This week on A Different Perspective, Nurse Practitioner Nicole Saleske picks up where Doc left off and continues the series on breast cancer. She covers how cancers develop, what’s different about cancer cells, and what influences the activation of these abnormal cells. She even goes into how everyday medications may be increasing your risk and ends with what true prevention looks like from The Wellness Way perspective.
Doc Kicks off The Show
Dr. Flynn kicks off the show by giving some updates on what’s happening at The Wellness Way and giving some of his philosophies on health and disrupting the current model of healthcare. He also shares some Wellness Way success stories and introduces Nicole Saleske’s presentation on Breast Cancer Part 2 that was prerecorded for this ADP.
He goes over some of the current thoughts on breast cancer from the website breastcancer.org and responds from A Different Perspective. They see cancer as the result of your body making mistakes. They say it’s a genetic issue and there’s nothing you could have done to prevent it. We disagree.
Doc shares his favorite “never used test for cancer patients.” It’s never used by the medical field, but The Wellness Way uses it all the time. Even WebMD talks about this test. It’s called a CEA (Carcinoembryonic Antigen) test. It tells you if your cancer is growing and how fast it’s growing. It can also let you know if your cancer has come back.
Doc explains how it works and shares some examples of test results. CEA is supposed to be less than 3.5. He shares one test that is at 76.0 and another that is at 144.0!!! Very aggressive cancers may require chemo and radiation, even if you include some Wellness Way integrative therapies. Sometimes you need a fireman before you can add in the carpenter.
Introduction to Cancer Talk
(Begins at 37:10)
Nicole begins by talking about the breast cancer series we’re doing on A Different Perspective. Nicole will continue with some foundational teachings on what cancer is and how it develops. Later in the series, Doc will cover receptors and the ins and outs specific to breast cancer.
Today, Nicole will go over some of the hallmarks of cancer, and what makes cancer cells different. She will also cover how to properly test to see whether you are at risk.
Unfortunately, cancer is at an all-time high. It’s estimated that one in every two men and one in every three women will eventually develop cancer. She herself has had a huge flood of cancer patients in recent months.
Why is this? People are beginning to distrust Western medicine and conventional modalities, so they are coming to The Wellness Way for A Different Perspective. What makes The Wellness Way approach to cancer unique? That’s what we’ll talk about today in Breast Cancer Series Part 2.
Somatic Theory vs. Metabolic Theory
To begin, we’ll talk about the difference between the somatic theory of cancer and the metabolic theory. Western Medicine is based on the somatic theory.
According to the somatic theory: Cancer is a linear process, progressively accumulating mutations until it grows a tumor which must be removed to prevent metastasis and death.
Western Medicine (the current model) makes tumors the bad guy. We disagree. Instead, we believe developing a tumor saved you or your loved one’s life.
Here’s why: The body doesn’t make mistakes; it responds to its environment. A tumor is your body’s way of taking the abnormal cells and putting them all in one spot. If it hadn’t, those abnormal cells would have gone rogue all over your body, and you would have been dead a long time ago.
The tumor is your body’s way of protecting you by preventing metastasis and further destruction of the body from disease. Cutting out the tumor doesn’t change the environment that created the tumor. The environment is still there.
Cancer Is Not a Tumor — It’s a Process
Cancer is not unavoidable “bad luck.” Americans tend to just go through life and eat and drink whatever they want, smoke, and expose themselves to toxins… seemingly just waiting for cancer to happen to them.
But if you know enough about how to strengthen your body and make it healthy, there are things you can do to prevent it in the first place.
Many times, when a cancer patient comes into The Wellness Way clinic and starts telling their story, they’ll say they were healthy before they got cancer. Well, if you got cancer, that’s a sign of an unhealthy body.
But cancer isn’t just bad luck and it’s not just bad genes. Even childhood cancers can come from exposure to toxins. A baby can be set up for cancer when it was still an egg in its mother’s ovaries… while she was developing inside the grandmother’s womb.
These things can go generations back. Toxic exposures can get passed on, putting you at risk for cancer.
