[ed. note: Michael Jorrin, who I call Doc Gumshoe, is a longtime medical writer (not a doctor) who writes for us about medicine and health a couple times a month. He has agreed to our trading and disclosure restrictions, but does not generally write directly about investment ideas. His ideas, thoughts and words are his own, and you can see all his past pieces here.]
The last time Brad Lemley entered our line of sight, he was promoting something he called “The Apostle’s Protocol.” He headlined his spiel with the phrase “Jesus’ Lost Words,” which he told us that we wouldn’t find in the Bible, but which were in an ancient manuscript which had been found in a cave in Egypt in 1945. The particular medical miracle found in this holy ancient screed had the power to cure Alzheimer’s disease in as little as four days. There was a Doc Gumshoe post about “The Apostle’s Protocol” and one other equally holy packet of miracles in June of last year, titled “Yet More Miracle Cures from On High.”
This time the figure Brad Lemley summons up to give prestige and authority to his claims is Dr Otto Warburg, who genuinely was a distinguished Nobel Prize-winning scientist in the 1930s. Lemley’s claim is that Dr Warburg was working under the direct orders of Adolph Hitler, who made an exception for Warburg and did not send him to the gas chambers despite his un-Aryan ethnicity, but required him to continue working on his secret cure for cancer.
For your astonishment (or maybe entertainment), here’s how Lemley presents it:
“In 1944, a German scientist performing cancer research for Hitler made an incredible discovery …
DID THE NAZIS BURY A TRUE CURE FOR CANCER?
FOUND: A PRICELESS WAR RELIC COVERED UP BY OUR U. S. GOVERNMENT FOR 70 YEARS!
Please be warned: The story you’re about to hear was DENIED by our own United States government…
In fact, there is evidence that suggests it has been covered up since the end of the Second World War. Until today…
Even as I speak to you now, certain powerful parties have a vested interest in keeping this information hidden…
…and I fully expect this video to be removed from the Internet in the next 24 hours.”
That’s’ the kind of guff that’s meant to get readers to hurry up and opt in to whatever Lemley is hyping. But then Lemley does go on (eventually) to identify the source of this cure for cancer as Dr Warburg, who propounded the theory that the single cause of cancer was a change in the way the mitochondria in some cells metabolized glucose. In most cells, glucose is metabolized by oxidation, but in some cells glucose can undergo anaerobic metabolism, i.e., without oxygen. It is those cells that become cancerous, according to Dr Warburg’s research. His belief was that all one had to do to prevent the development of cancer cells was cut off the glucose supply to those errant mitochondria. Accomplishing this is, unfortunately for those who subscribe to Warburg’s credo, well-nigh impossible. That’s because, regardless of whether we consume sugar or carbohydrates, we convert a great part of whatever goes in our stomachs into glucose, which is the prime energy source, not only for those perverted little mitochondria in cancerous cells, but for all the cells in our bodies.
Warburg knew this, but he thought that cancer could be controlled by decreasing blood glucose levels. As cancer research progressed, and the evidence mounted that a considerable number of other factors could cause cancer, Warburg persisted in the belief that his theory was the only fundamental explanation and that the later evidence was nothing more than a distraction from the essential truth that glucose was the cause.
Lemley does not go into this, of course. He stays right with Dr Warburg in 1944 and disregards the 70-plus years of research that have not only failed to back up Warburg’s theory, but resulted in much greater understanding of the way cancers originate, evade our immune system, and metastasize. And, along the way, this research has resulted in treatment protocols which, even though they do not originate in recently-unearthed sacred screeds or underground secrets, have had important and beneficial results for millions of patients. But more of that later on.
Having asserted that Warburg’s cancer cure was definitely all anybody needed to know about how to defeat cancer once and for all, he goes on to other claims, viz:
“… every detail on how you can use this cancer miracle for yourself and your family is now available in a FREE book called The Secrets of Underground Medicine…
And, in addition to full details on the Warburg cancer miracle, this 510-page free book also contains full, PROVEN underground disease therapies like…
How a revolutionary “food solution” can now REVERSE full-blown diabetes… in as little as 8 days?! (page 415)
How an all-natural arthritis wonder can actually REGROW healthy, young, pain-free joints. (page 295)
How a simple nutrient your doctor doesn’t know… can SAVE YOU from a deadly heart attack, build “bones of steel” and even fight off prostate cancer…
It’s called “Nutrient K” and there’s an 80% chance you are deficient right now… (find out on page 54)
Or how the incredible “Methuselah Diet” has already extended animal lifespans by an additional 83%… could it work to add 60 years to YOUR life?! (page 407)”
Here Lemley is touting some of the other miracle cures in his book. These will turn out to be the same or similar to the ones he talks about in his other books. And, as with those other miracle cures, it’s likely that there’s at least a modicum of fact behind some of them.
