What Is The Nature Of Cancer?
In order to intelligently discuss any form of therapy, it is essential to know something about the nature of the disease. Cancer has been defined as a cellular tumor, the natural course of which is fatal. Another term for cancer is a malignant neoplasm . Neoplasm refers to a progressive uncontrolled new growth of tissue.
The term tumor may be correctly applied to any neoplasm, benign or malignant. A benign tumor is one that lacks the ability to invade other tissues and does not spread or metastasize, and for the most part can be surgically removed. A malignant tumor or cancer is characterized by its ability to invade tissue, metastasize. The cells are less differentiated (a process known as anaplasia in which the tumor cells do not resemble those of the parent tissue) and ultimately results in the death of the victim. The term metastasis refers to the transfer or spread of the cancer from one organ or part to another not directly connected with it. Thus, tumor cells may originate in one part of the body (primary tumor) and suddenly appear in some other organ or distant part of the body (secondary tumor).
Metastases are a significant factor in bringing about the death of the patient. There are over 100 different clinical types of cancers which are frequently divided into the two broad categories of carcinomas and sarcomas. Carcinomas are malignant new growths of epithelial cells and may involve the breasts, digestive tract, uterus, skin, etc. Sarcomas are malignant new growths of connective tissue and involve such organs as bone, muscle, nerves, lymph glands, etc. Hodgkin’s disease and melanomas are a type of sarcoma. In general, tumors are classified according to the cell type involved, and occasionally they are of the mixed type containing both epithelial and connective elements. The leukemias are another type of malignancy that involves a progressive proliferation in the blood-forming organs of the body. Leukemia is sometimes referred to as cancer of the blood.
The typing and grading of malignant tumors becomes very complicated and goes far beyond the intent of this publication. In order to explain some of the more basic elements of carcinogenesis, it is necessary to deal with some of the fundamentals of cell structure and function. The major subdivisions of a cell include the nucleus and the surrounding cytoplasm. The nucleus is the primary control center of the cell. Chromosomes are a structure in the nucleus comprised of a linear thread of a nucleic acid known as deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Chromosomes appear as elongated threadlike bodies in the nucleus and are clearly visible only when the cell is undergoing division. The chromosomes are comprised of nucleic acid and protein. The nucleic acid DNA transmits genetic information. The chromosomes also bear the basic units of heredity called genes.
The genes determine the characteristics of the cells and act as control units in the metabolic activities of the cell. Genes, therefore, serve as code units which determine most of the enzymatic and other biochemical activities within the cell. It is through the genes that this basic metabolic data is passed on from one generation of cells to the next. The cytoplasm surrounding the nucleus of the cell contains a complex network of membranes known as the endoplasmic reticulum. This reticulum is lined on its outer surface by small particles called ribosomes . The ribosomes contain large concentrations of a nucleic acid known as ribonucleic acid (RNA).
These ribosomes are directly concerned with protein synthesis. RNA also occurs in the nucleus of the cell. It is now known that RNA is synthesized in the nucleus of the cell and migrates to the cytoplasm. The DNA acts as a template or pattern for the synthesis of RNA which in turn acts as a biochemical messenger between the DNA of the nucleus and the metabolic machinery of the cytoplasm. Thus, RNA appears to exert a controlling influence over the entire metabolic activities of the cell. Any alteration in the DNA mechanism is going to affect the RNA messenger and thereby alter the metabolic changes in the cell. In case of cancer, the regulatory mechanism that governs cell division is obviously affected, and the cells begin to rapidly proliferate and gradually lose their differentiation.
There are numerous theories that have been proposed as to the cause of cancer. It is now apparent that cancer may be caused by an almost limitless variety of physical, chemical and biological agents. However, it is becoming increasingly apparent that regardless of the precipitating factor, somewhere along the progression of biochemical events, the basic DNA-RNA mechanism is involved. If this vital genetic machinery is damaged, cancer may be the end result. It would appear that if the cause of cancer is due to an alteration of the normal metabolism of the cell, then the correction of the problem would be by means of a metabolic approach, which is basically the subject of this web page.
