Cancer Complementary and alternative medicine Friday Woo Medicine Quackery

Your Friday Dose of Woo: Acid, base, or woo (revisited)

As we continue our countdown to having reached one full year of woo (namely, the one year anniversary of Your Friday Dose of Woo), it’s occurred to me that there’s one form of woo that I’ve dealt with before, but haven’t revisited. It’s a bit of woo that’s so monumentally silly that it’s hard to believe that anyone can take it seriously, although I will admit up front that it is not quite as silly as homeopathy. It’s close though. I’m talking, of course, about pH woo, the concept that pretty much every disease (or at least a whole heck of a lot of them) is caused by alterations in your blood pH, usually to the acid side, and that all you have to do to restore health is to “alkalinize your blood.” While it is true that acidosis can be a sign of disease, in most people without certain severe states of disease, the body’s homeostatic mechanisms make it difficult to alter blood pH outside of a very narrow range. The level of sophistication in physiology is exemplified by this statement by one Dr. William Howard Hay:

Now we depart from health in just the proportion to which we have allowed our alkalies to be dissipated by introduction of acid-forming food in too great amount… It may seem strange to say that all disease is the same thing, no matter what its myriad modes of expression, but it is verily so.

Typical woo, it attributes all disease to a single cause.

The only reason that I hadn’t revisited it yet is because I hadn’t found an example of this woo suitable for YFDoW. But then I had to come across an attempt to apply this sort of “thinking” to an area that could be considered my area of expertise. Yes, I’m referring to cancer:

Cancerous tissue, above all other consequences of choice, has countless secondary causes. But even for a cancerous condition there is only ONE PRIME ORIGIN and CAUSE. I have simply summarized this origin and cause of cancerous tissue in a few words. The prime origin and cause of cancerous tissue is the over-acidification of the tissues then the blood due to lifestyle and dietary choices. A cancerous tissue begins with our choices of what we eat, what we drink, what we think and how we live. Cancer is a liquid and this liquid is a toxic acidic waste product of metabolism or energy consumption.

Cancer is a liquid? I suppose that you could say that in the rather trivial sense that you can say that any cell is “liquid.” After all, most cells are made up mostly of water. They are, in essence an aqueous solution of proteins, DNA, and other macromolecules surrounded by a thin lipid bilayer. Cancer cells are no different in that way; saying so is a statement that is utterly meaningless in terms of distinguishing cancer from noncancer.

So who is spouting this amazing woo, plenty more of which we will shortly examine? It’s someone by the name of Robert O. Young, D.Sc, Ph.D., who bills his blog, Articles of Health, as being about this:

Articles of Health are the writings of Robert O. Young D.Sc., Ph.D., based upon his theory that the human organism is alkaline by design and acidic by function. He suggests that there is only one sickness and one disease which is caused by an over acidification of the blood and then tissues due to an inverted way of living, eating and thinking. There is no way to have health and alkalinity — health and alkalinity is the way!

Naturally, like all good alties who think they’ve found the One True Cause of All Disease, Dr. Young has a website, pH Miracle Living, dedicated to selling products to “alkalinize” your blood and thus supposedly cure disease and make you healthier (or at least make your wallet lighter). Of course, like all good alties, he also has a disclaimer:

Dr. Young is not a medical or naturopathic doctor or practicing as such. Dr. Young has five degrees in science including 3 doctorates which include a Ph.D, D.Sc., and an N.D. Dr. Young is a scientist, health nutritionist, educator, and microbiologist and is the author of eight books pertaining to nutrition, health, the science of blood and microbiology.

Some things never change. Now, the pH Miracle Living website is in and of itself what I like to call a “target-rich” environment (as is Dr. Young’s blog), and perhaps I’ll revisit it sometime in the future. In the meantime, I’ll stick to what I know best, namely cancer. Unfortunately, that alone is also a target-rich environment:

In 1966, Dr. Otto Warburg, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1931 for his discovery of the cause of cancer delivered a lecture at an annual meeting of Nobelists at Lindau, Germany. In his speech he described the primal cause of cancer as follows:

“The prime cause of cancer is the replacement of the respiration of oxygen in normal body cells by a fermentation of sugar. All normal body cells meet their energy needs by respiration of oxygen, whereas cancer cells meet their energy needs in great part by fermentation. All normal body cells are thus obligate aerobes, whereas all cancer cells are partial anaerobes. From the standpoint of the physics and chemistry of life this difference between normal and cancer cells is so great that one can scarely picture a greater difference.

“Oxygen gas, the donor of energy in plants and animals is dethroned in the cancer cells and replaced by an energy yielding reaction of the lowest living forms. namely, a fermentation of glucose.”

Noooo! He had to drag poor Otto Warburg into this woo! Otto doesn’t deserve this sort of shabby treatment. He’s a Nobel Laureate, and his discovery of how cancer cells shift to glycolysis and continue to rely primarily on glycolysis rather than respiration even in the presence of adequate oxygen. Indeed, this effect, called the Warburg Effect, is an important difference between tumor cells and normal cells. Moreover, this difference in metabolism is the basis of drugs like dichloroacetate,, a frequent topic of this blog. Of course, even ol’ Otto had a bit of trouble with hyperbole. For one thing, animal cells certainly can undergo glycolysis; muscle cells do it all the time under duress. Long distance runners, in particular, are familiar with glycolysis. That’s why it’s overstating the case a bit to say that “one can scarcely picture a greater difference,” particularly since not all tumors even exhibit the Warburg effect. I can forgive Warburg, though, a bit of hyperbole–although it is known that he became a bit of an eccentric in his later years. In any case, Dr. Young’s invocation of Warburg is especially wrong, given that the lactic acid generated by glycolysis is a result of the alteration in cancer cell metabolism, not a cause. It’s like saying the exhaust fumes from a car are the cause of the car’s motion. But Dr. Young isn’t finished yet. He has to go straight off the deep end:

The following is a summary of understanding cancerous tissues:

Cancer is not a cell but a poisonous acidic liquid.

A cancer cell, is a cell that has been spoiled or poisoned by metabolic or gastrointestinal acids.

A tumor is the body’s protective mechanism to encapsulate spoiled or poisoned cells from excess acid that has not been properly eliminated through urination, perspiration, defecation or respiration.

The tumor is the body’s solution to protect healthy cells and tissues.

Cancer is a systemic acidic condition that settles at the weakest parts of the body – not a localized problem that metastases.

Metastases is localized acids spoiling other cells much like a rotten apple spoiling a bushel of healthy apples.

There is no such thing as a cancer cell. A cancer cell was once a healthy cell that has been spoiled by acid.

The tumor is not the problem but the solution to protect healthy cells and tissues from being spoiled from other rotting cells and tissues.

The only solution to the acidic liquids that poison body cells causing the effects that medical savants call cancer is to alkalize and energize the body.

In conclusion, the human body is alkaline by design and acidic by function! If we desire a healthy body we must maintain that alkaline design.

This is so wrong on so many levels. Tumors are in reality a “protective mechanism” to encapsulate “spoiled” cells from “excess acid” that hasn’t yet been eliminated? That doesn’t even make sense on its own level. If the cells are “spoiled,” then why do they need to be protected from excess acid? Wouldn’t it be the rest of the body that would supposedly need to be so protected? Most outrageous of all is the claim that metastases are “localized acids spoiling other cells.” What a crock. Although we may not understand all of its mechanisms, we do know quite a bit about the process of metastasis. We’ve detected tumor cells in the circulation or in the lymphatic vessels. Scientists have been able to find micrometastases that don’t start growing until they are able to induce the ingrowth of new blood vessels. That metastases represent “acid” spoiling other cells is about as ridiculous a description of the process as I have ever heard. Metastases derive from the primary tumor and can be shown to be derived from a clone or clones of cells from the primary. Claiming that it’s rogue acid going around “spoiling” other cells goes against pretty much all of our current understanding of cancer.

Of course, no good woo would be complete without telling us how to cure the disease to which the woo-meister has supposedly found The One True Cause, and pH woo is no exception, as Dr. Young demonstrates here:

4. So, how does one use this information to prevent or cure cancer? Naturally:

If I have cancer, such as colon, lung, or prostate cancer can I reverse it naturally?

The answer to this question is absolutely!

Once you understand the cause of ALL cancerous tissues as latent tissue acidosis you can then begin the process of reversing, regenerating and preventing the consequences of acidic choices by making healthier alkaline choices. The protocol for a healthier and energetic body, free from all sickness and dis-ease, is found in Chapter Eleven of our latest book, “The pH Miracle for Weight Loss.”

It figures. If you want to find out the cure, you have to buy Dr. Young’s books, CDs, and DVDs. I should have suspected as much. I do have one question left, though:

What’s with the spelling of the word “disease” as “dis-ease”? Could it be a form of plausible deniability: “Oh, no, I didn’t say you could be free from all disease. I said you could be free of all dis-ease, as in being free from the opposite of ‘ease.’ Yeah, that’s the ticket.”

Very clever.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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