As we learn more and more about cancer the better we can fight it. Amazingly, with cancer, we suffer from memory loss. You see, in the 1930’s #Dr. Otto Warburg discovered something important in how cancer cells work.1 He discovered that cancer cell mitochondria, which are the cells’ power house, run off a different fuel than do mitochondria in non-cancerous cells. Which is important, as any difference between cancer and normal cells allows for ways to kill cancer cells but not harm normal cells. This is called a metabolic approach to treating cancer.

Normal cells’ mitochondria typically run on the oxygen-based respiration system, called aerobic, whereas cancer cells prefer what is called an anaerobic or a fuel system free of oxygen. Dr. Warburg did not fully delineate how this process worked but he did discover the basics. Our medical system went on to mostly forget this, and because of this how many have died? Any is way too many. Oh, and we have “discovered” and use a whole slew of extremely expensive medications that yes, sometimes work but all too often only make the patient worse.

Currently, #Dr. Thomas Seyfried of Boston College and others have taken up Dr. Warburg’s ideas and are proponents of the metabolic theory of cancer. He wrote a book titled #Cancer is a Metabolic Disease. There are many other theories on how cancer occurs. Two of these, the main theories, I will concentrate on here, 1) the genetic mutation and metabolic theories and 2) how optimal dosing of vitamin D3 can prevent and help treat both in the next blog post. In trying to understand the cause of cells being cancerous, particularly where in the cell the cancer starts, researchers have done many experiments.

Is it the nucleus where the cell’s DNA resides, the cytoplasm where the mitochondria and cells other organelles reside, or is it the cell membrane? In one study, researchers saw how by transferring the nucleus of a cancer cell into a normal cell, the cancer is inhibited or if the cytoplasm from a normal cell is used to replace that of a cancer cell the cancer is again suppressed.2

Thus, neither the cell membrane nor its nucleus is the controller of the cancer but something in the cytoplasm. You see, the mitochondria lie in the cytoplasm and have their own unique genetic material which is different than that in the nucleus.

If it is the mitochondria that are causing cancer cells, this is supported by recent research. This research indicates that adding mutations into the mitochondria reduces its tumor protective abilities. Then there are those who argue it is due to genetic mutations in the cells. Almost every study that has examined cancer cells has found genetic mutations in the cell’s DNA and the few that have not would probably have if done better. This does not change the fact that most, if not all, cancer cells need the mitochondria to generate the energy to live and grow. Starve the mitochondria of “fuel” then they don’t fuel the cell. This was all laid out in a great article by Bret Steka titled Fighting cancer by putting tumor cells on a diet on NPR.org which I highly recommended you read.

  1. Warburg O. (1956b). On the respiratory impairment in cancer cells. Science. 124, 269–270.
  2. Seyfried TN, (2015). Cancer as a mitochondrial metabolic disease, Front Cell Dev Biol. 3: 43.

*The information posted above is for educational purposes only. Always check with your doctor before initiating any changes in your medical treatment. If you do not, then The Two-Minute Health Fact, Dr. Judson Somerville, nor The Optimal Dose is responsible!


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