By Dr. Mercola
The lifetime risk for developing or dying from cancer in the U.S. is nearly 50 percent in men and 40 percent in women.1 According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 600,000 people die every year with a diagnosis of cancer. But, many people don't actually die from the disease itself, but rather from the side effects of the treatment or from another opportunistic infection that happens when your immune system is too weak to protect you.
In the "war against cancer" the standard of care is to cut it out using a surgical procedure, poison it with chemotherapy or burn it with radiation. In each of these cases your surrounding healthy tissues are affected. As a result, the recurrence of cancer a decade or two later is not unexpected.2,3 As for most health conditions, prevention is the best medicine.
Over the past years I've been studying the metabolic theory of cancer and believe it holds great promise to both prevent the disease and possibly treat the condition in a natural, and potentially drug-free, way. In combination with other natural options, you may already have an arsenal of weapons against cancer in your own kitchen. Interestingly, researchers have demonstrated a 100 percent cure rate in an animal model using a relatively low-risk treatment with ethanol to eradicate cancer cells.4
Researchers Demonstrate 100 Percent Cure Rate in Small Sample Size
Prompted by a desire to find a lower cost alternative to surgical procedures for tumors, often not available in poor countries, researchers attempted the use of an intratumor injection using ethanol. This procedure has been successfully used in the past on encapsulated liver cancers.5 In these cases, the tumor had a relatively hard outer shell that retained the ethanol within the tumor so there was no leakage into the surrounding tissue.
While this procedure has been relatively successful, it has limitations as it may not be used on tumors that are not encapsulated. The scientists also note that large amounts of ethanol, or pure alcohol, must be used to keep the alcohol in contact with the tumor cells and the treatment protocol requires multiple injections. To enhance the contact of ethanol with tumor cells and retain the ethanol in tumors that do not have a hard exterior, researchers used the same procedure with the addition of ethyl cellulose.
This addition forms a gel with exposure to the liquid interior of the tumor.6 The researchers first practiced their injection techniques before using the formulation on chemically-induced squamous cell epithelial tumors in the cheeks of hamsters.
The control hamsters were injected with pure ethanol, in the same manner liver cancer tumors are injected.7 The experimental hamsters received the new ethanol-gel product. In the control animals, none of the tumors regressed completely. The tumors that were injected with four times the volume of the original tumor exhibited better results.
However, the experimental group had the best results, with 100 percent of the tumors eliminated eight days after treatment was initiated using fluid one-fourth the volume of the tumor, as compared to four times the amount used in the animals who received pure ethanol.8 With such a small sample size, the authors proved the concept, but further research is necessary. That said, these early results appear quite promising.
Mechanical, Not Metabolic
Ethanol ablation procedures are not new. The most commonly reported adverse effects when used on hepatocellular tumors are hemorrhage in the liver or peritoneal space, or liver insufficiency or infarction.9 Thermal ablation of liver tumors has replaced many percutaneous ethanol injections. Since ethanol procedures can be used anywhere in the liver, they are used when the tumor is located near intestinal loops or other positions where thermal ablation may carry a greater risk.10
Ethanol destroys cancer cells using a purely mechanical mechanism without a metabolic interaction with surrounding cells or the rest of your body. Where chemotherapy may have an effect on most of the cells in your body, ethanol works by killing the proteins directly in the tumor and dehydrating the cancer cells.11 After analysis of the results, the research team believes a single injection of the ethanol gel may be enough to cure specific tumors, including cervical precancerous lesions and breast cancers.12
An additional benefit of the treatment is that it is very inexpensive, costing only $5 per treatment. The process is also nontoxic to the body, where chemotherapy is not. For instance, in some cases oncologists may prescribe chemotherapy to reduce the size of a breast cancer tumor in the hopes of being able to perform a lumpectomy instead of a total mastectomy. However, this may backfire as there are a higher number of metastases after presurgical treatment than if chemotherapy was not administered before surgery.13
Many chemotherapy drugs are by their very nature cytotoxic.14 This means they are toxic to living cells. This characteristic may be somewhat helpful in the goal of killing cancer cells, but most of the drugs are not specific and attack many of the rapidly replicating cells in your body, triggering challenging and sometimes painful side effects.
Your bodily systems that are most vulnerable are your hair follicles, digestive tract, bone marrow, mouth and reproductive system. Many of the side effects are short term and resolve over time once chemotherapy has been discontinued. However, there are some long-term permanent effects that may damage your liver, kidneys, brain, heart and lungs. Side effects from chemotherapy may include:15
Mouth and throat sores
Nausea and vomiting
Trouble thinking clearly
Blood disorders, including anemia and low platelet count
Poor absorption of nutrients from your digestive tract
Loss of appetite and weight loss
Vitamin C Therapy Cost Effective and an Efficient Anticancer Therapy
Despite exorbitant prices, many of the chemotherapy treatments offered will not cure you of cancer, and in some cases may actually help spread tumors throughout your body.16 While science struggles alongside pharmaceutical companies to find treatments that might extend the life of sufferers by days or weeks, there are existing options, without dangerous side effects, that may possibly offer more.
However, many of these are available without patents, prescriptions or a high price tag, so they’re are not attractive options for drug companies to explore. One is vitamin C. The most effective form of oral vitamin C supplementation is liposomal, which bypasses many of the absorption complications of ascorbic acid, such as gastrointestinal distress, and allows higher intracellular concentrations.
