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Peak Human - Unbiased Nutrition Info for Optimum Health, Fitness & Living

Apr 3, 2019

Dr. Thomas Seyfried is  a Professor of Biology at Boston College, and received his Ph.D. in Genetics and Biochemistry from the University of Illinois. He then worked as an assistant professor in the neurology department at the Yale school of medicine. He has over 180 peer-reviewed publications and is author of the book, Cancer as a Metabolic Disease. He recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Complimentary and Integrative Medicine.

I got a chance to meet and interview him at the Metabolic Health Summit earlier this year. You’ll notice we did this podcast shortly after the Super Bowl. In case people aren’t familiar with American football the New England Patriots had just beaten the LA Rams.

I hope people look up the paper he recently published that we mention and watch his presentation I linked to in the show notes and go deeper on this topic. It’s very surprising to learn of this completely new view on cancer if you haven't heard of it before. This really shouldn't be very surprising to anyone, however, because of course our modern diet and lifestyle would have the biggest effect on the rising cancer rates. And of course fixing these things would also be a major part of the treatment. He’s really doing legendary work. So without further ado, here’s professor Seyfried.

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Show Notes 

  • Dr. Thomas Seyfried believes cancer is a metabolic disease, not a genetic disease and explains in simple terms why that is
  • The mitochondria in your cells make energy (ATP)
  • There’s 2 types of energy: ancient energy which is a fermentation metabolism which means you can make energy without oxygen, or respiration where you make energy from breathing air
  • Cancer cells ferment - therefore they don’t use oxygen
  • Not all cancer cells have genetic mutations, but all cancer cells ferment
  • The mitochondrial metabolic theory says that the organelle that makes energy from respiration is defective, forcing the cell to ferment. When the cell ferments, mutations collect in the nucleus
  • This means the genetic mutations seen in cancer cells come from a downstream effect of disruption of energy metabolism
  • The cancer cell has to consume a large amount of glucose and the amino acid glutamine in order to survive on a fermentation metabolism
  • On the other hand, normal cells use oxygen and very little amounts of glucose
  • This should make sense to a lot of people because they’ve probably heard cancer cells need a lot of glucose and if you starve them of that they die
  • Have to re-emphasize the fact that the DNA damage comes as a downstream effect
  • Damaged mitochondria, instead of making ATP, make Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) or oxidative stress (which causes a lot of problems in our body)
  • The oxidative stress also causes damage to the nucleus and the genome
  • The field of cancer research studies effects instead of causes
  • We’re not treating cancer by looking at the root cause - it’s absurd - how would we ever cure it?
  • This is supported by thousands of experiments and studies
  • Obvious step to treat cancer is to deprive the cancer cells of glucose and glutamine and transition healthy cells into the use of ketones which they can readily use
  • We evolved as a starving creature and convert fatty acids into ketones and usable forms of energy
  • Cancer cells can't use ketones
  • There’s no dietary way to restrict glutamine to the cancer cells so drugs have to be used
  • Basically nobody he’s heard of is treating it this way
  • If it’s so clear this is how cancer works, why has this not reached the mainstream?
  • The Federal government puts out websites saying cancer is genetic, medical schools teach it's genetic, leading cancer clinics tell patients it's genetic
  • Entrenched beliefs continue this. Also funding money is all based around the genetic theory
  • If you look at the mitochondria of any cancer cell under an electron microscope you can easily see the damage to the organelles and mitochondria
  • Cancer is a result of the industrialization as a society
  • Cancer is so rare throughout history or with non-industrialized societies they don't even have the word for it in their language
  • Cancer comes from all kinds of things like pollution, chemicals, radiation, hypoxia, infections, chronic inflammation, even some rare inherited diseases like BRCA1 (but it has to damage the mitochondria)
  • These are all secondary - the root cause is damage to the respiration
  • Obese people have higher rates of cancer and also higher inflammation (measured by C reactive protein)
  • To avoid cancer it’s as simple as avoiding diets and lifestyles that risk damage to the mitochondria
  • Metabolic therapies need to at least be options for people
  • Problem is doctors aren't aware of them or aren't trained on them
  • Therapeutic ketosis is a medicine - it’s different than just a diet (which is a turn-off to a lot of medical professionals)
  • There’s therapeutic weight loss and toxic weight loss
  • Using a suite of therapies to cure cancer including ketogenic metabolic therapy and hyperbaric oxygen therapy
  • Hyperbaric oxygen creates reactive oxygen species that kills cancer cells but healthy cells using ketones are protected from oxidative stress and are fine
  • Burning ketones creates less ROS (which is a good thing) and is why many people without cancer eat a ketogenic diet
  • ROS damages tissues and is why you age
  • He published the glucose-ketone index calculator
  • People need to realize sweets are a treat once in awhile - not an everyday thing
  • The food industry has played into our ancient desires for sweet
  • Otto Warburg studied cancer in the early 1900s
  • He found that cancer cells would grow in an 100% oxygen environment - they continue to ferment and create lactic acid
  • Because their mitochondria are defective they can’t switch back to oxidative phosphorylation
  • He recently published a paper filling in the gaps from Otto Warburg’s work
  • Missing link was the glutamine that cancer cells can also use
  • Have to pulse the glutamine so the immune system can do it's job and clear out the dead cells
  • He’s developed the press-pulse system in his lab to attack tumors strategically
  • Almost there with dosage, timing, and schedule - when done with this will have the pathway to resolution
  • He’s having trouble getting funding for this for some reason
  • One problem is people have created separate little communities and foundations around their specific type of cancer even though they all have the common metabolic foundational problem
  • People are going to have to participate in the management of their disease and the culture of the diseases has to change
  • Another problem is the high cost of these standard therapies - people have to pay $400k
  • His paper looking at research conducted on cancer
  • If you take a normal cytoplasm and implant a nucleus with a tumor you get normal cells. But if you implant a normal nucleus to a cell with damaged cytoplasm, you get more tumor cells. This shows it's the damaged mitochondria in the cytoplasm, not the DNA in the nucleus
  • The wheelchair doesn't cause your legs to not work
  • Needle biopsies are putting people at risk and are pointless
  • He calls this general misunderstanding of cancer the biggest tragedy in the history of medicine
  • What do critics of his views say? They try to create doubt
  • They rely on private funding and some great organizations supporting this research
  • Travis Christofferson’s foundation
  • His book Tripping Over the Truth
  • Dr. George Yu’s foundation
  • Presentation by Dr. Seyfried
  • Dr. Seyfried’s book


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