Obliterate Conformity
ketones

It’s because of ketone bodies that I say “no, thank you,” to the stewardess who offers me chicken pasta, red wine, and chocolate cake during the ninth hour of a transatlantic flight. I’m starving, but it’s a firm “no.”  I’ll explain what my logic is.

Two million years ago, I was a hominid monkey known as Homo habilis, aka Handy Man, living in Lake Turkana, in northern Kenya. I wasn’t just any simian; I was the top ape in the Savannah, in fact the smartest creature since the birth of single-celled life. For the next two million years my descendants would outsmart every other species on the planet.

What made me special?

For one, I wasn’t surrounded by geniuses. Monkeys had already been around for 50 million years, during which they failed to crack open so much as a nut. Handy Man’s great forefathers, the Australopithecus, finally learned to run on two legs, but for another two million years kept running after deer that were five times faster than him. Australopithecus may have begun the marathon tradition, but from a nutritional standpoint, it was a zero-sum game. Aside from the rare and occasional leftovers from hyenas, their daily catch consisted mostly of tubers, lizards, vegetables, and fruit.

Along came our kind, the first standup apes with tools. We figured out a simple thing called the rock. Split it, and you can carve out stuff with the sharp end. Attach it to a stick, and you get a spear. Throw the spear at a saber-toothed cat, and you get meat, bone marrow, and saturated fats. Grunt. From this point onward, we tripled our brain size from a monkey-like 400ml to human-like 1,200ml in record time.

What was the real cause of this unprecedented evolutionary jump? Vegetarians may guess it’s not the meat, and they may be right. An increasing number of studies point at the same reason that made me say “no” to the stewardess.

The Power Of Ketone Bodies

Ketone bodies are high-grade jet-fuel for the human furnace, especially the brain. They consist of three water-soluble molecules produced by the liver under certain conditions like (1) fasting, (2) low-carb intake combined with high saturated fat intake, and/or (3) intense exercise. These three molecules (also known as beta-hydroxybutyric acid aka BHB, acetoacetic acid, and a byproduct known as acetone), may have played a significant role in getting us out of our monkey suits.

A person next to me on the flight skins her chicken and pushes the fatty part on the side of the plate. I try not to grunt at the remains. It’s the only part on her plate I should eat, should I want to continue ketosis, a state of being where most of my body’s energy supply comes from ketone bodies in the blood.

My dietary strictness has due causality. I’ve experienced a profound transformation ever since I began a ketogenic diet. I’m 50 and I’ve burned the bulk of my excess fat in less than three months, with only reasonable exercise. I feel amped up, alert, tuned in and ready to rock, more than I did in my crazy twenties. I’ve also shed the majority of my attention deficit disorder, and for the first time in my life, actually enjoy the stillness of the moment. All is going so well, mentally and physically, that I want to dive in deeper into whatever it is that I’m experiencing.

I’ve kept myself in ketosis by eating no less than 70 percent of my energy intake in saturated fats like coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, nuts, eggs, fish, and organic meat. I try to keep proteins below 25 percent and carbohydrates under five percent. Which means all sorts of stuff I used to love, like fruit, have become a rare treat. Even red wine, as it contains sugar. Forget the fact that I love Italian, Thai, Indian — I used to equate life with good red wine. Today, the potential of biohacking overrides the pleasure of a 2001 Barolo.

The science behind ketones is awe-inspiring. A recent study found that a ketogenic diet increases mitochondrial metabolism and signaling in brains. Under the regular western diet, the brain usually burns glucose. But when replaced with ketones, the genes in the hippocampus (responsible for learning and memory) accelerate mitochondrial enzymes and energy metabolism, while significantly reducing the oxidative stress that comes from burning glucose.

For thousands of years, fasting (a simple way to generate ketone bodies) has been used as treatment against epileptic seizures, without knowing why. In the 1930s, researchers found that ketone bodies prevented seizures by inhibiting glutamate release, confirmed again by another 2013 study.

Ketone bodies also lead to significant cognitive improvement in patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson disease in three to six months, which means it is a functional way to battle neurodegenerative diseases.

Aside from overhauling your brain, a high-fat diet is also shown to reprogram liver cells to dump their fat content, increase HDL (the good cholesterol), and reduce lipoproteins (associated with heart disease). And because our Base Metabolic Rate (50-80 percent of our total energy requirement) only burns fats and proteins, the distribution of energy is more efficient and serves the organs that most need it, without accumulating fat in our body.

Last but not least, by overhauling our mitochondria, ketone bodies also reduce the probability of chronic illnesses like autoimmune and cancer, which have reached historic, epidemic proportions in the 20th century, currently being addressed functionally only by a novel medicinal field called metabolomics, which typically advocates high saturated fat diets along with supplementation.