What is Nutrient K?
Nutrient K is pretty sure to be Vitamin K, which has been known for more than 80 years as essential to the coagulation of blood. It was initially termed koagulationsvitamin in German, thus Vitamin K. There are at least two forms of Vitamin K, K1 and K2. The former, Vitamin K1, is abundant in most green leafy vegetables, including kale (which I assiduously avoid, because it tastes – to me, anyway – like eating plastic), but also spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens, and several others, all of which I like quite a bit. The latter, Vitamin K2, is present in eggs, meat, and in many proteins. (A third form, Vitamin K3, or menadione, is not considered to be a bona fide vitamin and has no known physiologic role.) In addition, bacteria in our intestines generate Vitamin K. So it is very rare for people to have a Vitamin K deficiency, although some diseases can prevent the body from absorbing Vitamin K, and several medications can decrease Vitamin K absorption. In many developed countries, all newborns receive injections of Vitamin K to reduce the chance of bleeding, which, although quite rare, is definitely dangerous.
Vitamin K is also an essential bone-building vitamin; osteoporosis has sometimes been found to be associated with low levels of Vitamin K. And recent research also suggests a link between Vitamin K and a group of proteins collectively termed glutamic acid (Gla) proteins, which have a range of physiologic roles, one of which is related to the control of deposition of calcium in the arteries. Unchecked, arterial calcification leads to sclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, associated, as we know, with several cardiovascular conditions. Vitamin K deficiency may lead to reduced activity in those Gla proteins and increased arterial calcification.
Proponents of Vitamin K supplementation also point to possible links between Vitamin K deficiencies and other diseases, such as type 2 diabetes (T2DM) and cancer. In fact, they even cite studies comparing levels of risk in cohorts with the highest versus lowest levels of Vitamin K, e.g., for all-cause mortality, a 36% relative risk reduction; for cancer, a 46% relative risk reduction; for coronary heart disease mortality, a 57% relative risk reduction; for T2DM, a 51% risk reduction.
I have not checked these studies, but my skepticism index is stratospheric. May I point out that nowhere was it asserted that these relative risk reductions were achieved by increasing the Vitamin K levels in a group of patients, whether through diet or supplementation – just that, observationally, patients with the higher Vitamin K levels were found to be at lower risk for those outcomes. Since Vitamin K is abundantly available in a healthy diet (green leafy vegetables and proteins) we do not know whether the comparison is between individuals on a healthy diet and those who subsist on soda pop and pizza. And, most important, we do not know what the absolute levels of risk in these specific cohorts were.
We need to remember the famous (or should I say infamous) presentation of the Women’s Health Initiative, in which it was reported that women taking hormone replacement therapy had a 23% increase in the relative risk of a heart attack compared with women not taking HRT. This was based on a really tiny increase in the absolute risk. The MI rate for women on HRT was 37 per 10,000 patient-years, whereas the risk in patients taking placebo was 30 per 10,000 patient years. That’s a difference in absolute risk of less than 0.1%. But it was proclaimed as an increase in relative risk of 23%: 7 on a base of 30 rather than 7 per 10,000 patient years. So my guess is that those relative risk reductions, while perhaps mathematically correct, are hugely overstated in practical terms.
All this said, the benefits of Vitamin K do appear to be real. Whether this extends to Vitamin K supplementation for most people is another question altogether. As I said earlier, I eat plenty of leafy greens (except for kale), along with a reasonable amount of protein, so I do not think I’m likely to be Vitamin K-deficient. However, you can bet that Brad Lemley would be quite definite in his opinion that I do not get enough of what he calls Nutrient K. He says that cattle, which were formerly fed sufficient amounts of the Nutrient K-containing leafy greens, no longer get that same healthy feed and consequently beef from such malnourished cattle is deficient in that miraculous stuff. So the inescapable fact is that I need Nutrient K supplements.
