08 May 2013

Starving Cancer Cells

In the 1920s, Otto Warburg won the Nobel-prize for demonstrating that cancer cells multiply by fermentation, a process requiring sugar, rather than respiration, where oxygen is needed (the case of normal cells). I quote Wikipedia:
"In 1924, Warburg hypothesized that cancer, malignant growth, and tumor growth are caused by tumor cells mainly generating energy (as e.g. adenosine triphosphate / ATP) by nonoxidative breakdown of glucose (a process calledglycolysis) and the subsequent recycling of the metabolite NADH back to its oxidized form, for reuse in the glycolytic cycle to complete the process (known as fermentation, or anaerobic respiration). This is in contrast to "healthy" cells, which mainly generate energy from oxidative breakdown of pyruvate. Pyruvate is an end product of glycolysis, and is oxidized within the mitochondria. Hence, and according to Warburg, cancer should be interpreted as a mitochondrialdysfunction."
"Cancer, above all other diseases, has countless secondary causes. But, even for cancer, there is only one prime cause. Summarized in a few words, the prime cause of cancer is the replacement of the respiration of oxygen in normal body cells by a fermentation of sugar."
                                                          - Otto H. Warburg, medical doctor and Nobel laureate
By the late 1970s, researchers reported that malignant breast cells had more receptors for insulin (necessary for growth) than did healthy tissue. You can read this rather complicated study by Kent Osborne (National Cancer Insitute): Direct Inhibition of Growth and Antagonism of Insulin Action by Glucocorticoids in Human Breast Cancer Cells in Culture, where researchers focus on inhibiting insulin receptors with Glucocorticoids, to prevent tumor cell proliferation.

This means that, if receptors on cancer cells are rendered blind to insulin, cell proliferation would be inhibited. By this logic, if cancer cells do not receive the required amount of insulin for growth, regardless of the number of insulin receptors on the surface of these cells, then tumor proliferation would also be inhibited.

So, by avoiding carbohydrates and sugar, we should be able to "starve" these cancer cells.

Renato Baserga's (Jefferson University) research focused on the type of receptors found on cancer cells. He discovered that cancer cells have more IGF (Insulin-like Growth Factor) receptors than normal cells. IGF concentration is higher in the bloodstream, when isnulin levels are high.
"Downregulation of the IGF-1R leads to massive apoptosis of cancer cells." - Renato Baserga, Francesca Peruzzi, Krysztof Reiss, IJC (International Journal of Cancer)
If IGF-1R receptors are inhibited, it leads to cells apoptosis, which means cell suicide (all cells have a suicide mechanism built within them, in case cells do not function properly). IGF receptors are also "starving", when insulin levels are low, this can be achieved by avoiding carbohydrates and sugar in our diet.

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