Bottom line: Ketone bodies are a cleaner, more efficient brain fuel that reduces oxidative stress, increasing mitochondrial activity, neuron signaling and cerebral blood flow – while naturally burning off fat reservoirs.

Which leads to my hypothesis. Considering the fact that ketone bodies have such a remarkable effect on the brain, including ability to partially rewire cognitive malfunction in less than half a year, is it too farfetched to assume that ketones had a major impact on the evolution of our brains over 2 million years, ever since Handy Man picked up his first rock and shortcut his access to saturated fats?

After all, the life of the Handy Man was a saga of intermittent starving and fat intake, optimal for the generation of ketone bodies.

There is further evidence to support the ketone-brain expansion hypothesis. Cambridge University researchers looked at fossil evidence for the past 200,000 years and found out that our brain size peaked about 20,000 years ago (at 1,500 milliliters aka cubic centimeters).

Behold, 20,000 years ago also happens to be the onset of the agricultural era.

Agriculture introduced us back to carbohydrates in the form of grains (wheat, rice, maize) and potatoes, which later evolved into bread, pasta, and tortillas. Pure carbs. Almost at the same time we also began to cultivate grapevines and fruits, mixing carbs and fructose as our new staple, while radically cutting down on saturated fat intake. That’s pretty much the staple of our slow-witted ancestor, the Australopithecus.

Result being, since the introduction of agriculture, we lost about 150 milliliters (the size of a tennis ball) in brain matter in less than 10,000 years, probably a lot faster in the last century with the onset of junk food and trans fats.  Scientists have tried to figure this mystery out by pointing the finger at “climate change,” “decrease in vitamins” and the “metabolic tradeoff between body size and number of neurons,” while one cognitive scientist, David Geary, believes that the culprit is actually the increase in population density. His logic being, the more complex the society, the less smartness (or brain capacity) you need to survive.

Having lived in London and Los Angeles, and caroused in New York and Tokyo, I would tend to disagree with David Geary. You need more brain cells to thrive in advanced societies. As far as the other theories are concerned, the lack of ketone bodies in modern life appears to be the best explanation for the “shrinking brains phenomenon.”

The Promise Of A New Ketogenic Era

So why should we be so concerned about ketones and brain function in the first place? Clearly we’re a magnificent species that has achieved incredible feats of progress. We’re on our way to Mars, for Pete’s sake, even after we lost a tennis ball of dark matter from the peak days. Besides, life is also about French toast with marmalade, Champagne with strawberries, and Italian Barolo with Gorgonzola noodles.

Modern lifestyle (with science, medicine, hygiene, ample nutrition, and safety protocols in every corner) has also extended our lives from late 20s (average age of a Roman Centurion) to mid-80s.

What more could we possibly need?

For one, the progress has come at an incredible cost. We’ve halved down our rain forests, polluted the environment, altered nearly half of Earth’s land mass, and accelerated the extinction rate to 1000 times normal levels in less than a century. Global warming is now a concrete mass-extinction factor within a lifetime, and so is the propagation of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. The environment is rapidly transforming against us, as we focus on making our daily bread.

And although we live longer than ever, only five percent of us are biochemically healthy, according to a 2013 study that maps the propagation of chronic disease. Latest metabolomic research shows that the main reason for this epidemic is nutritional deficiency and excessive toxins, due to the same modern lifestyle that awarded us all the progress. Technology is now accelerating toward singularity, while we are decelerating toward Australopithecus, with shrinking brains and inflating body mass. Maybe, just maybe, with an extra tennis ball of gray matter we wouldn’t be in this shape.

If ketone bodies offer us one potential way to get us out of a devolutionary spin, then we should take another look at these molecules.

In a very limited spectrum, we already are. Progressive diets like David Asprey’s Bulletproof Coffee are becoming fads in alternative health circles. Holistic doctors are recommending fasting and ketogenic diets to address cancer, neurodegenerative disorders and other chronic illnesses, even though  the majority of modern doctors largely negate the positive effects.

Even if we take the power of ketones granted, the biggest challenge is the associated lifestyle change. Fasting and elimination of carbs is not a switch-on routine, after a lifetime of culturally programmed nutrition habits. Which is why several companies are engaged in the research of externally sourced (exogenous) ketones that can mimic or replicate naturally occurring (endogenous) ketones. One of the most popular ones is MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oil, which also exist in coconut oils, although in lower quantity. Taking MCT with your morning coffee is a terrific way to break the ice with a yogi at Erewhon, but is not a direct fix to ketosis.

