I read an odd article on the internet recently, suggesting that cancer is not a disease. The article is entitled “Dispelling the disease myth“. I really wouldn’t have bothered if it hadn’t been written by a colleague of mine, Dr. Thomas Lodi. He is an oncologist and runs an alternative cancer treatment center in Arizona. Among the treatments he offers cancer patients are IPT low dose chemotherapy and intravenous vitamin C. I am not an oncologist and I don’t have any experience with these therapies. However, I believe they are not supported by many scientific studies. They were not offered to me when I had my testicular cancer some years ago. Luckily, I responded well to surgery and conventional chemotherapy. I am very grateful to my oncologist, who uses conventional methods and relies on scientific studies when recommending treatment.
I could have been unlucky. I could have been diagnosed with cancer that does not respond to currently available medical therapy or surgery. Then, in my desperation, I would probably have done an internet search, and who knows, I might have found the “Oasis of Healing” center in Arizona. Reaching out for the last string of hope, I would probably have seen their alternative methods as my possible route back to health. The last-minute cure that would make it possible for me to spend a few more years with my wife and children. I assure you, they would have made a few bucks from me before I died.
The purpose of my writing is not to criticize Dr. Lodi’s integrative approach to the treatment of patients or healing as he chooses to call it. However, when doctors, in the name of their profession, write things on the internet that is read by thousands of people, tweeted on and liked on social networks all over the world, it has to make sense. Doctors are educated people. People listen to them. The internet is a very powerful tool and health professionals have to use it carefully and with responsibility.
Is Cancer a Disease or Not?
Dr. Lodi’s main message is that cancer is not a disease, but an “extraordinary effort by the body to keep us alive“. In order to explain what he means, he chooses an analogy. He compares the situation to a patient with high blood pressure. That’s where it all starts to go terribly wrong.
He writes:” If I go in to see a doctor and he takes my blood pressure and my blood pressure is, by whatever current standards, considered elevated, and let’s say this happens on three separate occasions, the doctor will tell me, “You have high blood pressure. We have to lower it because here is all the data that shows that people with this disease have a higher incidence of stroke and heart attack, etc.” Okay sounds logical. So I buy into this myth and I start taking a drug that is going to lower my blood pressure…. What studies now show is that when people follow this course of action they are much more susceptible to getting all kinds of cancers. People given antihypertensive medications for a long time, have a higher incidence of cancer in all organs.”
It has been known for many years that high blood pressure is a risk factor for cancer. This association was presented in a recently published large observational study. However, a causative relationship has never been proven. Indeed, it is possible that high blood pressure and cancer have the same underlying risk factors, both may be related to smoking, the metabolic syndrome and unhealthy lifestyle in general. No scientific study has shown that medical treatment of high blood pressure increases the risk of cancer, as Dr Lodi seems to be suggesting.
Next Dr. Lodi reflects on the pathophysiology of hypertension.
“Well the blood pressure is elevated because the arteries are blocked. Because of my lifestyle, I’ve accumulated deposits in my arteries, and my body knows that if I’m going to stay alive I’ve got to get blood to all the organs of my body, and so in its innate wisdom it increases pressure to get blood and oxygen to all the system. So is that a problem? No, it’s saving my life: It’s keeping me alive! So the answer is not to artificially via a pharmaceutical product dilate those arteries and lower the blood pressure because I’m not accomplishing anything long-lasting with that approach. And I’m also removing what the body knew needed to happen for survival. You see, high blood pressure is not a disease; it’s the body’s effort to keep us alive. The real problem is the plugging of the arteries. And this is the true cause of any so-called disease and the root of what needs to be addressed.”
Dr. Lodi seems to believe that high blood pressure is caused by blocked or plugged arteries. However, most people with high blood pressure don’t have deposits in their arteries. He even arguments that high blood pressure is the body’s way to improve blood flow to vital organs, through the plugged arteries. Every doctor knows that this is completely wrong. Some might even call Lodi’s arguments complete rubbish, I would not blame them. The cause of high blood pressure is definitively not plugged or blocked arteries. However, as most doctors are aware of, high blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Treatment of high blood pressure has been proven to decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke. So, Dr. Lodi’s analogy does not seem to make any sense at all. If he does not make this right, what should we think about his theories on cancer and cancer treatment?
I believe Dr. Lodi’s main message is that the risk of cancer can be influenced by lifestyle. Food, in particular, is important. I don’t disagree with him on that. However, I don’t agree with him that cancer is not a disease and that there are no unpreventable factors, genetic or unknown, that predispose to the development of cancer.
In the introductory video in his website, Dr. Lodi says: “I love cancer. The reason I love cancer is because, in the vast majority of people with cancer, it is the most powerful divine tap on the shoulder“.
I wonder, if cancer is not a disease and only a tap on the shoulder, there is no disease at all. If you follow Dr. Lodi’s recommendations on how to live your life, you will either die of accident or old age, because there will be no disease. However, if Dr. Lodi wants people to believe his theories, he certainly will have to reconsider his analogies.