We now have undeniable proof that what you eat does matter if you have cancer. This flies in the face of what conventional oncologists tell their cancer patients, and it’s just one result of the most important cancer discovery of the last 50 years.
I’m talking about the new findings about the origins of cancer described in the breakthrough book Cancer as a Metabolic Disease, by Thomas Seyfried, Ph.D. In the last issue I explained Dr. Seyfried’s revolutionary theory (if you missed it, the article appears again just below this one).
But… I was able to devote just a few paragraphs to the eating plan he recommends to cancer patients. There’s a lot more to say about this, and it’s a matter of life and death if you’re a cancer patient, so let’s keep going…
The short version of Dr. Seyfried’s cancer diet is that you want to eliminate carbohydrates from your meals as far as possible while loading up on fats – which should be 80% of what you eat – with the other 20% consisting mostly of protein and just a few carbs.
Dr. Seyfried is not an advocate of alternative medicine or a nutritionist, and he’s indifferent to which fats or proteins you eat. If you’re a regular Cancer Defeated reader, you already know I disagree with that. Your choice of fats should focus on healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, nuts (preferably raw), nut oils, and avocado. Saturated fats should be encouraged – not demonized, as conventional medicine does.
The studies I’ve seen suggest organic meat and eggs will be fine for the 20% of your diet that’s protein (many alternative cancer experts would disagree with me about this; I think they’re mistaken). I likewise think that animal fats can be a healthy source of fat.
What’s the reason for this odd, high-fat diet?
Dr. Seyfried’s recommendations are based on a theory he proves just about beyond doubt: Cancer is a mitochondrial disease, not a DNA/genetic disease as conventional medicine contends. Mitochondria are the energy factories of a cell. The difference between healthy cells and cancer cells is the way they generate energy.
The mitochondria of normal, healthy cells produce energy by a process called respiration that utilizes oxygen and glucose from our food, and results in water as a byproduct or waste product.
In contrast, cancer cell mitochonrdria are damaged and therefore unable to respirate. They fall back on a more primitive form of energy production, fermentation, which requires MUCH higher levels of glucose (blood sugar) to produce a small amount of energy, and results in toxic byproducts like lactic acid and ammonia.
If you can understand that, it’s easy to understand Dr. Seyfried’s eating plan. Cancer cells need a great deal of glucose or blood sugar, and carbohydrates are the easiest source. If you stop eating carbs, as he recommends, you deny cancer cells the only food they can live on.
Dr. Seyfried does not claim his eating plan is a standalone, miracle cure for cancer. In fact, he recommends you follow the eating plan while pursuing conventional treatments like chemotherapy. Without sugar to feed on, cancer cells should be greatly weakened and more likely to succumb to chemo.
Obviously, I disagree with his ideas about conventional treatments, but his eating plan fits in beautifully with what alternative cancer experts have been saying for decades.
He even offers an interesting bit of speculation: As you may know, cancer patients suffer from weight loss. It’s largely brought on by chemotherapy, although oncologists carry on as though it’s an effect of cancer. Dr. Seyfried suggests this chemo-induced loss of appetite – not the chemo itself – may be the reason chemotherapy benefits some patients. They’re not saved by the drug but by the fact they’ve stopped eating carbs!
I think it’s likely that a patient with a healthy immune system (one not destroyed by chemotherapy, for example) can get rid of cancer just by following the eating plan. And there’s a rich, plentiful record of case studies of people who have done exactly that – for example, check out the books about treating cancer with the macrobiotic diet. Or the Gerson Therapy, as far as that goes.
But I don’t recommend fighting cancer by diet alone. Use carb restriction along with the abundant cancer-fighting herbs and supplements we talk about all the time in this newsletter and in our books and reports.
Meanwhile, you might be wondering how healthy cells can survive without glucose. I said that the respiration process uses this form of sugar, too. The answer is simple, and wonderful. This is where all that fat you’ll be eating comes into play.
