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Cancer and Fungus

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I couldn’t think of a good intro for this month’s case study. Then I remembered an old joke I used in one of my first articles for Doug over five years ago. It is a joke on the different thought processes of four medical specialties  

Four doctors were going duck hunting: a psychiatrist, an internist, a surgeon and a pathologist. The doctors were in the duck blind when something flew overhead.


The psychiatrist said, “It looks like a duck, it acts like a duck, but does it think it is a duck? How does it feel?” The opportunity to make the shot was missed. 


The internist said, “It looks like a duck. It acts like a duck.  But it could be a dove, or a swallow or some other bird. We need to do some tests.” Again, the opportunity was lost.  


The surgeon looked up and began shooting like crazy until something fell from the sky. Picking the object up he hands it to the pathologist and says, “Here, tell me if this is a duck.”  


The only connection with this month’s case study is that it involves a surgeon, a family practice/internist and a pathologist. 


For legal purposes I must give a disclaimer: This case study is for educational purposes only. I am using it to show you how a typical patient presents and the things I consider when I make a diagnosis. The patient’s name has been changed to protect his/her identity. I practice integrative/alternative medicine and my recommendations for treatment are often considered outside traditional practice. It is not my intent to criticize or denounce traditional medicine. I am merely providing an alternative opinion. Most importantly, the information provided here should not be used as a substitute for an examination and/ or treatment by a licensed health care provider.


Presenting illness: Mr. October is a 57 year old male who presented for a consultation eight months ago. Mr. October reported that he had been having some pain in his upper abdomen for the past 2-3 months. He believed that he might need to try prescription anti-fungals.


In March 2004, Mr. October began having symptoms of sinus pressure, ringing in his ears, occasional blurred vision, musky body odor, heart racing and numbness in his toes. He also said that he was experiencing fatigue and mind fog.


He contacted a local health food store who introduced him Know the Cause and Doug Kaufmann. Over the past eight years he had been able to relieve some of his symptoms using natural health products and diet. His sinus congestion “cleared up”. 


Past medical history: Unremarkable except for above.


Past surgical history: None


Medications/Vitamins and supplements: Mr. October is taking vitamin D and probiotics.


Allergies: Mr. October has no known drug allergies.


Social History: Mr. October is married with 2 children. He is self-employed. He does not smoke or drink alcohol. He is on the Phase I diet/ Initial Phase diet.


Review of systems: Mr. October has received antibiotics many times in the past for extended periods of time. 


Mr. October has had problems with epigastric pain in the past and he was treated for Helicobacter Pylori gastritis for two weeks in 2010. He is also experiencing symptoms of irritable bowel.


Mr. October has a history of kidney stones. 


Mr. October’s job includes renovating homes. He has been exposed to mold multiple times and in 2004 he “showered with mold/fungus” while working in an older home. He suffered with sinus pressure for two years and “brown dirt-like material” came out of his nose. 


Physical exam: 

Blood pressure: 121/92  Pulse:88  Height: 5’8”  Weight: 172 lbs.

On physical examination Mr. October was noted to have scarring of his ear drums and trace scalloping of his tongue. Mr. October had some mild tenderness in his right upper quadrant but there were no palpable masses and no enlargement of his liver.


Mr. October was noted to have noticeably cooler hands and feet. The soles of his feet were noted to have a yellow discoloration (beta-carotenemia). His fingernails and toenails were found to have vertical ridges.



Based on Mr. October’s history, I felt that he had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) probably related to chronic fungal overgrowth of the gastrointestinal tract (dysbiosis). It is not unusual for persons with IBS to experience upper abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and or diarrhea. I started him on ketoconazole for two weeks and Nystatin for one month. He was to continue on his daily probiotics and the initial phase diet.

On his physical examination, Mr. October was noted to have multiple physical signs of hypothyroidism. I recommended that he start on a prescription thyroid medication daily.


I also recommended that he start on several vitamins, minerals and supplements, since dysbiosis is often associated with relative vitamin deficiencies.


Follow-up visit: 

Mr. October presented for follow-up last month. A few days after his initial consultation with me, he had an episode of severe abdominal pain. He went to the emergency room and was diagnosed with an intestinal obstruction. He underwent colonoscopy which revealed a golf ball size tumor in his colon. Mr. October underwent a partial colectomy (removing approximately 8-10 inches of his colon) to remove the tumor completely.


The pathology report revealed the tumor to be cancerous but the margins of the resected tissue were clean. Mr. October was given the diagnosis of Stage I colon cancer. He did not receive any chemotherapy or radiation treatment.


