The ‘C’ Word. Cancer – a word which strikes fear into the hearts of many because, if the media and mainstream medicine are to be believed, it’s a disease that is indiscriminate with age, social status or race. A disease, like no other, which brings us face to face with a potential early demise. A disease for which the treatment side effects can be worse, or almost worse, than the cancer itself. But what if the mainstream’s view that cancer is the result of a few damaging mutations in the genes of its victims is flawed? What if it’s actually the cell’s metabolism and energy management system that is deranged in tumour cells? And what if treatments should be altered in accordance with this revised view that has re-invigorated the nearly 100-year-old theory of Nobel laureate Otto Warburg.

In the US, ‘Metabolic Theory’ is gaining a head of scientific steam and this is the theme of Yes to Life’s conference on Saturday. Paul Davies, the Principal Investigator in the Centre for the Convergence of Physical Science and Cancer Biology at Arizona, State University and Travis Christofferson, the American researcher and bestselling author of ‘Tripping over the Truth’, keynote the conference. They are joined by a range of experts from the UK, including Rob Verkerk PhD, ANH-Intl executive & scientific director, Dr Ndaba Mzibuko, Clinical Research Fellow at King’s College London, Patricia Daly, cancer survivor, nutritional therapist and ketogenic diet specialist, and Jane McLelland, a physiotherapist who is a cancer survivor. Dr Verkerk’s presentation will focus on the developing and emerging science behind the metabolic theory of cancer.

Through the mainstream lens

NHS Choices in the UK simply describes cancer as “a condition where cells in a specific part of the body grow and reproduce uncontrollably”. In the US, the National Cancer Institute concurs that, “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”. As the speakers on Saturday will elucidate, there are now, many inconsistencies in this theory as emerging evidence suggests that cancer is primarily a mitochondrial metabolic disease.

Mainstream treatments (depending on the type of tumour and what stage it’s at) are generally confined to surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, biological therapies, bisphosphonates and bone marrow and stem cell transplants. On the other side of the divide where integrative medicine exists, there is a much greater interest in trying to fathom the underlying causes and triggers of cancer in a given individual. Included in such approaches is the alteration of metabolic and immune processes that are known to be associated with the development of many types of cancer.

The commercial (and political) face of cancer

As we highlighted in our guest feature, ‘Dying for a Cure’, in August this year, cancer is big business – the cash cow of Big Pharma and cancer research. And it’s not money that easily relinquished. As John Piears wrote, “…dig beneath the spin and the hype and you’ll discover that everything in the garden isn’t as rosy as it seems. It turns out that 95% of promising cancer research discoveries don’t work when they are tested in real patients. And half of those that do work are too expensive for routine use by the NHS, even though we have the fifth richest economy in the world. As if this wasn’t sad enough, the drugs that do ‘work’ often don’t work very well. A recent study found that new drugs approved for solid tumours (most cancers) between 2002 and 2014 were only expected to extend patients' lives by an average of 2.7 months compared with existing treatments. At this rate of progress it would take at least 1,778 years to get a 20-year survival improvement for all 200 types of cancer. We would need a race forever not a race for life!”

Yes to life’s conference on Saturday 19th November at Woburn House Conference Centre, London WC1H 9HQ is a world away from “a race forever”. It promises to challenge the status quo in cancer thinking in the UK and put the science before any agenda. If you’ve not booked your ticket there’s still time!