Healthy cells can utilize glucose, but they don’t require it. The mitochondria in healthy cells are able to metabolize fats into energy. Cancer cells can’t. The respiration process – the normal healthy process of producing energy — can live on fats.
So the high-fat Seyfried diet gives healthy cells everything they need while starving cancer cells to death.
How all this fits in with alternative cancer medicine
If you’ve delved into alternative cancer treatments and read up on the subject, the bells and lights in your brain should be going off like crazy. Dr. Seyfried’s theory, if correct, explains a lot of what alternative doctors already knew, but lacked all the pieces to fully understand. He finally gives us a framework for explaining why certain alternative treatments work.
You may have noted already that Dr. Seyfried’s theory was essentially formulated by Dr. Otto Warburg and won him a Nobel Prize in 1931. Its main points have been around for a long time. Dr. Warburg is a hero in alternative cancer treatment circles. His name comes up frequently.
Dr. Warburg was the first to maintain that cancer cells produce energy by fermentation rather than respiration. He advocated this idea tirelessly from 1923 until he passed away in 1970. It was adopted and is still supported by many alternative doctors. And for a while mainstream medicine entertained the possibility that Dr. Warburg was right.
But in the years following World War II, the establishment rejected Dr. Warburg’s theory. It appears that his being German didn’t help. But it was also found that cancer cells continue to utilize oxygen even while engaging in fermentation. This discovery seemed to show that respiration was still going on in cancer tumors. And cancer cells are not anaerobic. Oxygen does not “kill” cancer cells (even though many so-called experts in alternative cancer treatment still repeat this myth.)
There were other problems with Dr. Warburg’s theory. It did not explain metastasis – the spread of cancer beyond its original site. And as genetic knowledge advanced, conventional scientists came to realize the DNA of cancer cells is always damaged (i.e. mutated). It seemed logical to them that gene mutation was the defining characteristic of cancer cells.
The Warburg theory couldn’t explain why cancer cells are consistently mutated. At the time, the most likely explanation was that damaged genes were telling the mitochondria what to do, not the other way around. DNA is always assumed to be in the driver’s seat.
A student of Warburg’s, Dr. Hans Krebs – himself a Nobel Prize winner – finally had to throw in the towel and agree that the fermentation of glucose was just a symptom of cancer, not the main cause. (Krebs is another name you hear frequently in alternative cancer treatment circles.)
The challenges to Dr. Warburg’s theory have now been answered. Further advances in science have laid the objections to rest. Dr. Seyfried and others have demonstrated that the oxygen taken up by cancer cells is not used to make energy. Fermentation has been established as the defining fact about cancer cells.
What’s more, Dr. Seyfried and others have come up with plausible explanations for metastasis and the genetic damage seen in cancer cells. It’s likely that both DNA and mitochondria are damaged by radiation, smoking, toxic chemicals and other known carcinogens, but it’s the damage to mitochondria that brings on cancer. DNA may also be damaged by the flood of toxins given off by the fermentation process in damaged mitochondria. The DNA mutations would then be a secondary result of misfiring mitochondria.
About that acid-alkaline stuff
As I mentioned earlier, lactic acid is a major byproduct of fermentation, and this is another tie-in between Dr. Seyfried’s theory and the pet theories of alternative cancer doctors.
Among the latter you’ll often hear that cancer “thrives” in an acidic environment and is even caused by “a body that’s too acidic.” It’s been observed (rightly) that there’s a great deal of lactic acid around cancer tumors.
I’ve argued for years that this theory is unproven at best. And at any rate it doesn’t matter much because if you follow healthy eating recommendations and take a few mineral supplements to boot, your body should achieve the blissful alkaline state these people advocate. If alkalizing cures cancer, you’ll be home free.
Now Dr. Seyfried’s theory explains the whole acidity thing once and for all. Cancer cells produce large amounts of lactic acid. It’s not the acidity that causes the cancer; it’s the cancer that causes the acidity. Because lactic acid is an output, not an input, of cancer metabolism, it does not seem likely to me that neutralizing lactic acid is going to have any effect on cancer cells.
