Category Archives: 6. Killing Cancer with Nutrition

Cancer Free? The AMAS Test

Cancer Free? The AMAS Test

References: Jenny Hrbacek’s Cancer Free?Andrew WeilCancer LettersScience DirectPeptides of Biological Fluids,

Right up front, read the standard, balanced, traditional medical world’s assessment of the AMAS test by Andrew Weil, and wonder why on earth I would write a column about it. Well, consider that Dr. Weil is ensconced in a medical school and is getting his advice from oncologists who make the vast, vast majority of their income from selling traditional chemotherapy, that you know and I know, in solid tumors doesn’t work very well. I admire Dr. Weil deeply, but I’m also skeptical of the pervasive influence of money.
I’m doing this column because I keep having clients asking for it because it makes sense to them, and as part of a basket of testing, it makes sense to me. The question is, is it valid? Does it say what it says it will do?
So, what is the AMAS test? It is a blood test, approved by Medicare, that measures for the presence of the antibody to a protein called malignin, present on most cancers. It is non-specific. It goes up and down with successful treatment. And it rises and falls with immune function. So, as the cancer overwhelms your immune system, which inevitably it does, it turns “false” negative. So a negative test may be an indicator of grave prognosis.

Its accuracy goes roughly as follows. Of 1,026 known cancer patients, 92.7% had a positive test with a mean level of 273. Normal controls have a mean level of 59 and outpatients out of a hospital without cancer are around 64. Up to 135 is considered normal.

Now, if you take known cancer patients whose level is below 135 (the so-called false negative), out of 135 patients, 90 will be dead within a year. Their immune system is being overwhelmed and they are in trouble. The cancer is winning.

This appears to me to be an interesting test. The antibody shows up when you have cancer. It can kill the cancer cell in a petri dish but inside your body, the cancer cell can hide and escape. It goes down when you are successfully treated. Where would you be helped with its use? How about when you have a positive mammogram and are skeptical that you’ve been fully evaluated? How about before you start taking estrogen therapy if you are worried about having cancer being initiated by the hormones. How about when you are losing weight and can’t find any reason for it. How about when your doctor says your cancer was successfully treated, and you want to make sure.

It’s a tool. It should be part of a basket of ideas that you know how to follow and monitor. It may not be the best, most precise, most accurate, but don’t let perfect be the enemy of good enough.

The problem is the dry ice. It has to be shipped on dry ice. That’s a bit hard to do. But where there is a will, there is a way.

WWW: What will work for me. I’m really curious about this one. It certainly appears to raise some people’s ire, but like all medical tests, it is a tool. I’m interested to see what they track record we can generate. In any case, I have the kits on order and found a source of dry ice that you can buy by the pound.

Pop Quiz

  1. What does the AMAS test test for?                                                   Answer: The presence of an antibody to a protein called malignin.
  2. What is malignin?                                                                                Answer: A protein put out by just about every cancer.
  3. When your cancer is very advanced, what happens to the test?            Answer: It starts to fall and drops off as the cancer overwhelms the immune system and races out of control.
  4. How can you tell the difference between an early cancer and one that is getting out of control?                                                                                                  Answer: You can’t. You have to get a series of tests and see what the slope of change is.
  5. Is this test useful?                                                                                 Answer: You bet, particularly when you are in a position of wanting to know early about the presence of a cancer. Example: you have had a mastectomy at age 35 and were told you were cancer free. You have just gotten married and met the man of your dreams, and you want to have a child. Is there cancer still in you. Would you be reassured?

 

 

Cancer Free? Check Your Circulating Tumor Cells

Cancer Free? Check Your Circulating Tumor Cells

References: Jenny Hrbacek Cancer FreeWikipediaTherapeutic Adv Med Onco,

Circulating tumor cells are not rare. Hang on. You may have them. Right now. Yup, everyone one of us may have circulating tumor cells that are being shed off a cancer. Your immune system may handle them and you may never get disease. Or, they may represent hidden disease that is still years away from presentation.
What they represent is that shedding and spreading of an original clone of cancer cells to distant places. The thought is that metasteses are what kill the majority of people with cancer by causing the disease to spread to so many sites that surgical control, or radiation therapy, can no longer keep up. When you hit about 1 kg of cancer total, your burden is so great your body cannot maintain itself and you succumb to the illness.
From our prior week’s newsletters, you should now understand that a visible 1 cm cancer lesion has a billion cells in it, which represent about 7-10 years worth of growth, or 30 generations of doubling. As the cancer grows, it sheds cells into the lymph system, or into the blood system and those cells float away. Generally, they don’t stick and survive. Most are filtered out and are gobbled up by your immune system. We think that the majority of them are able to successfully spread only when they travel in bunches or groups. But there they are, and that’s what will do you in. Your lung, your liver, your bones and occasionally your brain tend to be where the cells are captured and then establish a new colony. Cancers in the bowel tend to then spread to the liver, as that is the next upstream filter. Breast can go almost anywhere. Prostate is commonly in bone. On and on.

