Mitochondrial Inflammation and Cancer
Dr. Seyfried’s theory on prevention through nutrition
Dr. Thomas Seyfried teaches neurogenetics and neurochemistry at Yale University. He is also a pioneering researcher in promoting how to treat cancer nutritionally. His book, Cancer as a Metabolic Disease: On the Origin, Management and Prevention of Cancer, contains over 400 pages and 1,740 medical references that make a compelling argument for the following:
- Cancer is not primarily related to genetic mutations;
- Cancer results from damage to mitochondria and is a metabolic disease;
- Cancer cell growth can be greatly marginalized with a ketogenic diet.
According to Dr. Seyfried, although cancer cells can have numerous mutations, it doesn’t necessarily mean that these mutations cause cancer. He states that cancer cells within the same tumor can have different mutation patterns. Additionally, mutated genes thought to be strongly associated with cancer (oncogenes) sometimes promote tumor growth, but at other times inhibit tumor growth, or may be capable of both. If you transplant mutated cancer cell DNA into a healthy cell, the cell almost never becomes cancerous. Dr. Seyfried’s opinion is that this essentially nullifies the mutation theory.
Seyfried states that the mitochondria, the main power generators of your cells, are the central origin of most cancers. They can be damaged by environmental factors such as toxins, radiation, and oxidative stress resulting from free radical formation. Free radicals are molecular species with an unpaired electron that can damage your DNA, proteins and other cellular components – including your mitochondria – resulting in inflammation and impaired function. It is the mitochondrial inflammation that may be the true cause of cancer.
Building on the 1931 Nobel Prize winning discovery that malignant tumors tend to feed on sugar, Dr. Seyfried believes that sugar is the primary fuel for cancer. He adds that restricting sugar while providing an alternate fuel (namely fat) can dramatically reduce the rate of cancer growth and recommends a low carb, low to moderate protein diet which will effectively lower your blood sugar. This type of diet, frequently referred to as a ketogenic diet, will help elevate ketone bodies which are released from the liver in the absence of glucose and used by the body as an energy source.
As tumor cells cannot use ketone bodies due to respiratory insufficiency, the ketogenic diet represents an effective, non-toxic way to target and marginalize tumor cell growth. When ketones are burned for energy instead of glucose, fewer reactive oxygen species are generated. These are the free radicals that cause the oxidative damage that has been associated with numerous chronic diseases.
This means that shifting your body from carbohydrate burning to fat burning will reduce potential oxidative damage to your mitochondria and minimize the chances of developing cancer.
Not all cancer specialists agree with Dr. Seyfried’s theory on the cause of cancer. Some strongly disagree including Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez, who is well known in cancer treatment circles for results he is obtaining using a non-toxic protocol that incorporates nutritional elements of the Gerson principle, Dr. William Donald Kelly’s protocol, and pancreatic enzymes. I will detail these protocols in my next article.
Dr. John Dixon can be reached at the Natural Medicine Group (760) 345.7300.
Sources: 1) Cancer as a Metabolic Disease: On the Origin, Management and Prevention of Cancer, Seyfried, 2012; 2) Dietary Modulation of Cell Signaling Pathways, Cadenas et.al. 2009