Innovita Research Foundation

I.R.F. / Aging news / Diseases / 04080401

Posted on: August 4, 2004

In the 20th century, major structural changes took place in the countries of the developed world. Primarily agrarian societies were transformed into industrial societies with the accompanying migration of the majority of the population into large urban centers. This led to major lifestyle changes with unforeseen consequences. Diet in early 20th century agrarian societies was primarily based on organically produced fresh food. Food production was mainly carried out in relatively small family operations utilizing organic farming methods. By the end of the century, the landscape had completely transformed into large-scale industrial farming, utilizing non-organic production methods along with an industrial processing and distribution system for the majority of essential food items.
Dietary patterns were thoroughly transformed. Data show that per capita energy consumption increased significantly and within that, the fat and animal protein segments more than tripled. Although fruit and produce consumption also increased, most of it is not consumed fresh. Due to widespread food processing, the energy density of our foods also increased. The now commonplace refrigeration and freeze storage removed the need for fresh food prepared daily and allowed the distribution of a wide variety of manufactured food products. These changes did not necessarily lead to a quality improvement in our nutrition. Along with these changes, physical activities decreased which may well have contributed to the now-epidemic proportions of obesity in the Western world.

Environmental Factors

Although cancer was primarily considered to be genetically linked, it is now well established that diet has a significant effect on cancer incidence. In fact, food consumption patterns could provide major insights into cancer risk and prevention despite the fact that their significance is not fully appreciated. The changes in cancer incidence in migrant populations moving from low cancer incidence to high cancer incidence environments clearly demonstrate that environmental factors are more important than genetics.
Among the developed countries, Japan continues to exhibit the lowest cancer incidence in the major cancer types, including lung, breast and colon carcinomas, although some cancers have increased in incidence due to the introduction of Western dietary practices. In Japan, the consumption of fresh, raw foods continues to remain important even though in all other aspects (industrialization and urbanization) the Japanese have adapted the Western model. In addition, the Japanese have the same risk factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption and sedentary life styles as Westerners. The only notable exception in risk factors is the relative rarity of obesity in Japan, a difference that is also attributable to dietary customs.
Over the past decades, population-based approaches have identified food classes or nutrients that confer protection from various cancers or enhanced the risk of cancer. In fact, there is evidence that dietary manipulations may be protective against 10-70% of all cancers, and may be as high as 50-70% against colon cancer.

Plant Phenolics

Epidemiological studies implicated high-saturated dietary fat and protein as a risk factor for colon cancer and established that high fiber, fruit and vegetable content is protective. The actual protective agent is not the fiber itself, but the cell wall components, phenolic polysaccharides and polyphenols. The protective phenolic lignin and hemicellulose components are present in widely different concentrations in the cell walls of various plants and are released by bacterial enzymes in the human colon. Many of these compounds have antioxidant, anti-mutagenic, anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory effects that may be responsible for their anticancer effects. A readily available source for such phenolic polysaccharides can be located in the nutritional and medical practices. Sugar cane molasses, a widely used nutrient, was served as a sweetener instead of purified sugar, stirred into milk and eaten instead of jam or jelly. Blackstrap molasses, its most concentrated form, was used for the therapy of a variety of diseases, including cancer. Anecdotal evidence suggests that cancer was very rare among sugar cane plantation workers who were regularly consuming the raw brown sugar. Blackstrap molasses is rich in a variety of essential minerals including iron, zinc, selenium, magnesium and potassium as well as the majority of the vitamin B complex, deficiencies of which confer a major cancer risk. Molasses also contains high concentrations of amino acids and linoleic acid, an essential lipid that has a documented anti-tumor effect.

Folate, Vitamin B12 and Other Micronutrients

In the past decade it became apparent that low normal levels of certain vitamins might cause diseases in at-risk populations, such as middle to elderly age groups and pregnant women, and that such abnormalities might be overcome by ensuring high normal plasma levels of the respective vitamins. Metabolic defects of folate are associated with circulatory diseases as well as neural and cognitive disorder. Folate deficiency has recently been associated with pathogenesis in a variety of malignancies. The most understood functions of folate and vitamin B12 are in the area of synthesis of purines and pyrimidines, as well as the maintenance of the methylation process that is essential for regulated cell division.
It is well established that folate deficiency leads to nucleotide pool imbalance (uracil misincorporation), DNA strand breaks, hypomethylation of DNA, increased gene expression, altered chromatin conformation, as well as altered cellular proliferation. All these phenomena have been associated with carcinogenesis and tumorigenesis.
There is a close interrelationship between folate and vitamin B12 in the synthesis, repair and methylation of DNA. Supplementation with folic acid and vitamin B12 has reduced the severity of smoking-induced bronchial metaplasia in humans, underscoring the importance of these vitamins. Folate and vitamin B12 deficiencies that lead to chromosome breaks affect a significant part of the population. The two deficiencies may act synergistically. Vitamin B6, which also participates in DNA methylation, was also found to be deficient in about 10% of the population.
Besides the above micronutrients, niacin, iron, selenium and zinc deficiencies also affect DNA integrity. All these data suggest that micronutrient deficiencies, which can mimic radiation or chemical damage to DNA, are affecting a considerable proportion of the population, and the correction of these deficiencies will be a major public health concern in the coming decades.