After recovery from surgery, Mr. October took the anti-fungals that I had prescribed as well as the vitamins and supplements I had recommended. Mr. October is also taking the prescribed thyroid medication. He remains on the Phase I diet. 


Exposure to mold and fungi is an occupational hazard for Mr. October. He has recently developed problems with nasal congestion, ringing in his ears and symptoms of prostate enlargement.


Discussion: There are always surprises in medicine. What I initially suspected to be irritable bowel syndrome turned out to be colon cancer. I chose Mr. October’s case this month because it will give us an opportunity to discuss cancer


Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. It kills one in four Americans. The National Cancer Institute estimates that approximately 1,638,910 new cancer cases will be diagnosed in the United States in 2012, not including basal or squamous cell skin cancers. This same institute also estimates that 577,190 Americans will die of cancer this year.  These are very scary figures but they only tell part of the story. 


Traditional medicine would have you believe that there have been significant inroads made in the war against cancer. The death rate from cancer has stayed virtually the same as it was in 1950, about 200 deaths per 100,000 people a year and about 1,000 deaths per 100,000 people over 65 years of age.


The “gold standards” for treatment of cancer in the United States are surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. In other words, slash, burn and poison. When I say “standard” I mean “sanctioned”. The only “gold” about them is the cost. When you consider the cost of chemotherapy drugs, cancer is a big business.


Really big.


If surgery, radiation and chemotherapy are effective treatment options, wouldn’t you expect there to be some improvement in the death rates over the past 50 years? In December 2004, Clinical Oncology published a study which reviewed the data of adult patients receiving chemotherapy for cancer in the United States and Australia (1998). The five-year survival rate for adult cancer patients receiving chemotherapy was found to be 2.3% in Australia and 2.1% in the United States. These numbers are very disturbing. Admittedly the data reviewed was from 1998 but if these numbers were significantly better, we would be hearing about it in the media all of the time. 


Let’s suppose that you were one of the lucky 2.1% that survived chemotherapy and /or radiation for treatment for cancer. What will keep you from developing another cancer? A functioning, intact immune system is the only way to prevent the development of a new or recurrent cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation increase your risk of developing a new or recurrent cancer by suppressing or destroying your immune system.


In the earliest stage of cancer (Stage I), I believe that surgery can helpful when combined with changes in lifestyle and diet. The surgery removes the bulk of the tumor. This doesn’t mean that you are “cancer free”. Surgery needs to be combined with lifestyle changes including diet and exercise to optimize the immune system. 


Everyone has “cancer cells” that are normally detected by our immune systems and destroyed before they are able to develop into a clinically observable tumor. The key is prevention and maintenance of a healthy immune system.  


Have I mentioned a healthy immune system?


What is cancer? The National Cancer Institute defines cancer as diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and are able to invade other tissues. The body is made up of many types of cells. These cells grow and divide in a controlled way to produce more cells as they are needed to keep the body healthy. Normally when cells become old or are damaged beyond repair,  they die and are replaced with new cells.  This ability to die is called apoptosis or programmed cell death.


Normal cells can become cancer cells when the ability to die (apoptosis) is lost through cell damage or is turned off. The cancer cell becomes essentially immortal. It doesn’t die when it should and it continues to produce more cells with this ability. These cells can accumulate and form masses called tumors. Along with this inability to die, the cancer cell changes the way it metabolizes sugar.


In 1931 Otto Warburg won the Nobel prize in physiology for determining how cancer cells metabolize sugar. Normal cells use glucose and oxygen (aerobic metabolism) to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the main energy source for the majority of cellular functions which keep us alive. Through aerobic metabolism, 38 molecules of ATP can be made from one molecule of glucose. The production of ATP occurs in the tiny powerhouses of the cell called mitochondria.

Cancer cells use a process called fermentation to manufacture ATP. Fermentation does not use oxygen (anaerobic). Manufacturing ATP using fermentation is very inefficient. Only 2 molecules of ATP are made from one molecule of glucose. As a result of anaerobic metabolism, cancer loves sugar. The cancer cells must take in large amounts of sugar.


Now that you have some of the basic information about cancer, are there any similarities or connections between cancer and fungi? Keep reading! One big similarity between fungi and cancer is that fungi metabolize sugar by fermentation. Fungi love sugar.


Fungi produce chemicals called mycotoxins. There are mycotoxins in which experimental or epidemiological data suggest involvement in the development of cancer in humans. Inside the cells of your body, proteins are made to produce different effects in your body. This is the reason for DNA. The DNA of the cell encodes the proper sequencing for every protein and molecule in the body. This is the basis of all the chemical processes that occur within the human body.


