Metabolic Therapies for Cancer
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Treat Cancer as a Metabolic Disease using Metabolic Therapies

by Maggie Jones

The cancer paradigm is shifting and your oncologist may not even be aware yet. We know now that cancer is a metabolic disease. That is, cancer is caused by diseased mitochondria, the cellular organelles responsible for creating energy. Healthy mitochondria are able to create energy from a variety of sugar or fat fuels, using oxygen or not – but preferring oxygen. This adaptability is called metabolic flexibility. Cancerous cells, on the other hand, are only able to create energy using one method that uses sugar but no oxygen. This method is very inefficient and requires lots and lots of sugar. This fact, known as the Warburg Effect. This isn’t new knowledge – Otto Warburg made the discovery in the 1920s and later won a Nobel Prize for his work in cellular genetics. It’s the reason why PET scans work– it’s just something that cancer researchers stopped focusing on when DNA was discovered. Read more details on the science here.

After sequencing the genome of over 10,000 tumors and failing to find a meaningful pattern that could lead to a true cure for cancer, some doctors and researchers remembered Warburg’s discoveries and focused on treatments targeting cancer’s unique metabolism. And they are working!

So far, most of these treatments either can’t be patented or are too inexpensive for pharmaceutical companies to market them. In fact, the funding for studies proving effectiveness of these treatments comes primarily from non-profit foundations, cancer patients themselves, or a few public institutions who aren’t completely dependent on corporate benefactor and lobbyist dollars. But fortunately, the studies are being done.

In addition to reading the research being published, I’ve been privileged to attend conferences and liaise with the heads of in-progress studies. I’m confident that this new treatment paradigm will become standard in the next decade.

But most can’t afford to wait a decade.

What are Metabolic Therapies

Metabolic therapies treat the cause of cancer: the diseased mitochondria and the environmental factors that cause them to become diseased. Since the metabolic paradigm starting coming back into prominence around 2012 with Seyfried’s Cancer as a Metabolic Disease, research has been piling up supporting these treatments.

Even so, it will be some time before they’re part of the standard of care for cancer — or even part of medical education for oncologists. It’s therefore up to the patient to find a metabolically informed medical team or educate the doctors themselves.

Evidence-based metabolic therapies for cancer include:

  • Fasting and calorie restriction
  • Ketogenic diet
  • Functional foods
  • Reduction of overall cellular toxic load
  • Stress reduction
  • Off label drugs
  • Supplements
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT)

This blog seeks to provide an overview of these therapies and the research behind them.

Start a Cancer Healing Diet
  • Fasting and calorie restriction
  • Ketogenic diet
  • Functional foods
Release your stress
  • Toxic load reduction
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction
  • Breathwork
Explore adjunct clinical treatments
  • Off label drugs
  • Supplements
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT)

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Vicky Martinez October 30, 2020 - 11:09 pm

Hi Maggie. I’ve written you before. I recently started on Keto. I have had 2 different types of Cancer, but in full remission. Is there any danger in staying at therapeutic level of ketosis while I get to my target weight (am obese and diabetic) or is there some drawback that you know of. I have been testing around 2.5 average GKI every day for past 4 days. I feel fine, but want to be sure I am not harming any organs by maintaining that low level of GKI. Any thoughts? I know you are not a doctor and do not hold yourself out as such so if you feel uncomfortable answering, I understand.

Maggie Jones October 31, 2020 - 1:04 am

Hi Vicky! It’s great to hear from you again.

2.5 GKI is a great accomplishment and shows your discipline and dedication! Congrats!

Like you say, I can’t give medical advice but, in my experience, the risks associated with long-term keto are generally attributed to excessive animal protein consumption which can cause kidney damage. If you’re following the principles here and focusing on plant food with only small amounts of grass-fed, organic animal products, there should be very few risks.
Some women notice hormone disruption and I myself lost my period for 8 months following this way of eating. It was a small price to pay to become cancer free and achieve a healthy BMI but it’s a matter of individual priorities. I started eating legumes and fruit on the weekend before my weekly fast and my period returned and I could still maintain a therapeutic GKI most of the weeks.

I hope this is helpful! Sending love!

Vicky Martinez October 31, 2020 - 3:59 pm

I appreciate your reply so much. I’ll try to cut down on animal protein. I’ve already gone through menopause so the second issue doesn’t affect me. You are proving a very important service and I am grateful for all of the time that you have put into this.