Hmmm. So, you may have circulating cancer cells floating around from a cancer that is only 13 generations into its growth, so is so tiny you can’t see it. You can’t feel it. You can’t find it to biopsy it. But with antibody technology, you can find it, bind it, measure it and know it is there. Just not exactly where. We can even find fragments of circulating DNA (ctDNA) from destroyed cancer cells that indicate something amiss; either the cancer cells dying and disintegrating from your immune attack. And all 5-7 years before it shows up clinically. At that stage, the cancer is likely to be more mature than a cancer at the 23 generation stage. Or more mature than the 27th generation stage, when it is still too small to be seen but is now even less mature and more aggressive and out of control. Earlier generations are more prone to be vulnerable to lifestyle changes: diet, supplements like curcumin, mushrooms, alkalinity, polyphenols.
And here is the kicker. What happens if you change your diet and exercise and after three months, your CTCs go down? Would you continue to eat the way you are eating with lots of vegetables and no animal protein? Would your fast mimicking diet not seem so onerous? You betcha.
The test is from Biocept in San Diego. They can also test for some specific markers of specific cancers like HER2, ER, EGFR, BRAF, ALK, PD-L1, KRAS, NRAS, PR, AR, ROS1, RET, MET, and FGFR1. And if you understood one word of that sentence, you are way ahead of the fame. The test needs to be done at least two weeks away from any prior treatment and requires a courier service to ship it. The company claims their validated biomarkers are 83-90 percent sensitive and 92-99 percent specific. Some insurance companies pay for it, and Biocept is willing to give it a try. But you can get it for around $ 700.

WWW: What will work for me. Goodness. This is a roadmap to allow folks with disease the opportunity to monitor how they are doing. It’s a bit pricey, but the data is pretty powerful. Knowing that you may be getting a 7-10 year jumpstart is pretty cool if you want to know. Would you get chemotherapy for a specific cancer before you could even see the cancer? It raises many issues, to be discussed by you and your oncologist/doctor. I’m doing it.

Pop Quiz

  1. Most people with cancer die from the size of their primary cancer? T or F         Answer: False. Most people die from the accumulated mass and disruption caused by the original cancer spreading to distant sites by cancer cells floating around and taking root in distant places. It’s still breast cancer if it started in your breast and is now mostly in bones. And it will very likely have protein markers you can measure on it.
  2. How big does a cancer have to be to show up on a physical exam?                   Answer: Usually in the range of 1 cm, which is a billion cells, which is 30 generations.
  3. What happens to circulating cancer cells when you start a lifestyle strategy change that is successful?                                                                                                                    Answer: The CTCs (circulating cancer cells) go down. Success!
  4. Which would you rather have, surgery on your lung to biopsy a cancer ($ 25,000 and 3 days in the hospital) or a blood test ($ 700 in 5 a minute blood draw)?                    Answer: Your choice
  5. The blood test for circulating cancer cells becomes? What?                               Answer: A liquid, affordable biopsy.

 

Cancer Free? Check your Metabolic Profile

Cancer Free? Check your Metabolic Profile

References: Cancer Free HrbacekWikipediaCancer ResearchBr J CancerOncotargetWorld Jr Biol ChemJournal of Cancer,

When cancers start they tend to become “less mature” in an increasing fashion. It shouldn’t be surprising that cancers have immature fetal proteins in them. Humans start as immature fetuses. Your first marker of being pregnant as a woman is having HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) in your urine. That’s the little line that shows up on the pregnancy test you bought at Walgreen’s. It logically follows that the immature cells of cancers might make HCG, a fetal protein. Indeed, some unique cancers that start in the placenta skyrocket their HCG levels, but a lot of cancers have a little bit of HCG. By itself, that little bit might merit a shrug. The core idea of the American Metabolic Profile is to combine all the markers that show up in small amounts in various cancers into a panel of tests. Each one of them is not so remarkable. However, all of them put together combine to make a uniquely sensitive test. This may not tell you what you have, but it’s quantity may be useful in expressing how much you are progressing or regressing.

Here are the separate markers in the test.
1. HCG. As mentioned, the pregnancy test. Normal is less than 1 mIU/ml. 1-3 is a gray zone. Anything above 3 is something to be concerned about and monitor. This can show up as early as 10 years before an x-ray or physical exam will find the cancer. How does it relate to pregnancy? Less than 5 is “not pregnant” and greater than 25 is “pregnant”. It doubles every couple of days in pregnancy. Cancer is a different beast. A level of 2.2 might not merit a fire alarm. When it changes to 2.6 in this profile, it does!
2. PHI, Phosphohexose isomerase. Funny little protein that helps glucose shift back and forth with fructose. No big deal. But somehow it also ends up playing a role in helping cancers spread, metastasize. That’s exactly what you want to know. Normal is under 34 and the gray zone is 34-40. But any change is meaningful.

3. CEA: Carcinoembryonic Antigen. This has been found to be present in many folks with cancer, and rises and falls with the amount of the cancer. It shows up early. It is another of those embryonic ones we mentioned. Normal is under 3 and gray is 3.1-5 ng/ml.

4. GGTP: Gamma-glutamyltranspeptidase. This enzyme is bound to membranes in the liver and reflects damage to the liver. Its action is to break down glutathione into its individual amino acids. We like glutathione. Losing it is bad. Why cancer does this might be in part because cancers don’t like glutathione. So they try to make more GGTP to get rid of it. So let’s measure it and see how much you have. It’s part of that early detection thing.

5. TSH. Thyroid stimulating hormone. Go figure! For whatever reason, many folks with cancer have high TSH because their thyroid just poops out. Again, not dramatic, but combined with the others, makes for a red flag. Could this be why some folks advocate for more iodine to lower cancer risk?

