My Blog Article

2/2/2017

Originally published in Alternatives, February 2016; Used with permission.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in this country, accounting for roughly 22.5 percent of all deaths. It’s just behind heart disease, which accounts for 23.5 percent of deaths.

While heart disease primarily affects the elderly, cancer can touch people of all ages, genders, races, and ethnicities.

Through lifestyle, diet, and exercise habits, we can have a significant influence over our risk of developing heart disease, but with cancer, not as much. It’s true that we can improve our odds by not smoking, exercising more, eating better, and avoiding weight gain and obesity. An estimated 4 out of 10 cases of cancer are linked to lifestyle habits. But “living healthy” is not an ironclad guarantee, by any means, that you won’t end up with some form of cancer.

Not only are there dozens of types of cancer that can affect practically every tissue in the body, there are dozens of causative factors. Environmental toxins in the air, water, and food can trigger cancer, as can ultraviolet light, hormones, radiation, and free radicals. On top of that, we each have our own unique genetic vulnerabilities.

We desperately need more research on how to protect ourselves from cancer using specific diets, foods, supplements, lifestyle habits, relaxation techniques, hormone balancing, detoxification programs, etc.

No major developments

January 2016 marked the 45th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s State of the Union Address (January 22, 1971) when he officially declared war on cancer.

He promised Americans that he would begin “an extensive campaign to find a cure for cancer.” He said, “The time has come in America when the same kind of concentrated effort that split the atom and took man to the moon should be turned toward conquering this dreaded disease.”

It sounded great. After all, just a couple years earlier we had put a man on the moon. The computer language BASIC and the first handheld pocket calculator were introduced. The vaccines for polio and mumps were developed. The first human-to-human heart transplant was successfully performed. In 1971, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was invented and genetic modification of organisms was introduced. It seemed reasonable that, if we really focused on curing cancer, it could be accomplished. But it didn’t happen.

Forty-five years later, the primary treatments for cancer remain surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Granted, with advanced technology, we can often diagnose cancer much earlier. And if a malignant tumor is discovered very early and therapy is started immediately, even if the therapy is worthless, it can appear as though that patient lives longer than another patient who has the same cancer but detected much later.

Statistics about the success of various cancer therapies are confusing to say the least. A partial positive response is defined as shrinkage of the tumor by 50 percent. A complete response means no detectable tumor, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a cure, since many complete responses are transitory. And survival rate is determined by the length of time until half of the patients in a study group die.

Then we have the variable of slow vs. fast-growing forms of cancer, like those of the prostate and breast. Prostate cancer is found in the majority of elderly men, yet only 1 to 2 percent of those men die from it. And if breast cancer is slow growing and hasn’t spread, the survival rate is much greater than after a fast-growing form or one that has metastasized.

As I’ve detailed in the past, the true benefit of prostate and breast cancer screening programs isn’t clear due to overdiagnosis and false positives, which lead to unnecessary treatment.

Men diagnosed with prostate cancer because of a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test are 47 times more likely to get unnecessary biopsies, surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy than they are to extend their lives (N Engl J Med 2009;360(13):1320–8).

And for each woman whose life is saved by mammography, as many as 33 diagnosed with breast cancer from their mammograms receive unnecessary treatment. Study after study has concluded that most women with screen-detected breast cancer have not had their lives saved by screening. Instead they are either diagnosed early (with no effect on their mortality) or overdiagnosed. One study found that, for every 5,000 mammograms given, one life is extended (Arch Intern Med 2011;17(22):2043–6) (J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr 1997;(22):139–43).

A small percentage of cancers can sometimes be cured with chemotherapy or radiation, including testicular cancer, Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukemia, and rare forms of breast and ovarian cancer. And earlier intervention has helped lower the death rate from colorectal cancer. But unfortunately, these make up only a small percentage of the overall cancer incidence.

Additionally, the incidence and death rate of some cancers, such as stomach cancer, have declined dramatically over the last 60 years for unknown reasons. With stomach cancer, it is suspected that changes in our food preservation techniques may be responsible, but we really don’t know.

I wish we knew more about the underlying causes and actual mechanisms of the various forms of cancer. It’s frustrating that since 1971, the National Cancer Institute has spent roughly $120 billion on cancer research with few major developments to show for it. And there are more than 260 different nonprofit organizations with combined annual budgets of over $2 billion dedicated solely to cancer research. (There are more nonprofits dedicated to cancer research than the combined number of organizations established to find cures for AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart disease.)

I can tell you from personal experience that it’s almost impossible for a cancer researcher who thinks outside the box to receive government funding. It can take years and a small army of individuals constantly completing mountains of paperwork to receive funding.

