was very close.

Despite the bad news, the author has a positive view of future cancer treatment because of an experimental diet that promotes low blood sugar. The diet basically consists of no sugar, very low carbohydrates, limited protein, and huge amounts of saturated fat.  This diet is known as the ketogenic diet. There are several trials going on around the world and there have been some extraordinary results with many people surviving previously incurable forms of cancer.  

I find it exciting to think that a diet could be the cure to cancer. Imagine getting diagnosed with cancer and instead of surgery, radiation treatment, and chemo therapy, the doctor just makes you an appointment with a dietitian. I highly recommend this book, five stars.


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