Don't mention the Warburg
July 4th 2007, 16:44 | Bryan Hubbard
Whisper it, for fear of waking the oncologist, but we really could be on the verge of understanding and treating cancer.
In recent months there's been a buzz about a theory known as Warburg's Hypothesis. It's not exactly new - it was first put forward by German biologist Otto Warburg in 1924 - but scientists have finally got round to testing it, and they've found he's right.
In a landmark lecture in 1966, Warburg outlined in detail his research over the intervening years, and how he believed cancer could be treated successfully. He discovered that healthy cells get their energy from oxygen, whereas cancerous cells get theirs by fermenting sugar.
Cancer cells are, therefore anaerobes, and they can be successfully treated by supplementing with respiratory enzymes, mainly from the B family, such as riboflavin, pantothenic acid, iron salts and nicotinamide.
Warburg made the fundamental mistake during the lecture of describing the treatment of cancer as easy and inexpensive. Drug companies prefer the solution to be difficult and very expensive, which is probably why there hasn't been much research funding offered to test Warburg's Hypothesis.
But slowly, slowly scientists have been picking up on the theory, and Warburg has enjoyed some posthumous recognition through a new book, The Hidden Story of Cancer, which explains his theory and remedy.
As for Warburg, he died in 1970, aged 86. He ended his lecture by suggesting that man would rid himself of cancer only when he opened his mind to other possibilities that went beyond the existing paradigm of chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy.
Oh, and in 1931 he was awarded the Nobel prize for medicine.