Mycotoxins have the ability to effect human cells by causing the production or suppression of protein production in the cell. For example, p53 (protein 53) has many anti-cancer mechanisms: It can activate DNA repair proteins when the DNA has sustained damage, and it can initiate apoptosis – programmed cell death – when the DNA has become too damaged to repair.


If production of this protein is suppressed the cell becomes immortal. This is essentially the definition of a cancer cell. A defective p53 protein could allow abnormal cells to proliferate resulting in cancer. As many as 50% of all human tumors contain p53 mutations. 


How else might fungi cause cancer? One of the ways is through the development of a functional fungal/human hybrid. Sounds like science fiction doesn’t it? You tell me. 


Dr. Bill Cham has written a book called the Eggplant Cancer Cure. What follows is a summary of his research. In the late 1970s, Dr. Cham was introduced to a plant known locally as the Devil’s Apple plant. Australian farmers and ranchers were using poultices of the Devil Apple plant to successfully treat ocular cancer in Hereford cattle.


Dr. Cham decided to study this plant and see what the active ingredients were. He was able to isolate a naturally occurring glycoalkaloid compound (an alkaloid attached to a sugar) which he named BEC5. The alkaloid solasidine is attached to a molecule of sugar, rhamnose. 


Here is how BEC5 works. The cancer cell has receptor sites on its surface for rhamnose. When the rhamnose portion of the glycoalkaloid attaches to the receptor, the whole BEC5 complex is taken into the cell. The cancer cell then cleaves off the rhamnose to use for fermentation. However, when this happens, the solasidine becomes toxic to the cell and the cancer cell dies. It is similar to a chemical Trojan horse. 


Normal human cells do not have rhamnose receptors. Normal human cells are not affected by BEC5. Skin cancer cells have rhamnose receptors on their cell wall, which is why Dr. Cham has used BEC5 to successfully treat squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas. What causes normal human cells to become cancerous and produce rhamnose receptors? Rhamnose receptors are found on plant cells and fungal cells. Further studies have shown the existence of rhamnose receptors on other human cancers including breast, colon, bladder and ovarian cancer cell lines. A fungal/human hybrid cell? You tell me.


Certain mycotoxins have the ability to cause cancer in humans and animals. The National Library of Medicine/National Institute of Health website states that certain mushrooms (fungi) and aflatoxin are known causes of cancer in humans. Aflatoxin is a common mycotoxin found in peanuts, corn and wheat.  


Can an anti-fungal medication cure cancer? Dr. A. Costantini reports that this is possible and more recently in 1999, Dr. Karhaus of the Hanover Medical School in Germany reported that three patients were successfully cured of leukemia when they were given a cocktail of three anti-fungal medications (amphotericin B, liposomal amphotericin B and Diflucan). The anti-fungals were given to treat secondary fungal infections.  


So how do I treat patients with cancer? Not surprisingly, the core treatment is the same as for those with chronic fungal disease. Over time, I have come to recognize certain recurrent patterns. Every person is different, but there seem to be some constants: Patients with cancer usually have decreased immune function as a result of dysbiosis/ chronic fungal overgrowth of the gastrointestinal tract. This results in the following: Relative or definitive vitamin deficiencies as a result of malabsorption, chronic inflammation, low thyroid metabolism.


The risk of developing many types of cancer can be reduced by practicing healthy lifestyle habits, such as eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise (3) That last sentence was taken from the National Cancer Institute official website. Doug has been saying this for years. So have I. Why isn’t this common knowledge? Why are cancer patients told not to worry about their diets?


Mr. October gets it. He understands that removal of his colon cancer tumor does not guarantee that he will remain cancer free without prevention. Mr. October will need to be on some form of the anti-fungal diet for the rest of his life. I have prescribed another round of prescription anti-fungals to be followed by natural anti-fungals and probiotics. I have also recommended that he continue the prescription thyroid medication.


I hope that the above information will pique your interest to learn more about the fungal link to cancer. I would need to write a book. That has already been done by Doug Kaufmann. I recommend the following books for more information:


The Germ that Causes Cancer by Doug Kaufmann

FUNGALBIONICS: The Fungal/Mycotoxin Etiology of Human Disease by A.V. Costantini, M.D., H.Wieland, M.D. and Lars Qvick, M.D.


Blessings from the Piney Woods,

Lynn Jennings, M.D. Cancer Cells “Reprogram” Energy Needs to Grow and Spread, Study Suggests.  05/07/2007




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