“If you have complex problems, there probably are no simple cost-free solutions to them, because if there were, somebody would have [already] solved them.”
--Michael R. Bloomberg
[Tomas Cowan is a controversial guy, with some (to me) questionable anthroposophic beliefs. But his article on cancer treatment has some fascinating passages, excerpted below]
If you had one word or brief phrase to answer the question, “What causes cancer?” what might it be? You might respond with “emotions,” “toxins,” “fungus,” “stress,” or “bad terrain of the body.” Those are all great answers. But they are not my answer. In my twenty-five years of being a doctor and thinking about food and cancer and health issues for pretty much every day of those twenty-five years, I can say--and I don’t wish to say this in an arrogant way--that I have no doubt in my mind that I know what causes cancer. I have come to the conclusion that I have this one right. My answer in one word is “civilization.”
I’m not the first person to think this way. That is actually the title of one of my favorite books, a book by Vilhjalmur Stefansson called Cancer: Disease of Civilization? (1960). The idea started some time before Stefansson in a lecture given at a Paris medical society in 1842 by Stanislas Tanchou, a physician and one of Napoleon’s surgeons. At that time France was a primary center of science and medicine in the world. You have to remember where we were in the world at that time: it was the era of scientific discovery and manifest destiny; white people were going to conquer and civilize the world and make it safe for Christianity. Against this political backdrop Tanchou in his lecture claimed he could predict the exact incidence of cancer in all the major European cities over the next fifty years, and it was all dependent on the percentage of grain in their diets.
Tanchou’s numbers were all recorded and in time they came exactly true--a certain cancer percentage for Berlin, a certain percentage for Munich, and so on. The cancer incidence all depended on the amount of cereal grains in the diet. This set off a huge furor around the world since the great mission of the age was to civilize every inch of the globe. Here was somebody in a center of civilization who declared that these people who don’t eat grains, who have the more indigenous hunter-gatherer diet, never get cancer.
….I explain...to my patients...that the job of the doctor is to distinguish between the therapy and the illness. What I mean by that is if you get a splinter in your finger, and then your body makes pus to get the splinter out, is the pus the therapy or the disease? We know that pus indicates infection and the presence of microorganisms, and we learned in medical school that doctors should kill the pus. But I don’t think it is that far of a stretch to see that if you have a splinter in your finger, the pus is the therapy for the splinter. If you don’t take the splinter out, the pus will do it for you. If you mistakenly think that the pus is the disease and you destroy the pus, the splinter will stay and your body will attempt this process again. If you destroy the pus again, your body might repeat this process three or four more times. Then you have a chronic infection as the body keeps trying to remove the splinter. Eventually it will either succeed, or it will encapsulate the splinter, which is a tumor, a new growth. It is not a cancerous tumor but a benign cystic tumor of the splinter. The understanding that the pus is the therapy allows you to predict what is going to happen in the future.
Now think of this example. Joe Bloke is a smoker. In other words, he puts a bunch of splinters in his lungs every day. Twice a year Joe gets cough, fever, mucus--all to get the splinters out of his lungs. I prefer to say “cough, fever, mucus” rather than “bronchitis” because the word “bronchitis” separates you from the reality of the situation. His body is producing an inflammatory response--it is making a mucus-pus-fever response to cleanse his lungs of splinters. If Joe goes to a doctor who makes the mistake of thinking that the response is the problem, he will give drugs to stop the bronchitis--which is actually the medicine. So Joe will be left with the splinters. That scenario will happen twice a year for thirty years and then Joe has a big bag of splinters in his lungs, and we call that lung cancer.
We know that epidemiologically every culture that has embarked on aggressive prevention of infectious disease with vaccines and antibiotic treatment has seen infectious diseases diminish, but deaths from cancer increase. Every single one. This paradox is not unknown to the medical profession.
William Coley was a surgeon in New York City at the end of the nineteenth century and the inventor of a cancer therapy called Coley’s Toxins, which was basically just rotting meat. Coley knew of the apparent relationship between infection and cancer regression. His protocol was to inject terminally ill cancer patients with an agent to make them get really sick and produce a fever. Somewhere between 20-40 percent of the terminally ill cancer patients who received this treatment, especially with combinations of Streptococcus and Serratia, went into remission. The treatment produced high fevers for a week, a lot of mucus, and a lot of what we call sickness. It is also undeniably true that the thing we call sickness is the immune response. The bacteria and the viruses don’t actually make us sick. They trigger an immune response and the symptoms which we deem as unpleasant--fever, mucus and so on--those are the response to the foreign situation. With Coley’s Toxins, 20-40 percent of these patients, as written up by the New York Academy of Sciences, went into remission.
Unfortunately, another 20-40 percent died from sepsis; that is, from the therapy, and another 20 percent or so had no response. It was a toxic therapy, or you might say a last ditch effort, but the point remains that the fevers and the pus and the mucus--and the interleukin-2 and the interferon and all these tumor necrosis factors and natural killer cells that constitute our immune response--that is the therapy for cancer. As Hippocrates said, give me a medicine that produces a fever, that provokes an immune response, and I can cure any disease...
Jeff recently discovered this very humorous set of comics: Mathematically Annoying Advertising
An useful-seeming resource for those seeking to heal from LYME disease.
Some local news! Liz Walker writes, “Carlos Fresneda is a colleague who has become a friend, and who deeply admires the progressive and eco-pioneer spirit of Ithaca, and EcoVillage at Ithaca. He has written a blog for El Mundo, which has the largest Spanish speaking coverage in the world. I feel very honored to have my book, Choosing a Sustainable Future:Ideas and Inspiration from Ithaca, NY , be the focus of his article!”
While quite technical, this article undoubtedly imparts important and useful information concerning the role of gut flora in the human immune system. Someday I will read it with careful scrutiny.
Guess what? Pesticides can be terribly toxic things, and according to these researchers, seem to impair kids ability to learn.
Breaking News! It turns out that maybe I'm actually an atheist who believes in god! Or something... Interesting article, anyway. :)
“69,223 bridges – representing more than 11 percent of all U.S. highway bridges – are classified as 'structurally deficient,' requiring significant maintenance, rehabilitation or replacement, according to a new T4 America report released today, The Fix We’re In: The State of Our Nation’s Bridges.
“Those are the facts, and 69,000 bridges sure sounds like a lot, but what does that look like in real terms? Where are these bridges? Does your city or state have a lot of deficient bridges, or does the state do a good job taking care of them? ...”
[Sage sent this, and I'm still intending to finish reading all of it.]
If you don’t care about damage to your reputation, career, or marriage, there is no shortage of April Fools' Day pranks you can pull, such as gluing someone’s handset to his landline phone and then calling him from nearby (anywhere with sight lines to the entire phone getting lifted to his ear) or--a classic--balancing a paper cup of water atop a partially open door. While reasonable people can debate whether the results are hilarious or sophomoric, chances are a disinterested observer would at least crack a smile. Cognitive scientist Matthew Hurley of Indiana University wanted to know why...
Serotonin-lacking male mice not picky about sex of their mates... [Fascinating bit of preliminary research, especially because the majority of the body's serotonin is produced in the gut.]
“Vegetarians, from the other point of view” (an amusing short video).
Rediscovering the 'tastefully rotten' foods of yesteryear.
“...Native peoples of northern Russian and throughout the Arctic have for ages included some partially decomposed foods in their diet.
“One example from the west coast of Alaska is "stink flipper," the paw of a bearded seal buried in the tundra and later retrieved and eaten when it has attained the proper level of rottenness, a measurement learned from experience...”