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From the Townsend Letter
August/September 2007


Book Review
A Cancer Prevention Program Based on Warburg's Work

review by Jonathan Collin, MD

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The Hidden Story of Cancer
by Brian Scott Peskin,
Founder: Life-Systems Engineering Science,
with Amid Habib, MD

The Hidden Story of CancerNobel Prize-winner, Otto Warburg, MD, PhD, researched the metabolism of cancer in the first half of the twentieth century. His work is known in oncology as the Warburg theory: cancer cells function in an oxygen-deprived state and metabolically ferment sugar to lactic acid. Warburg established, through meticulous research, that while normal cells metabolize glucose by the enzymatic pathways of the Kreb's cycle under normal oxygen conditions, cancer cells have irreversibly changed to a primitive state functioning with abnormally low cellular oxygen. The fermentation of sugar to lactic acid is favored in the anaerobic state, enabling the cancer cell to ferment sugar very rapidly and to produce prodigious quantities of energy for rapid reproduction. Although Warburg published this research in many papers in German medical and scientific journals that were translated into English, most scientists and physicians in Germany, the US, and worldwide did not pursue further research based on his discoveries. In 1960, Dr. Alan Aisenberg seriously criticized Warburg's work; that criticism effectively negated the significance of the anaerobic metabolism of cancer cells for future scientists and physicians. In The Hidden Story of Cancer, Brian Peskin studies Warburg's work in meticulous fashion, reviewing the important discussion in papers ignored and misinterpreted by Aisenberg and others. Peskin's review emphasizes the sound scientific basis of Warburg's research and argues convincingly that much of the cancer research in the ensuing years has been wasteful and off-track, because it has ignored Warburg's theory.

Warburg's work remained theoretical, primarily because it could not be put into practice medically. If one assumed that the cancer cell's depressed state of respiration and lowered oxygen was fundamental to the transformation from a normal cell to a cancer cell, how could one maintain normal cell oxygenation? If a tumor cell's extraordinary fermentation of sugar to lactic acid was key to cancer cell proliferation, how could one stop the sugar fermentation process? Unfortunately, Warburg did not answer these questions, at least not in a practical matter, nor did other scientists or medical researchers. Peskin makes the bravado attempt to answer these questions in a manner suitable to a mathematician and literature reviewer, not as suitable to a physician or nutritionist.

Based on his review of the oncology and scientific literature, Peskin has discerned that tumor cell transformation takes place when essential fatty acids are deficient. His literature research has pinpointed that the deficiency of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is critical to ensure that normal cells under depressed oxygen state transform into cancer cells. Furthermore, Peskin's literature hypothesis has determined that it is the relative deficiency of omega-6 fatty acids relative to omega-3 fatty acids that disrupts the cellular membranes, disabling the cellular oxygenation. Although most humans consume a sub-optimal supply of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids as part of the fats consumed daily, the high trans-fat composition of the diet substitutes for the necessary omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Peskin hypothesizes that a program that routinely supplies unadulterated omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids is obligatory to enable cell membrane stability required to ensure cellular oxygenation and prevention of anaerobic metabolism of sugar. This theory is not squeaky clean but is supported with many papers, which Peskin cites and reviews.

As much as I like the theory and practical program that Peskin proposes to prevent cancer, I am a little put off by his "scorch the earth" approach to other medical theories and approaches for preventing and treating cancer. His discussion nixes viral and genetic causation for cancer; he is critical of cigarette smoking being the cause of lung cancer. He dismisses fiber as well as dietary vegetables and fruits as being of any value in cancer prevention. He lambasts soy as an appropriate part of anyone's diet and is critical of fish oil supplements, as fish oil disrupts the necessary balance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. He also recommends an iron supplement for everyone, men included, without requiring a measurement of iron levels. While his criticism of differing approaches may be warranted, Peskin's writing tends to be arrogant, and the reader needs to overlook this hubris.

I spent much time reading and digesting Peskin's work, and I imagine I will revisit this material frequently in the future. I appreciate his discussion of the weaknesses that exist in many nutritional theories. The Hidden Story of Cancer is an important work for those who are unfamiliar with Warburg's theories. Its program deserves serious study by doctors and patients contemplating alternative cancer therapies


The Hidden Story of Cancer
by Brian Scott Peskin,
Founder: Life-Systems Engineering Science,
with Amid Habib, MD

Pinnacle Press
PO Box 56507
Houston, Texas 77256
Hardcover, © 2006,
$39.95 US, € 37.00 European Union

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