Cancer and Nutrition

“You had better think twice before you get into an argument with Linus Pauling. That is because he stands for the best we can mean when we call a man a scientist – Gerard Piel, Publisher of Scientific American.

In the last decade more people have heard the name of Linus Pauling than in all the previous years of this scientists career. Although Pauling received his Ph.D in 1925, and filled the intervening years with a brilliant body of scientific work, his recent stand on vitamin C has done the most to capture the national attention- and the criticism of the medical profession.

Pauling’s credentials are impeccable. His intuitive grasp of concepts and ability to see them through laboratory tests have earned him a formidable intellectual reputation. His many discoveries have been published in 500 articles and numerous books and he has received many awards, including over 30 honorary doctorates from the most prestigious universities in the nation. A colleague has called his work “the single most profound and enlightening body of research an American has ever put together”. In 1954 his peers agreed and awarded Dr. Pauling the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. In 1962 he received a second Nobel Prize for Peace.

Accustomed to dismissing the findings of other scientists who espouse nutrition, the medical establishment is frustrated when confronted by the arguments of an acknowledged scientific genius like Pauling. The best they can do is claim that Pauling is “out of his field” because he is not a medical man. Yet what is more germane to health than the chemistry of the cell?

Dr.Pauling has pioneered research in many areas that contribute to medical science, including molecular biology .DNA structure, blood chemistry and diseases, the nature of the immune response and the chemical basis of mental illness, Moreover, the science upon which much of our current medical knowledge is based originally came from “outside the field.” Alexander Fleming who discovered penicillin, and Frederick Banting, who isolated insulin were both originally criticized because they were working outside their usual specialities.

In answer to criticism that he is dabbling outside of his area of expertise, Pauling has resorted. “My reputation in general as scientists have pointed out, is that I have been right so often in the field of science that if a scientist hears I’ve said something he knows that he had better pay attention. Other scientists have referred to Pauling as “a one-man truth squad.”

Although he has been affiliated with many universities over the years, Dr. Pauling is currently Chairman of the Board and Research Professor of the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine in Palo Alto, California.. With facilities and a staff of his own, Pauling is now able to devote the resources and energy to vitamin C and other orthomolecular studies which might be constrained in other settings.

The Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine was founded in 1973 with the stated purpose of improving human health through use of the most advanced principles of chemistry, physics, biology and computer science. The Institute is funded through research grants and private donations, the latter being most important in a time of skepticism about nutritional research. These donations are tax deductible. In the past ten years, Dr. Pauling had frequently been denied funds by the Federal government, in spite of his formidable scientific credentials, but recent rekindling of interest in the role of diet and cancer promises to reverse this trend. Since 1971 Dr.Pauling has been most interested in the role of vitamin C in cancer management and this remains the primary goal of the Institute.

Because people are so desperate for an alternative approach to cancer and other health problems the Institute finds itself deluged by inquiries and requests from the lay public. Richard Hicks, Executive Vice president of the Pauling Institute regrets that the Institute cannot help these people, since it is not a medical or clinical facility, but a laboratory for basic research. Recognising the need for such facilities however, Hicks reports that the Institute is working on founding an associated clinic, but that such a goal is still several years away.

Dorothy Munro who is Dr. Pauling’s secretary and the congenial guide visitors meet at the Institute explained that the best she can do is refer people to orthomolecular physicians known to the Institute. She sighed and pointed to a stack of letters from people who hope the Institute can teat them. It is true that the Institute has contacts with many renowned physicians, and its study of urine and protein analysis is one of the most advanced in the world, but at this time the Institute does not treat any human subjects.

The Cancer Gene

It has long been known that the cancer cells are derived from normal cells, that have somehow gone astray. Fundamental changes in the genetic code have been suspected as cancer triggers; in fact the government is currently testing new substances for carcinogenesis (cancer-causing potential) by checking the extent to which they mutate the genetic code of cells. Not all mutations cause cancer, but thee is a very strong correlation between malignancy and alterations of genetic structure.

John Levitt Ph.D research scientist at the Pauling Institute is pursuing the suspected “cancer gene” in malignant human cells. Dr. Leavitt is quick to point out that such a gene is not what the public presumes – an inherited trait that makes cancer inevitable. The complex of a “cancer gene” is much more subtle and complex.

What Dr. Leavitt is seeking is a specific mutation that is associated with and may actually trigger a malignant chain of events in a previously normal cell. Bit whether such a gene causes cancer is another question.

Dr. Leavitt is investigating mutagenic changes in a gene that controls formation of actin, a very common protein found throughout the body but concentrated in muscle tissue, where it controls contraction. Actin is responsible some scientists believe for the ability of cancer cells to move within the body.

