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Nancy is the founder of The Cancer Alternative Foundation
In the 1930's, an interesting natural cancer treatment was proposed as a simple, effective answer to cancer – almost any cancer. This treatment approach is not well known because it is considered alternative or experimental - or even dangerous[i] - by the medical and scientific community and hence has been referenced primarily in obscure publications outside the mainstream press.
This treatment approach is called alkaline therapy or pH therapy, and is based in part on observations of cultures without significant incidence of cancer[ii] and in part on scientific observations of and experimentation with cellular metabolism.[iii]
The principles of pH therapy are very simple. The metabolism of cancer cells has a very narrow pH tolerance for cellular proliferation (mitosis), which is between 6.5 and 7.5. As such, if you can interfere with cancer cell metabolism by either lowering or raising the internal cancer cell pH, you can theoretically stop cancer progression.[iv]
While lowering cancer cell pH (increasing acidity) is effective against cancer cell mitosis in the lab, increasing acid levels in the live body of a cancer patient puts stress on normal cells and causes a lot of pain. So the proposed alkaline therapy for people is a "high pH therapy" and has been developed to normalize the intracellular pH of the cancer patient's body through elimination of latent acidosis, while increasing the pH of cancer cells to a range above 7.5. According to published research, it is at that pH they revert to a normal cellular apoptosis cycle (programed cell death).[v]
Ideally, this approach begins with an alkaline diet. There is general agreement amongst natural healers and medical professionals alike, that changing a cancer patient's diet is extremely helpful when someone is confronted with a cancer diagnosis. In a previous article, I outlined the six steps that every cancer patient should take to provide the best chance to heal from and prevent future recurrences of cancer using alkaline diet principles.[vi]
The alkaline diet, which is primarily plant-based and avoids sugar, dairy, wheat and other high-gluten grains as well as an excess consumption of fruits, while emphasizing fresh vegetables and vegetable juices along with cruciferous vegetables and greens, changes the body's intracellular pH to come close to the ideal blood pH of 7.3/7.41 - a key metabolic accomplishment on the path to longevity whether you have cancer or not! An alkaline diet based on vegetables and fruits creates a less-than-optimal environment for cancer proliferation, while at the same time strengthens the immune function and supports healthy cells in the body through improved nutrition.
The second step is to use some nutritional mechanism to move the internal cancer cell pH from the optimal mitosis range of pH 6.5 to 7.5, to above 8, which shortens the life of the cancer cell. As described by its proponents, alkaline therapy neutralizes the acid waste of the cancer which causes so much pain, interferes with the anaerobic fermentation of glucose that starts the self-feeding acidic cancer wasting cycle called cachexia and in time, can induce remission. If this theory of alkaline therapy holds true, it should be possible to address cancer without chemotherapy, radiation or surgery and use alkaline therapy as a primary cancer treatment.
This bold statement comes from a somewhat abstruse body of research. In the 1880's, Louis Pasteur published his work on cellular aerobic respiration and glycolysis. In 1931, Otto Warburg won the Nobel Prize for his work on the metabolism of tumors and the respiration of cells, which was later summarized in his 1956 paper, On the Origin of Cancer Cells. His work on cancer expanded upon Pasteur's findings and described respiratory insufficiency and a cellular metabolism of glucose fermentation as the primary trigger for cancer progression[vii].
Warburg's conclusions on cancer were much discussed in scientific circles, as they are academically elegant, but were not accepted by most members of the scientific community engaged in cancer research. Most cancer researchers in the late 1950's believed that the anaerobic metabolism of cancer cells and their accompanying output of lactic acid was a side effect or an adjunct effect of cancer, not a cause. Cancer research since the 1960's has focused primarily on genetic aberrations as causative for cancer, and has ignored the body of research on cancer pH and its implications for therapeutic approaches.[viii]
Warburg's work was a catalyst for yet another research effort on the nature of cancer cells, beginning in the 1930's. A. Keith Brewer, PhD (physicist) performed experiments on the relationship between energized, oxygenated cell membrane and elemental uptake, vs. cellular membranes in an unenergized state such as cancer cells exhibit. He wrote a number of papers discussing the cellular mechanisms of cancer cells and the changes in metabolism induced or indicated by the lack of or presence of oxygen in combination with other elements, particularly potassium and calcium. He noted that cancer cells share one characteristic no matter what type of cancer: they have lost their pH control mechanism.
Brewer's summary conclusion regarding cancer was that by changing the pH of cancer cells to alkaline (above 7.5), they will cease to function as they need an acidic, anaerobic environment to thrive. In other words, he proposed that cancer cells will die if they can be pushed into an alkaline, oxygenated state.[ix]
Brewer's work cites areas in the world where cancer incidents are very low. These areas contain concentrations of alkalizing minerals in the soil and water, which are greater than in other parts of the world. For example, the Hunza of northern Pakistan and the Hopi Indians of the American West share both similar soil and water conditions and diet. The alkaline elemental minerals of cesium chloride, germanium and rubidium are heavily present in the soil and water. Ingestion of these elements is correspondingly high. These peoples also live in similar high, dry climates and grow apricot orchards, traditionally eating the fresh or dried fruit and the seeds each day.
It should be noted that apricot seeds are the source of the controversial cancer treatment Laetrile or B-17/Amygdalin.[x] Apricot seeds contain trace amounts of cyanide, which has long been identified as a potential chemotherapeutic agent against cancer proliferation.[xi] Other similarities in the diet include a low consumption of dairy products, meat and wheat, as these foodstuffs are difficult to farm in high, arid climates and a correspondingly greater consumption of millet, buckwheat, nuts, dried fruits and berries in their traditional diets, all of which contain a similar enhanced (though sill minute) concentration of cyanide.
This is all very interesting, but what does it really mean for cancer patients who wish to avoid the pain of cancer and the typical course of treatment using surgery, chemotherapy and radiation? What are the conditions that will force cancer cells to change their pH?
Conventional chemotherapeutic agents such as Cytoxan usually cause more damage to normal cells than to cancer cells, because cancer cells have a very thick, unenergized cellular membrane that essentially protects them from absorbing many drugs. Normal cells have no such protection.
Conversely, cancer cells have no way to normalize their internal pH, where normal cells are relatively unaffected by high concentrations of alkalizing minerals. However cancer cells take up primarily two elements: glucose and potassium.
In practical application, then, it is necessary to find a way to guide alkalizing elements - such as cesium, germanium or rubidium - into cancer cells, without impacting normal cells. It turns out this can be done using a transport agent that penetrates the bone/blood barriers, then relying on the normal uptake of alkalizing elements that follow the potassium pathway. Cancer cells appear to have preferential uptake of cesium chloride in particular, but also take up germanium, rubidium, selenium, etc. all through the potassium pathway.
There is a compound that is frequently applied to the skin by arthritis sufferers for relief of inflammation, used in brain surgery to relieve intracranial pressure and topically used in sports medicine and veterinary medicine,[xii] also for reducing inflammation. This compound is called DMSO and it is formed in the slurry created from soaking wood chips in water that is a bi-product of the paper making industry.
Folklore has it that workers in the paper making industry were observed to have their hands in water continuously, but they never developed arthritis and had rapidly healing skin and strong nails. Experimentation with DMSO as a medical treatment began in the 1800's and continues to the present day. DMSO is medically approved in the United States only for the treatment of interstitial cystitis, a type of inflammation of the bladder.[xiii]