Nature-based therapies practically have no chance. And to have any hope of receiving funds, a researcher all but has to prove – before getting the funding – that his or her efforts will be successful. As such, the research continues to focus on minor variations and/or tweaks of the same types of treatments that have been used for decades.

Fermented wheat germ

Fortunately, in addition to incorporating the few known preventative measures, there are some natural compounds that can be used, either on their own or in combination with conventional therapies, to deal with cancer.

I learned about one such compound in the early 2000s while commuting back and forth to Australia. At that time, I was approached by a Hungarian man living in Australia. He wanted to tell the world about a “miracle” that saved his wife from fatal breast cancer. Without much success, he had been phoning doctors all over that country trying to explain to them how they could save the lives of other cancer patients simply by using this “Hungarian powder.”

When he approached me, he wanted money to purchase a motor home so he could travel and give free seminars to the public and cancer specialists on this lifesaving therapy. It took me a while to convince him that, without any scientific or medical background (he was actually quite a famous soccer player and coach in his native Hungary), his efforts would probably be in vain. In fact, he might even end up in jail for practicing medicine without a license.

After several meetings with him and his wife, I was totally convinced of their sincerity and began the long and tedious process of investigating this miraculous (but really foul-tasting) powder. The story became even more intriguing when I learned that the product was linked to the late Hungarian biochemist Albert Szent-Györgyi.

Dr. Szent-Györgyi was a Noble Laureate in 1937 for his discovery of vitamin C. He also described the process of cellular metabolism, referred to as the Szent-Györgyi/Krebs cycle (but better known to most of us as the Krebs cycle).

After World War I, Dr. Szent-Györgyi became interested in finding a cure for cancer, and his desire became even greater after losing his daughter and wife to the disease. Based on his unique knowledge of cellular metabolism, he theorized that natural compounds called quinones could help normalize the uncontrolled metabolism and rampant cell division characteristic of cancer. He used wheat germ as a potent source of quinones and found he could concentrate the quinones even further through fermentation using baker’s yeast.

It was Dr. Szent-Györgyi who first realized the cancer-fighting effects of wheat. In 1983, he published a paper in which he observed that certain flavones in the germ of the wheat grain have strong anti-cancer properties. See “Flavones activate detoxifying compounds like quinones,” (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 1983;80(1):129–32).

A year later, in 1984, he noted that the cancer-fighting characteristics he’d observed were not like those associated with chemotherapy. Instead they were more associated with “a cellular metabolic process.” In his words they “...appeared to be associated with an inability of the cancer to replicate, rather than in their being destroyed directly.”

In other words, Dr. Szent-Györgyi saw cancer cells stop growing, but not because chemicals were destroying them, as is the case with chemotherapy. Rather, he observed cancer cells “starving,” without any of the horrendous side effects linked with chemotherapy.

His initial work was very promising, but he ran out of money and refused to accept government funding for fear it would restrict his ability to report his discoveries. Sadly, he passed away in 1986 without finishing his research.

Dr. Szent-Györgyi’s torch was taken up in the early 1990s, when the fall of communism opened the door for more freedom in scientific research. Hungarian scientists followed up on his original work and produced the first wheat germ extract for human consumption. The product was called Avé, or Avemar. There’s a great deal of scientific research on how it can be beneficial in the treatment of a wide variety of cancers.

Promising research

After my initial article on Avé, I quickly began to receive positive reports from both patients and doctors. American BioSciences, the maker of Avé, continued to refine and improve the product, which is now called AvéULTRA. But even before its introduction into the US, it was a well-known natural cancer therapy throughout Europe and had some incredible research demonstrating its effectiveness.

For instance, a study published in 2003 found that colorectal cancer patients who used fermented wheat germ extract, in combination with their conventional cancer therapy, experienced an additional 82 percent decrease in tumor recurrences, a 67 percent reduction in metastasis, and a 62 percent reduction in deaths compared to those who received conventional therapy alone (Br J Cancer 2003;89(3):465–89).

Another study published in 2006 found that patients with oral cavity cancer who took fermented wheat germ extract experienced only a 4.5 percent incidence of cancer recurrence at the original site, compared to a 57.1 percent recurrence in those who did not take it. Also, the group using fermented wheat germ extract only had disease progression of 9.1 percent in contrast to 61.9 percent in the control group. The researchers determined that adding fermented wheat germ extract to the treatment program reduced the overall progression of the cancer by 85 percent (Orv Hetil 2006;147(35):1709–11).

However, it was a study published in 2008 on patients with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, that showed some of the most significant results.