Many novel sports drinks boast synthetic ketone salts (a delivery mechanism for beta-hydroxybutyric acid) but they often boil down to a marketing gimmick, as the amount of salts required exceeds USDA recommended guidelines by an astronomical factor (USDA recommendation is 1.5 grams per day, while functional level of ketone salts require at least 60 grams … although there is some evidence that USDA salt guidelines may be arbitrary, and that more healthy salts are actually necessary for us).

One of the leaders in exogenous ketones is Dr. Veech, whose work is published by the likes of Scientific American. To overcome the salt limitation set by USDA, Veech has been developing an artificial delivery method using esters (chemical compounds that bond with fatty acid molecules). His ketone ester drink was recently tested among competitive cyclists. The yield was a 2 percent advantage in speed over a 30-minute workout trial, equating to about 411 extra meters in distance, a huge advantage in competitive sports.

In a recent interview with Ben Greenfield, Dr. Veech explains that his formulation has a huge potential in a market where five million have Alzheimer’s, 600,000 have Parkinson’s and 33 million are obese. Yet he is facing obstacles from the companies — like corn producers — that could help him manufacture ketone esters in large quantities (they prefer to produce syrup and alcohol instead).

Interestingly, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), that uses over $3 billion a year to develop advanced military solutions and weapons (and is also known as the original developer of the internet), funded Dr. Veech’s research into ketone esters to improve the government’s special forces’ cognitive function and physical performance. The development took several years but the end result blew away the researchers. When they tested the ketone ester on rats, it improved the heart’s energy production by 28 percent.

So now that our special forces have a new super fuel, where does it leave the rest of us?

Monkey square 1.

As the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines prohibit the marketing of ketone salts, while DARPA is expropriating ketone esters for military use, the quickest way to achieve ketosis, for the time being, remains the way of our monkey grandfathers.

As long as Homo sapiens continue to journey toward perdition with shrinking brains, both artificial and natural means to repair our biochemical potential are fair game.

Ketone bodies may be one important factor to help us shed our skin of exceptionalism and give way to Homo Superior.

being fat

Why are we trying to accept the unacceptable: being fat? When you search for the term ‘accept your weight,’ 132 million results pop up. 

“Accepting Your Body at Any Size,” “How To Respect Your Body,” “The Real Reason You Can’t Accept Your Body,” “The Secret To Loving Your Body” are the top search results on Google. Which means that we prefer content that helps us accept and justify however fat we may be.

It’s not just about the weight. An industry of self-development books and courses exist around the concept of accepting all kinds of nonsense about ourselves. We’re even taught early on in primary school that we’re at the top of the food chain, or God’s chosen creatures, or at the peak of the evolutionary ladder, or unique, and precious in every way.

The Industry of Self-Acceptance is an easy sellout, because currently at least 2/3rds of us are in fact overweight, living drastically below our optimal energy and mental capacity, in chronic illness, rife with low self-esteem issues. All these factors are interconnected, which makes us by definition not only fat, but also ugly and stupid. 

“OK, so even if I’m fat, doesn’t mean I’m ugly or stupid,” is a great counterargument, but also ipso facto untrue. By having low self-esteem, we’ve already accepted that we’re ugly. And if we don’t accept that being overweight is ugly, we’re even stupider, because it means accepting a substandard version of ourselves. Would you knowingly buy a car with a substandard engine? That would be stupid.  

Here is an alternative approach: let’s quit accepting who we are, and focus on the possibility of who we can be.

If you dig an inch below the noise produced by the Industry of Self-Acceptance and Self-Glorification, you’ll find an easy path to transformative answers. It begins by dispelling three basic myths that we’ve been taught about nutrition for over half a century.

The Calorie Myth

The first calorie controlled experiment was made by Francis Benedict in 1917. All of the subjects in his experiment who lost weight gained the weight back within a few weeks — with extra pounds. A 2007 study that compared 80 studies and over 26,000 people, came to the same conclusion. Less calories do not translate into long-term weight-loss.

One of the reasons for this odd phenomenon is the body’s ability to self-adjust energy consumption. It may respond to starvation and endless treadmill hours by attempting to save energy in other body parts. It will lower the thyroid function (gland which regulates our metabolism, fat-burn, and hormonal production) to reduce calorie burn, which means it will store relatively more fat from the diminishing resources.

When we’re starving, biochemical sensors also deprioritize the reproductive system. In survival mode, the body hardly needs to get laid. That’s a bummer. In women, this means irregularity of periods, in men it’s an unstudied, or should we say unreported, phenomenon.