Returning that love right back to you!


kiRsten Norton June 12, 2021 - 2:27 pm

Thank you for this, Maggie. My husband started eating keto four months into a very toxic course of chemotherapy (weekly infusions and six pills daily), post liver-resection and radiation in 2017. I have never seen him sick from his cancer (cholangio carcinoma) but felt like I was watching him die from treatment. After his FIRST very small keto meal, he did not put his head on the table as he would typically after a few bites of nut butter on bread (which was all he could manage just to get his pills down). In fact after that first micro-keto meal, I got up and cooked seconds (egg over smoked salmon and spinach with some avocado and a big drizzle of olive oil). That was also the first night he did not soak our sheets with night sweats. It was hard to believe the way his body reacted to saturated fats, and I thought regardless of whether it helps with cancer —it sure gave him some relief from chemo side affects! He decided to continue his standard of care treatment for the next two months, which was hard to watch, but he has never returned to carbs, save for nuts and nut butters… has not touched sugar, grains or any starchy vegetables in years. He is 68 now and svelte —looks and feels great. His cancer returned last July but is remarkably slow growing for this type of rare and deadly cancer —and he’s driving the bus this time —other than one surgery and cyber knife radiation (very localized), he is avoiding the standard of care. He is talking with several integrative oncology teams and considering a trip overseas for press-pulse therapy (Seyfried’s approach) —but we are hoping to find something here in the states. Most people with cholangio carcinoma don’t discover it until too late —he was lucky and it was found at stage two in a hernia scan. Keto alone can’t keep it at bay, but has clearly slowed its growth.
I do want to point out that Otto Warburg did not receive the Nobel for his discovery of cancer as a metabolic disease. His Nobel was for his research on cell respiration and resulting lactic acid. He SHOULD be awarded a Nobel for his cancer research and discovery, posthumously, but he has not yet. People often cite his Nobel award incorrectly, as you did above.
Again, thank you for sharing your story and all you are doing to help others.

Marsha Kisinger January 26, 2022 - 1:28 pm

I am a stage four metastatic breast cancer patient and I need to learn everything about this

Maggie Jones January 27, 2022 - 6:44 pm

Hi Marsha! I hope this website helps. If you haven’t found it already, here are some of my favorite books that go into the therapies here in more detail: We also have a documentary coming out at the end of this year:

Wishing you the best!

MitsyBaby September 15, 2022 - 5:32 am

Hi Maggie, thanks for your invaluable website as is so difficult to put your life in the hands of doctors who support this disease. Have been extremely healthy my whole life (just dealt with some chemical sensitivities which helped me to eat very healthy) but moved to what I found out was as referred online the cancer capital of Canada, the Atlantic region (moved back to BC ASAP) due to mercury poisoning from gold mining days in late 1800’s. Found gov’t reports that the wildlife is contaminated with the stuff and in the early 80’s the white mercury powder which doesn’t disintegrate they insanely mixed with gravel and spread it on paths and walkways throughout. My doggie contracted and passed from the disease there and I ended up with a very small Stage 2 lump on my chest wall. Asked Dr’s to just remove but said they had to biopsy first without highlighting the risks. The procedure enflamed it and grew to over twice the size, red and aggravated with lots of pain. Even found out the doctors lied on reports saying it was like that when I came to them. Had to go on a hormone therapy drug for over a year to shrink, with inflammation side effects. Didn’t highlight risk of spread despite this (my research after says should remove from body immediately when found to counter these risks) and it has now spread more invasive and going thru testings as to what degree and treatment. To say I’m infuriated is an understatement.

Hard to trust doctors going forward. They are like robots in Canada and all their focus seems on data gathering for genetic links of which I have none. Surgeon at first diagnosis was honest as she was retiring and said they are aware of the environmental problems causing this but of course won’t tell people. From my research they have so mishandled my case its astounding and when you prod them for answers about testing/treatment courses and subsequent effects, they give you the normally no problems blurb. They literally tell you nothing about the disease but just give you their treatment course. This is a horrible area to find yourselves in the hands of the medical profession but as per the Miriam Kalamian book you suggested, must play along as best as possible but of course concerned about the course of treatment. Am 3/4 thru on the recommended book and is an excellent resource.

Anyways trying to take control of my life again the best I can. The Keto diet is easy for me to adapt as always was aware carbs were not good for my particular body, am a non drinking/non smoking vegetarian for 25+ years, have fasted my whole life/maintained a healthy weight, always read labels trying to avoid chemicals as much as possible, and made my meals from scratch. All this doesn’t unfortunately protect you from environmental issues.

Am weeding thru the book and your excellent site for guidance, very interested in minerals to take, etc. Am honestly overwhelmed though with all the calculations/readings to take, etc. Can you recommend a good food scale, are the programmable ones valuable for keto? Also trying to find your cronometer but out of stock on Amazon. Was a vegetarian who ate dairy, soy and fish, giving up the fish after the mercury research but returned since on Keto. Being on plant based keto, what are your main sources for protein since soy is now out for me? Am also on intermittent fasting which is easily do-able. Also you make no mention of CBD oil where other patients have said was helpful. Your thoughts on that? Would appreciate your feedback on this overwhelming subject have been plunged into. Thx.

Maggie Jones September 16, 2022 - 6:16 pm

Hi Mitsy! I’m so sorry for what you’re going through but you’re obviously doing amazing things. I’m afraid I’m not able to answer all these questions in this comment but there are two links that might help: (cronometer is a free online app that should never be sold out)
Sending my love! Maggie

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