Apr
01
2013

My Experience With Cancer Research

April is cancer awareness and fundraising month. I thought it would be interesting to analyze what’s going on behind the scenes of cancer research. I was a cancer researcher for over 3 years at the Ontario Cancer Institute (OCI) from 1972 to 1975 and I will share some insider experiences here.

1. Publish or perish

We were told by our supervisors to “publish or perish”. In other words all the experiments we did needed to fit into the larger picture the group was working on, and the results should be different and interesting and most of all publishable. There had to be significant differences between experimental groups and controls, so that publishers of medical journals would accept them for publication. There were often two or three manuscript revisions where the content was “massaged” (proper wording, comparing or opposing the results with other publications) so that it was considered “publishable”.

2. Fund raising awareness

One of the major fund sources for cancer research in Canada was the MRC (Medical Research Council of Canada), which has been replaced by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) in 2000. Without money there is no cancer research, so everybody was aware of the policies and expectations of the fund source.

3. Mouse model versus human tissue based research

I was working in the immunology section of the biophysics department, where basic medical research at the OCI is done. In this department much research had already been performed separating cell populations in a mouse model to determine what cell types were needed to initiate an immune response. The B cells in mammals are antibody-producing cells of the immune system that protect from viruses. T cells are thymus-processed cells that turn into killer cells, which can attack parasites and also cancer cells. I was working in this area. We did cell separation experiments where the cells were separated according to cell size and collected in vials. Subsequently remixing experiments were done to find out what cell types were needed to mount an immune response to a mouse tumor cell line as targets. I started questioning whether a mouse model would be the appropriate model to study human cancer biology. But this was not met with approval, as the “holy grail” was that what worked in a mouse model (mouse mammalian cells) should also work in the human situation (human mammalian cells).

My Experience With Cancer Research

My Experience With Cancer Research

4. Non-medical researchers in cancer research

This is a thorny issue, but a reality. My immediate supervisor in cancer research had a PHD in physics, which was perfect for sorting out density issues for cell separation experiments. His colleague and co-chair of the immunology department had a PHD in biology, which was a good fit for mouse experiments. Both of them felt somewhat insecure when I asked probing questions about relevance of mouse experiments for the human cancer condition. As I needed to publish my experiments, which were done under the supervision of these supervisors, I had to quiet down and concentrate on the mouse model the team was working on. For a while this could even be exciting as we were studying the cell interaction between macrophages and T cells to mount a cell-mediated immune response.

5. Regulation of the cancer research industry

After playing with cell cultures for 2 ½ years it was time for me to reach out to get a job in the cancer research field or else go back to medicine. In1975 there was no equal opportunity legislation in place that would have protected me as a landed immigrant from discrimination. The reality in 1975 was that only Canadian born physicians who attended a Medical School in Canada could become a director of a cancer research facility in Canada. The rules for me (I had left Germany right after my rotating internship) were that I had to go through further medical training and pass the Canadian licensing exam (LMCC), which I did eventually at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. One final attempt to shed light on my options was an interview with the “big boss” at the Ontario Cancer Institute at the time, a physician cancer researcher, Dr. Ernest A. McCulloch, for whom I had great respect. He was a sharp thinker and had vision, and he was a fellow physician. I asked him what he would do on the long-term, if he was in my place. He said that in the long-term with my medical background it would be a lot more satisfying for me to get back into medicine and practice medicine. However, he wanted me to go on for another 1 or 2 years and publish more papers together with my supervisors. I decided for myself right there that I would leave cancer research and I prepared quietly for my exit. Within a short time I got a position to work as an intern at a hospital at McMaster University and in the spring of 1978 I passed the LMCC (licensing) exam. As a fully licensed physician in Canada I was no longer interested in “slave work” in cancer research. I also left the cold winters of Ontario behind and went to the west, to British Columbia.

6. Future vision of medical cancer research

Research has come a long way. Recently I came across a new breast cancer protocol, which is non-toxic, without chemotherapy and without radiation. It is so unconventional that the US research team, aware of the politics in the US, decided to do the initial trials in the Caribbean. I wrote a blog about this new breast cancer treatment protocol, which I believe will become the future standard for breast cancer therapy and perhaps even for other cancers.

In Germany and Switzerland there is an alternative breast cancer treatment with a non-toxic plant-based chemotherapy involving mistletoe extracts. It has a dual action, namely a chemotherapeutic effect, but at the same time an immune system stimulating effect. Here is a study going back to 2001, which is still relevant. There was a 40% long-term survival benefit in the Iscador group when compared to a control group without treatment. Normally, oncologists would jump at such an excellent chemotherapeutic agent as even chemotherapeutic agents that show a 25% beneficial survival effect would be considered a good treatment option. However, as the medication is a simple mistletoe extract and cannot be patented, Big Pharma is not interested in marketing this. As a result cancer treatment protocols in Europe are significantly different from those in North America.

In the future I would expect that non-toxic treatment methods for any type of cancer will be more successful than any chemotherapeutic or radiation treatment approaches as both interfere with the immune function, which is what will kill the patient at the end. As cancer is a disease where the immune system fails, cancer patients need to be shown how to stimulate their immune system, as this is the only thing, which can control cancer on the long-term.

You will hear more about epigenetic switches as often a cancer producing substance will turn off a gene (epigenetic switch) and this causes cancer.  Remove what throws that switch into the off position or introduce a healing agent that resets the switch and the cancer will get eliminated.

7. Prevention of cancer

The most powerful cancer preventatives are found in herbs, spices, vitamins and minerals. Did you know that curcumin, derived from the Indian spice turmeric, prevents a number of cancers? Similarly, vitamin D3 at high enough doses (4000 to 5000 IU per day) has been shown to prevent cancers. Linus Pauling showed long time ago that vitamin C at high enough dose would be an antioxidant and would stimulate the immune system and thereby be a cancer preventative. It works together with a detoxifying antioxidant, glutathione in the liver to neutralize any free radicals, which are aggressive chemicals that cause cancer. There are many other vitamins and minerals that I have explained elsewhere, which are needed together with organic food to give you the building blocks for a stable cell metabolism. This in turn will strengthen the immune system to defend you from toxins of the environment. A simple step like a daily exercise routine can cut your cancer risk down to 50% compared to those who elect to not exercise. Did I mention the importance of quitting smoking and cutting out alcohol? The “quit smoking” part has been known for some time. I learnt about cancer being caused by smaller doses of alcoholic beverages over a long period of time at the Anti-Aging conference in Las Vegas in December 2011. First I thought it would be a big deal to quit alcohol entirely. But since I have quit the modest few drinks per month that I thought I would miss, I actually have not missed them at all! I strongly believe in cancer prevention, so quitting alcohol completely was only one small step in this overall objective. In view of the recent statement by the WHO that 70% of all deaths are caused by smoking and drinking of alcoholic beverages, it behooves us to change our lifestyles, if we are at all interested in a healthy long life.

Conclusion

From reading about cancer research now, nothing has changed in cancer research circles since the time when I was part of it. Basic cancer research involving animal experiments is necessary. But in my opinion cancer research should be more human-centered using human cell lines in culture and using clinical trials. Ultimately cancer research needs to invent and develop new non-toxic cancer therapies to cure cancer patients.

More on cancer in general and on specific cancers: http://nethealthbook.com/cancer-overview/

Last edited Nov. 6, 2014

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Dec
17
2012

Lessons from the 2012 Anti-Aging Conference in Las Vegas…From Wheat to Autoimmune Disease and Obesity.

It is not possible to summarize all the multitude of lectures from a three day conference on one page. However, what was striking was that several topics such as autoimmunity, obesity, diabetes, hormone disbalances and more did develop into a common thread. Dr. William Davis, the author of the book “Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health” explained how the BASF, a major chemical company from Germany was able to chemically modify the genes of wheat in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The farmers liked that the new wheat (called Clearfield wheat) grew with stronger roots, shorter final stems and much larger grains so the yield per acre was higher. This type of wheat was patented under the name of Clearfield wheat and sold all around the world. What was not publicized at the time was that the gliadin content increased manifold from the composition of wheat strains used for thousands of years before. Gliadin gets rid of the glue like substance between the gut cells and causes leaky gut syndrome, something that was mentioned at many other lectures throughout the conference. This leads to exposure of immune cells to foreign proteins from the gut, which causes the immune system to hyper react with autoimmune antibodies.