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant, protecting your body against oxidative stress and reducing your risk of death.17 To be of use against cancer, however, you need intravenous (IV) administration of high doses. With the discovery that most people with cancer are also deficient in vitamin C, Dr. Ronald Hunninghake experimented with high doses and wrote about the results, saying:
"Intravenous vitamin C also does more than just kill cancer cells. It boosts immunity. It can stimulate collagen formation to help the body wall off the tumor. It inhibits hyaluronidase, an enzyme that tumors use to metastasize and invade other organs throughout the body.
It induces apoptosis to help program cancer cells into dying early. It corrects the almost universal scurvy in cancer patients. Cancer patients are tired, listless, bruise easily, and have a poor appetite. They don't sleep well and have a low threshold for pain. This adds up to a very classic picture of scurvy that generally goes unrecognized by their conventional physicians."
Recent research also demonstrates patients with a highly malignant and aggressive type of brain tumor, glioblastoma, treated with both vitamin C and radiation had double the survival rate compared to those who received radiation only.18 Vitamin C also helps lower inflammation levels in your body, boosting your own immune system's ability to fight cancer cells.19 Other studies have demonstrated the adjunct therapeutic use of vitamin C could help slow the growth rate of liver, pancreatic, prostate and colon cancers.20
Although these studies use IV vitamin C, there is compelling evidence to suggest liposomal vitamin C may have similar or better absorption rates in your cells, which is why I recommend liposomal vitamin C for home use.
Although many mammals can produce vitamin C, several cannot. Humans, guinea pigs, primates, fruit-eating bats, some birds and fish21 need to get vitamin C from their diet. Your body uses vitamin C in a number of biological processes including wound healing, maintaining your bones and teeth and assisting your body to absorb iron.22
Underlying Metabolic Disease May Trigger Cancer Growth
After years of trying to associate the development of cancer with familial genetic mutations, studies demonstrate that although cancer is associated with genetic changes, these changes are primarily acquired through lifestyle choices and not mutations you are born with.23 At the foundation is damage resulting in mitochondrial dysfunction, or impairment to little powerhouses located within the cells of your body.
Thomas Seyfried, Ph.D., is a pioneer in the application of metabolic therapy that stems from original work by Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Otto Warburg, who believed the root cause of many diseases have metabolic origins.24 When your mitochondria are healthy and functional, your potential risk of cancer is low.
With greater understanding of how your mitochondria work, the approach to treatment should also change. Until now, the focus of pharmaceutical treatments and research has been on the downstream effect of DNA damage after mitochondrial dysfunction and has triggered genetic changes.
This may explain why we have not won the war on cancer, and likely will not if treatment options continue along the same path. Becoming an efficient fat burner is an important strategy to reduce excessive reactive oxygen species (ROS), a potent free radical that can cause DNA and RNA damage and may cause cell death.25
ROS also target and damage your mitochondria. Having the metabolic flexibility to burn fat for fuel reduces the amount of ROS produced in your mitochondria, thus reducing DNA mutation and your risk of health conditions such as cancer.
Switching to a diet high in fats, low in net carbs and moderate in protein may be a primary way to effectively prevent the development of cancer and other deadly health conditions. Interestingly, an oncology center in Turkey has combined the use of vitamin C, nutritional ketosis, hyperbaric oxygen therapy and nutritional support to dramatically improve their treatment of cancer.26 The program builds on metabolic supported chemotherapy, allowing patients to use half of the dose of toxic chemotherapy normally given.27
Nutritional Ketosis Gets to the Heart of the Matter
Nutritional ketosis may not only help prevent deadly diseases, but also help your body work through the application of chemotherapy and improve the rate of successful treatment. In this interview, Dr. Abdul Kadir Slocum from the ChemoThermia Oncology Center in Turkey discusses this truly groundbreaking metabolically supported treatment protocol, which offers hope to people who previously had none. All patients at their center are placed on a ketogenic diet that metabolically stresses cancer cells.28
Prior to the administration of chemotherapeutic agents, patients undergo a minimum 14-hour fast to stress cancer cells even further, increasing the potential for cell death with cytotoxic drugs. By bringing the patient's glucose level down to 50 or 60 mg/dL, which weakens the cancer cells by starving them, the treatment team can use significantly lower doses of chemotherapy without sacrificing efficacy. As a result, patients also experience fewer side effects.
The team recently published two papers sharing treatment protocol results. In the first, they outlined outcomes achieved with patients suffering from rectal cancer. The standard of care in the U.S. is surgical resection and chemotherapy with radiation treatment.29 Using Slocum’s protocols, the team reported complete remission of stage 3 advanced rectal cancer without surgery or radiation therapy.
In the second paper, the team describes treatment of a group of 33 patients suffering from stage 3 and 4 pancreatic cancer.30 This was a retrospective analysis of patients treated at the clinic between 2011 and 2015. The majority of the patients had metastasis at the time of treatment. Pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of all cancers in the U.S., with 91 percent of people dying within the first five years.31 Surgery, radiation and chemotherapy are options that may extend life but rarely offer a cure.
Typically, someone diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer may only live six to 10 months. When chemotherapy was given in combination with metabolic support and other strategies used in the clinic, the mean survival in this group of patients rose to nearly 20 months, with 54 percent of the patients remaining free of disease progression at the time of publication in 2016 — one to five years’ post-treatment.32
Aside from lowering your risk for cancer and improving the success rate of cancer treatment, eating a ketogenic diet can also help reduce your risk for many other chronic diseases, including the following. To learn more about nutritional ketosis, and the importance of cyclical ketosis (opposed to continuous), please see “Burning Fat for Fuel Increases Quality and Quantity of Life.”
Insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes
Traumatic brain injury
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
Glycogen storage disease
Polycystic ovary disease