• What Initiates Cancer?

    Posted February 5, 2018: by Bill Sardi

    There are three stages of cancer: initiation, growth, metastasis (spread).

    The prevailing explanation of what causes cancer, aside from carcinogenic chemicals, is that healthy cells in the human body become cancerous after gene mutations accumulate.

    According to the Cancer Genome Project, most cancer cells possess 60 or more mutations.  However, as can be seen by the diagrams and graphics used to explain how cancer develops, progressive gene mutations produce neoplasia, hyperplasia and dysplasia, words used to describe abnormal cells.  But these terms explain pre-cancerous cells, not immortal, rapid growing cells that migrate and spread throughout the body.

    An example of pre-cancer would be abnormal cells detected by a Pap smear of a woman’s cervix or from a biopsy of the prostate in males.  Women with abnormal cells (neoplasia, hyperplasia, dysplasia in the milk duct of their breast tissue are subjected to unnecessary treatment based upon the presumption these abnormal cells will become malignant.  These are sometimes called “stage zero” cancers.

    It is the detection of these abnormal cells that pathologists often grade as malignant rather than benign.  The patient hears the word “cancer” and out of fear, wants it removed.

    Women taking birth control pills with abnormal Pap smears are not informed that folic acid and/or vitamin B12 can normalize these abnormal Pap smears.   The same is true for abnormal prostate biopsies.

    Carcinogenic chemicals may induce cancer, but only 2-4% of newly diagnosed cancer is attributed to industrial or environmental exposure to carcinogens.

    So what causes normal cells to turn into cancerous cells?


    It is also widely known, though not recognized by practicing oncologists, that sugar causes cancer to grow.  In the 1930s Otto Warburg was awarded a Nobel Prize for showing cancer cells convert from using oxygen for cellular energy to using sugar to maintain their uncontrolled growth.  Cancer is actually detected by a “sugar scan,” injection of radioactive sugar which is seen on a PET scan.

    A ketogenic (90% high-fat, no-added sugar/low carbohydrate) diet can slow down the growth of tumors.   However, sugar made in the liver as glucose fuels cancer, regardless of the amount of refined sugar (fructose, sucrose) that is consumed from sweetened foods.

    Remissions from cancer are more commonly found among patients with low blood sugar levels.   Aggressive tumors exist in a high-sugar environment.  Cancer cells convert to using sugar for growth because tumors grow fast and the cells at the center of the tumor cannot access oxygen.  So the sugar origin of cancer only explains tumor growth, not its initiation.


    So what initiates cancer?  The best available explanations emanate from a combination of two theories – contact inhibition and intracellular calcium overload.

    Contact inhibition is an observed biological phenomenon that living cells in a lab dish grow outward to the edge of a lab dish and then cease multiplying.   As long as the integrity of the connective tissue that surrounds living cells is maintained and cells are in close contact, growth signals are not triggered to provoke uncontrolled growth (cancer).

    It was biologist Mary Helen Barcellos-Hoff who found that x-ray radiation by virtue of its disruption of the connective tissue (aka microenvironment) triggers uncontrolled growth of cells.

    Naked (hairless) mole rats do not develop cancer and this is attributed to its ability to produce and maintain the integrity of connective tissue via a water-holding gel called hyaluronic acid (hyaluronan).

    The naked mole rat does not innately maintain hyaluronic acid but rather maintains it by dietary inhibition of its breakdown enzyme hyaluronidase.  Naked mole rats consume roots and tubers rich in polyphenols that inhibit the enzyme that degrades hyaluronic acid.

    The second factor that triggers cancer is intracellular calcium.

    Contrary to the common belief that accumulated gene mutations produce cancer, the late Dr. Lionel F. Jaffe taught that accumulated gene mutations are not responsible for cancer.  Injuries that kill cells will increase calcium levels in surrounding cells, as excess calcium from dead cells is consumed by the remaining living cells.  This is the beginning step in cancer initiation says Dr. Jaffe.

    It was Dr. Jaffe who described how calcium levels are raised in waves to initiate malignant cells.  These calcium signals become self-perpetuating, says Dr. Jaffe.  Waves of calcium will overwhelm healthy cells and induce biological stress and eventually malignancy.  Calcium is said to be a “driver” rather than just a “passenger” in the creation of tumor cells.

    Too much or too little calcium in a living cell will induce its death.  However, cancer cells devise ways to limit calcium into the watery cytoplasm and thus avert cell death (apoptosis).

    Waves of calcium within living cells transmit biological information.  Disruption of calcium signaling contributes to the development of malignant cells.  Abnormal calcium signaling enables malignant cells to fool and escape destruction by immune cells, to trigger new blood vessel formation (angiogenesis) that facilitates the feeding of tumor cells, and to avert programmed cell death, the phenomenon called apoptosis.

    Now these last two cancer mechanisms, contact inhibition via hyaluronic acid (HA) and intracellular calcium intersect.  The way cells migrate (move) is by secretion of calcium into the surrounding hyaluronan-rich connective tissue, which breaks down the viscosity of HA, allowing the cell to move.  An increase in calcium decreases the viscosity and depolymerizes HA.

    Intracellular calcium sends a signal to initiate cancer.  In fact, an increase in intracellular calcium is considered a hallmark for the initiation of cancer.   Forcing the release of calcium within cancerous cells has been proposed as a nontoxic method of inducing cancer cell death and a dietary supplement regimen (calcium + vitamin D3 + selenium + IP6 rice bran) has been proposed to cause cancer cells to naturally die off, a biological phenomenon known as programmed cell death (apoptosis).  An increase in the release of calcium from within a cancerous cell will provoke its immediate death without harm to healthy cells as customarily occurs with conventional chemotherapy.

    In a lab dish, the red wine molecule resveratrol has been shown to induce “a devastating increase in intracellular calcium” and tumor cell death.  Resveratrol selectively induces death only in cancerous cells, not healthy cells.

    Biologically, the progressive gene mutation explanation for the initial step in the conversion of healthy cells to cancerous cells only serves as a distraction.

    The contact inhibition/intracellular calcium release theories of cancer overlap and suggest biologists are on the cusp of a cure for cancer that addresses the initial trigger for malignancy.

    Given that chemotherapy and radiation treatment do not address what causes cancer, it is difficult to conceive the idea of nuking all the cancer cells out of existence, if even possible, would serve as a cure.

    It appears only political, financial and other factors stand in the way of putting cancer to bed.  Given that all financial incentives reward treatment but not a cure, it is difficult to perceive any true cancer cure will be embraced by modern medicine.  It appears patient-driven self-care would be the only alternative, given that such cures are accessible, non-toxic and affordable. Due to patient fears, it is not likely cancer patients will venture out on their own unguided pursuit of a cancer cure.  Only when cancer treatment resistance sets in will it be likely that a desperate cancer patient who is out of options will set out on their own course of therapy.  However, in this electronic information age, should any bona fide cancer cure be found, it might be difficult to keep under control by conventional medicine.

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