When I found myself with stage III squamous cell carcinoma, and in need of a year of drastic treatments, I was shaken enough to consume half a bottle of wine and the strongest espresso, to ponder my options. As it turns out, I would have been much better off planting an almond tree and eating a basket of lemons! Allow me to explain:
Water, as everyone knows, is H2O. Two molecules of hydrogen attached to a single molecule of oxygen. But as you suspected, there’s much more to it! In water there is generally also a number of hydrogen ions, that is, a water molecule shorn of oxygen and, losing all its property in the divorce, an electron, becoming H+. There are also hydroxide ions, that is, the newly separated hydrogen and oxygen unit which is now a negatively charged HO-. Being a hopeless flirt, the hydroxide ion can hook up with a water molecule and become H3O+. Homewrecker.
The sheer number of these marriages and affairs, as you can imagine, are vaster even than those in New York City – so atoms are measured in “moles”, each mole being 6.022 x 10 to the power 23 or 602 billion trillion. This is comparable to the number of stars in the universe, which the low estimate puts at 7 x 10 to the power 21 and the higher estimate to the power 23. To visualise this I once worked out once that if every star was a grain of sand 1mm in diameter, there would be enough to blanket the planet Earth to a depth of about one metre. So these are not trivial amounts, and nor is it trivial what such atomic conditions, if prolonged, can do to the body.
In 1909 a Danish chemist named Sorensen measured the concentration of hydrogen ions per litre of fluid and came up with a scale representing the powers of ten covering the range of moles of hydrogen ions in a litre of water, and then reversed it for clarity.
The blood carefully maintains a pH of close to 7.4 at all costs. To keep up this balancing act all of our lives, it either pulls alkalinity out of the intracellular environment – the body itself – or dumps acidity into it. It came as a shock to find that virtually every cancer patient has, at the time of diagnosis anyway, a highly acidic intracellular environment. I immediately tested my own – you can do this very easily using pH strips on your saliva – and found it was about 5.25 ..in other words, about 75 times too acidic!
Once you see the pH of things we normally eat you realise why the bodies of people on a western diet are so prone to cancer, and how cancer’s inexorable rise follows that of unhealthy food, mirroring that of scurvy under other, self-imposed, diet limitations. One in three of us will die from cancer – either during treatment or soon after:
My diet for at least the year prior to turning to the doctors to see what this annoying lump was in my neck, consisted of practically everything in the 3, 4 and 5 range. Endless espressos, white wine, pasta, stress and overwork. The ones under “consume sparingly, or never”.
And in two final, freezing months, I had been working flat out on the construction of the first outdoor fresco in the UK, for which I was supremely unqualified: 15 hour days in a panic-ridden state of tension trying to finish applying pigments before the plaster dried, knowing that any variationin line or tone meant hacking the day’s work off and starting again, as well as doing the school runs and maintaining the flow of emails and crises at work. And as bad situations always get worse, it was over a coffee shop – the owner helpfully offering unlimited amounts in the hope of getting it done quicker.
Research into cancer’s progress revealed the five year survival rates, which everyone checks first, are based not on the progress of cancer itself, but on the progress of patients who are treated using chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. The assumption is automatically made that those who were not treated must have died faster, since treatment is always assumed to extend life. After all, why else would anyone volunteer for these ordeals?
But it turns out this isn’t necessarily true, and especially not in some cases of cancer:
It might be surprising to learn that the presence of the primary tumor serves to inhibit the growth of metastatic cancer elsewhere in the body. The primary tumor produces anti-angiogenic factors which restrict the growth of metastases.
These anti-angiogenic factors inhibit the formation of new blood vessels to potential sites of metastasis. Regrettably, the surgical removal of the primary cancer also results in the removal of these anti-angiogenic factors, and the growth of metastasis is no longer inhibited.
With these restrictions lifted, it is now easier for small sites of metastatic cancer to attract new blood vessels that promote their growth. Indeed, these concerns were voiced by researchers who declared that “… removal of the primary tumor might eliminate a safeguard against angiogenesis and thus awaken dormant micrometastasis [small sites of metastatic cancer].”
As if the loss of angiogenic inhibition by the primary tumor were not enough of a problem, it turns out the surgery causes another angiogenic predicament. After surgery, levels of factors that increase angiogenesis—also known as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)—are significantly elevated.