Using sophisticated techniques of protein profiling actin concentrations within a cell can be graphed and enhanced by computer. In a recent Pauling Institute newsletter, Emile Zuckerkandl, Ph.D President and Director of the Institute explained why protein profiling is so important to cancer research. “We use the profiling technique with the intention of establishing differences in states of health and disease, either in the same individual at different times, or in different individuals. In the case of protein profiles, this overview relates directly to the behaviour of the genetic system.”

Dr. Zuckerkandl’s protein profiling technique has implications for the early detection prevention and the molecular biology of cancer and is he cornerstone of Dr. Leavitt’s search for a cancer gene. Dr..Leavitt explained that while a mutation can be induced through use of known carcinogens, the presence of this mutation can best be proved by profiling actin proteins.Computer graphics help dramatise a mutation once it has occurred. Dr. Steve Burbeck, Director of Data Analysis and Computing has refined image processing of actin profiles so that abnormalities can be visualized on the computer screen.

Dr. Zuckerkandl’s protein profiling technique has implications for the early detection prevention and the molecular biology of cancer and is he cornerstone of Dr. Leavitt’s search for a cancer gene. Dr..Leavitt explained that while a mutation can be induced through use of known carcinogens, the presence of this mutation can best be proved by profiling actin proteins.Computer graphics help dramatise a mutation once it has occurred. Dr. Steve Burbeck, Director of Data Analysis and Computing has refined image processing of actin profiles so that abnormalities can be visualized on the computer screen.

The next step is to prove that the actin mutation will proceed to cancer. Several years of cell cloning and recombinant DNA experiments are required to determine if and how cancer by actin mutations. It is anticipated that these experiments will shed light on how cancer makes cells behave and why, and how this differs from normal cell function. It may also help explain how carcinogens actually manage to change the cell which may in turn suggest ways to bolster the body’s defences against them.

Dr. Leavitt explained. “My working hypothesis over the last few years has been that within any particular type of human cell, a normal gene exists, which upon mutagenic attack by a chemical carcinogen, produces a mutant gene product that confers on its host cell the ability to replicate when normally it should not. The proven identify of a human cancer gene will tell us the nature of the primary and principal defect which leads a cell to form a malignant tumour. This knowledge will provide us with a better understanding of how cancer cells and normal cells diff at the earliest stages of cancer development. Hopefully this will eventually lead to development of more specific and effective methods for killing cancers.

Cancer And Vitamin C

While Drs.Leavitt and Zuckerkandl explore the molecular basis of cancer, the top priority at the institute continues to be the effect of vitamin C and other nutrients upon cancer. Dr. Ewan Cameron, now a medical researcher at the Institute and formerly Chief Consultant Surgeon at the Vale of Leven Hospital, Scotland has conducted clinical trials with terminal cancer patients since 1971. The Institute is currently carrying out trials on laboratory mice to support the evidence gathered by Dr. Cameron.

It may seem strange to do animal experiments now, after ten years of human case histories and publication of the results in many journals and a book, Cancer and Vitamin C, in 1979. However the Pauling Institute has been denied funds for continuing trials on the grounds that there were not sufficient animal studies to warrant experiments with humans. Not one to be easily put off by bureaucracy, Dr. Pauling revised his grant proposal to provide the National Cancer Institute with the animal studies it required.

In a controlled environment “mouse room” managed by animal technician Marilyn Prender, laboratory mice specially bred to develop mammary cancer are being tested to see how vitamin C in the diet affects the growth of their tumours. The interaction of cytotoxic drugs with vitamin C and the role of vitamin C in overall immunity responses are also being studied. |It is hoped that these tests on mice funded by the National Cancer Institute will shed light on the human applications of ascorbic acid and other nutritional therapies.

In Scotland there had been less red tape to prevent Dr. Cameron from trying vitamin C directly on humans. Though he himself was initially skeptical and many of his colleagues found the whole idea laughable, the Scottish medical system was less committee to radiation and cytotoxic approaches, so that Dr. Cameron was able to experiment with Dr. Pauling’s recommendations.

Dr. Cameron had long known that cancer was fatal primarily because of it ability to invade organs and normal tissues. Cancer itself is not completely alien, even to healthy individuals, but the body ordinarily controls the occasional renegade cell so that it does not arrogate functioning tissues. While the thrust of American research was concentrating on stopping the autonomous proliferation of cancer, Dr. Cameron instead focused on stopping the invasiveness of the cancer into healthy tissue.

In Hyaluronidase and Cancer (Pergmon Press 1966) Cameron demonstrated that tumour cells secrete an enzyme, hyaluronidase, that dissolves the intercellular cement called collagen. He theorized that cancer could be controlled much better if the collagen fibril could be strengthened to resist by penetration by hyaluronidase, even if the tumour itself could not be prevented from developing.

