His interest in these fats was stimulated by a laboratory mouse study, which reported that two omega-3 derivatives (EPA and DHA) helped to protect individual cells against the cancer-causing effects of radiation (Cancer Res, 1992; 52: 154-62). The researchers, biochemists at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, couldn't explain the effects, but Peskin now thinks he can-via the Warburg effect. "EFAs really do attract oxygen like magnets or sponges," he says, citing evidence from sports medicine showing that EFA supplements reduce lactic-acid buildup in muscles by increasing oxygenation.
In fact, the whole idea that EFAs have a role in cancer is not a new one, as most medical experts believe that many diseases, including cancer, may be due to an imbalance between omega-3 and omega-6 in our modern diet, and that increasing omega-3 fats may be protective (Biomed Pharmacother, 2006; 60: 502-7).
However, the evidence is not clear-cut. One international review failed to find any advantage of a relatively high omega-3 diet in cancer prevention (JAMA, 2006; 295: 403-15). But while the experts may be divided, Peskin believes he has the answer. In his view, it is the unprocessed (or 'parent') EFAs that are truly beneficial against cancer, a fact he claims is usually ignored in clinical studies, thus confounding the data.
Peskin has patented a cancer 'treatment' that combines EFAs at a ratio of "most preferably about 2.6:1" of parent omega-6 to parent omega-3 oils. He has tested his formula on mice, and found that it reduces tumour growth by up to 40 per cent (Peskin BS, Habib A. The Hidden Story of Cancer. Houston, TX: Pinnacle Press, 2006).
Preventing cancer the Warburg way
"First, keep the speed of the bloodstream so high that the venous blood still contains sufficient oxygen; second, keep high the concentration of haemoglobin in the blood," wrote Warburg, in the printed (1967) revision of his lecture to Nobel laureates at Lindau in 1966. To achieve both of these, his recommendation was to "always add to food . . . the active groups of the respiratory enzymes" (his term for micronutrients).
Since Warburg's death, hundreds of studies have been done on micronutrients and cancer prevention. According to one clinical review
(Acta Biomed, 2006; 77: 118-23), the most valuable are:
- folic acid
- vitamin B12
- carotenoids (alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein)
- vitamin D. Adding calcium to vitamin D gives extra cancer protection, according to a recent study (Am J Clin Nutr, 2007; 85: 1586-91).
Choose supplements made from only natural ingredients.
Finally, although Warburg didn't specify it, exercise increases blood oxygenation and, thus, should be of benefit. A recent survey confirms that there is "compelling evidence" that moderate, routine physical activity helps to prevent breast and colon cancers (CMAJ, 2006 ; 174: 801-9).