Scientists are still investigating all this (and full disclosure: I’m not a scientist), but it seems to me the acid-alkaline mania can be ignored. Acid is probably a sideshow. It’s not the main event.
On the other hand, oxygenating the cells – another hobbyhorse of some alternative cancer doctors – may have some merit. The reason is not that cancer cells are “anaerobic” and “die in the presence of oxygen,” as you often hear.
The reason is that excess oxygen reduces the activity of an enzyme that bonds with glucose and holds it inside cells. For this reason, Dr. Seyfried believes hyperbaric oxygen therapy (called HBOT, and used in many alternative cancer clinics) can be a useful adjunct therapy in treating cancer.
The coming collapse of conventional cancer treatment
As I pointed out in the previous article, mainstream medicine has spent nobody-knows-how-much-money chasing the theory that DNA mutations cause cancer. The figure may be in the hundreds of billions. They’ve come up with nothing.
Even putting Dr. Seyfried’s theory aside, astute observers were starting to see the DNA theory is coming unglued. So you want to claim cancer is caused by mutated genes? Well, let’s see about that. . .
Now that it’s easy and cheap to analyze genomes, scientists have identified an incredible number of mutations in cancer cells. In reviewing cancer research on the 40th anniversary of the war on cancer, an article in Science magazine observed:
“We now know there are usually between 1,000 and 10,000 somatic substitutions [mutated bits of DNA material] in the genomes of most adult cancers, including breast, ovary, colorectal, pancreas, and glioma…others, such as lung cancers and melanomas, have many more mutations (occasionally more than 100,000). Even within a particular cancer type, individual tumors often display wide variation in the prevalence of base substitutions.”
Mainstream cancer research has retreated to the concept that cancer isn’t one disease, but dozens of different diseases, each with its own specific genome. But it’s hard to make a coherent theory out of 10,000 mutations, much less 100,000.
But this is only slowly dawning on the money-changers in the cancer research temple. Most of the big drug company cancer research has focused on so-called “targeted drugs” that home in on “the” mutation that supposedly causes a particular strain of cancer. For example, they might identify and classify a dozen strains of prostate cancer cells, each caused (they think) by a different mutation, so the idea is to design one type of chemotherapy for Prostate Type 6 another for Prostate Type 11, and so forth.
As you might guess, this approach falls apart if there are a 100,000 different mutations!
The “targeted drug” approach is doomed to disappoint
Around 2001, there was a great deal of excitement about a new chemo drug called Gleevec (Glivec in Europe) that achieves near-miraculous results against a rare form of blood cancer called chronic myeloid leukemia. The death count dropped from 2,300 at the recent turn of the century, the year before the new drug was approved, down to about 470 in 2009. The drug was a huge success.
A current of excitement ran through the mainstream cancer community. The story made the cover of Time magazine. One veteran scientist told the New York Times that Gleevec “was the beginning of a sea change—and I am speaking conservatively—in the way we practice cancer medicine.” Another said the drug “represents a monumental leap forward in cancer chemotherapy.”
The reality has been sadly different. As Clifton Leaf, author of the excellent book about the war on cancer, The Truth in Small Doses, puts it, “The Gleevec Story is deadly in its seduction: sirenlike, it has taken the global cancer-fighting enterprise down a perilous path—a path that can never lead us to victory in the war on cancer.”
Gleevec, you see, is a targeted drug. It was the product of all those billions of dollars poured into gene research and molecular biology. But here’s the catch: It happened to work because this rare type of leukemia is one of the few cancers that really IS caused by one, unique gene mutation. This cancer was the exception, not the rule. And its success led to a great deal of misplaced optimism (not to mention research dollars).
As scientists have discovered that cancer genes have not one, but a riot of thousands of mutations, the targeted drug strategy cannot possibly lead us anywhere.
