I have been devouring this paradigm-changing book, sitting on my bedside table for several months - a riveting combination of scientific thriller / biochemistry metabolic revision / human and global scientific / drama of gargantuan pharmaceutical and scientific jealousy which posits and convincingly documents how cancer is not a genetic but a metabolic disease.
It would be difficult, if not impossible, to overstate the importance of Tripping Over the Truth: The Return of the Metabolic Theory of Cancer by Travis Christofferson[1-6] which historically relates, discusses, challenges and establishes beyond doubt that the very fundamental scientific beliefs underpinning the cause of cancer by the establishment - the result of genetic / DNA mutations – represent the incorrect paradigm, despite the many billions / trillions of dollars spent on sequencing the entire genome of a cancer cell:
“…in order to understand cancer in its entirety, the entire genome of a cancer cell (all the DNA inside the cell) would have to be sequenced identifying and cataloguing all the ‘driver’ mutations with the DNA… The project compares the sequence of normal DNA to that of different cancer types to determine the exact mutations responsible for the origin and progression of the malignancies. Researchers will finally know cancer in its entirety…Prior to the project, researchers largely believed the sequencing data would reveal an orderly sequence of maybe three to eight genes that when mutated, manifested in a specific type of cancer – an identifying signature like a fingerprint….But what the sequence data revealed was anything but orderly. It exposed an almost random collection of mutations – not a single one, or any combination...being absolutely responsible for initiating the disease…Other than a few commonly mutated oncogenes, the mutational pattern appeared largely random…”
The idea of cancer having a metabolic origin didn’t originate with the author, who pays homage to Prof Thomas Seyfried PhD’s book Cancer as a Metabolic Disease: On the Origin, Management, and Prevention of Cancer [7-10]- an exposition of far-sighted scientists and researchers including Otto Warburg - founder of the Warburg hypothesis and a minority of others including Peter Pedersen of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who carried on, nurtured and revived Warburg’s work:
“Warburg’s observation was this: cancer cells have a perverted method of generating energy. They truncate the conversion of glucose (sugar) into energy. They depend much less on the efficient process of respiratory energy creation, using oxygen – instead relying much more on the ancient and highly inefficient pathway known as fermentation. Later in his career, Warburg contended that this was the origin of cancer. The cell’s ability to generate energy through the oxidative pathway is damaged, and the cells reverts to fermentation. He said: ‘Cancer, above all other diseases, has countless secondary causes. But even for cancer, there is only one prime cause. Summarized in a few words, the prime cause of cancer is the replacement of the respiration of oxygen in normal body cells by a fermentation of sugar’.”
Travis Christofferson is a gifted historical storyteller, as he delves into the historical annals including 19th and 20th century scientists, including Percival Pott, Rodolf Virchow, David Paul von Hansemann, Walther Fleming, Peyton Rous, leading up to Otto Warburg. Even Albert Einstein makes an appearance. Following the discovery of DNA by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953 and the ensuing decades - “the golden age of molecular biology” - the genetic basis of cancer certainly occupied the ascendancy of research into cancer, which remains today the prevalent theory and basis of cancer treatment by the medical, academic and oncology establishments.
This book recounts the important scientific discoveries and personalities, both in the molecular genetics, as well as pivotal experiments establishing how the metabolism becomes deranged in cancer cells and become ‘stuck’ in their absolute requirement to utilize glucose rather than oxygen for energy.
“Seyfried proposed that chronic and persistent damage to the cell’s ability to respire aerobically triggered an epigenetic signal from the mitochondria to nuclear DNA. The signal then altered the expression of a plethora of key cancer-causing oncogenes – a classic epigenetic system…Pedersen had shown that the single transition of hexokinase II drastically altered the metabolic landscape of the cells. By binding to the mitochondrial outer membrane, it turned the cells into immortal, crazed fermenters… The signal told the nucleus to transcribe a host of genes responsible for preparing the cell to ferment glucose in order to compensate for declining oxidative energy production.”
There is much, much more information in this book than can be provided in a short review. There is the rollercoaster saga of competing research groups, of the brilliant Korean research scientist Young Hee Ko PhD who together with Pederson as recounted by Dr Joseph Mercola:
“…noticed was that when cancer cells overproduce lactic acid, they have to produce more pores, called monocarboxylic acid transfer phosphates, to let lactic acid out, or else the cancer cell will die from the inside out. As mentioned, lactic acid is a very toxic substance. Pondering how to best exploit this functional difference between normal cells and cancer cells, Ko remembered a compound called 3-bromopyruvate (3BP), which she'd worked with while getting her PhD.
“This molecule looks very similar to lactic acid, but it's highly reactive. She thought 3BP might be able to slip into the pore that's allowing the lactic acid to be expelled from the cancer cell, thereby preventing the lactic acid from spilling out. Her hunch was correct. In over 100 lab tests, 3BP blew away all of the chemotherapy drugs she used for comparison. In a nutshell, 3BP ‘melts’ tumours away by preventing the lactic acid from leaking out of the cancer cell, thereby killing it from the inside.”
The book relates meticulous historical detail and, also perhaps more importantly clear and accurate scientific information regarding ketogenic diets, the restricted ketogenic diet (RKD) with Case Studies of its success not only with cancer patients, but also in people with diabetes, epilepsy and other conditions.
Paradigms are all-important - this book posits that the premise that cancer is caused by gene mutation(s) - is actually not true and documents with scientific and biochemical and genetic evidence how cancer can be prevented and treated metabolically - by transitioning from glucose oxidative to ketogenic metabolism. This book ought to be on the shelf of every practitioner and cancer patient.
References and Further Reading
4. Interview of Travis Christofferson by Dr Joseph Mercola: www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5T25tJvFTI
7. Cancer as a Metabolic Disease: On the Origin, Management, and Prevention of Cancer by Prof Thomas Seyfried. Published by Wiley-Blackwell. 2012. Hardcover. £79.99 / $40.92. ISBN-10: 0470584920.
8. Interview of Professor Thomas Seyfried by Dr Joseph Mercola: www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-_UY-WnH1k