Dr. Mercola interviews Travis Christofferson, the author of Tripping over the Truth: How the Metabolic Theory of Cancer Is Overturning One of Medicine’s Most Entrenched Paradigms
Christofferson: Drugs targeting DNA have been very, very disappointing. We’ve been told that these targeted therapies were going to result in cures. It’s clear that’s not the case because of the data from the Cancer Genome Atlas project. There’s just too much random diversity within the genes. It’s hard enough to find a target from one patient to the next and if you do there’s another phenomenon called intra heterogeneity, which is the difference in mutations from cell to cell within the same tumor.
James Watson Nobel, who won the Nobel Prize in 1954 for discovering the structure of DNA, noticed this and said; I am no longer giving money to the Cancer Genome Atlas project. If we’re ever going to cure cancer we’re clearly going to have to go back to the days of Warburg and focus on the metabolism.
Mercola: Warburg was the first person who noted that there’s a difference in the metabolism. Cancer cells are anaerobically metabolizing glucose (without oxygen) inefficiently and they have this relative primitive form of energy generation and it’s inefficient.
So the question becomes what caused them to revert to this? Peter Peterson out of Hopkins took it to the next step, he actually determined that there is a radically reduced number of mitochondria. There are typically several thousand in each cell comprising about a third to 50% of the volume of the inside of your cell. These generate the energies of our cells.
If you’ve got a radical reduction of those and if the ones that are left are relatively dysfunctional, not even working if they work in at all, then you’ve got a problem. So these cancer cells don’t have a choice, they have to revert to anaerobic metabolism.
Healthy mitochondria send signals, (epigenetic communication) between its cell and the nucleus and this epigenetic signalling from the mitochondria is actually what’s responsible for initiating a significant percentage of the genetic damage that has been identified so well through the DNA sequencing project, which the majority of the scientists have been focused on currently.
If we’re ever going to cure cancer we have to focus on the metabolism.
Christofferson: The mitochondrial damage is irrefutable. We look at cancer cells and the number of mitochondria are vastly reduced. When you isolate and look at the mitochondria you look at them, they’re messed up. There are protein problems; there are lipid problems, and all kinds of structural abnormalities. The question is: “Why has the cancer reverted to anaerobic energy generation?” Nobody really tied that to the terrible structure of the mitochondria. They didn’t have the tools to see the mitochondria and now we do.
Tom Seyfried, the leading edge cancer scientist, has done such a great job of piecing together the events once mitochondrial are damaged. This relationship between mitochondria and the nucleus is so important. They constantly crosstalk and mitochondrial health is correlated to the health of the entire organism, you.
The dominant theory of aging explains that you age because your mitochondria age,they take the brunt of metabolism. When you generate energy you are whipping around free radicals and they’re constantly under stress so they get banged up and beat up and you look at the antioxidants within mitochondria they have declined by about 50% with advanced age.
Mercola: It is important to note, is when they burn fuel they generate these reactive oxygen systems (ROS). But the question is what you fuel are they’re burning?
They are burning glucose (carbohydrates). They are burning dirty fuel generating tons of reactive oxygen species as opposed to burning ketones or fats.
Christofferson: As a fuel ketones are incredible, they burned clean with much less ROS or free radical generation but the clincher with this theory is that once there’s enough mitochondrial damage there is a retrograde response or an epigenetic signal to the nucleus and once this happens then you start to see the accumulation of mutations.
So the whole crux of this theory is which is first? The argument is that the metabolic theory is this mitochondrial damage is how first and then you see the mutations.The mutations appeared as the causebut in fact they are a downstream signalfrom the from the true cause. Researchers were led sort of down this wild-goose chase trying to find what these mutations were and why they were important. So now that we know this we can go back to the mitochondria and ask how do restore our cell and how do we keep them healthy?
The dietary therapy, what Tom Seyfried calls a restricted Ketogenic diet, is the foundation of this therapeutic approach because it does incredible things to the body where it differentiates between cancer cells and normal cells. When you switch from glucose metabolism to ketone metabolism you put energetic pressure on the cancer cells because they have to burn ketones in mitochondria, which is something they don’t have much of.
So we’ve noticed that once you put people in this dietary state everything becomes more effective even traditional chemotherapy even radiation and at the same time you’re mitigating side-effects because healthy tissues are able to withstand the sort of toxic payload from traditional chemotherapy. The exciting thing is when you add on these other metabolic therapies that are synergistic and their mechanisms overlap. Exogenous ketones are exciting. How far can we take that metabolic state to this tipping point where cancer cells growth is stopped but they begin to die.
We can bring blood glucose levels down way farther than most people think safely. You add gluconeogenesis inhibitors that’s one of the main culprits you have to contend with as far as keeping blood glucose down, you add exogenously tones and people are put in this different metabolic state.
They’re shifting away from carbohydrate metabolism and then add on pulses of pressure: 3–bromopyruvate(3-BrPA) and dichloroacetate (DCA) are inhibitors and Metformin. They are very non-toxic that overlap and mechanism.
This foundational shift to a ketone-based metabolism followed by these pulses of pressure appears to be the best avenue to a cure.
Ketone bodies are not just a fuel they’re signalling molecules. Incredibly restorative things happen: you completely rearrange the architecture of your DNA; you start expressing new genes; you drop down the inflammatory genes and boost all these restorative genes. There is mitochondrial biogenesis. Look at all the diseases that spin out of this metabolic dysfunction from not entering the state of ketosis periodically – neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, obesity, diabetes, heart failure, heart disease, arthritis, cancer, and the list goes on.
A shift in macromolecular consumption from carbohydrates to fats can stop diseases. It goes back to Dr. Veech who was the lineage of Otto Warburg. He got his PhD in under Hans Krebs. He’s done a lot of this ketone body research along with Cahill and he said in late 70s or 80s that so many disease states spin out of a function of mitochondrial decay and the ketone bodies can potentially mitigate this process. Now we have exotic ketones that maybe help people that aren’t able to do the dietary restrictions.
The ketogenic diet really is just the maintenance of the fasting state nutritionally. Periodic fasting can be difficult because you transition through this induction phase. Your body is tooled up to burn carbohydrates, so when you fast it has to retool and during that process you burn muscle as a bridge to get you over to fat metabolism.
All evidence points to maybe not a huge increase in lifespan but it definitely a huge increase in health span. For example, if you were predisposed to getting type 2 diabetes in midlife, if you were in ketogenic state you may never get it. So if you want to live well for a long time that is were the benefit will be.
Here is the link to Travis Christofferson’s book Tripping over the Truth: How the Metabolic Theory of Cancer Is Overturning One of Medicine’s Most Entrenched Paradigms https://www.amazon.ca/Tripping-over-Truth-Overturning-Entrenched/dp/1603587292
This Post has the highlights of the interview with Dr. Mercola & Travis Christofferson on the Metabolic Theory of Cancer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvNaO0Poeqs
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