• Home



Book-2: Guide to Total Wellness -1.0

In normal mammalian cells, glycolysis represents the starting point of energy synthesis. Its end product, pyruvic acid, is in turn shunted first into the citric acid cycle, then ultimately into the electron transport chain. Along the way, a complex series of step-wise reactions releases multiple energy-rich ATP molecules. (See page 62).

Based on his years studying cellular metabolism, Dr. Warburg proposed that cancer cells, unlike normal cells, rely exclusively on anaerobic glycolysis for energy. Such cells do fine in the absence of oxygen, since the metabolic machinery of glycolysis doesn’t require it. He claimed that in these abnormal cells glycolysis actually uncouples from the citric acid cycle and electron transport, leaving the cells dependent solely on this rather inefficient mechanism for survival. Bacteria also synthesize their ATP energy exclusively from glycolysis, in the process we know as fermentation.

This uncoupling of glycolysis from the citric acid cycle and electron transport, and the supposed fundamental dependency of cancer cells on anaerobic metabolism, has been studied extensively since Warburg’s day, with many scientists around the world claiming to confirm, then adding to, Warburg’s hypothesis. As Seyfried correctly points out, in more recent times, cancer researchers have begun drifting away from the study of disordered cellular physiology, enamored as they are of genetic abnormality as the primary and only driving force in cancer formation and growth.

Warburg’s ideas about faulty metabolism seem to have been overshadowed by the elegance of, and fascination for, the “genetic cause of cancer.”

Seyfried makes the case, using the contemporary basic science data, to support Warburg’s belief that cancer cells depend solely on glycolysis for survival, with his claim regarding the uncoupling of this sugar-fueled, oxygen-independent process from the citric acid cycle and the electron transport chain. But he goes a major step further, stating as fact that since cancer cells depend on anaerobic glucose metabolism for energy, they can be stopped in their tracks by depriving them of blood glucose.

Though our normal cells do just fine in the absence of carbohydrates, cancer cells, Seyfried claims, do not. These cells can never use fatty acids or ketone bodies for any significant energy production, since the citric acid cycle and electron transport in them remain basically inactive. So, he proposes that on a high fat, high fibre, moderate protein, near no carb, restricted caloric diet, a cancer patient will deprive his or her deadly abnormal cells of their only useful source of energy, blood glucose, leading to apoptosis, or cell death. It’s that simple. No dietary sugar, no fructose, no cancer.

The science is impressive, the conclusion, as it seems too many, extraordinarily promising. But, is this Ketogenic diet really a “new” idea or simply an old one, repackaged for the 21st century? And, can history teach us anything about its efficacy against cancer, or any other disease?

During the first half of the 20th century, physicians and researchers studying the traditional Eskimo (Inuit) culture were amazed by the health of these people subsisting on a very peculiar – at least to the Western academic mind – high fat Ketogenic diet. The famed Arctic explorer Stefansson first documented the traditional Eskimo diet, which was later studied in some detail in the early 1930s by a research team from McGill University in Montreal.

To the surprise of these investigators – at the time when no Western scientist believed any human could survive on nothing but meat – this Eskimo diet consisted of virtually 100 percent animal products, 80 percent in the form of fat, with much of it saturated, 20 percent protein, but essentially no carbohydrates. From cradle to grave these traditional Eskimos lived in good health in a state of ketosis.

In retrospect, it makes sense that in the Arctic, the Eskimos, in order to survive, would have adjusted to their high fat, moderate protein, no carb diet. With its brief summer and lacking soils suitable for crops, the region provides insufficient plant foods suitable for human consumption but does offer an abundance of fatty animal food both on land and in the sea. If the Eskimos hadn’t adapted to such food, living as they did in such a difficult, extreme part of the world, they simply would have died off.

Interestingly, as Dr. Stefansson writes in his book ‘Cancer – Disease of Civilization’, the Eskimos he studied and lived with for ten years, knew that their exclusive animal food diet must be high fat, with moderately low protein.

As Dr. Stefansson and later scientists learned, the Eskimos living on their high fat moderate protein, near no carb, Ketogenic diet seemed free from the typical degenerative diseases including cancer and heart disease, already becoming rampant in the Western world during the early decades of the 20th century. Their diet also endowed them with superb, enduring good health.

Blake Donaldson, MD, was quite familiar with Stefansson’s reports on the Eskimo diet, and in his book ‘Strong Medicine’in the 1920’s, began recommending an all-meat, high-fat regimen for his patients diagnosed with a variety of complaints such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, though he doesn’t appear to have treated cancer specifically.

More recently, the famed New York diet doctor, Dr. Robert Atkins, MD, a cardiologist, popularized the Ketogenic diet, not for cancer, but as the ultimate weight loss and good health plan. In order to maintain and sustain, nutritional ketosis, you need to decrease both carbohydrates and protein. But how much protein is enough? (See – ‘The Food – Fat – Energy Cycle’)

As the years passed, Dr. Atkins, began to see in the Ketogenic diet the answer to many of the problems of Western civilization beyond obesity, including heart disease, diabetes, hypertension – and yes, even cancer. (See – ‘Cancer – Its Prevention and Cure’).

Pages: 1 2 3 4

Reader comments

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments