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Why Glucose and Glutamine Restrictions Are Essential in the Treatment of Cancer

• By Joseph Mercola Mercola.com

Thomas Seyfried, Ph.D., professor of biology at Boston College, is a leading expert and researcher in the field of cancer metabolism and nutritional ketosis. His book, "Cancer as a Metabolic Disease: On the Origin, Management and Prevention of Cancer" is a foundational textbook on this topic, and in August 2016, he received the Mercola.com Game Changer Award for his work.

Here, we discuss the mechanisms of cancer and the influence of mitochondrial function, which plays a crucial role in the development and treatment of this disease. His landmark cancer theory is available as a free PDF

Many of his views are now encapsulated in his most recent paper,1 "Mitochondrial Substrate-Level Phosphorylation as Energy Source for Glioblastoma: Review and Hypothesis," published online December 27, 2018. He's also published a number of other papers2,3,4 on the metabolic underpinnings of cancer. 

"The paper … is a review and hypothesis paper identifying the missing link in Otto Warburg's central theory," Seyfried explains. "[Warburg] defined the origin of cancer very accurately back in the 1920s, '30s, '40s and '50s in his work in Germany. Basically, he argued and provided data showing that all cancer cells, regardless of tissue origin, were fermenters. They fermented lactic acid from glucose as a substrate.

Even in the presence of oxygen, these cells were fermenting. This is clearly a defect in oxidative phosphorylation. The problem is that for decades, people said Warburg was wrong — mainly because we see a lot of cancer cells take up oxygen and make adenosine triphosphate (ATP) from within the mitochondria … People began to question, 'If cancer cells have normal respiration, why would they want to use glucose as a fermentable fuel?'

The whole concept became distorted … The cancer cells simply choose to ferment rather than respire. Now, of course, if you look under the electron microscope at majority of cancers, you'll see that the mitochondria are defective in a number of different ways. Their structures are abnormal. The numbers are abnormal. There are many abnormalities of mitochondria seen directly under electron microscopy. Clearly, Warburg was not wrong."

Why Biopsies Are Risky

Before we go delve into the meat of how cancer actually occurs it would be good to review a diagnostic strategy that nearly all of us are offered when confronted with a cancer diagnosis. It is vital to understand that this may not be your best strategy and that for many it would be wise to avoid the biopsy.

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