If there were robust data that Vitamin K supplementation actually led to decreased risk for T2DM, cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, etc., it might be reasonable to include an assay for Vitamin K as part of a complete blood count, which currently includes measurement of Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D. And, by the way, Vitamin K supplements basically consist of liquid chlorophyll.
… and what about the “all-natural arthritis wonder?”
That one is called CLG9. This is actually real, and has been reported to deliver some benefit in arthritic joints. The technique consists of creating a sort of support base or scaffold for growing new cartilage and then inserting the new cartilage, growing on its scaffold, into the joint where the cartilage has been eroded or destroyed. The surgery is highly complex and is limited in its application to patients whose joint damage is only to cartilage and does not affect the surface of the joint itself. A small clinical trial reported that the CLG9 strategy worked somewhat better than a previous method of attempting to grow new cartilage, called microfracture surgery, which entails drilling tiny holes in the bone adjacent to damaged cartilage to facilitate blood flow and nourish cartilage growth. In other words, if the cartilage in our knees is damaged, holes are drilled into our kneecaps to supply the cartilage with nutrients. As it happens, CLG9 also employs microfracture surgery in conjunction with implanting the cartilage on the scaffold. I don’t see CLG9 as being secret or miraculous, nor do I think it will have wide application.
Lemley informs us that he’s letting us in on a number of secrets that powerful forces are in league to suppress, for ignoble reasons – not only a sure-fire cure for cancer, but also cures for diabetes, arthritis, and just about whatever ails us. But he warns that you, the exceedingly fortunate person to whom he is offering these miraculous cures, must act really quickly, because hidden forces are likely to suppress his priceless offer.
“Did you know the cost of chemotherapy for cancer can run as high as $65,000 per MONTH?!
And that’s EXACTLY why the pharmaceutical industry has a very clear interest in denying a true cancer therapy that requires no chemotherapy drugs at all…
They’re not alone.
You see, the trillion-dollar “Big Pharma” industry has a very willing partner in crime…
Our own United States government.
You see… in our government’s Food & Drug Administration (FDA), Big Pharma has a devoted little lap dog who follows commands at will…
Because Big Pharma OWNS the FDA.”
Well, yes. That’s the conspiracy, which Lemley is exposing. All you have to do to get his three books is subscribe to his newsletter.
“And this gift is absolutely FREE when you agree to give my Natural Health Response newsletter a try today.
“All we ask is a small contribution to cover printing and mailing your monthly issues.”
Don’t know how much the newsletter costs, but of course, as he hints in his spiel, he can tell you his “favorite sources” for these various miracle cures, including the one that’s supposed to increase your life-span by 83%. For sure, that’s where he makes his money.
A slight shift in focus
A common theme in miracle cure promotions, in addition to the conspiracy theory that Big Pharma and the FDA are about to take evil action against Lemley and his fellows, is that mainstream medical care has failed utterly in its efforts to treat cancer.
Here’s Lemley’s spiel:
“…despite all the “advances” of modern medicine, we’ve made very little progress in improving cancer mortality rates.
The reality is… cancer will likely kill more than 600,000 Americans this year….
And based on current trends, cancer will soon pass heart disease as the leading cause of death in America….
And the truth is, “modern medicine” has NO IDEA how to cure cancer once it starts…
They’re completely clueless.
And so cancer patients face a horrible future of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery… before they die.
Lemley is more or less correct when he says that cancer will likely kill more than 600,000 Americans this year. This came from a report from the American Cancer Society that was published on January 5th of this year.
What he does not say is that according to that same report, the cancer death rate has been falling steadily at about 1.5% per year since 1991. If cancer mortality had remained the same, about two million more Americans would have died of cancer in the past quarter century. A large part of this decrease in cancer mortality took place in men, due largely to fewer prostate, lung, and colorectal cancers. And this was almost certainly due to a widespread decline in smoking, as well as to an increase in PSA testing, leading to earlier detection and treatment of prostate cancer. (The decline in smoking was greater in men; women had smoked less to begin with.) Breast and endometrial cancers, the principal cancers in women, were more or less unchanged.