6. DHEA-S. Dehydroepiandrosterone. It’s sort of thought of as the anti-stress hormone but curiously, again, it’s oddly low in many folks with cancer. You don’t want to be low. It’s a predictor of trouble. By itself, not certain, but nevertheless, a yellow caution sign. Normal ranges are: Females 35.0 – 430.0 µg/dL, Males 80.0 – 560.0 µg/dL.
That’s the list. Not remarkable in itself with its individual test, but combined has a close to 90% predictive accuracy. Its changes with therapy are useful. It is not specific to what type of cancer, but it helps to tell if you if your diet is helping you, your supplements, your IV Vitamin C etc.

WWW: What will work for me. I’m going to get this one on myself. I’ve just ordered a bunch of tests for my office. It’s going to be on the list of tests I offer my new clients who want to get a screening test just to know. Its cost of $ 549 is a slightly sobering fact.

Pop Quiz

  1. A high TSH means you have cancer. T or F                                      Answer: Heck no. It means your thyroid is struggling and not keeping up. But combined with the other tests in this screen, it may indicate you are at some risk. Consider taking some iodine just on general principles. Go for about 1 mg a day. Sea weed in any form. (Hurray, Sushi tonight!)
  2. Taking DHEA as a supplement will help prevent cancer. T or F Answer: We don’t know that. We do know that folks with cancer almost always have a low DHEA. Taking a supplement? Well, I do and I prescribe it to virtually all my clients. Evidence of rock solid proof is thin.
  3. Which one of these is the enzyme that encourages cancers to spread?            Answer: PHI
  4. Cancers all tend to be pretty mature cells? T or F                         Answer; Oops. Backwards. Pretty immature. Which is why CEA or carcino-EMBRYONIC-antigen is an indicator of a very immature cell.
  5. The validity of this test comes from what?                                     Answer: No individual one but the combination of all of them and their mutually supporting snap shot. To be used to measure the success of your efforts to bring the wicked disease to heal.

 

 

 

Are You DEAD Certain You are Free of Cancer?

References: Cancer Free

You had a breast lump and your surgeon did a lumpectomy. Your oncologist gave you six months of chemo and you lost your hair. Folks from church brought over casseroles and you wore a scarf for 4 months while your hair grew back. Are you cancer free? Are you safe? You had a mass in your ovary and had a hysterectomy? You had a melanoma on your thigh and had a 2-inch margin incision. Are you safe? You had your prostate taken out. Are you safe? Your PSA is 0.05. Is that good enough? Are you safe? What’s it worth to you?
Here is the dilemma. There are huge numbers of us living with this awful uncertainty and the answer isn’t as clear as we would like. We all hear about cancers coming back. You get emails from dear friends with comments like, “They found a hot spot on my PET scan in my pelvis”. “The CT of my lung showed a mass.” My sore elbow has a hole in the bone and the doctor wants a biopsy.”
Here are some facts about how cancer behaves. First of all, visible cancer by eyeball techniques is a centimeter or so in size. That comes to about 1 billion cells. One billion is about 30 generations or 30 doublings of cells. Each generation takes about 3-6 months, so you have a 7-15 year time frame for that to have happened. You can’t “see” generation 25 and earlier. They are too little by eyeball techniques.

Most chemotherapies will kill the 90% of rapidly dividing cells of a cancer, but not the slow-growing cancer stem cells that learn from each sequence of chemo to be resistant. So, chemo doesn’t really work on most solid tumors and has the price of making you feel sick, reducing your remaining quality of life with all its side effects. You die when the total mass of cancer is about a kilogram.
Cancer cells have some vulnerabilities. First of all, all cancers have broken mitochondrial membranes as their core defect. They have lost the ordered structure of their “energy factories” with their membranes effectively looking like curdled milk instead of orderly sequenced proteins. They can only burn glucose by making lactate, and the acidic quality of lactate drives the growth of high flow blood vessels. They need acid to encourage blood flow. All this translates into needing lots of glucose, being unable to burn fat, and hating alkaline foods. (Vegetables.)
More intriguing, cancer cells hide from the immune system by coating themselves with a bunch of novel proteins that have no business being on the surface of the cancer cell. And they generate all sorts of genetic defects we are learning how to interpret. Their DNA markers on histone proteins get characteristic patterns that reflect these changes. These “methylation” defects can be identified.
Finally, cancer cells don’t hold together as healthy tissues do. They break loose and spread like Viking raiders, spreading mayhem and carnage. Now, single cells aren’t able to establish a colony but bundles of cells can. We all have a certain level of “circulating cancer cells”. Yes. All of us. All the time. (Terrifying, isn’t it?) But folks with active cancers have more. If you have 20 cells make a colony, how long will that colony have to grow before it is visible? (Answer, 26 generations or 7-13 years).

Would you like to know that? Can you imagine counting your circulating cancer cells, then changing your diet, getting more IV Vitamin C, adding IV Ozone, taking more curcumin, adding tetrathiolmolybdate, eating a pure ketogenic diet, doing some fast mimicking…….then recount your circulating cancer cells. What would you think if your CTCs went down when you did that? Would you feel encouraged?

Your nascent cancer is vulnerable to lifestyle manipulations when it is in its first 15 generations, less so in the last 15. Can you imagine a sure and steady hand to help you through that frightening thicket of fear and uncertainty?

Next three-four weeks, we are going to explore the new and emerging tools of cancer biology testing to look at tests that help you do just that. Read the next four for five weeks of blogs and learn this material. Get good at it. Show these blogs to your oncologist. Read the book Cancer Free. Celebrate your life.