Then there is the brain, which is only two percent of total body weight but uses 20 percent of our so-called Base Metabolic Rate (the base energy you need when you have little or no activity, like watching Game of  Thrones). Have you ever tried to focus on work, for example, while starving? You feel stupid, right? That’s what the brain does to you during a calorie-restricted diet.

The very last thing the body wants to give up is fat. It equates fat, however plentiful it may be, as your last energy reserves.

Bottom line: calorie restriction, even when combined with extensive exercise, marathon runs, and daily gym routines, is ultimately programmed to fail in calorie-focused weight-loss programs.

The Low-Fat Myth

“A calorie is not a calorie,” says Zoe Harcombe, a mathematician from Cambridge University, with a Ph.D. in Public Health Nutrition. Meaning, the type of foods we eat have a much bigger impact on our health and weight than the amount of food we eat.

Her book The Obesity Epidemic explains the primary reason why obesity rates have tripled since 1975. The main reason is the second law of thermodynamics that basically states that in an open system like the human body, energy gets used up  to create energy. Because carbs only use six to eight percent of their total energy to make it available to the body (the comparable “thermic effect” of proteins is 25 to 30 percent), most of it (92 to 94 percent) becomes available as excess energy to convert into fat.

Combine the second law with the fact that the body needs different type of calories for different activities. The energy that comes from carbs does not get used by the Base Metabolic Rate, which only utilizes fats and proteins. Depending on your activity level, your BMR could be anywhere between 50 to 80 percent of your total energy needs. If you’re doing heavy exercise, like working out twice a day, it’s closer to 50 percent. A couch potato is closer to 80 percent (you can determine yours with the Harris-Benedict equation). 

The key to understand is that carbs only serve the extra energy requirement over and beyond the BMR rate, with activity-related burn like excercise. 

Dr. Harcombe demonstrates the difference between two women who both eat 2,000 calories worth per day. One winds up fat and sick, the other slim and healthy. How is that possible? The critical difference is the intake of carbs, which is set at 10 percent for the slim woman, and 55 percent for the fat woman. They are both doing light exercise, which means that they require approximately 500 calories above their average 1,500 calorie BMR rate (see TABLE).

fat

Magically (and scientifically), the slim woman ends up burning her fat reservoirs, while the fat woman ends up storing more, with the identical calorie intake. The energetic difference between types of calories explains the bulk of the modern obesity phenomenon. Too many carbs, folks.

There is another reason we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about our weight-loss failure. When we eat the standard American “Cafeteria Diet,” (high in carbs) it creates a craving for more of the same junk in our brain’s reward center, like with crack cocaine. Even if we try to placate the chronic deficit of (BMR) calories by plunking down 5,000 calories worth of pizza and Coca Cola, we only keep growing the BMR deficit. All the carbs wind up as fat, while critical functions of the body and brain are compromised. That’s a big part of the fat and stupid causality cycle. 

Add to this the fact that carbs like fructose, causes leptin resistance (the hormone that regulates your appetite), which makes you want more junk and also inhibits your ability to burn fat. That’s when the cycle becomes complete, and obesity a modern plague that is killing more than all the wars, famine, and genocides put together. Which is incredibly stupid.

The Saturated Fat Myth

According to Einstein’s relativity equation (E=MC2), if we could actually directly convert fat into energy, we’d blow up in a supernova. Fortunately, there is a much more benevolent way to burn fat in a natural metabolic process, which is … by eating more fat.

The unfortunate fact is that someone who dreamt up the Standard Diet (another myth), confused trans fats with saturated fats, and told us to limit the latter.

Trans fats are industrially engineered vegetable oils that exist in about 40 percent of the products on our supermarket shelves.  By adding hydrogen atoms into vegetable oils we get trans fats like margarine. This shit will really kill you, mostly with a heart attack. Trans fats can be found in crackers, cereals, candies, baked goods, cookies, granola bars, chips, snack foods, salad dressings, fried foods, and most processed foods. 

Saturated fats, in turn, can be found in foods like meat, egg yolks, dairy products, salmon, nuts, avocados, coconut oil and olive oil. Because of the confusion with trans fats, the Standard Diet recommendations instructed us to cut down on saturated fats, which are highly beneficial and essential to our health. Even Tim Ferris raves about the effects of saturated fats.

  • Saturated fats reduce lipoproteins (correlated with heart disease).
  • Increase HDL (aka the good cholesterol which, contrary to the cholesterol myth, is also essential to our health).
  • Feed your brain (which is made out of fat and cholesterol) with its primary fuel, thereby also influencing proper functioning of metabolism by enhancing nerve signaling.
  • Improve the immune system by fueling white blood cells that fight invaders like pathogenic bacteria, viruses, and fungi. 
  • Reprograms liver cells to dump their fat content.