Dr. Aristo Vojdani explained in his lecture that there are three stages of autoimmune disease. First, there is the silent stage where there are no symptoms, but the immune system is starting to react. Next there is autoimmune reactivity, which is the second stage. The third stage is autoimmune disease where there are signs of loss of body function. Autoimmunity develops in about 1/3 of identical twins in families who are prone to this. When non-identical twins were examined as a control group, only 2% to 5% of twins developed it. This tells us that genetics are responsible for only about 1/3 of the cases of autoimmunity. The other 2/3 come from the environment such as genetically modified foods, toxic chemicals, and chronic infections and also from substances excreted by fat cells. Dr. Vojdani emphasized that gliadin in our foods has become one of the major factors of driving autoimmune diseases up in the last few decades. It is the immune cells, called T cells that will determine whether our own cells are considered “self” or whether they are considered “foreign” and are attacked as they are in autoimmune diseases such as Celiac’s disease, ulcerative colitis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, MS and others.

Las Vegas December 15, 2012v

Las Vegas, December 15, 2012

There are regulatory T cells, which are good and T cells whose genetic material has been changed to become Th17 cells, a kind of “Pac Man” cell that attacks cells inside the body. Altered gut flora (called gut dysbiosis) in connection with a leaky gut syndrome contributes to the formation of these aggressive Th17 cells. It is the combination of gliadin with bowel dysbiosis that drives the development of autoimmune diseases. Behind this is the fact that the gut plays a major role in the normal functioning of the immune system. Normally there is a tight connection between the gut cells that form the lining of the gut so that there is no exposure of immune cells from the blood to the contents of the gut flora. We are fortunate that researchers have developed antibody titer tests for the major food groups and these can be valuable pointers that can be used as a tool during the first two stages of autoimmunity before autoimmune disease causes permanent damage. Using these tests on large population groups researchers have found that common food allergies develop against wheat, dairy products, soy and eggs (as Dr. Pamela Smith remarked and Dr. Thomas Alexander explained in detail).  IG-G, IG-A and IG-E antibody tests can be run from a few blood drops and tested against a whole battery of common foods. This helps the physician to monitor the development and treatment of autoimmune diseases.

Back to the leaky gut and obesity. The obesity wave in North America and the rest of the world started when the newly patented Clearfield wheat was introduced. With the higher gliadin in wheat products the balance in the gut was changed, more gliadin entered the body, it bound to the opiate receptors of the appetite center (although it is structurally differently from opium) and caused a hunger for more of the same product. The excess calories –in this case from wheat products- are stored as fat. Fat cells by themselves have their own hormones and inflammatory substances causing diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes and even cancer. Add to this that with obesity the enzyme aromatase from fat cells causes elevated estrogen production, which causes estrogen dominance and results in heart disease and breast cancer in females and heart disease and prostate cancer in males.

So, this is the story of the A4M conference 2012 in a nutshell: Wheat products with the increased gliadin (gluten) content have caused increased leaky gut syndrome in the population since the 1970’s. This is the cause of the wheat addiction, which was further fueled by the obsession of the regulatory bodies to recommend strongly eating according to the food pyramid (a splendid marketing pyramid for wheat consumption, as one of the recommended  products are cereals and wheat).With these findings  the cause of the obesity wave can be clearly seen. Along with obesity comes the flood of autoimmune diseases, which have developed from the action of the Pac Man type TH17 immune cells that attack various tissues in the body. The common denominator in the body is a low grade chronic inflammation that Dr. Aristo Vojdani explained in more detail. This causes blood vessel diseases culminating in high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and cancer.

There were many other lectures that I attended. Some dealt with bio-identical hormone replacement, some with telomere health, and others with the effect of fitness on an ongoing basis to achieve longevity. Like a red thread lifestyle issues were discussed in almost every lecture. Nutrition is not the only factor in longevity. Exercise on a regular basis can be instrumental in preventing about 50% of disease, especially the main killers like heart attacks, strokes and cancer.

More information on celiac disease: http://nethealthbook.com/digestive-system-and-gastrointestinal-disorders/celiac-disease/

Last updated Nov. 6, 2014