WWW: What will work for me. Well, I’m a cancer survivor times two. I’ve had two types of minor skin cancer but I had a lung APUDoma (rare endocrine tumor of the lung) that surgery fixed. But I had to wait for 10 years to be sure I was cancer free and never knew for sure. I’ve lived with that uncertainty all through my forties. Not so fun. I’m doing these tests because I’m running them all on myself just for starters. Join me. Want to know if you are cancer free?

Pop Quiz

  1.  A typical 1 cm cancer has been around for how long?                     Answer : At least 7-10 years
  2. Why?                                                                                                          Answer: because a cancer you can detect on exam or x-ray ( 1 cm) is about a billion cells big, which is 2 to the 30th power, or 30 doublings. Each doubling takes 3-6 months.
  3. Chemotherapy for most solid cancers fails in what fashion and why? Answer: It appears to succeed as it shrinks the cancer to so small you can’t see it anymore. But that is only killing the rapidly dividing cells (90%) but not the stem cells which subsequently learn from the chemotherapy how to be resistant to it. 10-15 doublings, generations, later, the cancer is back, meaner and more resistant than ever.
  4. Would you do something different if you knew you had cancer still inside you? Answer: It’s your life, your choice, but lifestyle changes are more likely to be effective when the cancer colony is tiny than when it’s big.
  5. Can you think of one test you just read about that will give you a measure of your cancer, and the effectiveness of your lifestyle changes?                                    Answer; Circulating cancer cells, for one.

Vitamin D and the Risk of Cancer – “Disappoints” 

Vitamin D and the Risk of Cancer – “Disappoints” 

References: NEJMScienceAJCNPLOSVitamin D Council,

It was all over the news last week, “Vitamin D Doesn’t Help Reduce Your Risk of Cancer”. Published in the prestigious New England Journal, (lead article, no less) this smacks of credibility. It was randomized with 25,871 Americans from all over the country and intentionally designed to include 20 percent African-Americans. Folks were given 2,000 IU of Vitamin D or placebo for a median range of 5.6 years. The results were “disappointing” in that there was no statistical reduction in cancer.
What’s my take on this? Wow, there are so many flaws, I’m just stunned that this made it into the NEJM. This reflects all the classical problems of nutritional research. Let me give it a try to see if I can convince you with a reasonable argument.
First, cancer is not a 5 year disease. It is a 15-20 year disease. Here is why. A 1 cm nodule, big enough to be seen on an x-ray is about 1 billion cells. That is about 2 to the 30th power, or 30 generations, or 30 doublings. If a doubling takes 6 months, you have 15 years for that cancer to grow from one cell to its current size. The time you want to be affecting cells is at the very beginning of their life. Vitamin D’s core function is to tell immature cells to mature. A mature cell is programmed to die at the end of its “time”. Cancer cells don’t grow wildly as much as they don’t die. A five year study is way too short. And if I were to do the study, I would first do the new generation blood testing studies that can show cancer cells circulating 5-7 years before clinically apparent. We’ll talk about those next week.
The key problem with this study is then that the cancers that do show up in 5 years will already be 10 years down the road from getting started and no longer modulated by vitamin D levels. As cancers progress from generation 1 to generation 30, they add more mutations to allow them to grow with their primary genetic defect in their mitochondria. They are now autonomous and on the road to aggressive disease. Any study that looks at generation 22-30 is looking at inevitable disease. Vitamin D is going to work at generation 1-10.

Second problem. Way too low a dose. We know that you have Toll Receptor Proteins that are sensitive to Vitamin D and they are not activated until your D level is 32. Since that research study by Liu in Science came out there has been an explosion of research all linking low Vitamin D to a sluggish immune response to TB and just about everything else. You need enough Vitamin D to fight cancer, or anything else. 2,000 IU of Vitamin D will get you to a blood level of 30. Just. We’ve shown that with a study in Antarctica over winter where you get NO Vitamin D for 6 months, guaranteed. Worse, African Americans have pigment which keeps Vitamin D out. They start with levels of 5.5 ng – 15 ng, whereas Caucasians start with 20. This study didn’t get blood levels. Arrghhh. Two thousand units of D is what a healthy young Caucasian will make in 2 minutes of sun exposure in June. Get their blood level to 50, for goodness sakes! And go read Garland’s study in PLOS1, that showed a 67% reduction in cancer when your blood level gets closer to 50 than 20. This study likely had folks D levels around 25, way, way, way too low. If you look at folks who live on the Equator in Africa, the Masai and the Hadzabe, both who are very dark skinned, wear very little clothing and have abundant sunshine, you find a D level of 45-55 range. That’s what we should aim for. And by the way, they have very little cancer.
I can go on….finally. Any new dose of D takes about a year to reach a new homeostasis without a starting loading dose. This wasn’t a four-year study at a stable dose, it was a three-year study. Your body thinks of D’s “volume of distribution” of D as about 1,000 gallons, not the 20 gallons you think of yourself representing. That is because D dissolves into fat.
And D isn’t a vitamin in isolation. It is critically linked to K2. You can’t do foods in isolation. You need ecosystems……I can rant on and on. But this study doesn’t help me much. It just gets me steamed up.

WWW: What will work for me. Just out of pique, I went and took my monthly dose of 100,000 a few days early. My blood level runs around 50 ish when I take 100,000 a month. But the war on cancer is just getting wound up. I want to learn all the technology of advance warnings on cancer and show that lifestyle can reduce your risk when we catch those early cancer cells when they are still capable of being modulated.

