Dr. Otto Warburg was a German pioneer in cancer research who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1931 for the discovery that cancer cells have a completely different metabolism than normal cells. Dr. Warburg was a true visionary and one of the greatest biochemists of the 20th century. One of his team members was Hans Krebs, the inventor of the so-called Krebs cycle.
The Krebs cycle describes the oxidative reduction pathways in the mitochondria. A cell can either product energy aerobically (mitochondria) or anaerobically (cytoplasm). When the process is anaerobic, there’s a byproduct called lactic acid. Dr. Warburg discovered that cancer cells produce a lot of lactic acid when exposed to oxygen, which makes mitochondrial energy production far more efficient.
According to Warburg, the primary cause for cancer is the reversion of aerobic energy generation to anaerobic fermentation. Knowing this, he concluded that it’s possible to reverse cancer if we disrupt the energy production cycle that feeds the tumor.
Although Dr. Warburg hasn’t been able to prove his theory, the never stopped believing in it. Sadly, his theories were not fully accepted by science until recently.
Sugar feeds cancer cells
Dr. Warburg’s theory says that cancer cells are fueled by anaerobic burning of sugar – without it, they wouldn’t be able to survive. However, his theories were ignored right after science turned towards genetics. From the 1950s onward, the primary research on cancer has been focused on genetics.
The so-called gene hypothesis became even more popular after Dr. Bishop and Dr. Vamus won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1976 for their research on viral oncogenes in cancer cell DNA. From there, the research moved to genetic mutations, and the theory that cancer cells are distorted version of normal cells was established.
The Warburg revival
The Warburg revival didn’t happen for another 30 years. About 10 years ago, the Cancer Genome Atlas project discovered that the cell mutations are far more random than previously thought, and that it’s almost impossible to detect the genetic origin of cancer. Some tumors have no mutations at all, so the scientists working on the project reverted back to Warburg’s theory.
“There are many mutations in a single cancer, and there are limited ways of energy production in the cells. Cancer cells rely on this type of fuel in a different way than normal cells, and the revival of Warburg’s theory may actually slow down the growth of cancer cells by starving them of their food,” it was written in an article from the New York Times.
Even James Watson, one of the leading doctors in the field of molecular biology, says that targeting metabolism is far more promising than looking at mutations only.
The cancer-causing genes regulate the nutrient consumption of the cells
The gene theory was not completely off the table – scientists have discovered that a gene known as AKT regulates the nutrient consumption of cells, which means that some genes may actually play a big role in cancer.
“As Dr. Craig Thompson puts it, cells need instructions from another set of cells in order to eat or divide. He believes that by identifying the mutations which lead to overconsumption of sugar, we can have a clearer idea on how cancer develops,” the article said.
The AKT gene creates a protein which is part of the mutated signaling proteins that are present in 80% of cancers. Once these proteins start working faster, the cells “stop listening” to the instructions from other cells and consume glucose all the time.
Normal cells have a mechanism of storing resources in cases of lack of food, but cancer cells don’t. As Dr. Chi Van Dang says, they are addicted to nutrients, and they even die when they can’t consume enough food.
A new treatment offers renewed hope for cancer patients
In the early 2000s, Young Kee Ho, a Korean biochemist was working with Peter Pedersen, a professor of biological chemistry at Johns Hopkins when they stumbled upon a discovery that could change everything we know about cancer treatment. Ho and Pedersen discovered that cancer cells produce new pores when they overproduce lactic acid in order to let it out and stay alive.
Lactic acid is highly toxic, even for cancer cells, which is why the cells are trying to get rid of it. In order to exploit this difference between normal and cancer cells, Ho remembered a molecule on which she worked on while getting her Ph.D – 3BP.
3BP is very similar to lactic acid, but it’s more reactive. Ho had an idea of slipping the molecule into the newly created pores and preventing the lactic acid from coming out, effectively killing the cancer cells. After performing a big number of tests, 3BP has shown that it works better than any kind of cancer treatment. It killed the cells from within by preventing the lactic acid from coming out through the pores.
An old diabetes drug may be the cure for cancer
Metformin, one of the most popular drugs for diabetes, has shown that it has anti-cancer potential, which is essentially Warburg’s theory – that cancer cells don’t favor a low-glucose environment.
“Although the exact mechanism that kills cancer cells is a part of debate, studies have shown that metformin could have use against a variety of cancer types,” it was written in the New York Times Article. “Before he died, Warburg was obsessed with his diet and believed that every type of cancer can be prevented with a change in our dietary habits.
The thought that chemicals used in agriculture cause tumors, and stopped eating any kind of food unless he produced it on his own. Of course, Warburg’s diet is unlikely to become a cure for cancer, but the revival has allowed scientists to look at cancer prevention in a new way. They have been able to discover that a high-glucose diet is responsible for the development of cancer cells.”
Metformin can actually improve the mitochondrial dysfunction, but it has also been related to vitamin B12 deficiency, so it isn’t exactly ideal. Berberine is a natural alkaloid that works safer and in a similar fashion, but none of this would work if the patient doesn’t restrict protein consumption to 1 gr. per kg. of body weight and lower the consumption of carbs to about 40 gr. per day.
Changing your diet isn’t enough to prevent cancer – there are also other factors which should be considered before the Warburg revival is in full effect.
The importance of diet in cancer treatment
As we mentioned before, it’s vital to reduce the intake of carbs and increase the intake of healthy fats in order to defeat cancer. 85% of your daily calories should come from high-quality fats, while 7-10% of the calories should come from protein. This is the exact solution for cancer treatment, as any other idea would probably not work.
Sugar is out of the question – glucose only feeds the cancer cells and allows them to thrive. Glucose generates a more reactive oxygen species than burning fat, which is why a high-fat fat-burning diet seems to be working effectively against cancer.
Once your body shifts from burning glucose to burning fat as an energy source, the cancer cells will struggle to stay alive due to their mitochondrial dysfunction. In this way, the healthy cells will have a good source of fuel and improved mitochondrial function.
To keep your health in check, you’ll need to consume an ideal combination of high-quality fats, proteins and carbohydrates, and eat a healthy organic diet.
As we said, 75-85% of your fat intake should come from healthy fats found in high-quality olive oil, ghee, lard, grass-fed meat, krill-oil and raw nuts (macadamia, pecans, sesame, cumin). These foods contain monounsaturated fats as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fats which your body needs to fight the disease.
For high-quality carbs, you should include raw nuts, chia seeds, cauliflower, peas, root vegetables, tubers, broccoli and Brussels sprouts in your diet.
Finally, your proteins should come from nuts and seeds, pork, poultry, fish, vegetables, eggs and cooked grains. However, limit the consumption of protein to about 10% of your calories, as more can have adverse side-effects.
Optimized mitochondrial function is key for cancer prevention
As scientists are now fully aware that impaired mitochondrial dysfunction is the cause of all diseases including cancer, optimizing the function of the mitochondria is the key to a cure. A high-fat and low-net carb diet works as it reduces inflammation in the body – once it’s gone, the body can heal and get rid of any kind of disease including the most deadly one.