In this study, stage III melanoma patients who, because of the advanced state of their disease, had very few treatment options, were split into two groups. The control group received chemotherapy alone, while the treatment group received chemotherapy plus fermented wheat germ extract for one year. Those taking fermented wheat germ extract increased their survival rate by 50 percent and doubled the time they remained cancer free compared to the control group. Considering how deadly stage III melanoma is, these results were amazing (Cancer Biother Radiopharm 2008;23(4):477–82).

There is yet another study worth mentioning, even though it was conducted on mice. It’s significant not just because of the results but also because the findings were presented at the world’s largest gathering of conventional cancer physicians and researchers. It is unusual for natural therapies to gain recognition with mainstream doctors, but fermented wheat germ extract accomplished this when the study was presented at the 2008 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting.

In this study, fermented wheat germ extract inhibited breast cancer growth in mice better than the world’s three leading hormone therapies: tamoxifen, exemestane, and anastrozole.

Anti-estrogen drugs are used:

  1. to treat 75 percent of breast cancers whose growth is driven by the female hormone estrogen;
  2. to lower the risk of recurrence in women treated for estrogen-sensitive breast cancers;
  3. and/or in women who are at high risk of developing breast cancer because of genetic factors.

The study data showed none of the hormone therapies were as efficacious as fermented wheat germ extract alone. And when it was combined with each of the hormones, tumor growth inhibition exceeded that of the hormone therapies alone.

Fermented wheat germ extract also inhibited by 50 percent the growth of breast tumor types that are not dependent on estrogen – something none of the three hormone therapies in the study have been shown to do. This is further evidence that fermented wheat germ extract works in a manner that affects almost all types of cancer (J Clin Oncol 2007; ASCO Annual Meeting Proceedings Vol 25,18S(June 20 Suppl),2007:21132).

There are now more than 50 published studies on fermented wheat germ extract. Just about every one of these studies shows that this all-natural extract can slow or stop the growth of almost every form of cancer. Based on the ever-growing amount of research, there’s no reason fermented wheat germ extract shouldn’t be used with every single cancer patient, regardless of the type of therapy they are undergoing.

In September of 2009, another monumental step in the evolution of fermented wheat germ extract began. Dr. James Watson invited American BioSciences to visit his laboratory in Cold Spring Harbor, NY. If Dr. James Watson sounds familiar, it’s probably because he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962 along with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins for their discovery of the structure of DNA.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory was founded in 1890 and is known as one of the preeminent international research institutions in the world. Since the turn of the 20th century, the laboratory has been at the forefront of genetics and cancer research.

Dr. Watson was intrigued by Dr. Szent-Györgyi’s early research on the effects of fermented wheat germ extract on cancer cell growth. However, he wasn’t aware that Dr. Mate Hidvegi in Hungary had continued the research or that American BioSciences had already made a sophisticated version of Dr. Szent-Györgyi’s crude extract. Nor did he realize this product had proven to be successful in helping to treat patients around the world.

Dr. Watson would not be convinced of the anti-cancer properties of fermented wheat germ extract until he could prove them himself. Therefore, a multiyear collaboration between Dr. Watson’s laboratory and American BioSciences began in October of 2009. Their goal was to retest fermented wheat germ extract’s influence on cancer cells, and then find and isolate the active components.

Within the first year, basic testing confirmed the cancer-inhibiting actions. It not only revealed that fermented wheat germ extract stops the growth of cancer, but also that the response was consistent, regardless of the type of cancer. The extract’s unique ability was related to the fact that almost all cancer utilizes glucose for energy in the same way.

The Warburg Effect

The most accurate explanation of why cancer cells multiply/grow so rapidly compared to normal cells was given by a German biochemist named Otto Warburg in the 1930s. His Nobel Prize-winning theory, known as the “Warburg Effect,” describes how cancer cells utilize glucose at 10 to 50 times the rate of normal, healthy cells.

Healthy cellular metabolism involves the conversion of glucose with oxygen into a molecule called ATP, which fuels the function of healthy cells. When a cell has lived its normal lifespan, it simply “flips a switch” and dies, making room for a new, healthy cell. This is a natural, normal process called apoptosis.

Cancer cells don’t know how to “flip the switch” and kill themselves. They continue to multiply out of control, using almost all glucose and no oxygen to fuel their growth. If you have ever heard the saying “sugar feeds cancer,” this is where it comes from. However, it’s not table sugar, but glucose, that feeds cancer cells.

Research at UCLA using a stable isotope form of glucose has shown that fermented wheat germ extract reduces glucose flow into cells, inhibiting a cancer cell’s growth.