They’re starting to get that, but they still believe in the gene theory of cancer. Consider this paragraph from The Truth in Small Doses:
“For a cancer to develop, another rare mishap has to occur [he means a gene mutation]…followed (in nearly every case) by another…and another…and another. It typically takes several billion-to-one-shot mutations to turn a normal cell malignant and give it the capacity to flourish and spread in the well-defended domain of the human body.”
That’s the gene theory of cancer in a nutshell. But now, thanks to Dr. Seyfried, we know it’s wrong. And there is hope. If you want to rid yourself of cancer, then rid yourself of carbs. You’ll be halfway there and in many case three-fourths or even all the way there.
Now We Finally Know What Cancer Really Is
(Mainstream Medicine has Been Dead Wrong)
This may be the most important issue of Cancer Defeated we’ve ever published. The reason is that now – for the first time, really – there’s undeniable proof that the alternative cancer treatment community has been on the right track. The conventional approach to cancer treatment is wrong. And the proof emerges from the heart of the conventional scientific establishment, not from the fringes of alternative medicine.
If you read this article, you’ll understand for the first time what causes cancer, what you need to do about it for either prevention or cure, and why the hundreds of billions of dollars spent in the “war on cancer” have been largely wasted.
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This is privileged, valuable information. If you read this, you’ll be among the few people who know about it. As far as I can tell, only a few alternative and integrative doctors realize that a revolution has now occurred. As for conventional oncologists, almost none of them realize the ground is crumbling under their feet.
No doubt it will take many years before mainstream medicine absorbs the implications of the new research and changes its way of doing things. You don’t want to wait for that because it may be too late for you.
The new revolution emanates from a book published two years ago called Cancer as a Metabolic Disease, written by Thomas N. Seyfried, PhD. Its 400 pages don’t make for easy reading, even if you’re a biochemist or a cell biologist, which most of us aren’t.
I’ve seen the book mentioned in just a few places. We first brought it to the attention of members of our “platinum club,” The Alternative Cancer Research Institute, late last year. I have to admit I didn’t grasp its full importance at the time.
Dr. Seyfried’s key finding is that mainstream scientists are mistaken in their theory of what causes cancer – and indeed what cancer is, in its essence. And they’re not just a little bit mistaken, they’re entirely wrong from top to bottom. Meanwhile, Dr. Seyfried largely confirms the theory of cancer causation held by most alternative cancer experts, although he tweaks the theory and takes it to a more refined level.
How cancer happens, according to your conventional oncologist
The mainstream theory, which has held sway for more than 30 years, is that cancer is caused by genetic mutations – damage to the DNA. The damage may be caused by radiation, chemical toxins, heavy metals or other factors.
Whatever the origin, the damage changes the set of instructions that’s encoded in our DNA and tells our bodies how to operate. The damaged – mutated — cells cease to be “you” anymore. They become a sort of alien organism within you. They begin to divide uncontrollably; they live virtually forever instead of dying off naturally (apoptosis); they develop their own network of blood vessels (angiogenesis).
Now, you have to realize DNA is damaged all the time, without turning a cell cancerous, because in healthy DNA there are certain genes that repair the DNA strand when it’s damaged, and other genes that tell the cell it’s time to die after it’s been around for a while. Conventional experts believe that these specific genes have to be disabled before cancer can occur.
In brief, that’s the theory of cancer that’s held sway most of the time since President Richard Nixon declared war on cancer in 1971. The “war” currently spends an estimated $15 billion a year on scientific research, when you add up all sources public and private (no one knows the exact figure). Over the years hundreds of billions of dollars have been poured into the effort.
Most of the money has been wasted digging a dry hole. The DNA theory is mistaken, and as a result almost no progress has been made in cancer treatment. But despite the obvious failure, all the money flows into “advancing” this mistaken theory and all the scientific prestige and news stories flow out of it. Scientists, like most people, dream of becoming famous, and a discovery related to gene research is the fastest way for a cancer scientist to get his 15 minutes of media attention.