Most importantly, when used in conjunction with low-carb intake, saturated fats help you burn off excess fat reservoirs, because it acts as a solid fuel for both BMR type energy and the energy you need for any extracurricular activities, like exercise, thinking, and procreation.   

Imagine that. Losing fat without going supernova, or having to go Spartan with your diet or exercise.

Conclusions

We were not designed to be fat, ugly, and stupid. We are innately and perfectly well-oiled machines with an inbuilt self-healing mechanism, void of chronic illnesses and chiseled down to our prime potential. Once we realize how critical the type of nutrition we consume is, the path to reach our potential is much easier and much shorter than we imagined. 

Basic rules:

  • Cut your carbs to minimum in every form, especially fructose 
  • Eliminate processed foods (not only do they contain trans fats, but industrial toxins)
  • Drink a LOT of (pure water), never soda or sweet drinks.
  • Go Miss Piggy on high-quality saturated fats (coconut oil, olive oils, fats in organic meats, eggs, organic butter, avocado, nuts, fish).

The Harcombe Diet is an excellent place to start. The Ketogenic diet is more extreme, but also kicks in faster (there are also multiple advantages of having ketone bodies in your system, especially your brain will dig it).

When nutritional myths are dissolved, we can finally start accepting ourselves. Other myths follow, as the fog clears. We discover facts about supplementation (yes we need it, and lots of it, because the food supply is scarce of nutritional value), exercise (you actually only need 20 minutes high-intensity 2-3 times per week), antibiotics (they spawn superbugs), other prescription drugs (they address symptoms, not causes), and industrial toxins (there is about 88,000 of them in our personal care products, air, food and water, and we need to eliminate a bulk of them in order to stay healthy). The list goes on but is easier to handle with a mindset that is oiled by saturated fats, instead of soda.

The right nutrition is the sine qua non for the body and mind we need to start tackling life’s more important questions. Like for example dark matter. What the hell is it, and why does it constitute 95 percent of the universe?

We’ve been trying to cure cancer for a century, with ever-worsening odds. Lately, the odds are akin to that of Russian roulette.

At the beginning of the last century the odds were one in 20. Today, one in every two men and one in every three women will get cancer. That’s over 18 million new cancer cases this year, and more than half a billion cancer casualties in the 20th century alone.

While we cruise deep into the 21st century, the World Health Organization expects the number of new cancer cases to surge by 70 percent within two decades. That’s sayonara to more than 30 million people (the population of Tokyo) per year.

Remarkably, recovery odds haven’t improved since the 1950s, despite all the technological quantum jumps. Two out of three cancer patients still die within five years.

In other words, we built flying machines, split the atom, cracked the human genome, eradicated plagues and deployed robots on Mars, but we’re still losing the war on cancer.

Here is the most frustrating part. Had we listened to one Nobel laureate who was sidelined by the pharmaceutical industry, we may have thwarted the cancer pandemic back in the early 1920s.

Inside The Dogma

The day your x-ray is flagged, your oncologist will likely advise surgery, chemo, and/or radiation therapy, the slash-burn-poison holy triangle of modern cancer treatment.

Surgery is invasive and usually ineffective against metastasis. Radiation was invented during the heyday of horse and buggies and is highly carcinogenic. Chemotherapy drugs meanwhile attack cell functionality and DNA with violent toxins, targeting both good and bad cells.

The first chemo drugs were made from nitrogen mustard, a biochemical weapon better known as mustard gas. The chemical’s tumor-killing potential was discovered accidentally after Germans bombed an allied WWII ship that secretly stocked the illegal weapon. The sailors and the gas mixed in the ocean, killing scores and causing blisters and blindness for the rest, but also showed enough “regression in lymphoid tumors” to warrant the chemical as a cancer treatment.

Your doctor won’t tell you that he’s injecting you with war gas, but you will feel it. First the body tries to rid itself of the poison with a wave of vomiting. Then extreme anemia and fatigue take over as the toxins stop cell division necessary for blood production. The immune system shuts down, hair falls out, and gut lining is destroyed as the poisons attack cell DNA.

Because of extreme toxicity levels, instruction manuals advocate disposal of chemo drugs in a raging inferno (1800 degrees Fahrenheit). Aside from ravishing the body, only two percent of chemo patients survive longer than five years. The cost of extending your life tallies in at $7,000 – $10,000 per month.

Despite the marginal survival rate, chemo is offered as your best bet under modern protocols. Natural cures are out of the question, according to western medicine. Your doctor will advise you against any and all alternative methods, because they are not part of his scope of understanding.

