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Alternative Medicine: Is Cancer A Lactic Acid?

Do you believe in alternative medicine? There are many people who say they do.

“I believe in alternative medicine,” writes business coach Sarah Santacroce.

“I believe in alternative medicine, and massage therapy is one of the most holistic aspects of the field. The benefits of touch positively affect the mind, body, and spirit,” says Kelly Mantovani, though she never explains precisely what the benefits to a person’s spirit from her alternative approach are.

People believe in alternative medicine, but they often have difficulty describing what it is. A representative for True North Business Consultants writes, paradoxically, that “I believe in alternative medicine because I do not consider it alternative.”

“CAT” writes on a Yahoo Answers board that, “I believe in alternative medicine, it works for me. Traditional medicine basically takes care of symptoms but very rarely the cure.” This idea that alternative medicine provides cures, while traditional medicine only treats symptoms, is common. There’s no hard evidence, though, to suggest that therapies labeled as “alternative medicine” actually cure medical conditions at a greater rate than therapies labeled as “traditional medicine”.

The difference between alternative medicine and traditional medicine mostly seems to be that practitioners of alternative medicine claim to cure conditions more than practitioners of traditional medicine do. Apparently, talking big is a common technique in alternative medicine.

cancer is lactic acidReally, anything can be called “alternative medicine.” I could come up with a therapy that revolves around playing with Lego blocks, and call it “alternative medicine”.

Or, maybe baking soda could be categorized as a form of alternative medicine. Actually, this is taking place. Joanna Ocean of the Worthy To Know web site writes that, “According to the result of research findings, cancer is a lactic acid, which is formed when a certain kind of fungus or moldlives [sic] in an environment devoid of oxygen.” Ocean claims that there is “fascinating evidence that proves that sodium bicarbonate can indeed cure a lot of serious diseases, such as cancer and diabetes.”

Sodium bicarbonate is a common substance kept in almost every home: It’s baking soda. If cancer is a lactic acid, and baking soda can eliminate that deadly lactic acid, why aren’t people with cancer simply curing themselves with baking soda? The dark explanation provided by Ocean is that the pharmaceuticals industry knows about the cure-all benefits of baking soda, but is suppressing information about the cure, so that it can continue to profit from the sale of its anti-cancer chemotherapy drugs. Baking soda is “a nightmare to the pharmaceutical industry,” she writes.

Ocean’s ideas offer an interesting alternative… to reality. The real reason that baking soda isn’t used as a mainstream anti-cancer therapy is that it’s never been proven to work.

The idea that baking soda can be used to treat cancers comes from Tullio Simoncini, a former physician. Simoncini asserted that cancers are actually caused by a form of yeast, Candida albicans, and that treatment with baking soda cures cancer by addressing this underlying fungal problem. However, there are no peer-reviewed scientific studies that show that all, or even most, cancers are caused by yeast infections. There are also no peer-reviewed scientific studies that provide evidence that cancers can be cured with baking soda.

What’s the harm of trying baking soda as a cure for cancer? Several people have died after being treated by Tullio Simoncini.

Cancer is not lactic acid. Lactic acid is a little molecule, and cancer is a disease caused the uncontrolled growth of tissue throughout the body. Cancer is alive. Lactic acid is not. They’re two separate things.

There is research to suggest that the growth of cancer involves lactic acid. An article published in the Journal of Pathology last year discusses how cancerous tumors can produce lactic acid, which may enable survival and spread of the tumors by suppressing the immune system’s ability to recognize and control the cancer.

It’s an intriguing finding, what the study’s authors call a “paradigm shift” that “can have major impact on therapeutic strategy development” of cancers. Before this paradigm shift in thinking about cancer can be put into effect to treat cancer more successfully, however, it needs to be tested scientifically. It’s a sad truth that many interesting theories about how cancer could be cured turn out not to work in practice.

Human health and human disease are complex, and not yet fully understood. Some kinds of cancer can be effectively treated. Many cannot. In the future, effective and tolerable forms of treatment for more kinds of cancer will developed. It’s even possible that sodium bicarbonate may be part of future cancer treatments. On the other hand, it’s also possible that sodium bicarbonate treatments will be found not to be relevant at all to cancer.

Medicine needs more alternative therapies to add to the treatments it already has made available. The most reliable way to gain those alternatives, however, is to conduct competently-designed scientific research, rather than simply making assertions based on what we would like to be true.

