Cachexia – a reinterpretation

Cachexia is an emergency response, not a disease or a dysfunction, as most doctors claim, and certainly not something caused by cancer, as it is common response to about a dozen different degenerative diseases, given the right triggers. Most likely, the body-wide level of certain signals (e.g. lactic acid fermentation gets so high) in all of these degenerative diseases that cachexia is triggered as a response. That is not to say that the successful tumor may not promote cachexia and may not benefit from it – surely the glutamine and alanine released from muscle tissue is good for tumor nutrition. Muscle extensively metabolizes its amino acid pools before releasing them. As a result about 50% of the released amino acids are alanine and glutamine (John T Brosnan, 2003, “Interorgan Amino Acid Transport and Its Regulation”),

PMID:
12771367

both glucogenic, and both taken up by tumor cells, which also benefit from the glucose made from these amino acids.

The body digests its fat cells, supplying fatty acids, which stimulates mitochondrial respiration (helping to reduce lactic acid production), and some nutrients, and the body digests its muscle, which supplies energy and lots of nutrients, as well as amino acids to make higher levels of emergency response proteins, and supplying carbon skeletons for making glucose. This in turn keeps glucose at baseline levels (which reduces lactic acid production), while quenching appetite, which is good because it ordinarily prevents extra sugar consumption (thus reducing lactic acid production as well).

To help the body during cachexia, we need to feed it protein and fat and limit sugar – to jump start mitochondrial respiration and reduce the production of lactic acid. If we give the body what it needs with external calorie sources, it can slow or stop digesting its own fat and muscle. By giving the body what it needs to jump start mitochondrial respiration and more calories than it needs, while limiting sugar, weight gain should reverse the cachexia. Some supplements (fish oil and N-acetyl cysteine) may help reverse the weight loss. Other supplements like a broad spectrum of antioxidants (N-acetyl cysteine [to boost glutathione levels], lipoic acid, CoQ10, vitamin E at usual levels, and vitamin C at a gram an hour during the day [Linus Pauling type doses]) are useful to help mitochondrial respiration of fats without generating so many free radicals that the mitochondrial respiration is inhibited. (mitochondrial respiration of sugar, protein and fats generates some free radicals in the OXPHOS step, particularly in complex I and complex III, but digestion of fats by beta and omega oxidation generate additional free radicals).

Alternative to antioxidant supplements: try to induce the body’s own antioxidant enzyme defenses (the taking of supplements likely interferes with this natural process). But if the natural process is not working well or is no longer sufficiently inducible, broad spectrum antioxidant supplements may be necessary.

Conceivably, adding beta alanine to increase levels of body carnosine. A gram or two is worth trying.

And what about adding PQQ to stimulate the production of new mitochondria?

Fish oil and flax oil help to oxygenate tissues, stimulating mitochondrial respiration, and this oxygenation inhibits the growth of fermenting tumors by the Pasteur effect.

To maximize absorption of the fish oil and flax oil, stir it in well into low fat cottage cheese. I use 1 teaspoon of a 1:! mixture of fish oil and flax oil in half a cup of cottage cheese (compare Johanna Budwig’s protocol – I believe she prefers quark to low fat cottage cheese).

Limiting sugar helps reduce the growth rate of tumors.

If tumor growth can be slowed so that the tumor cell killing rate is greater than the growth rate, the tumor should eventually perish. Non-specific killing of tumor cells is the key. For example, by making them respire when they cannot or cannot safely do so; and by other non-specific mechanisms such as controlled <=105 degree fever induction – specific killing mechanisms will not work as well because of natural selection on highly variegated tumor tissue.

When doctors force feed patients in cachexia, especially sugary foods, they make things worse, including an increase in lactic acid production, and obviate the whole “purpose” of the emergency response. Doctors are breaking the very sugar fast the body is doing in a desperate attempt to save itself by jump starting its mitochondrial respiration.

If the body could induce a carefully controlled fever all on its own, this might be a very good adjunct to cachexia. Together, quite a one two punch in the nose of tumors.

During cachexia, the body is doing what we should have been doing periodically long before we got into a degenerative metabolic condition that triggers cachexia  – avoiding man-made foods that are high in both added sugar and added fat, periodic fasting (no calories and no nutrients, just water, if that) and periodic severely limiting glucose intake, and doing everything and anything (including regular aerobic exercise like walking) to prevent the degenerative development of incomplete sugar metabolism, that is, the widespread or even body-wide production of lactic acid from glucose, and the impairment of mitochondrial function.

In the case of cancer: If cachexia worked, some tumor cells would starve and others would commit apoptosis because it would not be able to regenerate ATP fast enough to meet its needs, particularly true if it is mitochondrial respiration-impaired, or cannot run mitochondrial respiration without generating so many free radicals that mitochondrial respiration shuts down. Cells in the tumor that are still performing mitochondrial respiration may not actually be aggressive tumor cells. These cells may survive the natural course of cachexia and increase their degree of differentiation, eventually becoming normal.

Add a carefully controlled fever to this and doctors could be “endangering” a person while giving him his best chance at survival: anyone who does not die will get stronger.

Individual immune cells are obligated to kill tumor cells one at a time, a severe limitation. But if the body could reduce the number of tumor cells during cachexia, and stimulate the natural killing of tumor cells by the immune cells (via a mechanism such as fever induction), perhaps the body could win its war on cancer.

Instead, doctors do what they almost always do: interfere with nature, rather than trying to work with nature, to supplement nature.

Alas, even if nature is allowed to take its course, and cachexia is not interfered with, it already too late in almost all cases. Any condition severe enough to trigger cachexia is already nearly in extremis. The fasting and the glucose restriction needed to occur periodically throughout adulthood in order not to land in a state so dire that it demands such a severe and dangerous emergency response.

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