Understanding cancer, and how it develops in the body, is an extremely important topic. In fact, “what is cancer?” is one of the first topics Dr. Stegall addresses with his patients. When cancer is first diagnosed, the mind tends to quickly focus on the prognosis, the treatments, and the potential side effects. Many patients are in such a state of shock, to the point that they do not even remember details of this meeting.
By the time they are in our office, they have likely heard and read so much information – often conflicting information – that they are overwhelmed. All of these emotions and feelings are understandable. That is why Dr. Stegall likes to take a step back, define cancer, and discuss what it is and how it develops in the body.
Our discussion of cancer must focus on the cells of the body. Many people are surprised to hear that they have over 100 trillion cells. These cells work together to perform all of the functions needed for survival. These cells are uniquely specialized for their given function(s), but they are quite similar for the most part. They have an outer structure, called the cell membrane, which provides structure to the cell and also allows certain things to enter and leave the cell. The cells also have many important internal structures, such as the nucleus, which contain DNA – the cell’s genetic material. The mitochondria are also found inside the cell, and they are extremely important because they make ATP – the cell’s energy currency.
Sugar (table sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and almost all carbohydrates)
Trans fats (man-made fats which appear on nutrition labels as “partially hydrogenated oil”)
Gluten (due to all wheat today being genetically modified, resulting in multiple new strains of gluten not normally present in wheat)
GMOs (wheat, corn, soy, artificial sweeteners, and any other genetically altered food)
Cigarette smoke (not only bad for your lungs, but your cell membranes too)
Increased body fat (known to release pro-inflammatory factors in the body)
Heavy metals (mercury, lead, etc.)
Radiation (x-rays, CT scans, microwaves, etc.)
While we cannot completely avoid the above inflammatory exposures, we can reduce our interactions with them.
Cancer cells have also been found to take up sugar much more rapidly than normal, non-cancerous cells. This is the basis for PET scans. A patient receiving a PET scan is given radiolabeled glucose, which is a special type of sugar. The cancer cells take up this glucose, and the cancer cells light up on the scan. This is why it is often said, “sugar feeds cancer.”
Dr. Stegall believes that these genetic changes in cancer cells are mostly random and chaotic, and that cancer DNA is the wrong target for cancer treatment. Rather than these gene changes being the cause of cancer, they are a symptom of cancer according to Dr. Stegall. His view of cancer is that it is a metabolic disease, resulting from inflammation to the cell membrane and changes to the mitochondria. Thus, Dr. Stegall’s protocols not only focus on the tumor, but on the cellular changes that likely occurred which led to the tumor’s formation and continued viability.