This can result in an increased formation of new blood vessels supplying areas of metastatic cancer. A group of scientists summarized this research quite well when they asserted that “after surgery, the angiogenic balance of pro- and antiangiogenic factors is shifted in favor of angiogenesis to facilitate wound healing.
Especially levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) are persistently elevated. This may not only benefit tumor recurrence and the formation of metastatic disease, but also result in activation of dormant micrometastases.”
No matter what people say, a tumour on its own is unlikely to kill you, unless it’s a fast growing one in your colon, lungs or brain, or pressing on the spinal cord. There is a patient in Vietnam who, before surgery, was immobilised by a tumour as large as his own body mass, attached to his leg, but which hadn’t metastasised in all those years. How do cancer patients being treated die? Well, in 2006, of 816 patients in one study, 47% died either from infections or complications in which infection was a major factor.
But cancer isn’t an infection and doesn’t affect your ability to fight off infections: therefore the only cause could be the demolishing of their immune syste, which in turn can only be attributed to the chemical poisons injected into the bloodstream in the hopes of killing the tumour before killing the patient. Organ failure caused 25% of the deaths, so either the drugs caused heart or kidney failure, or the cancer came out on top. In 1970, out of 506 cases in Roswell Park Memorial, infection caused 36% of the deaths during treatment and was a contributing factor in a further 33% of all deaths, with pneumonia directly causing 18%, and respiratory failure, 19%.
One of the reasons for the apparent rise in success of cancer treatments is that many more cases of skin cancer (melanoma) are now included in statistics even if cases are known to be non fatal. What isn’t explained is that titanium dioxide, a component of nearlyall sunscreens – is a carcinogen. Lathering it on skin all day long means it is now under suspicion for causing a massive rise in melanomas. Curable or not, they are generally blamed on the sun – meaning yet more sunscreen is applied, and the cases continue to rise. And yet the sun has been around for a long time, without us ever seeing the kind of explosion of skin cancers we see today.
“After analyzing cancer survival statistics for several decades, Dr Hardin Jones, a professor at the University of California, concluded: ‘…patients are as well, or better off, untreated. Jones’s disturbing assessment has never been refuted.”
..Walter Last, in The Ecologist
“Most cancer patients in this country die of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy does not eliminate breast, colon, or lung cancers. This fact has been documented for over a decade, yet doctors still use chemotherapy for these tumors.”
..Allen Levin, MD, UCSF, The Healing of Cancer
I recently quoted a doctor who wrote in Scientific American that testing and surgery for prostate cancer has fallen into disrepute because so many cases, left untreated, caused no harm and no threat to the life of the patient even after decades, but treatments often left them a hopeless invalid. Comisserations from surgeons are no replacement for virility or continence.
As for chemo, when I began to look into why patients who avoided it might, paradoxically, sometimes be better off, I found something very interesting indeed.
Contrary to Darwin’s theory of mindless, random engine of genetic mutation, cells are very smart. They’re not random at all in their behaviour, or in their response to threats, which allows them to survive purposefully under almost any conditions. After all, these chemo drugs were not known to nature until recently. How then can a supposedly insentient bundle of proteins come up with a device geared to their removal?
When assailed with chemo the indignant cells which do not succumb straightaway devise an ingenious solution: a 2-dimensional blueprint for chemical pumps, which their ribosomes obligingly manufacture at a frantic pace.
These are installed so that on entering the cell, the chemical molecules are immediately attached to and ejected faster than a stroppy Big Brother celeb from a posh club. The cells pass these strips of DNA outside the cell to fellow rebels who import and incorporate them into their humble genome, to make as many of their own bouncers as they like.
This makes a mob of cancer cells immune not to one chemo drug, but all of them. They become super-cells – individually invisible to the eye and lethal to the body – created solely by exposure to manmade chemicals.
Chemotherapy may actually make cancer worse, according to a shocking new study. The extremely aggressive therapy can cause healthy cells to secrete a protein that sustains tumor growth and resistance to further treatment.
Researchers in the United States made the “completely unexpected” finding while seeking to explain why cancer cells are so resilient inside the human body when they are easy to kill in the lab.