Iodine is another critical micronutrient, and iodine deficiency has a profound effect on human health. Mild to moderate iodine deficiency has been associated with an extraordinarily high occurrence of hyperthyroidism in at-risk populations. Epidemiological studies have established that the incidence of goiter runs parallel to that of thyroid cancer. The relationship between thyroid function and breast physiology was strengthened by observations that reproducible breast dysplasia and neoplasia were obtained in iodine deficiency that was reversible with iodine replacement. Breast cancer patients as a group were found to have a lower thyroid function than women having conditions unrelated to breast cancer.
Iodine deficiency has a profound negative effect on the immune system. A significant immune deficiency has been reported among patients with gastric cancer, thyroid cancer and goiter. Iodine was also found to increase immunoglobulin G synthesis in vitro in human lymphocytes. Impaired capacity of immunoglobulin production in active cancer patients has been observed, which might be modulated by iodine supplementation. These observations indicate that iodine has a direct effect on the immune system and anticancer defenses.


It has been previously discussed that the essential lipid linoleic acid present in cane molasses has antitumor effects. Such lipids are also found at high concentrations in rose oil, which has a history of medicinal use dating back at least 5,000 years. The traditional Indian medical practice uses oral rose oil for the treatment of a variety of inflammatory conditions, as well as emotional stress. Anti-anxiety effects of rose oil have recently been confirmed. Rose oil is a potent inhibitor of the growth of Helicobacter pylori, implicated in the etiology of gastric cancer. Therefore, rose oil may exert a "sanitizing" effect in the gut. It has also been suggested that rose oil may be valuable for human consumption because of its high-unsaturated lipid content.

The Gastrointestinal Link

The general processing capacity of the digestive tract plays a critical role in both health and disease. Under conditions of prolonged stress, the secretion of digestive juices is diminished, reducing the digestive capacity in the gut. Impaired digestion has been implicated in the pathomechanism of cancer for nearly a century: in 1906, pancreatic proteolytic enzymes were demonstrated to defend the body against cancer.
Animal studies performed in the 1960s demonstrated effectiveness of pancreatin therapy for tumors. It was also demonstrated that orally ingested pancreatic enzymes pass intact into the intestine, and are re-adsorbed into the circulation during the enteropancreatic recycling process. The results suggested a significantly increased survival for patients who received large doses of pancreatic enzymes, vitamins and minerals followed by the detoxification of the intestines. Many medical practitioners in the past included intestinal cleansing as part of their procedures because they recognized the importance of the gut function in health and disease.
The resident bacterial flora in the digestive tract plays an important role in metabolic activities, nutrient adsorption, immune function, trophic effects on the intestinal epithelia, and protection against alien microbes. A substantial portion of these bacterial populations remains to be described. Diet has a significant effect on the human intestinal flora, and the promoting effects of the large bowel contents in colonic carcinogenesis are documented both in animal models and man. The activity of colonic bacteria in the release of essential phenolic polysaccharides from plant cell walls has been discussed.
Opportunistic bacterial and parasitic infections also occur in cancer that amplify the downward spiral of diminishing nutrient processing capacity of the gut. It is therefore critical to cleanse the digestive and excretory system in cancer patients. Again, if we research the medical practices of the 19th and early 20th centuries, we find that oral sulfur was widely used to "clean out the system". Sulfur is safe to consume and has a wide spectrum of antibacterial and antiparasitic effects. It is also a potent scavenging agent for toxic heavy metals such as mercury, cobalt or silver that have been reported to concentrate in malignant tissue. Another sanitizing agent both for the gut and the urinary system is apple cider vinegar (ACV).

Subtle Energetic Properties of Nutrients

A subtle energetic aspect of nutrients is a concept that is largely missing from modern nutritional sciences. We are all familiar with the different feeling experienced when consuming a freshly picked fruit versus a stale one that has been sitting for weeks on the shelves of a food distribution outlet. With our food, we consume this energy, which enhances its nutritional value. Freshness of food is emphasized in these cultures, as the life energy is gradually lost after harvest. The consumption of raw, fresh foods in Japan has already been correlated with a low incidence of the major forms of cancer.
The fundamental contributions in understanding the emotional aspects of the disease process, particular in cancer, and of subtle energetic processes in the body were made. We are now aware that emotional stress down-regulates the immune system and makes people more prone to cancer.
The unification of a subtle energetic description of disease processes with our current mechanistic, physico-chemical approach is both inevitable and necessary to solving the mysteries of degenerative diseases such as cancer, which claim so many lives today.

Overcoming Tumor Adaptation

Acquired drug resistance is a common problem with metastatic cancers, contributing to the deaths. A tumor may respond initially to therapy but recur later with acquired drug resistance, or exhibit an intrinsic resistance from the outset. Quinine has been found to reverse multidrug-resistance (MDR) in a variety of tumor cell lines and has been safely used in combination with chemotherapy with leukemias, myelomas and lymphomas. Very little information is available on direct cytotoxic effects of quinine.
Quinine has a history in medicine besides its use as an anti-malarial. Quinine was used to treat inflammations and fevers and was prescribed as a body tonic to strengthen the system.
Therefore, the use of quinine in cancer may be warranted for both its anti-inflammatory properties as well as its inhibitory effect on tumor adaptation to therapies.

This review presents the case that multiple, concurrent nutritional deficiencies may play a fundamental role in tumorigenesis and suggests that the disease process could be reversed by re-supplying the required nutrients in adequate amounts. In addition, a new approach to cancer is advocated that would unify our traditional mechanistic, physico-chemical methodologies with subtle energy-based concepts, under the umbrella of contemporary rigorous scientific testing methods.

Source: Peter Grandics; Cancer: a single disease with a multitude of manifestations?; Journal of Carcinogenesis 2003, 2:9-18.
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