Pop Quiz

  1. Cancer cells that you find by physical exam are usually at least 1 cm in size. How many cells does that represent?                                                                Answer: about a billion, which is 30 generations of cancer cells, which is about 7-15 years of disease.
  2. Humans have toll receptor proteins on immune cells regulated by Vitamin D. They are activated by what level of D? n                                                Answer: above 32
  3. Two thousand units of D is the equivalent of how much sunshine in a middle European young person?                                                                           Answer: 2 minutes. (Africans need 12 minutes to get the same amount. Arabs and South Asians need about 6 minutes to make that much D. Finns, Russians and Celts need less than a minute, and then they burn.
  4. A study of Vitamin D and cancer should run for how long? Answer: At least 15 years and then you are just getting started. And throw in some K2 while you are at it.
  5. It’s possible to weed out folks who might be getting cancer in the next 7 years by what?            Answer: read next week. The science of circulating cancer cells is coming soon.

 

Mitochondrial Primer 5: Beta-hydroxybutyrate, The King of Ketones

References: Front Mol MedWikipediaPerfect KetoAm J PrimatologyPeer JBiochemical Journal,

When you burn fat (the stuff that’s in your belly and cellulite and second chin) you produce two ketones primarily. Ketones are what we make from fat burning as we break down stored energy and ship it around the body. The primary one is called beta-hydroxybutyrate, or BHB. The other is called acetoacetate (ACAC). ACAC is what you measure in your urine to show ketones but can be changed to BHB, and thereby not show up in urine. Hence, measuring urine for ketones is iffy and can have false negatives. BHB takes a blood test and is more reliable.
Now, what I find interesting is the enzyme that switches ACAC to BHB and thence into the electron transport chain is actually in the wall of mitochondria. Ketones are such an important part of normal metabolism that mitochondria have all the normal enzymes to incorporate ketones into our energy flow. Did you get that? Our body has all the tools to burn ketones, all the time. It is built in. Through all of human history, ketones were our main fuel source to fall back on in lean times.

What happened in our rich, 21st-century environment? We never, ever run on ketones. There are no lean times. We always run on carbs. We store up what and corn in giant silos, formulate them into delicious foods and provide them to ourselves three times a day in exquisitely flavored recipes. And our body has a default switch that has us burning and running on carbs preferentially. It’s the universal signal to turn on fat making, storage.
This is the key to weight gain and weight loss. Our natural tank of carbs is only 1500 calories. That’s it. Anything over that and we signal our hormones that we have too many carbs. That means it must be September or October when carbs ripen – at the end of the growing season. Our blood sugar rises. We turn on insulin. Insulin switches everything into storage mode. We make triglycerides in our liver and ship those extra fats all over our body in little lipid bundles called LDLs. LDLs then deliver that newly manufactured fat to storage warehouses called your butt, your chin, your muffin top.

Think this through teleologically. We had to be designed like this to survive in a world where carbs show up suddenly, just before the starvation season. We would then evolve a hormone to store those calories when they showed up in abundance. (That’s where insulin comes in.) And we would be favored to have sweet flavor in the middle of our tongue so that we seek carbs avidly, whenever we find them.
But most of the year, we should be running on ketones. Normally. When you are surviving through winter, you are meant to be burning your fat stores. That’s ketones. When you eat green vegetables (present from April till August), your colon turns spinach into ketones. Gorillas, eating 15 pounds of green leaves a day turn those into 70% ketones.
Now there is a whole raft of websites touting the increased performance of athletes on ketogenic diets, how to induce ketogenesis etc. But most importantly, we are proving that inducing ketosis turns on stem cells. It’s so important to run on ketones, Bredesen is insisting we all do it every day for 12 hours and every month for 5 days. Gundry has jumped on board. The tide is changing.

Ketones, otherwise known as Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), are your main, proper food source. BHB rules. It’s the boss! And teaching your body, encouraging your body, forcing your body, manipulating, managing, teasing…..whatever you want to call it…..but do it. Get your body to run on ketones. That means, no grains, no sugar and lots and lots and lots of green vegetables.
WWW. What will work for me. I’m wrapping my head around this technology. I’ve done the Fast Mimicking Diet 8 times and found that it jump starts me into ketosis in three days. I’m going to try taking some Beta-hydroxybutyrate supplement the next time and see if it eases me into ketosis with a little less stress. What I do believe is that this is the pathway forward. Our bodies are aching for us to break our addictive habit of carbs. It just wasn’t meant to be so. The only time we were meant to gorge on carbs was at the end of the growing season when getting ready for winter. Brings a whole new meaning to Halloween candy. Doesn’t it? So, we ended up at the Pancake House for breakfast. I ordered the Eggs Benedict with spinach on the side. Didn’t eat the English muffin. Double spinach please, no potatoes.

Pop Quiz

  1. The human primary fuel is?                                             Answer:  Beta-hydroxybutyrate. The ketone you make from burning fat, your colon digesting green vegetables, the ketone you make from digesting coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil……
  2. Exposed to carbs, your body will switch to what fuel? Answer: Glucose. Instantly. The microsecond you put out insulin. Three french fries will do it.
  3. Running on insulin instantly is incredibly important. Why? Answer: Because through most of human history, carbs were rare, and present just before the lean, starvation system. Remember, pears and apples ripen in October; right now. So sugar is on our tongues as our preferred taste so we gorge, turn on insulin, store calories and then…survive through winter.
  4. How big is your carb fuel tank?                                                   Answer. 1500 calories, called glycogen. Fill up that tank with…….one plate of pasta, rice, flour.
  5. And what happens to green vegetables?                                 Answer. Your colon bacteria break them down into beta-hydroxybutyrate. The King (or Queen) of Ketones. BHB rules. You’ll have BHB anytime you fast 12 hours or more. You will have a blood level of 3 and more if you do the fast mimicking diet for 3+ days. The Fast Mimicking Diet: best way yet to get you in ketosis.

