epigenetics’ relationship to inflammation, cancer, and a myriad of other “genetic” diseases

WHAT IS EPIGENETICS AND WHY YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND IT IN ORDER TO STAY HEALTHY AND CANCER-FREE?

Cancer Epigenetics

One of the reasons I left cancer research, I noticed early on the approach was all wrong. First they were essentially using germ theory – treating cancer as an invader other than self that had to be defeated with external weapons of mass destruction. Obviously an ineffective approach, yet it continues. In many of the trials we conducted the treatments were so toxic that patients died much sooner than they would have with no treatment at all. Then came the gene theory- they were convinced they could isolate just a few genes gone rogue, target them and cure cancer.  Still failed. Then they targeted angiogenesis (VEGF inhibitors) proliferation proteins Kinase inhibitors, mTOR inhibitors etc. These drugs would control cancer growth for a period of time but the body is so intelligent that after awhile the cellular machinery adapted and bypassed the inhibition, and became much more virulent. Essentially, they were chasing pathways that could be inhibited to stop growth, but they failed to search for the underlying cause. People do not get’ cancer their body has created cancer. Why is the body making these changes on the cellular level? What is the body attempting to protect itself from by making these changes? I believe that allopathic medicine is stuck in an old paradigm based on Newtonian physics and linear cause and effect —- car mechanic medicine. Until there is a massive paradigm shift based on quantum physics, energy, metabolism, and cellular adaptation in response to environment; allopathic approaches to cancer and other chronic diseases will continue to fall short.   I like to ask patients….. if your goldfish was sick what would you do? Most likely you would look at their tank – is it big enough? and their water- is it clean enough? is the pH correct? and their food- too much? too little? wrong kind? Are there other fish in tank? You probably wouldn’t take them immediately to the vet for blood work and an MRI.  An astounding quote from an individual from a functional medicine group I am in, who left cancer research to become an MD

Although we’ve made some progress since the early days of the Genome Project — started in 1990, it took 13 years to sequence all 3.3 billion base pairs in human DNA — it has not proved the be-all-end-all it was, and in many cases, continues to be hyped as.  It seems that the next big “genetic” thing is always just around the corner, with CRISPR being the latest.  Why is this?  Why hasn’t genetics proved to be as helpful as many prophesied it would?  In a word, epigenetics.  Huh?  According to a twelve year old study from Environmental Health Perspectives (Epigenetics: The Science of Change), we not only get a working definition of epigenetics, but why, as I’ve been telling readers for years, it’s arguably more important than the field of genetics.

“Understanding cancer would be one long-term goal for the U.S. project, but epigenetics—changes in gene expression heritable from cell to daughter cell without changes in DNA sequence—transcends any one disease. ‘It has profound implications in aging, neurological disorders, and child development,’ says Peter Jones, another group member and director of the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Southern California. Jones and his colleagues argue that the importance of epigenetics in human disease, together with the maturing of technologies for mapping epigenetic changes, make a human epigenome project both critical and feasible.  Epigenetics, says cancer biologist Jean-Pierre Issa of The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, could prove more important than genetics for understanding environmental causes of disease. ‘Cancer, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease are all acquired diseases where the environment very likely plays an important role,’ he points out. ‘And there’s much more potential for the epigenome to be affected … than the genome itself. It’s just more fluid and more easy to be the culprit.'”

Allow me to explain EPIGENETICS in a nutshell.  Although people carry genes for any number of diseases, said diseases are not expressed unless the genes are acted on by their environment.  In other words these genes must be ‘turned on’ by certain chemical messengers or they don’t create the disease processes mentioned above.  What’s more, because of epigenetics we are learning that at least to some degree, the sins of the fathers (or mothers) can be passed on to their offspring.  Did you follow that?  Some of these epigenetic traits are actually heritable.

This month’s issue of Oncotarget published a study (Inborn-Like Errors of Metabolism are Determinants of Breast Cancer Risk, Clinical Response and Survival: A Study of Human Biochemical Individuality) by a team of 35 researchers from 17 institutions throughout the U.S., Brazil and Europe.  Over 1,200 patients were involved.  The gist of the study?  Cancer occurs because cancer cells make and use energy differently than normal cells.  Challenging decades of genomic research, this team determined cancer not to be a disease based on genetic mutations as has almost universally been touted by the mainstream, but is instead a metabolic disorder just as diabetes is a metabolic disorder.  Lead author, oncologist, hematologist, internist, and Professor of Pharmacology at Cal State Irvine, Dr. Robert Nagourney, put it this way.

“This suggests that cancer is not a genetic disease arising solely from mutations as we have all been taught, but instead a metabolic condition that develops under the stress of cellular nutrient deprivation. Cells that cannot generate enough energy due to lack of oxygen, sugars or proteins, common to many cancers, use altered metabolic pathways to ensure their survival. Unfortunately these cancer cells’ success comes at the expense of the host patient.”