They tested the effects of a type of chemotherapy on tissue collected from men with prostate cancer, and found “evidence of DNA damage” in healthy cells after treatment, the scientists wrote in Nature Medicine.
The scientists found that healthy cells damaged by chemotherapy secreted more of a protein called WNT16B which boosts cancer cell survival. “The increase was completely unexpected,” study co-author Peter Nelson of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle told AFP.
The protein was taken up by tumor cells neighboring the damaged cells. “WNT16B, when secreted, would interact with nearby tumor cells and cause them to grow, invade, and importantly, resist subsequent therapy,” said Nelson.
In cancer treatment, tumors often respond well initially, followed by rapid re-growth and then resistance to further chemotherapy.
Rates of tumor cell reproduction have been shown to accelerate between treatments. “Our results indicate that damage responses in benign cells… may directly contribute to enhanced tumor growth,” wrote the team.
Apart from this mechanism, chemo also wrecks your immune system, so while you’d expect the bulk of these tumours to melt away at the start – giving cause to celebrate – you’d also expect a number of surviving super-cells to take advantage of the fences being down and make their way to wherever they can find a reasonably acidic environment. Months or years later, they could erupt in different sites; this is exactly what happens.
I immediately jettisoned coffee, alcohol, and sugar (as far as it could be detected) and put together a plan of action to boost my immune system, using beta glucans, vitamins and minerals, as well as the body’s pH, to try and make my body an unsuitable place for tumours so the existing pair would find it hard to metastasise. If it was unlikely to get worse, I could attack it with anything research or other people had found useful.
My spreadsheet recorded all these factors to monitor my progress day by day and later trace changes in trends to changes in input. I had never thought of food as medicine before, but that’s exactly what it is. Nature doesn’t expect us to obsess over spreadsheets and molecules, so she makes it easy: look, here are some beautiful foods which taste good. The red ones are especially important, and coincidentally a colour you can’t miss.
The only sure fire way to deal with cancer so that the cells can’t adapt is to use the basic nature of those cells, which they cannot change without ceasing to be cancer cells. They hate oxygen, and they like glucose. Hemoglobin is known to work poorly in an acidic environment, which is handy for tumours. But as my surgeon cautioned me, all this research is new, despite billions being spent! And these perfectly sensible ideas are always somehow framed as absurdities by absurd sites like QuackWatch, as if people’s own experiences were not valid, and new ideas not as useful as old, failing ones:
Only recently has it come to light that the dismissal of vitamin C for cancer therapy was based upon oral-dose vitamin C, and subsequent studies found intravenous vitamin C has the potential to be used in cancer therapy.
According to researchers Hickey and Roberts, repeated doses, and use of a special liposomal form of vitamin C that is absorbed in the gut and then into the liver before it is released into the blood stream, are key to making oral vitamin C therapy effective. Another important factor is to limit the consumption of carbohydrates (refined sugar) which impairs oral absorption of this vitamin.
Dr. John Ely, emeritus professor at the University of Washington, has shown that sugar depletes vitamin C from white blood cells and makes them sluggish. White blood cells are the very cells that attack tumor cells and destroy them.
The liposomal form of vitamin C employed in this study consists of 1-gram (1000 milligram) dose sachets of vitamin C powder encapsulated in lecithin (phosphatidylcholine), as supplied by Livon Laboratories of Henderson, Nevada, USA.
The cancer cell-killing effect of vitamin C is realized by the transient production of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) within connective tissues (not in blood), which then destroys tumor cells, and subsequently turns to harmless water (H2O), ensuring non-toxic therapy.
After receiving my bottle of liposomal vitamin C I ingested 4 teaspoons, or 4 gm, equivalent to 40 gm IV, and soon after felt a pronounced ache in my lymph gland. Perhaps any killed cells would be now be waste matter which the lymph would have to deal with rather suddenly. Needless to say I’m maintaining a high dose while supplies last; more research is needed, as they say.
As for the pH, turns out it’s 20 times more difficult to raise your pH than to lower it, just like it’s easier to fall down a mountain than climb it, or to spend rather than to earn money. Slow going but a good thing to do – I’m occasionally getting readings of 7.5, which is the high end of healthy, and occasionally slipping back to 5.5 just by enjoying a slice of pizza.
But at least I now have something to talk to strangers about on planes!