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Bio-bullets

Cancer as a perverse revolution back to the primordial germ

When fomented in oxidant shadows and fuelled by sweet blood, an internal rebellion can turn cancerous.

professor caricatureProf. Mumblebard claims: Cancer is caused by cells that suffer random mutation and then replicate beyond regulation by the body. One cause of mutation is oxidant radicals, so reduced oxygenation of the body should inhibit rather than promote cancer. For its part, sugar is a normal source of energy for cells and would therefore not exacerbate cancer except perhaps indirectly via obesity.

 

logoRobin and the Honey Badger respond: “Unicells are particularly vulnerable to damage from oxidants in their surroundings, and sugar is their ideal food for cellular replication. Prevalent conditions, which tend to be too rich in oxygen and too poor in sugar for free replication, consequently limit the power of unicells. Partly in response to these limitations, multicellular organisms originated from unicellular consortia by a process of symbiogenesis. For unicells to exploit the prevalent oxygen-rich and sugar-poor environments depended on economies of scale and a level of protection from oxidants that only large, complex, multicellular bodies could provide. However, this meant that each cell had to sacrifice the spontaneity of its replication and mutation and settle for a minimal supply of sugar. This loss of autonomy was acceptable for the cells in this collective strategy because of its larger-scale viability. According to this evolutionary rationale, the multicellular cooperation intrinsic to large, complex organisms can be partly unravelled if internal conditions tip in favour of independent replication. In practice, decreasing the internal supply of oxygen while increasing the internal supply of sugar – typical of an unhealthy regime of sedentary habits and overeating of processed carbohydrates – can partly emancipate individual cells, leading to disruption of the integrated functioning of the whole body. Indeed, such a regime can trigger a local reversion by mutating cells to certain metabolic and genetic tactics typical of the ancestral unicells. What eventually ensues is a physiological regression called cancer, in which slight anoxia in localised parts of the body is exacerbated and tumours can grow. Based on this line of reasoning, fresh attempts to control cancer should be based on fully oxygenating incipient tumours while at the same time minimising their supply of sugar.

 

Last modified on 11 March 2016

Comments   

0 #1 Taklamakan 2014-02-11 15:42
Evidence that cancer cells are anaerobic and thrive on sugar was first presented by Otto Warburg in the 1920’s. He won two Nobel prizes for his efforts. See this short clip
+1 #2 Jenny L. 2014-02-12 16:36
This bio-bullet is interesting but I had to read each sentence a few times. I suppose it can’t be put more simply? I’m still looking for a bottom line that everyone can understand and practise without necessarily being a boffin.
0 #3 Zoophile 2014-02-13 09:46
@Jenny L.. Let me have a try Jenny L. Our individual cells were originally microbes billions of years ago. In other words, they were individuals in their own right. Our bodies are consequently an agreement of sorts between the big organism (me) and all my individual cells. I look after the cells but I also need to control them from being too individualistic . I look after them by feeding them and protecting them from free radicals – dangerous molecules derived from oxygen. I control them by keeping them on a tight leash in terms of the amount of food (sugar) I give them. And I cull them by letting some free radicals knock them now and again. If I eat too much sugar they are no longer on a lean and hungry diet. If I don’t exercise much, there is less oxygen in my tissues and therefore fewer free radicals for culling any upstart cells. The rebellion kicks in when I can’t keep them on their leash. This rebellion is cancer. Does that make sense to you?
+1 #4 Labman 2014-02-13 09:51
Maybe this is why I’m least like a zombie after a hard run. It’s interesting to think that it’s not just my blood flushing the cobwebs but I’m claiming my full macrobial glory back from the unicellular madness I didn’t even know was lurking in every cell. So next time I blast the insidious cancerous little buggers with oxygen during exercise I’ll think about what I’m doing and that might make it easier to keep up.
0 #5 Wingnut 2014-02-13 09:59
Don’t race ahead of yourself there Labman. Peter O’Toole just died but that doesn’t mean he was wrong when he said, “The only exercise I take is walking behind the coffins of friends who took exercise.”
0 #6 Jenny L. 2014-02-13 10:04
@Zoophile. Thanks, that does help.
0 #7 M. Schumpeter 2014-02-13 10:10
@Labman. I feel like I’m most alive after hill sprints not gentle jogging. I can see our ancestors in the African bush chasing down kudus for miles and having to do some real breathing to get to the point where the animal is worn out enough to stand still. Do you think maybe that time of going out after blood is what we’re really designed to run for? Which would explain why jogging is usually such mind-numbing drudge. I prefer a sweat-squirting sprint up and down some steep slopes instead of another boring shuffle on the flat with the earphones on. Which way of running do you think oxygenates my tissues more?
0 #8 Labman 2014-02-13 10:20
@M. Schumpeter. I don’t know but you’re also keeping your blood glucose levels down whichever way you run, which must be a downer for tumours. Cancer cells use glucose faster than any normal cell. Wikipedia says the difference in rates of glycolysis (the technical term for the breakdown of glucose into pyruvate) can be 200 fold…see: en.wikipedia.org/.../...
0 #9 Taklamakan 2014-02-13 17:50
I wonder if this medical angle ever occurred to the late Lynn Margulis. For those who don’t know, she was the main protagonist of endosymbiosis as a part of evolution.
+1 #10 Zoophile 2014-02-14 11:58
@Labman. You might find this interesting because it shows the link between cancer and sugar. Glucose fuels tumour growth. Cancer discussion begins at time 6:29. .
0 #11 Freerad 2014-02-18 13:44
The argument that RHB pull out in this biobullet is new in putting sugar and oxygen together, but there are many researchers and doctors that would already agree as far as sugar’s concerned. Here are a few:

discusses how cancer is fuelled by blood glucose levels.


discusses how sugar causes cancer as well as fuels it.