13 comments to Alternative Medicine: Is Cancer A Lactic Acid?

  • Bill

    Otto Warburg, one of the giants of early 20th century biochemistry, was the first to note and speculate deeply (in the 1950s) upon the fact that cancer cells employ predominantly anaerobic (not requiring oxygen) metabolic pathways to power themselves, whereas most normal cells mostly employ aerobic (oxygen-requiring) pathways. The anaerobic pathway churns out lots of lactic acid as its waste product, hence cancer cells produce lots of lactic acid. This so-called Warburg Effect has intrigued biochemists ever since. It’s quite clear that it doesn’t cause cancer…it’s an effect, not a cause. Nonetheless it is equally clear that we don’t fully understand all the implications and consequences of the Warburg Effect. And it’s super-abundantly clear that baking soda neither cures nor can be expected to prevent cancer.

    By the way, muscle cramps, such as those runners are prone to, are a result of lactic acid production and accumulation by overworked muscle cells. So it might make just as much sense (i.e., none at all) to suggest that marathon running causes cancer.

  • J Clifford

    How about doughnuts. Will doughnuts cure cancer?

  • Leroy

    And yet NIH has the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health which does studies on more legitimate forms of alternative medicine (besides BigPharma and BigMedicine) and also provides grant money to organizations for research and studies.

    “The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), formerly National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), and before that the Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM), is a United States government agency with the goals of investigating complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) using rigorous scientific methodology, training complementary and alternative medicine researchers, and disseminating authoritative information to the public and professionals.”

  • Leroy

    Most studies have negative results, but quite a few have positive results:

    It was first established in 1991 and then re-established in 1998.

  • Leroy

    And then a number of Medical Research universities as well as some major hospitals have programs that conduct research in these areas also.

  • Leroy

    Of course this is something that more advanced First World countries have worked with for quite some time. Commission E in (then) West Germany for example.

    “Recently, European interest in the herb has focused on its potential for treatment of varicose veins, and it has been approved by Germany’s regulatory commission for herbal therapies as a treatment for chronic venous insufficiency.”

  • Leroy

    Don’t get me wrong.

    A lot of alternative medicine is garbage.

    Some (maybe a lot?) of traditional medicine is garbage.

    I think that the example as provided by so many democratic socialist countries is the right path. Instead of dismissing alternative medicine outright (as the “scientific” critics in this country howl for with their demands to close the NCCIH), the process in those countries (Japan to Germany, the Scandinavian countries, etcetera) to provide research, encourage research, provide data, etcetera seems a more progressive and liberal approach rather than simple ridicule.

    Yes, this (freedom of choice) may be a major issue for Conservatives and Libertarians, but obviously Democratic Socialists feel that way also… especially if it can be an informed choice.

  • Leroy

    There’s just so many to choose from.

    Unfortunately , I can’t even post one link anymore.

    There’s a NYT article about Germany’s research with St. John’s Wort in 1997.

    And a 2009 article from Brazil where their Department of Public Health was researching and identifying health benefit plants.

    And, for a great overview, a 2005 survey by WHO in regards countries from all over their regulation and handling of alternative medicine and herbal remedies.

    Would likely make for some good reading.

    Oh well… never let facts interfere with opinion.

    But then if I was going to put together an article that was negative in nature, I would stay away from information like this. I would in fact look for the most ridiculous example that I could find, and use that example as being typical. I would definitely stay away from people like Linus Pauling, two time Nobel Prize winner.

  • Leroy

    And I most assuredly WOULD NOT let people know that medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the United States, since traditional medicine is much better.

    In fact I noted that proportional to the population that the other causes of death remained quite stable (indicative of traditional medicine not coming up with much in the line of cures or disease treatment improvement maybe), but medical errors (hospitals and doctors) were actually on a continuous rise.

    Overly aggressive pharmaceutical treatment, specialists prescribing drugs with strong side effects while ignoring contraindicated drugs being prescribed by others, ignoring serious side effects, and using prescription medications that are later judged unsafe by the FDA and pulled from market (oops! Too bad for you though).

    Just a few of the things that popped out in scanning.

    • Leroy

      Like the Duke professor said on the one page…

      “If doctors do no other good, they at least prepare their patients early for death, undermining little by little and cutting off their enjoyment of life.”

      These words from Montaigne are 350 years old, but, sadly, too often they describe the results of modern medicine, particularly when it is mindlessly applied…

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