At the same time, the extract enhances programmed cell death, or apoptosis. In the various cell lines tested, the greater the glucose utilization of a cancer cell, the greater the metastatic potential of the cancer cell line and the more dramatic fermented wheat germ extract’s effect is (Ann N Y Acad Sci 2005;1051:529–42).

After figuring out how fermented wheat germ extract works, the next step was to determine what molecule(s) in the extract were responsible for these actions.

Using the most modern laboratory equipment, scientists began the painstaking process of isolating the thousands of molecules naturally present in fermented wheat germ. Dr. Watson and his crew wanted to isolate the “active” molecules with the intent of producing a synthetic, pharmaceutical version that could be used to treat cancer.

To accomplish this isolation, they used a process called “bioassay-guided fractionation.” This is where mineral, plant, animal, and bacteria products that show medicinal properties are chemically separated into extracts that are tested for biological activity, then further separated and retested until the extract or single molecule with the most potent biological activity is identified.

The scientists employed this technique to isolate the “bioactive fractions” (the most active molecules) in fermented wheat germ extract. They started by dissolving the purest, most concentrated extracts available into several different solvents, extracting the soluble fractions, and testing the anticancer activity of each on a panel of cancer cell lines. Fractions that showed activity were further fractionated, and the product of each step of fractionation was tested for biological, anti-cancer activity until pure, single molecules were obtained and tested.

Super effect of super concentrate

Over a 3-year period, American BioSciences scientists, collaborators in Dr. Watson’s lab, and researchers in Scotland and Hungary completed studies in bioassay-guided fractionation of fermented wheat germ extract.

It was determined that out of the tens of thousands of molecules found, the vast majority have no effect on cancer cells and therefore do not account for its health benefits. But several isolated, pure molecules were shown to have anti-cancer properties. One special molecule was found to inhibit genes that are overexpressed in cancers that develop resistance to chemotherapy and radiation. This particular molecule is now the subject of a drug development program.

However, much to the surprise of the scientists, it was a combination of approximately 100 molecules that had the most anti-cancer activity. The scientists labeled this combination of bioactive molecules found in the natural extract “Fermented Wheat Germ Extract – Super Concentrate.” By weight, it accounts for only 0.07 percent of whole fermented wheat germ extract, but this “super concentrate” provides 100 percent of the cancer-fi properties.

The scientists named it “Metatrol,” which comes from the term “metabolic cellular control.”

Finally, 30 to 40 years after Dr. Szent-Györgyi discovered that wheat could help control cellular metabolism, his observations are being proven true. Experiments confirmed that, when Metatrol is added to fast-growing cancer cells, their glucose utilization is interrupted and they die.

When mice were implanted with a very deadly and fast-growing melanoma tumor and then fed Metatrol, their tumor growth was inhibited by 62 percent! And, just as important, liver and kidney function tests indicated that Metatrol works without the toxicity and dreadful side effects associated with chemotherapy and most other forms of cancer therapy. Not only was Metatrol extremely safe, all of the mice given Metatrol maintained their weight, which is not the case with many cancer therapies (most notably chemotherapy).

Further analysis of the cancer cell metabolism in tumors from mice that were fed Metatrol confirmed Dr. Szent-Györgyi’s early work (i.e., compounds contained in wheat germ help cancer cells restore normal cell metabolism).

Tumors in the Metatrol-fed mice showed higher rates of oxidative metabolism compared to mice that didn’t receive Metatrol. This is reflective of what normal, healthy cells will experience. Cancerspecific, non-oxidative “Warburg” metabolism was inhibited. The oxygen consumption rate was increased and the lactic acid production rate was reduced. These changes caused higher oxidative stress in cancer cells, inducing apoptosis, which, as I explained earlier, is how older cells spontaneously die so they can be replaced by new healthy cells.

Epigenetics and cancer

Dr. Watson and his colleagues were also interested in studying anti-cancer therapies that affect patterns of gene expression, a field of study called epigenetics.

Many genes have been identified that either predispose a person to specific cancers or protect them from the disease. For instance, many women choose to have prophylactic mastectomies – removing their breasts before cancer is detected – because they carry genetic mutations in either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes (BRCA=BReast CAncer). Women with mutations in these particular genes have been shown to have seven times greater risk of developing breast cancer.

Until recently, it was believed that the genes you are born with determined your fate with regard to cancer, health, and longevity. Scientists studying epigenetics are looking for factors that can alter gene expression.

For instance, even though all women have BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, epigenetics is looking for ways to avoid mutations in those genes so that a woman’s likelihood of developing breast cancer is greatly reduced. In cancer epigenetics, the focus is on methods that can be used to switch off the “bad” genes and switch on the “good” ones.