By 1971 Dr. Pauling formulated the opinion, based on evidence in the medical literature and his own knowledge of biochemistry that vitamin C could control cancer. As early as 1954 medical journals were theorising that”cancer s a collgen disease, secondary to a deficiency of vitamin C.” Dr Paulings readings of Cameron’s hyaluronidase concept fit in well with his vitamin C theories; vitamin C both inactivates hyaluronidase and strengthens the collagen that it attacks. In fact Dr. Pauling has argued that without adequate vitamin C the collagen becomes so weak that the body “falls apart” becoming prone to degenerative diseases and infections.

Dr. Pauling communicated his opinions about vitamin C to Dr. Cameron who had been seeking an effective inhibitor of hyaluronidase. When Dr. Cameron asked what would be an effective dose of vitamin C. Dr. Pauling suggested ten grams of sodium ascorbate a day, based on amounts produced by most animals. Human beings, who do not make their own vitamin C due to an accident of evolution , must rely on dietary sources of this nutrient .

This in November 1971 Dr. Cameron cautiously began administering ten grams of sodium ascorbate to patients at the Vale of Leven Hospital. The initial test group consisted of 100 patients who had been declared hopelessly terminal. The immediate result had been an improvement in overt symptoms of terminal disease, appetite returned, energy levels increased and pain was noticeably reduced. In fact many of the patients were able to forego narcotic treatments to control their pain. This led Cameron and Pauling to suspect that vitamin C was able to occupy the opiate receptor sites in the brain. (Subsequently, Dr. Alfred Libby of San Clemente, California, now uses vitamin C to reduce addictive cravings in alcoholics and drug abusers)

The lifespan of the patients who received vitamin C at the Vale of Leven Hospital was greatly extended. Most patients had a projected life expectancy of 50 days which was lengthened to an average of 365 days. Thirteen of the patients were still alive and well after the year’s trial was completed and some showed no signs of malignancy – except when they stopped taking megadoses of vitamin C.

The Vale of Level trials convinced Cameron and Pauling that if ten grams of Vitamin C – what ascorbic acid pioneer Dr. Irwin Stone called the “lower limits of the therapeutic range” – could be so effective in terminal cases, then optimal doses in healthy persons would be a significant deterrent to cancer. If used in cases of early cancer vitamin C would also undoubtedly increase survival time and improve the quality of life even more dramatically than it had in the terminal patients.

The exhortations of Dr. Pauling finally led the renowned Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, to test the vitamin C hypothesis on some of its own patients. In a much publicized report the Clinic claimed that its test subjects received little or no benefit from the Pauling/Cameron vitamin C treatment. Unfortunately these patients may have died because the complete Pauling recommendations were not followed.

Pauling had made it abundantly clear in his publications and also in personal communications with Dr. Moertel of the Mayo Clinic that Vitamin C therapy is almost entirely vitiated if the patient has previously been subjected to chemotherapy or radiation. The Mayo Clinic has promised to try vitamin C, this time adhering to the Vale of Level protocol, but to date no results have been made public.

It is very difficult to induce physicians to administer vitamin C before chemotherapy is applied. When presented with the crisis of cancer, physician and patient alike are likely to forgo the experimental and fall back upon dogma. Unfortunately conventional therapies for cancer, which have not improved the cancer prognosis significantly in over 25 years – completely repress the immune system upon which vitamin C therapy would work.

How vitamin C helps cancer patients is only partially understood and it is the mission of the Pauling Institute to further explore and explain how it works. At this time it is believed that vitamin C works in three ways (1) inactivating hyaluronidase, the cancer spreading factor (2) strengthening collagen, the cement that holds normal cells together, so that invasion by cancer is resisted (3) detoxifying many of the viruses and carcinogens which may cause cancer to develop in the first place. In addition vitamin C works directly on the immune system, bolstering its production of protective lymphocytes and adrenal secretions that fight stress.

The medical establishment resisted Dr. Pauling’s opinion on cancer even more vigorously than it did his stand on vitamin and the common cold. His recommendations of ten grams a day was at first criticised as being ridiculous and possibly even dangerous, but now other scientists and physicians are proposing doses that make Pauling’s pale in comparison.

Robert F. Cathcart M.D. of San Mateo California recommends up to 100 grams preferably intravenously for severe stress diseases. Dr. Irwin Stone whom Pauling credits with introducing him to megadoses of vitamin C points out in The Healing Factor (Grosset and Dunlap 1972) that healthy animals synthesise 13 grams a day per equivalent body weight when under no stress whatsoever, the need under the pressure of malignancy is believed to skyrocket.