Removing the Tumor Doesn’t Address the Problem
A tumor is a mere symptom of an underlying imbalance. The DNA mutations are triggered by things that are in, on, or around us. They only manifest if your mitochondria are unhealthy, if your body is unhealthy, and if your terrain is unhealthy.
Removing a tumor through surgery, chemo, and radiation will not eliminate the process that led to cancer in the first place. These therapies will impact the tumor, but they will also impact the terrain, making it more toxic and more welcoming for a cancerous process to continue.
You or a loved one may have had that experience where you did the chemo or radiation and went into remission. But then 5, 10, or 15 years later had that cancer come back even more aggressive than before. If you don’t change the environment that got cancer there in the first place, how do we expect cancer to stop just because we removed a tumor from the body?
We need to get rid of the somatic theory and the Western way of thinking and come up with a different approach.
The National Cancer Institute on Cancer
Here’s what the National Cancer Institute says about cancer and where it comes from:
How Does Cancer Develop?
Cancer is a genetic disease—that is, it is caused by changes to genes that control the way our cells function, especially how they grow and divide.
Genetic changes that cause cancer can happen because:
- of errors that occur as cells divide.
- of damage to DNA caused by harmful substances in the environment, such as the chemicals in tobacco smoke and ultraviolet rays from the sun. (Our Cancer Causes and Prevention section has more information.)
- they were inherited from our parents.
The body normally eliminates cells with damaged DNA before they turn cancerous. But the body’s ability to do so goes down as we age. This is part of the reason why there is a higher risk of cancer later in life.
So, they are saying that cancer is genetic, it’s passed down to us, and as we age, we have less ability to correct errors as cancer cells multiply and divide. That’s apparently why we see it more often later in life.
We disagree. Could there be some genetic components? Sure. However, you are not a victim of your genetics. Just because you have a BRCA gene, it doesn’t mean you’re destined for cancer.
Only 5 to 10 percent of the cancer process has to do with your genetics. Ninety to ninety-five percent of the cancer process has to do with the body and the environment. It’s the epigenetic expression of those genes that determines whether you will have an issue.
What we encourage you to investigate is the “metabolic theory” or the “metabolic approach” to cancer.
The metabolic theory or metabolic approach believes that:
- Early cancers come/go and spontaneously regress
- Established cancers can remain dormant
- Changing the terrain may prevent progression, and contribute to regression
- Manipulating the microenvironment can and will halt or slow progression and even reverse tumor growth.
The metabolic theory states that all of us have cancer cells. This is well documented. We all have stem cells that could turn into a “cancer-ing” process if we’re not careful – if our body remains in a highly inflamed state.
When someone comes to The Wellness Way, we are very clear that we do not treat cancer. Treating cancer means that:
- There’s an issue…
- That requires a drug…
- With an expectation that that drug will eliminate the tumor
Our approach is not to give you an herb or list of herbs and then expect the tumor to go away. Our approach is to make the body as healthy as possible, eliminating the triggers that caused the cancering process to occur, and trusting that your innate immune response is strong to combat it.
Just to be clear: We are not against the Western medical treatment of cancer. There can be a beautiful “AND” – a beautiful combination of Western treatment and The Wellness Way approach. It’s when you think critically and strategize how best to use these treatments that you’re going to get the best results.
Top 10 Hallmarks of Cancer Cells
Let’s look at what things make cancer cells unique. There are ten things that make a cancer cell a cancer cell:
- Evades growth suppressors – Your body’s natural checks and balances are supposed to suppress the growth of abnormal or tumor cells. Cancer cells seem to be able to dodge them.
- Evades the immune system – Some patients have a normal immune panel while fighting cancer.
- Induces angiogenesis – Can cause tumor growth
- Disables apoptosis (resists cell death) – As cells become abnormal, they are supposed to die off. Cancer cells resist that process and seem to have immortality.
- Sustains proliferative signaling – They recruit other cells to become cancer cells.
- Dysregulated metabolism – Cancer cells thrive differently than normal cells.