Amygdalin (Laetrile) History and Actions
Amygdalin is a herbal constituent derived from the kernels of various fruits of the Genus Prunus (synonym amygdalus) which includes the plum, prune, cherry, peach and apricot. It is among the most ancient herbal products used against cancer. Apricot kernels have been in medical use since the days of Pen T’sao (a great Chinese herbalist) in the year 2800 BCE (before common era) in ancient China. Also, the great Persian master of pharmacy, medicine and natural sciences, Avicenna (980-1037) recommended the use of apricot bitter almond oil in the treatment of tumors of the spleen, uterus, stomach and liver. Amygdalin is one of the first and best known cyanogenic glycosides. The systematized study of amygdalin did not really begin until the first half of the past century when crystalline amygdalin was isolated in 1830 by two French chemists, Robiquet and Boutron. Now known as Prunus Amygdalus, of the rose family Rosaceae, amygdalin is hence appropriately named after the scientific name of the bitter almond. The chemical structure of amygdalin is well established as laevo-D-mandelonitrile-B-D-glucoside-6-B-D-glucoside. Essentially, it is a diglucoside with a cyanide radical. Laetrile is a decomposition product resulting from the hydrolysis of amygdalin. Neither amygdalin nor Laetrile contain free cyanide. Laetrile formula is laevo-D-mandelonitrile-B-glucoronide. The term Laetrile was first proposed by Ernest T. Krebs, Jr., in 1949.
The word is derived from the contraction of the chemical term LAE vo-mandeloni TRILE. Krebs also designated Laetrile as vitamin B17. Krebs contended that amygdalin is essential to human health. The amygdalin (Laetrile) therapy utilizes the cyanogenic glycoside amygdalin or one of it’s byproducts together with a broad-based nutritional program known as Metabolic Therapy for the control of cancer. Krebs, Jr. and his research group found that amygdalin has its powerful cancer killer capabilities because it contains cyanide that destroys cancer cells. Not all cyanide compounds are poisonous. Humans constantly eat produce with cyanide–about 1,200 kinds of foods have it. Detoxification of cyanide can take place in all tissues of the body, but principally in the liver. The dosage levels and toxicity of amygdalin (Laetrile) in laboratory animals and humans is well established and documented. No evidence of acute or accumulative toxicity was observed in any animals given doses in excess of 100 times the maximum intravenous dose usually given in humans.
These findings coincide with that mentioned by Otto Jacobsen in 1887, Davidson in 1944 and Dr. Dean Burk (National Cancer Institute) in 1968: “Amygdalin is impressively nontoxic from the pharmacological point of view” and “nonhydrolyzed amygdalin is less toxic than glucose.” The oral toxicity of amygdalin was found to be 39 to 44 times greater than the intramuscular route, and more toxic than intravenous route (parentenal route). Amygdalin is less tolerable by oral administration because of the hydrolysis of amygdalin by the gastric juices. On the other hand, amygdalin, in dosages of 20-40/mg/kg orally (for a 200 lb human this would translate to 16 – 500mg laetrile/B17 tablets daily) used in humans is 10 to 20 times less than the minimum toxic dosage in dogs. The biological half-life of amygdalin is only 80 minutes. Over 80% of the amygdalin administered is excreted from the body in 4 hours. The usual metabolic approach to amygdalin (Laetrile) therapy is to provide the patient with adequate nutritional support, with relatively nontoxic high doses of vitamins and minerals and other active natural substances. Amygdalin (Laetrile) has been administered in dosages of up to 70 grams (70,000 mg) per day in adult humans by combined oral and parenteral routes without adverse effects.
Amygdalin Action Mechanisms (Krebs Hypothesis)
The most widespread theory (“cyanide theory”) on the action of amygdalin was propounded by Ernest Krebs, Jr., in the seventies. Kreb’s hypothesis is the resulting end products of the hydrolysis of amygdalin are the hydrocyanic acid (HCN) and benzaldehyde. In order to produce these products, B-glucuronidase is required. It has been demonstrated that this enzyme is present in cancerous tissue about 1,000 to 3,600 times higher than in normal tissue. Rhodenase is an enzyme found in the liver cell and is known to be concerned with the conversion of toxic hydrocyanic acid to thiocyanate, a harmless substance. Rhodenase is part of the normal detoxification process of the body. However, it was found that normal cells contain a relatively high concentration of rhodenase and low concentration of B-glucuronidase, whereas cancerous cells are high in available B-glucoronidase and low in available rhodenase.
Thus, the normal cellular protective mechanism is decreased in tumor cells and they become more sensitive to the effects of the cyanide ion. The HCN would tend to depress the enzyme functions of the cancer cell and thereby destroy it. Since normal cells contain large quantities of rhodenase and relatively low quantities of available B-glucoronidase, the available rhodenase would detoxify the cyanide ion (CN-) forming the non-toxic thiocyanate. Then according to Ernest Krebs amygdalin’s toxic effect is against the cancerous cell and not the host.