Achieving an accuracy rate of detecting cancer in over 95% of the cases, the researchers ran both healthy controls and patients with various sorts of CANCER, including BREAST CANCER, through a series of blood tests, where the blood levels of over 200 chemicals, sugars, amino acids, proteins, and fats, were measured via mass spectrometry.  When the controls were compared to cancer patients, there were striking differences that clearly delineated those with cancer from those without.  “The metabolic changes identified are consistent with inborn-like errors of metabolism and define a continuum from normal controls to elevated risk to invasive breast cancer.”   In other words, whether one carried a certain cancer gene or not, cancer could be detected with extreme accuracy simply by looking very closely at blood work (it could be done with a single drop of blood). 

While this was hailed as a scientific breakthrough, I must disagree.  It’s just that a huge segment of the medical community has been ignoring their own research for the past century.  Not only do we know that certain CHEMICAL EXPOSURES epigenetically predispose people to cancer, but we know that excess sugar consumption does as well.  It was 1931’s Nobel Laureate, DR. OTTO WARBURG, who won because nearly 9 decades ago he was referring to cancer as a metabolic disease —- a disease that survives, thrives, and spreads, by fermenting sugar (HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE).

“We now recognize that human cancers evolve in an environment of metabolic stress. Rapidly proliferating tumor cells deprived of adequate oxygen, nutrients, hormones and growth factors up-regulate pathways that address these deficiencies to overcome hypoxia, vascular insufficiency, growth factor deprivation and the loss of hormonal support all to enhance survival and proliferation [of itself — the cancer].  We extended these studies to include… non-malignant disease states associated with metabolic stress including poly cystic ovary syndrome and advanced metabolic syndrome.  The findings led to a murine model of insulin / glucose mediation and metabolic stress…  Results revealed concordance between the blood metabolic profiles of cancer-free patients with cirrhosis, thyroid dysfunction and HIV infection… PCOS and patients harboring known glandular malignancies (breast, colon,lung and liver).”

In other words, not only can certain other diseases be detected with this technique, but these diseases are likewise associated with increased risk of developing cancer as well (“LIVER FUNCTION, PROPER ENDOCRINE PHYSIOLOGY, DIABETES, GONANDAL DYSFUNCTIONS {HERE or HERE specifically}, along with THYROID DYSFUNCTIONS, and PCOS were all named specifically). How in the world are chemicals and sugar causing this sort of deadly dysfunction?  Besides clicking the links, listen to where the authors lay the blame — at the feet of the powerhouse of the cell; the MITOCHONDRIA (the part of the cell that creates energy).  Mitochondrial dysfunction leaves tell-tale biomarkers of dysfunctional metabolism, which, as we see from this study, are increasingly able to be turned into something tangible and intelligible that we can look at and make sense of.  But this itself begs another question.  What is the medical community doing with this information?

The answer is unfortunately, more of the same old same old — “providing physicians the opportunity to intervene at earlier stages when the cancers are most curable.”  The problem is, however, that no matter how good or viable this idea sounds on the surface, the reality is that when you put your shovel into real life situations, it rarely plays out as the quote above would indicate, nor does it produce the sort of dividends it promises (HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE are some examples).   As the medical community continues to promote its bogus idea of “wellness,” what do we see?  Instead of educating the public on facts like those mentioned in today’s post —- facts that prove we all have more control over our health destinies (not to mention the destinies of our children and grandchildren) than we’ve been led to believe — we continue to be told that many diseases (CANCER IN PARTICULAR) are not diseases of lifestyle, but are instead based on blind chance or bad luck (RANDOMNESS RUN AMOK). 

This fact is verified by FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE genius and author of the video showing the filthy amount of corruption within America’s most prestigious cardiology organizations — HERE), Dr. Alex Vasquez, in an article titled Twilight of the Idiopathic Era and the Dawn of New Possibilities in Health and HealthcareSeeing the word ‘idiopathic‘ in front of any disease (many times the word ‘primary‘ or ‘essential‘ is used in its stead) simply means that mainstream science has no good explanation for what may be causing it.  Listen to what Dr. Alex said in this 2006 article from the Naturopathy Digest.  While it’s true that his article is 12 years old, it’s every bit as true today as it was back then.

Among the perplexing paradoxes that exist in healthcare is coexistence of our adoration of allopathy for its “scientific method” along with the description of most chronic diseases as ‘idiopathic.If the allopathic use of the scientific method were so adroit, then why are so many conditions described as having ‘no known cause’? Is the scientific method inadequate, or is the allopathic lens incapable of bringing disease causation into focus? Perhaps a third option exists: that some groups—namely the medical profession generally and the pharmaceutical companies specifically—benefit by convincing us that most diseases have “no known cause” and that therefore the best that doctors and patients can hope for is additive and endless pharmaceuticalization of all health problems. When the cause of our health problems is “unknown”, we are disempowered, and we must depend on ‘experts’ and those who have ‘the cure’ to help us and save us.