Mitochondria Primer 3: How It All Goes Terribly Wrong with Cancer

References: Mitochondria and Future of MedicineNatureThomas Seyfried on Youtube,

We now know that mitochondria use proton pumps to store potential energy in the form of an electrochemical gradient, and then harnessing that energy as it comes across a membrane to create chemical energy. Every form of life on earth uses this process. Seriously, it’s ditto in plants too, just going the other way: storing instead of burning. Instead of being called mitochondria, we call them chloroplasts. Same process. Generate and store energy, in plants case, from the sun.

In every form of animal life on earth the energy extracted from the electron transport chain is used to move protons across a membrane. It is so universal, pumping protons across a membrane is the central signature of life on Earth. It is the key, the nexus, the whole kahuna. Complex cells require this to work. It is a miracle. The miracle of complex life on our planet. But not a perfect miracle. This is the model that arose and all life came from. And it has some flaws. Evolution has had several billion years to try and clean those flaws up with different trials and experiments, but some flaws remain.
Here is one example. In order to be extremely flexible to energy demands and flow, mitochondria must have the ability to manufacture their own critical elements. Hence, mitochondria have 5-10 copies of their own DNA still inside them. That allows them to duplicate themselves when there is demand, and increase the number of electron transport chain units (up and down from 10,000 per mitochondria). The vulnerable point is that the DNA is sitting right there next to the sites in the electron transport chain where electrons can escape and damage the DNA. Mitochondrial DNA is surrounded with a puffy coat of proteins like nuclear DNA. Free electrons make “free radicals” that can get in and damage the DNA.
Ok, now we know that the core defect in cancer is that there are broken mitochondrial membranes in every cancer cell. In fact, one could make the argument that cancer is not 500 different diseases but rather broken mitochondria in 500 different tissues. What you see in cancers is that their mitochondrial membranes look like curdled milk instead of ordered arrays of organized membranes. It is not the sole defect, and cancer cells depend on some residual mitochondrial function to live, but it is certainly a signature defect in cancer. And cancer cells can’t extract the extent of energy from glucose and fat that a healthy mitochondria can. Cancer cells depend on the very primitive and limited chopping of glucose in half, to get 2 ATP instead of 38. To fix cancer, to prevent cancer, we have to understand just where in mitochondria that first broken mitochondrial membrane came about. But mitochondria damage remains central to the defect of cancer.

What’s the core defect? DNA damage in the mitochondria because of electron transport chain proximity to naked DNA. Result: cancer. Cure: reduce the incidence of free electrons escaping. How do you do that? Next week or so.

WWW: What will work for me. I’m determined to master this knowledge base. I know that healthy mitochondria love to run on fat, and injured ones can’t use fat at all. Hence, a high-fat diet, or at least a high beta-hydroxy-butyrate diet, helps mitochondria burn fuel smoothly. Where does BHB come from? Vegetables. We know vegetables get turned into beta-HB. We had roasted Morrocan cauliflower for dinner last night.

Pop Quiz

  1. What is the key to complex life on planet earth?                               Answer: The pumping of electrons and protons across membranes and then the miracle of ATP-synthetase, or Complex 4, theworld’s smallest machine, that converts electrical energy into chemical energy with a spinning wheel.
  2. How many sets of mitochondrial DNA are there in a mitochondria?      Answer: 5-10
  3. What is the vulnerability of mitochondrial DNA?                             Answer: it’s naked and close to the production of escaped electrons which form damaging chemicals.
  4. What is the core defect in cancer?                                                  Answer: Broken mitochondria.
  5. What reduces your risk of cancer?                                                  Answer: Running on fat from plants, known as beta-hydroxybutyrate. AKA, more spinach and broccoli.

Ramen Spectroscopy Can Measure Whether You Have Eaten Your Vegetables

References: Nobel PrizeJ Acad Nutr Diet,

“Did you finish your vegetables?” said your mother when you were three. You twisted and squirmed and didn’t show her the peas on the floor. Now, she could tell. The application is called Ramen spectroscopy and it was discovered by an Indian physicist back in the 1920s, earning him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930. That Nobel Prize has come to fruition with an application in modern medicine.

Add that scattering effect to the invention of lasers and you can make a machine that can detect the amount of carotenoids in your blood, aka, whether you finished your vegetables and ate enough of them. (Want the basic science: click here)
Even Dr. Oz has gotten on the bandwagon with a show on antioxidants.