The Effectiveness Of Amygdalin (Laetrile) In Cancer
Ever since the days of Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) and Paul Ehrlich (1854-1915), cancer victims have hoped for the “wonder vaccine” or the “magic bullet.” Amygdalin (Laetrile) does not come under the heading of either of these dramatic therapies. There are a number of factors that enter into the cancer treatment complex. The type of cancer involved is an important factor. Some types of cancer tend to be more sensitive to treatment than others. Amygdalin (Laetrile) is not equally effective in all types of cancers. Rubin (1977) found in their clinical investigations in Israel that amygdalin (Laetrile) was most effective against adenocarcinoma and Hodgkin’s disease, somewhat less effective in certain other of the sarcomas and melanomas , and relatively poor results were achieved with the leukemia. Similar results have been obtained by other clinicians in the United States and elsewhere. The best results with amygdalin (Laetrile) therapy have been achieved with lung, prostate, breast, lymphomas, liver and brain cancer. The chemical quality of the amygdalin (Laetrile) also has a bearing on the clinical therapeutic results.
Only the laevo isomer of amydalin (Laetrile) has been found to be therapeutically active. A high quality amygdalin is now produced in Mexico and some products are currently under investigation in the United States and Germany. It is therefore of the utmost importance that quality products be utilized. Failure to recognize this point can result in inadequate dosage levels and false negative therapeutic results (Krible, 1912; Levi, et al, 1965; Rubin, 1978). Other factors relating directly to the administration of amygdalin (Laetrile) concern the dosage. In the past, most physicians have tended toward administering too low a dosage. Therefore the frequency of administration, the route of administration, and the dosage are of the utmost importance if adequate blood levels are to be maintained. In the past, most errors of administration have been made on the side of too little, rather than too much. However, it should be kept in mind the most effective routes are by parenteral injection (IM or IV) and the physician should not attempt to achieve the necessary dosage levels by the oral route. Rubin (1978) reports administering 70 grams per day to each patient with no ill effects. Another aspect that will have a bearing on the recovery of a patient depends upon the degree of tissue damage caused by excessive radiation and toxicity resulting from chemotherapy.
It is presently estimated in the United States, Mexico, and elsewhere, about 90% or more of the patients begin using amygdalin (Laetrile) only after all other types of cancer therapies have failed. Most metabolic physicians are of the opinion that if the patient were to begin Metabolic Therapy earlier in the course of the disease, it would improve the patient’s chances of cancer control. The adequacy of liver functions is of the utmost importance in cancer therapy. The liver has varied, intricate and extremely complex metabolic functions. Among other things the liver is concerned with fat, carbohydrate and protein metabolism.
The liver has a propensity for storing vitamins, especially A, D, B-12 , and iron in the form of ferritin. The liver forms a large proportion of the blood constituents: fibrinogen, prothrombin, accelerator globulin, Factor VII, and other coagulation factors. The liver is involved in vitamin K metabolism. The liver is concerned with the vascular storage and filtration of blood, with about 1000 ml of blood flowing from the portal vein through the liver sinusoids each minute and an additional 400 ml flows into the sinusoid from the hepatic artery. Thus, when the liver or kidneys are damaged due to a primary or metastatic malignancy, it may adversely affect the entire metabolism of the body.
The studies conducted thus far on amygdalin (Laetrile) indicate that there is no damage to the liver or kidney function. Much of the effort of metabolic therapy is dedicated toward sustaining adequate liver and kidney functions and to attempt to minimize the detoxification load placed upon them. It should be emphasized that amygdalin (Laetrile) therapy is most effective when used in conjunction with a comprehensive METABOLIC approach. Most physicians using this form of therapy provide adequate nutritional support with the use of proper vitamin and mineral supplements. The patient is placed on a complete vegetarian diet with a reduction of proteins, fats, refined sugars, and processed foods. All tobacco, alcohol, caffeinated drinks, and most toxic medications are eliminated. The patient is placed on a high intake of select fruit juices, fresh fruits and vegetables. A program of detoxification is required. A minimum of 9 gr of amygdalin (Laetrile) per day is administered, largely by the parenteral route, but even higher levels may be given if indicated. Patients that refuse to follow the general Metabolic Program are discouraged from taking amygdalin (Laetrile).