Face value, the doctor offers the “safest” choice. An $8 trillion healthcare industry with a century of research can hardly be wrong.  The universities, the hospitals, the regulatory institutions like the FDA and the AMA, the drug companies – can’t all be wrong.

Until you look deeper.

Through The Looking Glass

In the 19th century, the healing industry’s perception was split in two. Doctors who use empiricism, i.e. traditional healing saw disease as an energetic or metabolic deficiency. They believe that given the right nutrition and energy, the body heals itself. The empirics came from Native American and European traditions and used plants, herbs, mushrooms, and minerals as their tools.

Allopathic doctors, on the other hand, saw disease as an intruder. Their job was to eliminate the threat. So they bled the body. They gave patients doses of led and mercury. They drilled holes and experimented with surgery. They often killed more patients than the disease did, but also stumbled into legitimate cures.

Both views had pros and cons. Together they could have offered a functional, holistic treatment. But since herbs and plants can’t be patented, Western Medicine became empathically allopathic in nature. It offered a clear revenue logic: high mark-up synthetic drugs.

The late 19th century was an opportune time to invest in man-made weapons against disease. The discovery of the microscope introduced bacteria and viruses to us as an existential threat. From the allopathic point of view, we were at war, with everything.

While the drug industry was going through its birth pangs, John Rockefeller, the first oil magnate big enough to face an antitrust suit, saw a future in medicine.  He shelled out a fortune to subsidize synthetic drug research and set the tone of the future.

The new revenue logic helped build hospitals, educate doctors, and finance the institutions that licensed them. Natural cures were relegated to grandma’s pantry and phased out of modern medical literature.

The fading out of natural medicine wasn’t a conspiracy. It was a competitive business move. Over the 20th century, the drug industry grew into a $1 trillion behemoth – one third bigger than oil – in tandem with a historic surge of chronic illnesses.

Cancer in particular.

Cancer The Golden Hen

Cancer. The unpredictable, untreatable, rapidly propagating and randomly mutating threat generated over $100 billion in 2014, projected to reach $147 billion by 2018, according to Forbes.

The costs are equally astronomical. Research and Development on a cancer drug takes an average of 10-15 years and up to $1 billion to come to market, after clinical trials on humans and testing and licensing. Hundreds of these drugs were developed while the industry still failed to understand the root cause of the disease.

We’ve known about carcinogens for a long time (carcinoma linked to chimney soot was discovered in London in 1775) but only in the last decades have they become part of our social vocabulary. Aspartame. Trans fat. Pesticides. Alcohol. Stress. Smoke. Cellphones. Teflon. Asbestos. Man-made radiation. GMO. Sugar.

The American Cancer Society lists 444 carcinogens (tobacco smoke contains 50 of them) along with lifestyle (physical activity, nutrition) and the environment (radiation, air, water) as major cancer factors. Carcinogens are in our food supply, personal care products, water, and air.

We knew early on that carcinogens are partly responsible, but not how or why. The discovery of DNA changed that. Soon after, we found out that cancer cells carry mutated DNA.

As a result, cancer became genetic overnight. Suddenly everything depended on your family tree. The drug industry’s big hope was to target the single cell gene that caused the original mutation, the Holy Grail of genetic cancer drugs.

By 2005, while the Human Genome Project was making DNA sequencing more cost effective, the NIH announced The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), “a comprehensive effort to accelerate our understanding of the molecular basis of cancer through the application of genome analysis technologies.”

One of the labs that worked on the TCGA was run by Dr. Bert Vogelstein, the father of the genetic theory of cancer. By 2013, Vogelstein announced that they were  no closer to discovering the Grail. The computers cranked 10,000 times more data than the Human Genome Project with zilch to show. There was no pattern of causality between DNA and tumor growth. Instead, the DNA varied chaotically both between and inside the tumors.

This meant that cancer drugs like Astrazeneca’s Iressa ($647 million in sales) or Genentech’s Tarceva ($564 million in sales) were only marginally better than placebos.

The FDA’s review of Tarceva, a lung and pancreatic cancer drug, claims a 19-27 percent “reduction in risk of death,” a terminological oddity that makes it sound as if the drug saves lives. In reality, 5-10 percent of the patients may get the benefit of a few extra months of survival.

Still, Vogelstein remained a genetic conservative despite the statistical cul-de-sac. He wrote a paper suggesting that the anomaly could be due to “dark matter,” something too complex for modern sequencing technology (or anyone else for that matter) to understand.

Author Travis Christofferson’s portrays TCGA’s hopeless journey into cancer in his book Tripping Over The Truth.  The TCGA data devastated the genetic theory. Some of the doctors had no choice but to open up to a century old theory, one that was suspiciously empiric in nature.