However, another set of factors comes into play here. Here are some mortality data for the year 2014, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Total deaths in the US 2,628,418 Heart disease 614,348 Cancer 591,699
Lemley is correct in saying that cancer will probably soon pass heart disease as the leading cause of death in the US. But that won’t be because cancer death rates are increasing. It will be because heart disease death rates are declining even faster than cancer death rates.
According to the NIH, yearly heart disease mortality declined from 307.4 per 100,000 population in 1950 to 134.6 per 100,000 in 1999, and it has continued to decline steeply since then. For example, in my home state of Connecticut, mortality from heart attacks was 66.6 per 100,000 in 1999 and 41.5 in 2006. The American Heart Association calculates that if the heart disease mortality rate had remained at its peak, 621,000 additional heart disease deaths would have taken place annually from about 1996 onward – that’s almost 10 million people. But those folks who escape dying of heart attacks don’t live forever – lots of them survive to succumb to something else, frequently the big C.
And yet another factor to consider. Cancer is a disease that mostly affects older folks. In the days when very few of us lived much past the age of 30, cancer wasn’t a significant cause of death. People died of famine, pestilence, war, and routine accidents. But we’re definitely becoming a society of seniors. Here’s the US life expectancy figures for the past century or so:
Birth Year Men Women 1900 46.3 48.3 1925 57.6 60.6 1950 65.6 71.1 1975 69.1 76.8 1998 73.8 79.5 2014 76.4 81.2
Those are really big increases in life expectancy – about 67% for men and 68% for women. And with those increases come big changes in the diseases that we have to guard against. We no longer worry much about leprosy or bubonic plague, but Alzheimer’s disease has become a major concern. And, of course, cancer.
Where should we be looking for answers?
No cancer is truly benign, but not all cancers are equally malignant. Here are the most recent fatality rates for the most common cancers:
Site Current fatality rate Prostate 11.7% Skin (melanoma) 12% Breast 17.4% Lymphoma 25.4% Colon/rectum 36% Leukemia 49.6% Ovary 69.5% Liver 71.6% Pancreas 85.1%
It is somewhat misleading to characterize pancreatic cancer as intrinsically seven times more malignant than prostate cancer, or liver cancer as six times more malignant than melanoma. An important difference between these cancers is that the ones with the lowest fatality rates – prostate, melanoma, and breast cancer – are relatively easy to detect, while ovarian, liver, and pancreatic cancers are frequently detected only at the point where treatment becomes exceedingly difficult.
This points to the strategy that has been emphasized by the medical organizations and public health authorities for many years, namely early detection. But, as you’ve read in previous Doc Gumshoe sermons, the U. S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has taken shots at the tests that have been most effective in the early detection of prostate cancer and breast cancer, which are respectively the most common cancers in men and in women. The USPSTF has opposed both prostate cancer screening via the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and breast cancer screening by means of mammograms in women under the age of 50. I believe both of those USPSTF recommendations were profoundly misguided and harmful, and I have pointed to recent increases in metastatic prostate cancer as being in part due to a reduction in PSA screening, and thus, an increase in the number of missed prostate cancer diagnoses at the earliest possible point.
The next frontier in early detection?
Admittedly, the PSA test is far from perfect, and diagnostic tools for early detection of other cancers tend to be more complex, expensive, and/or invasive, as well as not ideally sensitive and specific. This has led to an upsurge of interest in new diagnostic devices that are loosely grouped as “cancer tests on a chip” or “point-of-care diagnostics.”
The premise for these tests is that as cancers develop, and particularly as they metastasize, some cancer cells are present in the bloodstream, although in miniscule numbers. In the past, it has not been possible to detect cancer cells in the bloodstream simply because there were too few to detect by the assays that were then available. It now appears that nanotechnology may make it possible to capture tumor cells by labeling nanometer-sized traps with antibodies to specific cancer strains. The objective is to be able to take a very small blood sample from a patient and place it on a chip which is equipped with the antibody-labeled nanoparticles. The technique is termed “microfluidic diagnostics,” and it has become quite trendy. It may make it possible not only to get a quick yes/no answer to the question whether there are cancer cells present, but a more detailed answer as to the specific genetic characteristics of the cancer, which can then provide a clue as to the cancer’s site.
Travis recently sniffed out the identity of an outfit that was being touted as having a possible cure for cancer, employing gold nanoparticles. The pitch was headlined “Starting in 2017, a radical new gold-based oncology protocol could make cancer up to 96% survivable…” He identified the company being hyped as Opko, which has a couple of diagnostic devices targeting prostate cancer. One, the 4KScore device, promises to yield more detailed information on the cancer itself, presumably relating to how aggressive it is. The one that’s ready to go is the Claros 1, which provides PSA results in about ten minutes.
(By the way, regarding the claim that this new protocol could make cancer 96% survivable, according to the American Cancer Society, the 15-year survival rate for men who have a radical prostatectomy is already 95%.)
But diagnosis of any disease inevitably leads to the next question: what do we do now? Tumor cells floating around in the bloodstream may be signs of a clear and present danger: a cancer is present, and those tumor cells may be on the way to taking root somewhere else in the body. Which is to say, the cancer may metastasize. On the other hand, an isolated tumor cell might just as easily be gobbled up by one of the many cells in our immune system that destroy cancer cells every day. It may not be going anywhere.
Where point-of-care diagnostics could make a huge difference is in the early detection of those cancers which currently have a high fatality rate – ovarian, liver, pancreatic. There does appear to be optimistic news on that front. Researchers at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute have developed a microfluidics device that uses carbon nanotubes, each labeled with antibodies to a specific type of cancer. The device has an array of 170 wells with the carbon nanotubes, which can function as semiconductors, and emit a signal when a cancer cell has linked to antibody. Theoretically at least, a single device of that type could identify a large number of different cancers, including the different types of breast cancer. It might also be able to identify cancers that were becoming metastatic.
But it doesn’t do to be too optimistic. Even though early detection has been highly successful in bringing down cancer mortality, there are clearly Forces Abroad that won’t want to see broad adoption of devices that give patients an instant answer to that worrying question, “Do I have cancer?” Most doctors could probably be counted on to give extremely careful and measured answers. At the same time, most patients, upon getting the tiniest hint that the answer could be “yes,” would insist on moving to the next step, whatever that might be. The consequences to the health-care system could be overwhelming, as could the costs.
Early detection/prevention strategies do exist for some of the more difficult-to-treat cancers, but they tend to be underused. For example, colonoscopies reduce the incidence of colorectal cancer by 57%, according to one study, and also reduce the mortality from colorectal cancer by 61%. But the percentage of US adults who have colonoscopies is difficult to pinpoint. Not quite 60% have sigmoidoscopies, which examine only the descending section of the colon, and therefore can fail to detect a significant number of polyps, which may eventually mature into cancers.
Ultrasound is reported to detect about 65% of ovarian cancers, but in the absence of symptoms, relatively few women opt to have ovarian ultrasound. It is a non-invasive outpatient procedure that some women who might be at elevated risk for ovarian cancer might consider.
Where does Doc Gumshoe come out on these questions?
I don’t want to come down too hard on people who have faith in miracle cures.
(Please note that I’m using the term “miracle cure” as shorthand for the entire panoply of supplements, whether they are promoted as “miracle cures” or merely as aids to health.) The alternatives are apt to be complicated and in some cases unpleasant diagnostic procedures, followed by treatments that some people will characterize as “worse than the disease.” But the miracle-cure promoters willfully ignore the very real progress that has been made in cancer care – that 1.5% annual decrease in the number of cancer deaths since 1991, despite the really huge number of people who are now not dying of heart disease.
It’s entirely understandable that a person who is facing difficult and expensive treatment might first try a miracle cure on the chance that it might work. Or that a person who has undergone a course of treatment without success might then turn to a miracle cure.
What is not understandable is when an intelligent person chooses a “miracle cure” in preference to a treatment modality that has an established – although not perfect – record of success. We know of a woman who chose “the healing rays of the sun” in preference to standard treatment for her breast cancer. I am sorry to report that the sun’s rays did not live up to her expectations.
My argument with the promoters of “miracle cures” is that they encourage this type of behavior.
* * * * * * * *
A Gumshoe denizen recently suggested that I look into a promotion coming from Dr Al Sears, and I will do so, after I’ve dealt with a lot of the debris from my in-box (lots of recent stuff that you might be interested in). But I want to let him know that we’ve run across Al Sears in the past, and delved into his favorite “miracle cure,” (which is curcumin) in a piece called Somewhere Between “The Next Aspirin” and “An Ingredient in Curry.” Best to all, Michael Jorrin (aka Doc Gumshoe).