This ability to measure the adequacy of antioxidants is no trivial matter. We all think we eat enough vegetables. In Dr. Oz’s Youtube video, there are only a few blue T-shirts (adequate) compared to red t-shirts (deficient). On the machine that can measure this, I came out at 29,000 when adequate is over 40,000. I would have gotten a yellow T-shirt.
Antioxidants play a huge role in protecting your body from damage, particularly cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Well, that’s the Trifecta of modern illness. As we age we make fewer of our own antioxidants and willingly expose ourselves to many oxidizing foods and chemicals: sugar for one. Cigarettes, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, lectins, on and on…..and finally, just plain aging. Part of aging is the loss of ability to make your own “antioxidants”, notably glutathione and CoQ10. A diet rich in anti-oxidants helps forestall all that. But are you really getting enough? How can you tell? This is where lists about what are the best foods with antioxidants comes to bear. We all cheer when chocolate is high on that list. Berries, vegetables, vegetables, vegetables…. less sugar, less sugar, less sugar. Avoid weed killer, glyphosate, smoking, preservatives….and on and on.
But now we can measure it! A company called Pharmanex has taken the technology of Raman Photon scattering and made a simple device that you grab with your hand. In 30 seconds, no pain, no blood, just 30 seconds of laser light on your palm and you and you get a reading back about the sufficiency of antioxidants in your blood. Plain and simple. Should it be in every doctor’s office?   Pretty shady company!  Multilevel marketing and all that.   But I do want the scanner as a motivator.

www.what will work for me. I eat tons of veges. At least I thought I did. Then I measured my own on the Ramen device. Measly one notch above inadequate. Considering that the average consumption of veges in America is 1/2 serving a day, and only if you count French fries as a vegetable. Data always helps.

Pop Quiz

  1. What is Ramen spectroscopy?                                 Answer: the scattering of light based on the inherent qualities of a molecule. (Or, as Wikipedia says, “The Raman effect is based on the interaction between the electron cloud of a sample and the external electrical field of the monochromatic light, which can create an induced dipole moment within the molecule based on its polarizability.) Did you get that?
  2. How can it measure your vegetable intake?         Answer:  Many beneficial chemicals in plants have characteristic “vibrational” frequencies when exposed to laser light, and that is what a ramen spectroscope reads.
  3. How long does it take?                                              Answer: about 30 seconds
  4. What’s the likelihood that I am eating enough veges? Answer: On the Dr Oz show on Youtube, there were only a few blue T-shirts, most were red or yellow
  5. Is this just a gimmicky sort of deal?                        Answer: what does it take you to be motivated? Some of us need data. Is this data accurate? As good as what we have got.  Do carotenoids matter?   I’m not sure.

Fast Mimicking Diet 5: Cancer and the Magic Shield

Fast Mimicking Diet 5: Cancer and the Magic Shield

References: CellBMC CancerCancer CellPLOS Biology,

Last week we learned about reversing diabetes. This might be the Holy Grail of modern medicine. The prevention and treatment of cancer might be just as important. Cancer frequency increases with age, essentially equating aging with more disease. How to prevent it?
The first key concept is to understand how cancer comes about. It takes a key mutation, or probably several mutations or changes in the DNA sequence of a cell, for the cancer cell to develop “oncogenes”, cancer favoring genes. Cancer cells stop obeying orders, which in fact makes them weaker and more vulnerable to damage from external toxins. This is why Vitamin C, ozone, and many chemotherapy drugs have a deterring effect. It’s as though cancer cells are race cars with the accelerator stuck to the floor: they can’t slow down.

Longo recognized that key characteristic of cancer cells, and the essential response of healthy yeast/worms/mice to the fast mimicking diet. When you deprive healthy cells of key nutrients for a fixed period of time, they recognize that they are in trouble. The “get the memo” and respond by hunkering down. Longo called it the “magic shield”. Cancer cells can’t do that. The cancer cell tries to keep growing, even with no nutrients around.

In an experiment with mice, one of Longo’s graduate students gave mice chemotherapy and compared a group with normal daily diet versus some fed no food for two days prior to the chemo. The differences were striking. The fasting mice were dandy, the normally fed mice all got sick. In a week or two, 65% of the regular diet mice were dead. The same dramatic effects were found when micewith lung cancer were given chemo with or without fast mimicking: the fasting mice had 60-70% remission rates compared to much lower in the normally fed mice.
It appears there are two key dynamics going on with this cancer effect: the first is that the fasting weakens the cancer cells, making them more vulnerable. The second is that it renews and “revs” up the immune system, making it more aggressive against the cancer cells..

And the effects go beyond just making the immune system stronger. The use of potent steroids is a part of many chemo regimens with mixed blessings as the resulting elevation of glucose adds to toxicity. The FMD reduces glucosedramatically, suggesting that the use of steroids should be reconsidered.

Where are we with randomized clinical trials in cancer? Considering that there are several hundred types of cancer scattered all over, it takes a while to conduct studies on any one cancer with this strategy, so there are very few studies completed. The three or four that Longo refers to in his book make the strong argument for safety of the strategy, reduction of side effects, increased ability to complete chemo regimens. With that in hand, Longo suggest the following guidelines in his book. 1. If the oncologist agrees, the patient may fast or do the FMD for three days before chemo and 1-2 days after standard chemo drugs. 2. If fasting, make sure you don’t resume regular eating immediately following the chemo as the rebounding growth of liver cells at a time of lingering blood levels of chemo lead to liver toxicity. Weather it out with fasting at least 24 if not 48 hours after the chemo. And start slowly on vegan food, with lots of olive oil: rice, bread, pasta, vegetables and soups. Finally, try to return to normal body weight between cycles. If on any diabetes drug, please, please consult a knowledgeable physician first.

WWW. What will work for me. And just what do you want to do if you have high risk for cancer? Start by reading Longo’s book. If I had the BRCA gene, I would be doing this diet for the rest of my life. I do have diabetes genes in my genetic code, so I probably will be doing this the rest of my life, just like all of us should be. Your blood tests will tell you how often you should be doing it. In the meantime, I’ve now seen three people with dramatic success in just a few months with their diabetes getting better. Want to join that list?