- Enhanced replication which enables replicative immortality – Because it can divide, it seems to be immortal. It doesn’t seem to die off.
- Inflammation – This can turn these cancer cells on, and cancer cells can also turn on inflammation in the body.
- Mutation and instability of DNA – We can’t rely on the DNA to create a well-functioning cell.
- Perturbed cell division activating invasion and metastasis – The dividing of the cell is thrown off.
These are the top ten things that can create a cancer cell. Medical research investigates how we can stop those things from happening. With a medical mindset, they say, if we know these things about cancer cells, how can we target treatment to stop angiogenesis or stop replication or take advantage of dysregulated metabolism?
Dysregulated Metabolism: The Warburg Effect
Nicole then goes deeper into this concept of dysregulated metabolism by going over what’s called “The Warburg Effect.” This process was discovered by Otto Warburg in the early 1900s. He found there is a different metabolism for normal cells versus cancer cells.
In normal cells, glucose enters the cell and through the process of glycolysis becomes pyruvate. The pyruvate then goes into the mitochondria of the cell to produce energy. What happens in a cancer cell is that the pyruvate doesn’t break down and go into the cell to produce energy, but instead converts into lactate.
Lactase can decrease the pH of the environment and release lactate dehydrogenase. So, why is that important? Nicole then explains by drawing on a whiteboard how the cellular metabolism can be altered in cancer.
(See the ADP video for the full explanation and additional vital information)
Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) comes into the picture because when cancer cells get glucose, they ferment it and produce lactate. Lactate dehydrogenase is released to convert pyruvate to lactate (and lactate to pyruvate).
Lactate dehydrogenase then can be used as a marker showing us whether that fermentation process is taking place – whether those cancer cells are being fed.
Nicole regularly tests the LDH levels of her cancer patients to make sure they are doing what they need to with their diet to not feed this process. That helps to starve out the cancer cells.
That’s just one area that can affect cancer cells and their presentation.
What Influences the Activation of These Abnormal Cells?
There are ten main things to think about when we look at what’s activating abnormal cells:
- Genetics/Epigenetics – While this is not a genetic process, there are things within your genes that can make it more difficult for you to thrive and survive versus other people. MTHFR is an example.
- Blood sugar balance – A PET scan shows how cancer cells light up when exposed to sugar.
- Toxic burden – You are being exposed to toxins every day, whether that’s chemicals from airplane exhaust, gasoline or diesel, glyphosate from nearby farms, or plastics. Even the cleaning products, cookware, and cosmetics you choose to use can add to your toxic burden.
- Microbiome and digestive function – (See more below)
- Immune function – Have you had your immune function tested? Do you know your levels of CD4s and CD8s?
- Inflammation – Have you been assessed for inflammation? Have you had your food allergies tested to see which foods may be causing inflammation? What is your oncologist doing to reduce your inflammation? Inflammation promotes cancer.
- Blood circulation/angiogenesis – Many cancer therapies target one specific pathway for angiogenesis or tumor growth. But did you know there are over 20 different pathways that could stimulate tumor growth? If you’re only targeting one, the body is only going to strengthen the other 20 or so pathways. That’s eventually going to cause your cancer to become more aggressive.
- Hormone imbalance – This is huge. In the last part of the series, Dr. Patrick explained how if there are a bunch of hormones all metabolizing down to 4-hydroxy-estrone, it can bind to and damage your DNA, putting you at risk for cancer. Have you had a DUTCH hormone test done?
- Stress and biorhythms – Do you sleep when you should? Do you work the night shift or have irregular sleep patterns? If so, you’re at higher risk for breast cancer.
- Mental and emotional health – What’s your ACE (Adverse Childhood Events) score? You can take the test for free online. ACEs are things like growing up in an abusive home or having to fend for yourself in some way. Those with scores over three are more likely to have a cancer diagnosis later in life. Working through traumas is also extremely important.
At The Wellness Way clinics, we start out with a lot of testing. We can test genetics and find out if you have certain SNPs, such as the MTHFR mutation that sets you for detoxification problems, or BRCA, which means you’re less efficient at suppressing tumors.