Cancer As A Symptom

German scientist and Nobel laureate Otto Warburg, one of the 20th century’s leading biochemists, postulated in 1924 that cancer was metabolic, a cellular respiration issue caused by damage to mitochondria, the cell’s energy source.

”The prime cause of cancer is the replacement of the respiration of oxygen in normal body cells by a fermentation of sugar,” explained Warburg.

Warburg observed that distressed cancer cells begin to burn glucose instead of oxygen. The result is fermentation, a primitive energy production method that the cell activates like an atavistic backup generator (think lighting a wood oven when the central heating fails).

For Warburg, the chain reaction was clear. Low cellular oxygenation – due to e.g. environmental toxins or nutritionally deficient food – damaged the respiratory enzymes in the mitochondria, thereby compromising its ability to produce energy (or ATP) with oxygen. As a result, the damaged mitochondria send out emergency signals to the cell’s nucleus, telling it to activate backup generators, which run on glucose.

The resulting fermentation produces a fraction (1/15th) of the cell’s normal energy, forcing the cell to shut down most basic functions with the exception of survival and replication. The failed mitochondria also switch off apoptosis (natural cell death) and mutates the DNA. The result is an unstoppable growth of mutant cells, that feed on sugar.

The reason The Cancer Genome project couldn’t find the root cause of cancer was simple:  Cancer doesn’t stem from DNA. Mutation is simply a side-effect of cancer.

Warburg got the 1931 Nobel Prize in Physiology (he was nominated for the award 47 times) for his notion on cellular respiration, but its relevance to cancer research was shelved by the industry – until recently.

The TCGA data brought Warburg out of obscurity and jolted some of the cancer industry’s key figures, redefining the understanding for what actually drives cancer.

The staunchest advocate of the genetic theory, James Watson, co-discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA and father of the Human Genome Project, made a U-turn on his career-long beliefs.

“If we’re ever going to cure cancer,” Watson wrote in a 2013 paper published in Open Biology “we’re clearly going to have to go back to the days of Otto Warburg and focus on the metabolism to make any real progress.”

Watson spent his life designing smart cancer drugs that target genetic glitches, like the protein derivatives of DNA mutations. However, 98 percent of his patients went into relapse because cancer would ultimately mutate and find a workaround, making the drug eventually useless. For Watson, that path was not worth supporting anymore.

Another convert, Dr. Thomas Seyfried, author of Cancer As A Metabolic Disease, arrived at Warburg’s theory independently.

Seyfried found lab studies from the ‘80s in which the nucleus of a cancer cell in a mouse was removed and inserted into a normal cell. The experiment was then reversed, with the nucleus of a normal cell inserted into a cancer cell. After both types were injected into healthy mice, he discovered that only the cells with a healthy nucleus and cancer cytoplasm developed cancer. It was clear proof that DNA (which resides in the cell’s nucleus) wasn’t the root cause of cancer. Defective mitochondria, which reside in the cytoplasm, were.

The reason we keep finding new carcinogens at a gallop, is that anything that can weaken mitochondria has carcinogenic potential. The common factor between the thousands of toxins in our food-air-water supply, nutritionally deficient food, lifestyle, obesity, inflammation, viruses like Hepatitis C, bacteria, radiation, stress, lack of exercise, genes – is that they can all weaken or kill mitochondria.

Mitochondria handle life’s most basic functions. There are hundreds, up to thousands of them per cell. They generate energy, synthesize and package proteins. Their high level of complexity implies sensitivity to external stress factors, especially to what we digest. Or what we lack as nutrients.

Today’s foods, for example, are up to 10 times poorer in nutrients than 50 years ago and contain up to 84,000 untested chemicals. Meanwhile when it comes to water: 70 percent of the population is dehydrated while most sources are replete with industrial toxins. And oxygen levels in cities are down by more than 1/3rd since they’re saturated with industrial emissions. All major stress factors for mitochondria.

Under the metabolic theory, these kind of factors help explain the 10-fold increase in cancer rates over the 20th century. We can finally begin to understand cancer as a symptom of an increasingly hostile environment and unhealthy lifestyle, of which mitochondria take the front row brunt.

Mitochondria are our canary in the coalmine, and also the guide to a real cancer cure.

A New Paradigm To Cure Cancer

A single metabolic theory that explains 100 different types of cancer is a nightmare for Big Pharma. Suddenly anything that improves mitochondrial health, may qualify as competition for billion dollar drugs.