Pop Quiz

 

  1. The Fast Mimicking Diet is called what by Longo?                                                Answer: The Magic Shield
  2. Cancer cells disobey orders and can’t do what?                                                   Answer: Take their foot off the accelerator and stop growing when there are no nutrients around.
  3. What happens to your immune system against cancer after you FMD?            Answer: Rev Rev.
  4. What’s the likelihood of your doing better if you do FMD while getting chemo? Answer: Fewer side effects and likelihood to get more chemo in you.
  5. Do we want you to lose weight via the FMD when you have cancer?                 Answer: NO! In between cycles we want you to gain it back.

 

Fast Mimicking Diet 4: Reversing Diabetes

Fast Mimicking Diet 4, Reversing Diabetes

References: Whitehall StudyCirculationAgingDiabetes CareCell,

This is a big deal. If you read no email this year but this one, you will be well served. The reversal of diabetes is so important, it is a game changer for all of medicine. Why? Two reasons.

The first is that it is so destructive, effecitively being the cornerstone for all our diseases of modern society. We have defined diabetes by committee and decided that it really wasn’t a disease until you got to a blood level of 124 or so, measured twice, or a Hemoglobin A1c of 6.2 or 6.4 (Remember: the A1c is the percent of hemoglobin molecules with a glucose stuck on them. Red cells live 100 days, about, which makes the A1c a nice surrogate marker for your average glucose over the last 100 days.. But that is looking at a disease you might think about treating. What would happen if you decided to consider what blood sugar results in optimal function? I would refer you to the Whitehall Study from England, It showed that for every point of glucose above 86, you have a 5% increased risk of heart disease. And there is wide acknowledgement now that we need to lower blood sugar, which modern medicine does by treating with drugs. That means an optimal blood sugar should be 86. Bredesen shows abundant evidence that a HgbA1c of 5.5 is what you want if you are anxious about Alzheimer’s.

The second is that everyone has it. There are all sorts of papers saying how many millions of people have it, but that is the DISEASE. If you want optimal function, the picture is much gloomier. The simplest explanation of how your body progresses to diabetes is as follows: your fat cells become insulin resistant in relationship to their size. As you get fatter, your fat cells get bigger. You don’t make ore. And your insulin receptors get further apart, So you become insulin resistant. You raise your insulin to keep that blood sugar in control, which you can only so for so long. After a while, you run out of the ability to keep raising your insulin level. It’s as though you were only given so much insulin in a lifetime. As long as you were only burning a tiny amount a day, you can live a very long time. But it has become pretty apparant that once we get overweight, we are burning up our insulin supply faster than we can maintain for a lifetime of 100 years. And that is what we see today in modern medicine. As we age, being a bit plump gradually turns into our blood sugar slowing rising, and your being put on one pill after another until you get to age 55 or so, and then you flunk out and get put on insulin. Your islets in your pancreas look shaggy with fewer healthier insulin producing cells. And then your kidneys fail and you get on dialysis, and then you flunk and get Alzheimer’s. Till now, the key to reversing diabetes has all been about losing weight, making fat cells smaller and getting the residual ability you have to make insulin in line with your reserve of insulin producing capacity. Imagine having an insulin level of 35 when you weight 190, but a level of 2 when you weight 132. That’s what we see clinically happening.

Here is where the Fast Mimicking Diet (FMD) comes in. What would you think if I told you that the FMD turns on the genes that literally wipe out old, dead, decaying tissue and starts rejuvenation of new insulin producing cells? Yes, produces new insulin cells. We have never seen anything quite like this before. This is like the holy grail of medicine, and it’s right there in front of our faces. The FMD turns on genes that support resiliency, getting rid of old garbage that’s in the way and turning on the growth of new stem cells. This is dieting for your genes sake. And all we are asking of you is 5 days a month until you have got yourself fixed.

WWW.What will work for me. I’ve been getting older and I have a family history of diabetes. To my alarm, this year my A1c ticked up from it’s usual 5.2-5.4. I’ve already done one cycle. I’m starting cycle number two. I just came back from a trip to see old friends I grew up with in India. I’m going to send them copies of Longo’s book. My advice to you is to not trust me, or your own doctor on this topic. Trust your own lab results. Watch your own response. The data is there. This diet will eventually become the “human diet”. We will all be on a variation of it. The good news, if you don’t have any risk factors, is that you only need to do it twice to three times a year, provided you exercise properly.

Pop Quiz

 

  1. Diabetes starts at a Hemoglobin A1c of 6.2. T or F                                         Answer: true, if you call it as the disease and use current medicine’s standards. Optimal is a whole different story. If you have worries about heart disease, Alzheimer’s. autoimmune disease.. or just want to age gracefully into your 90s, you want an optimal A1c: below 5.5
  2. You can lower your A1c by losing weight. How does that work?                    Answer: your fat cells get smaller and the residual insulin you have left become in line with the amount you need to control those fat cells.
  3. If I’m getting a little older and a little heftier, what is happening to my insulin producing cells in the islets in my pancreas?                                                                                 Answer: They are getting fewer and making less insulin.
  4. How many days do I have to do this diet thing?                                                Answer: 5. Four, as best we know, isn’t sufficient.
  5. What is an optimal blood sugar?                                                                         Answer: Your family doctor will tell you under 100 or so but won’t call you diabetic until you are 126, or if they are just checking your urine, you will be normal when you have a sugar below 180 because your kidneys can reabsorb anything below 180. (I kid you not, I talked to a person this week whose doctor was still checking urine for diabetes.)