As far as that goes, a scientist can’t even get a grant to conduct research in the first place if the proposed project isn’t an offshoot of the DNA theory.
The DNA theory has had other harmful effects. It’s led to a public obsession, encouraged by the medical profession, with the idea that you can inherit a tendency to get cancer from your parents. This belief has a particular grip on the breast cancer industry because there is, in fact, a gene that increases a woman’s risk of this disease. But very few women possess this gene and it accounts for a small percentage of breast cancer cases.
But the theory that “your ancestors did this to you” doesn’t stop with breast cancer. It seems that several times a year the news media take up some discovery that this or that inherited gene can predispose a person to this or that cancer. It’s mostly a tempest in a teapot because inherited gene mutations account for maybe one out of ten cancers. I think, when all the facts are in, the figure will be even lower.
And generally the dreaded gene mutations merely contribute to cancer, they aren’t a death sentence. Many people who have them don’t get cancer.
To make things worse, it’s now possible to have your genome sequenced for a few hundred dollars, so everyone can get in on the act of worrying over gene mutations.
I’m all in favor of learning about genetic biology. It’s exciting, cutting edge science. But it hasn’t led to much progress in the war against cancer because genes are not the enemy.
And now, what really causes cancer
Dr. Seyfried exposes the failure of the DNA theory and reveals the true cause of cancer. He was formerly a cancer researcher at Yale University, is currently a full professor of biology at Boston College, and is the author of more than 150 PubMed-indexed scientific articles. He doesn’t advocate or practice alternative medicine. As far as I can gather, he doesn’t have much interest in it. He’s “just” an unbiased scientist seeking the truth, wherever it may lead.
What he’s found is that cancer is caused by damaged mitochondria, not damaged DNA. Mitochondria are sometimes called the cell’s batteries or energy factories. They are delicate, complicated pieces of cell machinery that convert the foods we eat – fats, proteins and carbohydrates – into horsepower that enables us to move, breathe, think – to do everything we do.
In some ways, a car engine might be a better analogy than a battery. Your food is like gasoline in a car. It makes the car move – but how? By way of an engine that converts gasoline into energy, similar to the way mitochondria convert food molecules into energy.
Healthy mitochondria break open food molecules and use their electrons – their electrical energy – to create ATP molecules that store the energy until the cell needs it to do something. At the end of the ATP assembly line that exists inside a mitochondrion, oxygen waits to bind with the electrons to form water, a harmless byproduct of this energy production process.
The process is called oxidative phosphorylation or simply respiration. Respiration is the process by which a healthy cell generates energy.
As Dr. Seyfried demonstrates in his book – almost beyond doubt – the fundamental difference between a healthy cell and a cancer cell is the way they make energy.
In other words, cancer is not a genetic disease, it’s a mitochondrial disease.
Cancer cells are different: They make energy by fermentation, not respiration. In this process, the mitochondria turn glucose i.e. sugar (mainly from carbohydrates) into small quantities of energy.
Can a cancer cell live on anything else besides carbs? Yes, to some degree. The mitochondria can ferment certain parts of proteins (specifically an amino acid called glutamine), but it can’t ferment fats at all. Carbohydrates and especially sugar are the foods cancer needs to feed on.
Fermentation is a primitive, fallback process for generating energy that the mitochondria will use only when they’re damaged and unable to perform respiration – or when there’s a temporary lack of oxygen, a key component in the normal respiration process.
Here’s a neat fact: deep sea diving mammals like whales generate energy by respiration – using oxygen – when they’re on the surface. But when they’re under water for long period they generate oxygen by fermentation. As I said, it’s a backup energy generator.
No cell that’s working right would ever fall back on fermentation when oxygen is available. Fermentation is inefficient. It doesn’t produce nearly as much energy and creates toxic byproducts – lactic acid and ammonia.
Cancer cells are different – they’re sick – not because their DNA is damaged but because they use fermentation even when plenty of oxygen is around. That’s what Dr. Seyfried means when he posits that cancer is a metabolic disease rather than a genetic disease.