This includes preventative measures like regular exercise, drinking plenty of water, breathing rich enough oxygen, eating greens, lean proteins, healthy fats, and antioxidant foods. Avoiding stress, sugar, toxins, and tobacco. Getting sun (D-vitamin) and a balanced share of micronutrients that are sadly scarce in our our current food supply. Even doing things you enjoy and smiling a lot, have the power to beat modern cancer drugs, from a mitochondrial perspective.

As Dr. Thomas Seyfried would discover after observing tumor shrinkage in patients on low-calorie diets, a simple measure like fasting has the power even to reverse cancer growth.

Fasting drives down blood glucose, which cancer cells need for fermentation, forcing them to compete for fuel with healthy cells – and starve.

Seyfried took the study further by replacing carbohydrates with healthy fats (like olive and coconut oil). He tested the diet on a patient with an aggressive form of brain cancer (gliobastoma). The diet dissolved the tumor in two months. Later, when the patient quit the diet, the tumor returned.

Availability of food has a historical correlation with cancer. Cancer barely existed in antiquity, when food scarcity was the norm. Now that foods are more readily available than ever – in carb-rich, processed form (80 percent contain sugar) – cancer continues to peak along with obesity rates.

The reason a low-calorie, high-fat, low-carb diet is so effective is because it changes the body’s metabolism from burning glucose to burning fat, and cancer cells can only thrive with glucose.

The diet activates the liver to produce three water-soluble molecules called ketones, a high-grade cellular fuel that become the cell’s primary energy source. The bonus: cancer cells can’t feed on ketones. Ketones also produce fewer free radicals when they convert to ATP, thereby protecting and even restoring damaged mitochondria, according to Dr. Richard Veech, who first linked ketones with the metabolic theory.

Today, a ketogenic diet is becoming popular in alternative health circles, not only to treat cancer but a score of other chronic illnesses like epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Sclerosis, stroke, brain trauma, and autism. A 2007 TIME article brought public attention on the ketogenic diet as a functional cancer cure. But modern medicine still largely ignores the diet or simply rejects it outright .

If history is any indication, the drug makers won’t catch up with the potential of ketones before the fumes run out on  chemo drug sales. Instead they will actively continue to protect their existing business model.

New metabolic drugs, even if they show remarkable success rates, have already gotten buried under a regulatory battle, which points to a clear and present collusion between the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry.

One example is 3-bromopyruvate or 3-BP, a chemical that blocks the cancer cell from disposing lactic acid, a toxic waste product of fermentation, resulting in the cell’s self-poisoning. 3-BP itself is harmless, simple and cheap, yet according to the widely publicized studies, manages to kill every type of cancer (brain, colon, pancreatic, liver, lung, skin, kidney, ovarian, prostate, and breast cancer) that can be detected by a PET scan.

The makers of 3-BP are pleading for help from the public to make the treatment accessible to everyone, while stuck in FDA regulatory process.

Another similar case is a drug called GcMAF, which acts by activating macrophages that consume cancer cells – highly successfully, according to the published lab results. Cancer Research UK has warned about the drug’s “spurious claims” and FDA has denied its use.

3-BP and GcMAF are the tip of the iceberg. History is replete with promising cancer cures that vanished off the map, as well as healers who were shut down, silenced or relegated to quack status, despite their success with cancer patients.

Nurse Rene Caisse reportedly cured thousands of cancer patients with a simple herbal formulation called Essiac, In 1938, her supporters collected 55,000 signatures to let her continue the practice before she was shut down by the FDA.

Harry Hoxsey reportedly cured more than 12,000 melanoma patients and was known as the “worst cancer quack of the century,” while he fought a two-decade legal battle with the FDA.

Max Gerson claimed to have healed 50 patients (including Albert Schweitzer’s daughter) with a nutritional diet, organic juices, coffee enemas, and dietary supplements, before his license was suspended by the FDA.

ABC News correspondent Raymond Graham Swing did an investigative report on Gerson, interviewing doctors, scientists and cancer survivors, and broadcast a segment that announced Gerson’s therapy as “the first cancer cure.” Shortly after, Swing was fired from ABC and the FDA revoked Gerson’s license.

Similar stories belong to Rudolph Steiner. Linus Pauling. Ernst. T. Krebs. Kanematsu Sugiura. John A. Richardson. Dr. WIlliam Lane. Dr. Walter Lemmo. Emanuel Revici. Gaston Naessens. Dr. Andrew Ivy. Dr. Royal Rife. Tullio Simoncini. Massino Mazzucco.

Yet their work didn’t go to waste. They ultimately paved the way for us to cure cancer in a natural and safe manner, for anyone who chooses to see through the dogma.

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest her or his patients in the care of the human frame, in a proper diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.”  ~ Thomas A. Edison. 

Recommended Reading: