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Dr. Revici’s Approach: A Metabolic Perspective
by Harold J. Kristal, D.D.S.
Approximately twelve years ago, I had a chance to meet the late great Romanian physician Dr. Emanuel Revici at a gathering in San Francisco to honor his extraordinary research work. Dr. Revici, who developed the theory of anabolic and catabolic imbalances as a factor in disease progression, was a genius whose monumental contribution to medicine and to our understanding of the disease process has yet to be widely recognized. Recently I had a chance to meet with Dr. Revici’s niece, Elena Avram, who is proudly carrying on her uncle’s work at the Revici Metropolitan Center in New York City. She gave me a copy of The Doctor Who Cures Cancer by William Kelley Eidem, a book about Dr. Revici’s work, as well as a short monograph titled Cancer: Causes and Implications for Treatment that she herself had written summarizing Dr. Revici’s observations about the pathogenesis and progression of cancer. I will be drawing primarily on this short essay in the following discussion of Dr. Revici’s research, and how it dovetails with my own work on Metabolic Typing.
The current thinking is that cancer is caused by an alteration of the DNA at a cellular level. Dr. Revici concedes that this might indeed play a role, but he feels that it is neither the only nor the most important cause. Oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes control how cells divide, playing an important but not exclusive role in the evolution of cancer. Proto-oncogenes exist in all cells, and may be converted into active oncogenes that promote unregulated cell growth when damaged by free radicals, toxins or viruses. On the other side of the coin, tumor suppressor genes down-regulate cell growth, but are also susceptible to damage by the same influences as the proto-oncogenes, in which case they lose their ability to prevent unregulated cell growth. Thus, a lack of homeostasis at the cellular level, due either to damaged proto-oncogenes or tumor suppressor genes, can set the stage for the unregulated cell growth that characterizes cancer.
The current accepted medical treatments for cancer involve directly killing the cells that display such unregulated growth. In addition to surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are the only two accepted forms of cytotoxic therapy. However, three very important questions come to mind when considering these treatment modalities. 1) Do they really address the cause of the cancer? 2) Do they risk causing too much “collateral damage” to the patient? 3) How effective are they at preventing a recurrence of the disease? When used judiciously, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation may have important roles to play in controlling the progression of cancer, but at best they represent a delaying tactic. The underlying cause of the disease remains unaddressed.
Dr. Revici’s great contribution to our understanding of the pathogenesis of cancer stems from his delineation of the links between the five progressive stages of cancer development and the different levels of hierarchical organization in the body that are affected by each stage. This hierarchy involves the sub-nuclear, nuclear, cellular, tissue, organ and systemic levels, correlated with the stages of initiation, proliferation, invasion, metastasis and shock, Dr. Revici’s term for end-stage cancer.
Impairment of the DNA occurring at the sub-nuclear level represents the initiation stage in the pathogenesis of cancer. This impairment can be caused by free radicals, chemical carcinogens, radiation, viruses, physical trauma, and acute or chronic stressors. When the DNA of enough cells has been deranged, it marks the transition to the proliferation stage. The invasion stage follows if the unregulated cell growth is able to spread from the cell to the tissue level, in part mediated by the secretion of proteolytic enzymes by the cancer cells targeted to break down the connective tissue. This itself can only successfully occur in tissues which are deficient in protease inhibitors, whose purpose is precisely to protect against such invasive destruction of the integrity of the tissues.
Once the cancer has moved from the cell to the tissue, it has the potential to migrate via the circulatory system (bloodstream and lymph), and to attach itself to distant organs. However, as with the shifts between the previous levels, the process of metastasis can only occur if certain conditions are met, including the cancer cells detaching themselves from the original tumor, evading the patrolling white blood cells of the immune system, successfully crossing the vascular wall and attaching to the target organ, and establishing an adequate blood supply for the survival of the new tumor. If any one of these numerous steps is interrupted, metastasis will not occur. The final or shock stage is characterized by disruption of metabolic function at the systemic level, and typically involves fatigue, generalized weakness and cachexia.
There is a widespread bias among alternative health practitioners favoring anabolic processes over catabolic ones. This, however, is an oversimplification that Dr. Revici went to great pains to clarify. Both processes are vital to the survival of the organism, and need to be in proper balance for optimal health to be maintained. A persistent anabolic imbalance is equally undesirable as a persistent catabolic imbalance. In fact, up until the shock or terminal phase, the progression of cancer is marked by an imbalance of anabolic factors, which push the cell in the direction of unregulated growth, beyond the original need of the body to heal itself from the damage caused by the initiating insult. It is only in the shock phase that the catabolic processes start to dominate the anabolic, and the organism begins to break down at a systemic level. However, even at this stage, the cancer process itself remains anabolic; but it has so deranged and destabilized the metabolism that the body systemically begins a downward catabolic spiral.
Conventional treatment focuses exclusively on destroying the cancerous cells, but in so doing it fails to address the underlying anabolic imbalance that set the stage for the development of the cancerous condition in the first place. It is well known that cancerous cells are found in most healthy middle aged or elderly people, but they are usually kept in check or destroyed by a well-functioning immune system. It is only where an anabolic imbalance persists, or when the various lines of defense between the different levels of bodily organizational are compromised, that cancer can take hold and spread. An effective treatment protocol must therefore address the underlying imbalances if it is to have a reliable success rate.
