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University of Colorado School of Medicine
 

Cancer


 
When you hit a growth spurt does that mean that the promoter switch is ‘on’ for a period of time and then goes back ‘off’?

Well, the promoters work at a cell-by-cell level, so it is hard to answer this. But in general, about a hundred genes are involved in growth, that is, direct signaling to the cell to divide. Some of these are growth genes and some, anti-growth; so the progress is carefully regulated. Any of these can get abnormally turned on or off in cancer cells. In dividing cells, as in a rapidly-growing child, more of the ‘on’ genes are active, yes.

It seems that for many effects (causes) of cancer we don’t have the “why”. Is this a hamper to counter methods?

Absolutely. But when JJC was in medical school he was told, “We’ll never be able to treat cancer until we can understand what causes it.” Now in most cases we do know what causes it, or at least what genes get abnormally activated. But we’re really just at the beginning of designing new treatments based on the new knowledge. Stay tuned, exciting things are coming.

Yes, this question has been fermenting here awhile... The last lecture mentioned avoiding fermented foods to decrease cancer risks. Would you give examples please? Yogurt? Miso? Tempeh? Kefir? cheeses? Does the pickled include things like the ginger one gets at Asian restaurants and regular pickles too? Thanks for your good info!

The people who warn about fermented foods are, for the most part, talking about ‘natural’ or ‘wild’ fermenting, which usually involves bacteria instead of, or as well as, yeast. The yeasts we use for foods like beer and bread are so genetically modified after millennia of use that they seem to just do the one job, and not make too much in the way of awkward, maybe dangerous, metabolites. So it looks like cheeses (but maybe not some of the very stinky artisanal ones), beers (maybe less so the Belgian wild-fermented beers), tofu (but Chinese ‘stinky tofu'??) are OK. The milk products use special lactobacillus cultures and are apparently completely safe.

How does grapefruit interfere with medications? Grapefruit seed/peel concentrate has been used for infections. How does this work and is it related to the interference problem of grapefruit with some medications?

Grapefruit contains a chemical that if metabolized by the same cytochrome in liver that handles many drugs. Because it binds to the cytochrome, it reduces its activity, and drugs therefore may get to higher levels than anticipated, which could be dangerous sometimes. I doubt that that is the mechanism that alternative drug-makers have in mind when they make extracts etc. Remember, has been used is not the same as has been shown to be effective.

Is it known how Echinacea works to promote immunity function?

Almost all studies with herbals are done in the test tube, not in animals or patients. Lots of things work in the test tube, as all the big drug companies know, but only a tiny fraction of them will make it through all the testing that would be required to make them into drugs. Since herbals are considered food supplements, they need no testing for safety or efficacy to be sold to (sometimes gullible) people. In one study, the researchers found that none of three preparations of E. angustifolia at the 900 mg per day dose had significant effects on whether volunteers became infected with the cold virus or on the severity or duration of symptoms among those who developed colds. However, critics of this study believe the dose of E. angustifolia used was too low. NCCAM (NIH) will continue to support research on Echinacea. A number of preclinical, Phase I, and Phase II studies of Echinacea products are currently under way. This research is being done both because of the public health burden of the common cold and the public's widespread use of this natural product. A recent survey of complementary and alternative medicine use by adults in the United States found that, among those who reported using natural products, Echinacea was the most commonly used.

I have "Thymic Protein A" by ProBoost. It is a powder that you dissolve under your tongue before swallowing in order to prevent the problem of digesting the protein. Do you think this would be effective in eliminating that problem of administration?

No, we don't absorb very much orally. But be a little careful; some protein can be absorbed in the mouth, and if you are allergic to it (or a cross-reacting substance) you may get ‘oral allergy syndrome.’

In Class 8, you mentioned problems with fermented foods. Because of problems with Candida, I limit the amount of sugar and fermented food I eat. I know that "Red Yeast Rice" comes from the fermentation of a strain of yeast on rice. I have been taking this daily to help lower cholesterol. Is this just adding to the problem of Candida?

Probably not; the two organisms are not related. But red yeast rice is said to contain a chemical similar to lovastatin, the cholesterol-lowering drug, and the FDA is considering regulating it. Here is from About.com: "Red yeast rice products have been found to contain citrinin, a toxic by-product of the fermentation process. Pregnant or nursing women and children should not use red yeast rice. People with liver disease or at risk for liver disease should not use red yeast rice, as red yeast rice may impair liver function. People with acute infections, kidney disease, or who have had an organ transplant should not use red yeast rice. People taking red yeast rice who develop muscle pain or tenderness should discontinue the product immediately and check with their doctor."