So how does this relate to Metatrol? The latest research shows that Metatrol affects cellular metabolism and mitochondrial function, which helps determine gene expression. By altering gene expression, those genes that may have been “switched on” (leading to cancer) now remain “switched off.”

Cancer is an extremely complex phenomenon that can be influenced in numerous ways, one of which is metabolism. Manipulating energy metabolism is one therapeutic method of starving cancer cells from their fuel sources and treating the disease.

Growing tumors face two major metabolic challenges. First, they need to meet the increased energy demands associated with their rapid growth. Second, they must survive the fluctuations in nutrients and oxygen when their growth outpaces the delivery capabilities of the existing circulation system. The emerging theme in cancer biology is that the genes that allow cancerous tumors to adapt and survive are intricately linked to metabolic regulation. Additionally, many tumor suppressors, such as Metatrol, work by regulating metabolic function and “down regulating” or suppressing genes that are essential to a tumor’s survival (Mol Carcinog 2013;52(5):329–37), (Genet Med 2008;10(11):767–77), (Genes Dev 2012;26(9):877–90), (Cancer Cell 2006;9(6):419–20), (Genes Dev 2009;23(5):537–48).

In simple terms (if that’s possible), the metabolism associated with cancer triggers the action of genes that initiate and promote cancer growth. On the flip side, healthy cell metabolism suppresses cancer genes, promotes the programmed cell death of defective cells, and triggers the action of genes that promote cell repair and normal cell functions.

In the melanoma study I mentioned earlier that used Metatrol, it was shown that hundreds of genes associated with cancer initiation, tumor spread, and therapy resistance were inhibited, while hundreds of genes associated with healthy cell function, such as cellular repair, differentiation, communication with neighboring cells, and normal cell suicide, were unaffected. Not only was Metatrol shown to be safe without any side effects, it made cancer cells function more like healthy cells and less like cancerous ones.

Where to find Metatrol

Metatrol is a very unique product. Rarely do you find a natural compound available to the public that has been subjected to such “technological scrutiny.” It was a very painstaking and expensive process to extract the various components of the fermented wheat germ extract and then test their individual activities against cancer cell lines. About the only time something like this occurs is when: 1) a natural compound has already been demonstrated to have a significant positive impact on inhibiting cancer activity, and probably even more importantly, 2) there’s a strong chance that isolated components can be produced synthetically and sold in the future as a drug. And that’s exactly what has happened in this case.

Dr. Watson and the scientists at Cold Spring Harbor are continuing down the path of developing an anti-cancer drug. In fact, a leading scientific journal is currently reviewing their research, and findings should be published later this year. Based on the results they’ve been seeing in their laboratory, some of the leading cancer research hospitals in the US are now planning on doing additional research on Metatrol and how its active fractions are able to thwart the effects of many forms of cancer.

Fortunately we don’t have to wait years or decades for the results of this research, or until Metatrol becomes approved as a drug.

Producing Metatrol economically on a large scale is far more difficult than extracting small batches for laboratory experiments and testing. But thankfully, American BioSciences has been able to do so and, in the process, they’ve eliminated many of the inconveniences that have made fermented wheat germ extract somewhat difficult to use by many cancer patients.

To make the new extract, they start with water, baker’s yeast, and raw wheat germ. Then they utilize food grade organic solvents, like those used to manufacture food flavor concentrates, to isolate Metatrol. This results in a supplement that is gluten free and stable at temperatures up to 122 degrees F.

Side-by-side chemical and biological comparisons of Metatrol show that it contains the same “biologically active” fraction as whole fermented wheat germ extract and fewer biologically inactive molecules. Research indicates that a daily dose of 41 mg of Metatrol is bioequivalent to 5,500 mg of AvéULTRA freeze-dried instant drink mix, the currently available form of fermented wheat germ extract. A therapeutic dose of Metatrol can now be achieved by taking just two capsules, which overcomes any possible taste objection to AvéULTRA and the inconvenience of having to mix it with juice or water.

And most importantly, even at this lower dosage, the research shows that Metatrol exhibits the same patterns of safety, metabolic regulation, gene expression, and tumor inhibition on a broad range of cancer cells.

Thanks to the continuing work of Dr. Watson and the scientists at Cold Spring Harbor and American BioSciences, the world will soon learn about the genius of Dr. Szent-Györgyi. And the mission of that Hungarian soccer player I met more than 10 years ago in Australia continues.

Metatrol takes fermented wheat germ extract to an entirely new level in the treatment of cancer. The research continues and I’ll report the latest results as they become available.




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