Cancer will soon surpass cardiovascular disease as the main cause for deaths. There are many who are pursuing other options than surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. The Truth about Cancer is a documentary that explores options people may consider when faced with a cancer diagnosis. Admittedly, it is not complimentary towards the western medicine approach.
Traditionally, people have usually migrated towards one of two camps when considering treating cancer. One camp is the traditional western medicine approach that includes surgery, chemo and/or radiation. The other camp are those who prefer to use more natural approaches towards cancer.
It is challenging to try and include both approaches, primarily because those who practice the western medical approach
are extremely reluctant to include anything that is outside of their protocols. Further, there is not much published research in the United States that considers natural interventions alongside chemo, surgery, and radiation. In addition, those who practice natural medicine are often categorized as ‘quacks’ or ‘alternative practitioners’.
When President Nixon declared on war on cancer in 1971, there high hopes that scientists were close enough to understanding the underlying causes that many cures were within reach. It has become increasingly evident that cancer is not easy to cure. The enticing thought that cancer was a genetic problem has not borne beneficial insights. In Tripping over the Truth, Travis Christofferson shares his journey of attempting to discover why cures for cancer have been so elusive. He suggests that we may be losing the war against cancer because scientists are chasing a flawed scientific paradigm. Cancer may not be the result of defective DNA but one of defective metabolism.
Thomas Seyfried, PhD promotes cancer as a metabolic disease in his book called Cancer as a Metabolic Disease. Cancer as the result of metabolic dysfunction was originally suggested by a remarkable German scientist named Otto Warburg in 1924. Warburg’s theory was cancer cells have a dysfunctional way of producing energy. Cancer cells rely upon an efficient way to utilize glucose (sugar). Instead of relying upon oxygen as an energy source, they rely upon a process that utilizes sugar (fermentation of sugar).
Seyfried noted that cancer cells have damage to the energy producing organelle called the mitochondria. Mitochondria are the power plants in cells. But they may also be the crucial link that sends dysfunctional signals to the nucleus in the cell to produce damaged DNA.
DNA is the genetic material that causes cells to grow out of control. Seyfried demonstrated that when mitochondria from mice with cancer are transferred to mice without cancer, the mice develop cancer. But when the nucleus is from mice with cancer is transferred to mice without cancer, they do not develop cancer.
You will have to read more in depth, in order to be persuaded that cancer may be a metabolic disease rather than the result of defective DNA. In a nutshell, many of the ‘alternative’ approaches attempt to address the metabolic dysfunction that causes tumors to grow. There are complex messengers in the body called cytokines. Cytokines are like radio signals that communicate locally and at a distance. Abnormal cytokine activity is related to the signals sent from the mitochondria to the nucleus in the cell.
It is important to understand the difference between cancer stem cells and tumor cells. Stem cells are produced by the body and may be normal and help repair the body, or they can be abnormal and initial tumor growth. It is possible to measure the number of cancer stem cells (CSC) and circulating tumor cells (CTC) in the body. In addition is possible to determine ‘stemness’ of the cancer stem cells, or the ability of these cells to promote cancer. The cancer stem cell theory suggests that tumor growth is driven by the cancer stem cells. The majority of tumor growth is comprised of normal cells that are growing out of control. The minority of cells in a tumor are actually cancerous cells. If stem cell theory is correct, then it clarifies why we should be more attentive to pursuing killing the cancer stem cells (CSC). Apoptosis is the word for cell death. Measures that causes apoptosis of cancer stem cells should be the target of cancer research.
Success in the world of chemo, surgery, and radiation is often focused on the size of tumors. Chemotherapy usually targets cells that are growing rapidly. This includes both normal cells and cancer cells. As a result patients who have taken chemo will lose their hair, eyebrows, and other rapidly growing cells lines. When a tumor shrinks, many consider this a measure of success. But if the majority of cells in a tumor are normal, it does not seem to be a good measure of success. It would be more important to measure the number of cancer stem cells (CSC) and how they respond to proposed interventions.
Despite technical advances in diagnostic imaging, a tumor is not diagnosed until the cancer cell burden has reached a certain size. As a result, many patients will be declared free of cancer when they still have circulating cancer cells (CSC). Measuring the number of circulating stem cells (CSC) may be more accurate regarding the likelihood of metastatic cancer, or the potential for metastases.
When first faced with a cancer diagnosis, people usually must content with the emotions of fear. Common questions include, “What are my best options for survival?” “What are the potential risks/benefits for the path that I choose?”
I had a recent conversation with a man who has metastatic pancreatic cancer. His response to The Truth about Cancer documentary was rather skeptical. He said, “My sister had uterine cancer and ate healthy, did the ‘juicing thing’, and avoided chemo, chemo, surgery and radiation, but died. The way I look at it, unless God intervenes, I am going to die.” I learned that his diet included a large amount of sugar. I asked him if he ever considered the fact that they use sugar in imaging studies to find cancer in the body. Cancer loves sugar, so the medical community attaches things to sugar molecules to penetrate cancer cells. If cancer seems to thrive on cancer, it seems intuitive that one would want to eat less sugar.
It seems a shame to force people to choose between western medicine and the ‘alternative route.’ A young lady was in my office who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She had already had surgery and agreed to chemotherapy. But she said to me, “Something inside me was telling me that chemo was not a good option for me. I am willing to pursue other options, but I am not sure that my family will support me.” Another patient of mine was told by his physician that if he decided to pursue ‘alternative options’ then he should not return to the physician’s office.
The medical community should allow patients to consider all options for supporting a healthy immune system. Ideally, when a person has a healthy immune system, they are more likely to have a better outcome, regardless of the path they choose to fight their cancer.
There are no guarantees that any option can provide success. But we should not force patients to put their head in the sand and not consider all options for fighting cancer.