Why do good mitochondria go bad?
So what is it that causes the mitochondria in healthy cells to go haywire and resort to the second-rate fermentation process? According to Dr. Seyfried, the most likely source of the damage is the same list of carcinogens we’re all familiar with – tobacco smoking, radiation, toxic chemicals, viruses… the usual suspects.
The respiration “machinery” inside the mitochondria is just as delicate as the famous DNA double helix inside the cells’ nucleus. When it’s disabled, the cell may die, but some cells are able to fall back on fermentation and stay alive. Cells that turn permanently to fermentation become chronically inflamed and flooded with toxic lactic acid.
But these damaged – cancerous – cells are able to thrive and replicate as long as the patient provides them with an abundant supply of glucose. In essence, people who eat a carbohydrate-rich diet are making themselves fertile ground for cancer. If you deny them glucose, it’s a challenge for cancer cells to stay alive. Those that do survive can most likely be managed (i.e. eliminated) by your immune system.
So what’s the proof?
Dr. Seyfried’s book cites over a thousand scientific references. All I’ve given you is a quick gloss of what he has to say. But his most telling piece of proof is easy to explain and understand.
When mitochondria from cancer cells are fused with normal cells – those with healthy DNA in their nuclei – and then injected into animals, 97% of them develop tumors. In other words, cancerous mitochondria turn healthy cells into cancer cells. No genetic damage needed. DNA didn’t cause these cancers.
And the process works in reverse: If you transfer mitochondria from healthy cells into tumor cells, it reduces cancerous behavior and reduces tumor formation.
He cites other research showing that if you transplant a nucleus containing mutations from a cancer cell into a normal cell from which the nucleus has been removed, the process does not produce cancer cells. But if you put a normal nucleus into a cancer cell, the cell remains cancerous and can generate tumors.
Case closed. There’s no question about it: When it comes to cancer, damaged mitochondria are in the driver’s seat, not damaged DNA.
“But wait,” you might say, if you know anything about mainstream cancer research. “The DNA in cancer cells is loaded with mutations. How can it be that DNA damage has nothing to do with cancer?”
The most likely explanation is that most of the damage to DNA comes AFTER the damage to mitochondria, when the cell is sick and the fermentation process is bombarding the nucleus with massive amounts of toxic fermentation byproducts.
What all this means if you want to beat cancer or avoid it
All of this may sound simple the way I just described it, but it has far-reaching implications. And it has eluded our multi-billion-dollar scientific establishment for 50 years even while alternative doctors have tried to point them in the right direction.
I have never proposed changing the way you eat as a standalone cure for cancer, and Dr. Seyfried certainly doesn’t. But if you have cancer it’s imperative to stop eating all sugar, in any form, as well as refined carbohydrates like flour and other high-glycemic foods like potatoes and rice. You can thereby starve cancer cells of glucose, the food they need to live.
On the other hand you can eat all the fats you want. Here Dr. Seyfried and I part company on the types of fats that are best. He seems to think that fat is fat and you can eat any kind you want. I recommend healthy fats like olive oil, nuts (preferably raw), coconut oil and avocado. Dr. Seyfried recommends about 80% fats, 20% protein and a very small amount of carbohydrates.
Personally, I think you can get your protein from meat (organic), but I’m probably in a minority on that.
The last point I want to make for now is that if you have high blood sugar it’s imperative to get it under control now – and not with drugs or even natural treatments but by cutting sugar and other carbs to practically nothing.
I will have more to say about this “cancer revolution” in the next issue. It’s a big, important topic. If you’ve delved deeply into alternative cancer medicine, you will have noticed that Dr. Seyfried’s theory resembles that of Dr. Otto H. Warburg, which has been around for nearly a hundred years. But there are important differences, and some good reasons why Dr. Warburg’s theory couldn’t be accepted as proven fact – until now. There’s also a great deal more to say about what a cancer patient should eat, and why the fancy new targeted chemotherapy drugs are disastrously off the mark.