Why do you think I talk about the MEDICAL MERRY-GO-ROUND so flippin much?  Easy; from what I see in my clinic (HERE) going for a ‘spin’ could probably be considered the norm.  After Googling the phrase “what percent of diseases are idiopathic?” and then browsing the abstracts of a significant number of studies, I would guess that at least half of all health-related conditions are classified as “idiopathic”.  One of my brilliant online friends, Dr. Chandler Marrs over at HORMONES MATTER, put it this way on an online message board we are both part of (after suggesting that according to current research, as much as 75% of all diseases could be considered idiopathic).

“That’s a ridiculously high number of ‘I-don’t-have-a-clue-what’s-going-on’. Of course, we all know what medically unexplained gets translated into — psychogenic — the it’s-all-in-your-head syndrome — because if the physician doesn’t understand what’s going on, the patient must have somehow made up his / her symptoms and illness. Great business model for psychotropics.  All of this speaks to a larger problem. The paradigm is fundamentally wrong and while certainly usurped by economic interests, that is just the tip of the iceberg. The language we use, the framework within which we identify disease processes, the entire structure is wrong and since language frames what we can or cannot know, until some of that shifts, we will be left with a false binary narrative where what can be known is largely already known and noted within the current medical apparatus, and what is unexplainable by that apparatus exists in Neverland, as something that not only is not known, but unknowable. And if it is unknowable, then we bear no responsibility to either figure it out or even acknowledge its existence. Just plop it in the idiopathy box and move on.”

She’s right you know.  It’s why antidepressants made my “BIG FIVE” list of drugs most commonly given to those struggling with CHRONIC PAIN.  You know; you’re in pain because you’re depressed, instead of the more logical other way around.  I also spoke of this phenomenon a few months ago in my post on the overuse of “MINDFULNESS” as a viable treatment for whatever.   Allow me to shift gears for a moment and move on to a brand new study showing how important this concept of epigenetics really is.  A few days ago, this month’s issue of Nature carried a fascinating study titled Allergic Inflammatory Memory in Human Respiratory Epithelial Progenitor Cells, which concluded in highly cherry-picked fashion.

“Barrier tissue dysfunction is a fundamental feature of chronic human inflammatory diseases. Specialized subsets of epithelial cells—including secretory and ciliated cells—differentiate from basal stem cells to collectively protect the upper airway. Allergic inflammation can develop from persistent activation of type 2 immunity in the upper airway, resulting in chronic rhinosinusitis, which ranges in severity from rhinitis to severe nasal polyps. Basal cell hyperplasia is a hallmark of severe disease.  We detect an aberrant basal progenitor differentiation trajectory in polyps, and propose cell-intrinsic, epigenetic and extrinsic factors.  Our results demonstrate that epithelial stem cells may contribute to the persistence of human disease by serving as repositories for allergic memories.”

Pay attention to what the authors are saying.  Tissue barrier dysfunction is what I refer to loosely as “THE LEAKIES” and is caused by INFLAMMATION, which I have shown you always leads to fibrosis (HERE is one example of dozens), the hallmark of which is “TISSUE THICKENING” (hyperplasia) — especially true in cancer (HERE).  Furthermore, the term “allergic memories” is not referring to that time you sneezed in Aunt Julie’s bowl of chili, ruing her sweater at your annual church Super Bowl party, it’s talking about epigenetics and the fact that inflammation is what lights the fuse that causes architectural changes in the epithelial proginator cells — the very cells that when fouled up, affect your body’s barrier systems, leading in this case to “Leaky Sinus,” but could just as easily lead to LEAKY GUT or the other ‘leakies’ mentioned in the earlier link.  In other words, now we have a vicious cycle on our hands — a situation where the problem is not only caused by inflammation, but has itself become a cause of inflammation.  It’s a problem that no amount of drugs is ever going to solve.  In fact, most drugs are going to ultimately increase metabolic dysfunction.

When it comes to epigentic, idiopathic, or even “genetic” health problems (most of which of the later are not actually genetic — HIGH CHOLESTEROL, HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE, and surprisingly enough, OBESITY are the ones I hear patients talking about most commonly in my clinic), my hope is that today’s post EMPOWERS YOU to take the bull by the horns and do something about your health.  While there might be certain tests you need in order to determine whether you have a MTHFR defect or any number of other problems that might require some functional testing, the brunt of the heavy lifting must be done on your own.  What do I mean?  Simply that you have to take charge of your health because not only are doctors not trained and equipped for this (sorry folks, but drugs do not change physiology and restore homeostasis — HERE), but as Drs Velasquez and Marrs so eloquently explained earlier, the system they work in does not allow it. 

Although it’s far from truly comprehensive, I’ve created a “comprehensive” generic protocol (sort of an oxymoron — kind of like term “EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE“) to help get you started (HERE).  And while not all of it will pertain to every one of you (if you are 100 years old you probably don’t need to be attempting massive deadlifts or heavy squats), everyone can find something to take home with them.  Use it to help create your own personalized EXIT STRATEGY —- kind of like I’ve done for THESE FOLKS.  If you know people who desperately need this information, be sure to get it in front of them.  How so?  Simply like, share, or follow on FACEBOOK (and then tag them or send them a link via private message).

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