Also see mercola.com/.../...
0 #12 Selenius 2014-02-18 13:48
Tom Naughton is well worth reading, as is the comment stream in his blog:
fathead-movie.com/.../...
0 #13 Wildman 2014-02-18 13:51
@Freerad. You need to add Dr. Craig Thompson, head of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the world's oldest and largest private cancer center, to your list of serious researchers supporting the idea that sugar causes cancer. Check out:



The sugar idea is on its way to becoming the new mainstream but I haven’t seen anyone put it together with the oxygen thing like this Exploring the bioedge ‘biobullet’…
0 #14 Selenius 2014-02-18 13:53
this author says that low oxygen levels have been shown to be the primary cause of cancer, and notes that the ‘gene theory’ for causing cancer has not been proven.
Exploring the Bioedge seem to be the first to realise that cancer is basically linked to high sugar PLUS low oxygen, which does make sense because both oxygen and sugar are double edged swords and their combination is like a four-edged sword.

0 #15 Selenius 2014-02-18 13:54
@M. Schumpeter. You are in good academic company with your thoughts that deep down we are runners and we need to run to be healthy. Dan Lieberman is the prof who is popularising this concept. See his TedX talk here. “Brains, Brawn and evolution of the Human Body”
From 7m 10s discusses running. 12m 25s: discusses sedentary lifestyle.

.

And his podcast “Evolved to Run” here

I wonder if by ‘run’ he means ‘fast run’, ‘jog’, ‘sprint’ or all three of these…
0 #16 Labman 2014-02-18 13:56
@Selenius. This guy Brian Peskin is trying to sell a book (hard!) but perhaps he has a point. His view is that a deficiency of oxygen is THE primary cause of cancer (building on Otto Warburg’s theory from the 1920’s). And he reckons that the cooking oils we all use are the reason why our cells (as opposed to blood) are oxygen deficient. Apparently the cooking oils have been treated such that oxygenation is prevented, and this in turn prevents oxygenation of our cells when we eat the stuff. Anyone got a view on this cooking oil-oxygen-canc er link?

0 #17 Freerad 2014-02-18 13:57
Animal tissues normally receive – via their blood supply – not only oxygen but also a supply of antioxidants such as selenium and urea. Surely cancerous cells are shooting themselves in the feet if they cut off the supply of such anti-oxidants?
0 #18 B. Harold 2014-02-18 13:59
Sure, Freerad. But if the tumour is anaerobic then it doesn’t need those antioxidants that much anyway
0 #19 Taklamakan 2014-03-06 10:06
The body can use free radicals to fight cancer. The body’s use of free radicals to kill insane cells means that, if you’re taking antioxidant supplements for protection, you’re in a fool’s paradise if you think ‘if a little is good, a lot is better’. A recent New Scientist article newscientist.com/.../... gives a current example of research into the double-edge of antioxidant action: on the one hand, taking antioxidants can protect sane cells from damage, but on the other hand it might just allow insane cells to proliferate unchecked. This seems to hint that eating too many antioxidants can actually promote cancer. Anyway what Martin Bergo (Uni of Gothenburg in Sweden) found is that cancerous mice actually became more cancerous when given either vitamin E or another antioxidant. The tumour number, size and aggressiveness all trebled in the mice receiving the antioxidants.
0 #20 BioSkeptik 2014-05-08 09:39
Junk Food Science take a hard line on this debate which I found interesting. It takes apart the science behind the dietary sugar/ cancer link:

“As hard as some have tried to prove that their believed way of eating is the only right way and can lead us all to optimum health and wellness, while preventing cancer and chronic diseases of aging; the facts continue to show that well-fed people around the world have hugely varied diets with no consistent correlations with health or longevity. More important, efforts to scare us about foods some don’t believe we should be eating and to prove that ‘bad’ foods can give us cancer or some other frightening disease have no credible evidence, either. If beliefs were about science, they wouldn’t be beliefs, I guess.”

junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/. ../...
0 #21 John Anderson 2014-05-08 15:54
@BioSkeptic: The New York times has published an excellent expose on sugar, and its links to cancers and diabetes. They end with the point that, while the debate rages around the links between sugar intake and disease, the most risk averse approach might be to limit the amount of sugar in one’s diet.

nytimes.com/.../...
0 #22 Taklamakan 2015-01-16 08:46
Did Dr. D'Agostino pip you to the post or did he read your bio-bullet? He seems to be doing exactly what you request: research into how oxygenation and sugar-deprivati on could be used to stop the growth of cancer cells. Is there any update on his work?
www.youtube.com/.../

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