The Microbiome and Cancer
Your microbiome and digestive function also impact whether cancer cells get activated.
Microbiota and host form a complex ‘super-organism’ in which symbiotic relationships confer benefits to the host in many key aspects of life. However, defects in the regulatory circuits of the host that control bacterial sensing and homeostasis, or alterations of the microbiome, through environmental changes (infection, diet or lifestyle), may disturb this symbiotic relationship and promote disease. Increasing evidence indicates a key role for the bacterial microbiota in carcinogenesis. In this Opinion article, we discuss links between the bacterial microbiota and cancer, with a particular focus on immune responses, dysbiosis, genotoxicity, metabolism and strategies to target the microbiome for cancer prevention.
This is just one of many studies out there discussing the microbiome and cancer. Nicole recently read another study linking small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and pancreatic cancer because some of the bacteria fermenting in the upper GI put pressure on the pancreas, liver, and gallbladder.
Another study found a lack of the short-chain fatty acid (SCFA), N-butyrate can determine cancer progression. What causes a lack of N-butyrate? A leaky gut and food allergies. That’s why it’s so important to get food allergies tested.
Here are some basic labs you can have done to assess your terrain (and therefore, your cancer risk):
- CBC with Differential – Very basic lab, but you need someone who understands your terrain to go over it with you and make sure the numbers are good. For example, your neutrophil to lymphocyte (two kinds of white blood cells) ratio should be at a 2-to-1.
- CMP – Your liver enzymes and electrolytes. Your calcium shouldn’t be higher than a 9.5. You don’t want your liver enzymes to be elevated. If your AST is higher than your ALT, you might be consuming too much alcohol.
- HS-CRP (High Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein) – overall inflammation. Should be less than 1. Those with a hs-CRP chronically over 1 have a higher risk for a cancering process.
- ESR – Another marker for overall inflammation
- LDH – Lactate dehydrogenase. Are you taking in too much sugar that’s causing that process to happen… increasing your risk for cancer?
- LDH Isoenzymes – This number can help pinpoint where in the body this process may be happening.
- Vitamin D3 – Not a vitamin, but a hormone precursor. It’s important for the immune system, energy, and hormone balance.
- Homocysteine – Indicating methylation status and how your liver is doing.
- HgA1C, insulin – Shows where your blood sugars are, normally.
- Ferritin – Should be between 35 and 75. Much lower and your body is depleted of oxygen. Much higher and it may cause damage to your organs and slow some of these processes down.
- Immune Panel – Is it overactive? Underactive?
- DUTCH test – Evaluate your hormone balance.
- Stool testing – What’s going on in the gut.
If you haven’t had any of these tests done, you have no idea whether you’re a sitting duck for cancer.
Common Risk Factors Found in Everyday Medications
You may say, well, I’m taking medications to balance my blood sugar, decrease inflammation, and help my microbiome. Unfortunately, most medications Americans are on are actually actively promoting cancer.
- Seizure meds, birth control, hormones, and statins – Can lead to chronically low fat-soluble nutrients & B vitamins.
- Steroids – Cause low D3, potassium, and selenium levels, even a single dose.
- Anti-inflammatory meds – Lower calcium, D3, potassium, selenium, folate, B2, and vitamin C. Homocysteine levels can start to go up.
- Antifungals – Destroy fat-soluble vitamins
- Metformin – Destroys CoQ10, riboflavin, and B12
- Antacids – Remove all minerals, and all electrolytes, and destroy the blood sugar balancing act. Also take out zinc, B12, folate, D3, and protein.
- Beta-blockers – Wipe out CoQ10.
- Laxatives – Take out fat-soluble vitamins
- Psych meds – Take out all B vitamins and CoQ10.
B-vitamins are so important to good mitochondrial health, good energy production, helping your liver to get rid of toxins and more. You need B-vitamins to be healthy. If you’re taking some of these medications, causing your B-vitamins to be depleted and not replenishing them, you’re likely contributing to a cancering process.
Other Breast Cancer Risk Factors and Strategies
There are lots of things you can do to lower your risk for cancer. It doesn’t have to be an either-or approach: Western medicine or natural. Here are some things to think about:
Be Wise About Breast Cancer Surgery
Let’s say someone is having a lump removed or a breast removed because they have a tumor growing and they want a clean slate. Did you know that the timing of the surgery could determine whether that cancer progresses?
On days 19 through 21 of a woman’s cycle, her hormones are at their peak. That’s when all those hormones will be activating receptors within the fat cells. You’re not going to want to do surgery on days 19 through 21 when those receptors are all being activated. That could cause the cancer to spread even more.
Instead, why not plan for the surgery during days one through three of the cycle when all your hormones are at the lowest they will be all month long. Then the receptors won’t be triggered, and you’ll have better outcomes.
That’s a strategy that seems very elementary, but it’s revolutionary for those who don’t think like us.
Radiation and Ketosis
We went over how cancer cells take in glucose and how they need it for energy. Radiation enters the cells in the same way. If your insulin is elevated, as in insulin resistance, it can block how the glucose can enter the cell.
So, when you have high insulin or high amounts of glucose, you don’t want the radiation to drive glucose farther into the cell. That would only make things worse. So, before you do radiation, you want to make sure you’re in a ketogenic state so that the glucose is almost down to nothing. Then, when cancer therapists drive radiation into the cell, they’re not taking the glucose in with it.
Radiation remains in the body for six to twelve months and continues to work against the cancer process. For that reason, it’s important that you’re not just doing a ketogenic, low glycemic, or no-sugar diet for the time you’re getting the radiation but continuing it for at least six to twelve months afterward.
If you want to be even more efficient, while in a ketogenic state, you can do radiation therapy into the cell and then drive it further into the cell with a hyperbaric chamber or something like that.
It Goes Back to Stem Cells
There are strategies you can implement to make conventional therapies stronger, while not being stupid about it. Chemotherapy can destroy all cells, both good and bad, but what it doesn’t destroy is the stem cells – the parent cells that started the cancering process in the beginning.
If we don’t change the environment, and we haven’t gotten rid of the inflammation and toxic burden and haven’t balanced the microbiome, then those stem cells will present again – and that’s how cancer comes back. Cancer will come back if we don’t change the environment and the process that started it all in the first place.
What Does True Prevention Look Like?
It’s not going every month for radiation of your breast tissue; that’s destroying good cells.
1. Take Inventory
What in your life could have been, or is currently, a risk factor? Are you eating too much sugar? Do you have a high amount of mental stress? What is it that could be putting you at risk?
2. Get Tested
Have you tested your immune system? Microbiome? Hormones? Food allergies? How about the different markers mentioned earlier, including inflammation levels in your body?
3. See a TWW Doc or Practitioner
Let us help you understand the data and come up with a plan before you develop cancer. Or maybe you’re already cancering and you want to make your body healthier, so you never have to deal with cancer again. It’s never too late to get started in making changes to diet, lifestyle, or microbiome. Maybe you need to strategize in using some of the conventional therapies alongside getting your body as healthy as possible.
4. Get to Work!
Statistically, less than 12% of people have the discipline to follow the plan… You can be one of them!
Hopefully, this inspired and encouraged you to think about breast cancer differently. Cancer isn’t just something that happens to people. It’s likely something that’s been building up over years and years. It’s never too late to start to prevent it and it’s never too late to take the active steps you need to get your body in the right place. If you have a cancer diagnosis or you’ve had one in the past, or your family has had one, there are things you can do today to decrease your risk and to make certain you’re not living in fear of cancer:
- Making sure you have strengthened your microbiome
- Bringing your mental stress down
- Keeping your inflammation down
- Working on all those different processes that support cellular health
Doing these things means you don’t have to live in fear, because those cells can only present as cancer cells in a sick body. But if you can get your body healthy, working on the extracellular matrix and mitochondrial health, you’ve got nothing to worry about. See you next time on A Different Perspective.