This bias in favor of the anabolic in alternative health circles parallels another widespread misunderstanding that I constantly encounter in teaching my own Metabolic Typing work to other health practitioners. There is a widespread belief abroad that most people are too acid and need to be alkalized. In point of fact, an overly alkaline condition (as measured at the level of the blood pH) is almost as common as an overly acid condition (acid and alkaline being here defined relative to the perceived ideal venous blood pH of 7.46, as defined by the groundbreaking work of George Watson, Ph.D.). Furthermore an overly alkaline condition can have equally dire consequences as an overly acid condition in terms of disease progression.
I myself sustained an injury to my right inner thigh after being hit with tremendous force by a tennis ball during a game. The leg swelled up rapidly to the size of a small football, turning black and blue. Within thirty days the bruising and pain had subsided, but the swelling remained for a full seven years. However, during this time, cancer growth was initiated by the localized tissue trauma, and was able to proliferate and invade the surrounding muscle tissue, perhaps, in part, because my immune system was weakened by years of exposure to mercury as a practicing dentist (putting it in during the first 30 years of practice, and taking it out during the second 20 years!). However, the cancer never did metastasize, probably because my lifestyle provided enough support to my metabolism to resist any attempts by the cancer to spread. I have always eaten well, taken generous amounts of supplements, exercised daily, and maintained a positive mental attitude towards life. The liposarcoma was removed surgically, and despite the strong objections of my oncologists, I refused chemotherapy and radiation, and have been in remission for over four years.
If the cancer remains at the sub-nuclear, nuclear or cellular levels it may never present a serious problem to the health of the individual. During the initiation, proliferation and invasion stages of cancer, numerous nutritional means may be employed to support the body’s own efforts to contain or destroy the cancer cells, and to slow down the hyperactive anabolic processes. When it transitions to the organ level, surgery may be the best strategy, along with nutritional support. But by the time a patient arrives at the shock stage, there may be no realistic recourse except the judicious application of a certain amount of chemotherapy, radiation or both to slow down the unregulated cell growth. However, it must not be overdone, as it generally is, because the body will be in too weakened a condition to deal with the harsh side effects and further immune suppression unleashed by the chemotherapy itself. It is, of course, essential to continue to nutritionally support the body in its attempts to stave off the catabolic destruction that is taking it over. Thus we have a localized anabolic imbalance simultaneous with a systemic catabolic reaction.
Every day thousands of cells suffer damage to their DNA but do not go on to develop cancer; so, clearly DNA damage alone is not sufficient to cause cancer. Dr. Revici discuses how the cellular environment or terrain has to be in a state of imbalance to create conditions conducive to cancer cell replication. Not only must the damaged DNA escape destruction by the immune system, but it also needs to proliferate and work its way up through the body’s hierarchical organization from the sub-nuclear to the nuclear, cellular, tissue and organ levels, overcoming numerous obstacles in the process. It is well known that many older men die with, not from prostate cancer, and a similar situation may exist with older women and breast cancer. In these cases the cancer is either sufficiently contained or growing so slowly that it presents no significant threat to the body. Clearly, in these cases, the terrain of the body does not support the rapid progression of the disease. In fact, it could be convincingly argued that the development of cancerous changes in the cellular structure is a perfectly normal phenomenon that only becomes problematic under certain specific metabolic conditions.
My own work with Metabolic Typing is based on balancing the metabolism with targeted foods and nutritional supplementation, using the pH of the blood as the central marker. It was Dr. George Watson who originally observed how small changes in the venous blood pH could affect the psychological states of psychiatric patients, reporting his observations in his classic book Nutrition and your Mind. Rudolf Wiley, Ph.D. noted that this same phenomenon among the population at large, and in relation to physical disease conditions. Metabolic Typing as practiced today is a system of nutritional analysis that seeks to balance the physiologic terrain in such a way that cancer and other diseases are less likely to occur and, if they do, it helps the body deal more effectively with them by helping to balance the underlying metabolic processes. My work is preventive in orientation, and I myself do not treat cancer or any other disease. Rather, I provide nutritional tools to help balance the inner environment so that the body itself is able to self-correct. Cancer may never be “cured” but, if it caught early enough, a body that is metabolically balanced certainly can contain it and prevent it from progressing into a life-threatening disease.
Dr. Harold J. Kristal was a pioneer in the emerging field of Metabolic Typing. He is the author, along with James M. Haig, N.C., of The Nutrition Solution: A Guide to Your Metabolic Type (North Atlantic Books). For a schedule of up-coming Personalized Metabolic Nutrition Seminars for health professionals on the theory and practice of Metabolic Typing, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (800) 772-0646.
Avram, Elena. Cancer: Causes and Implications for Treatment. Revici Metropolitan Center
Eidem, William Kelley. The Doctors Who Cures Cancer. Sullivan and Foster, 1997
Kristal, Harold J., D.D.S. and James M., Haig, N.C. The Nutrition Solution: A Guide to Your Metabolic Type.
North Atlantic Books, 2002
Schenker, Guy R., D.C. An Analytical System of Clinical Nutrition. Nutri-Spec, 1999
Watson, George, Ph.D. Nutrition and Your Mind: The Psychochemical Response. Harper and Row, 1972
Wiley, Rudolf A., Ph.D. BioBalance. Essential Science Publishing, 1998
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