Brandon Eleuterio

Book Reviews

Tripping over the Truth

How the Metabolic Theory of Cancer Is Overturning One of Medicine’s Most Entrenched Paradigms

Author: Travis Christofferson

ISBN: 1603587292

Length: 288 pages

Date read: 8/13/2018

My rating: 5/5

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It’s been a year since I read this book and it continues to influence my thinking. I once assumed finding a cure for cancer was a straightforward process – keep trying new ideas until one works; the scientific method in it’s purest form. Unfortunately, the real world of scientific research is more complicated. Things like money, bureaucracy, and human nature tend to get in the way of progress.

As a problem solver, I sometimes find myself so far down a rabbit hole, I start believing the end is near, not realizing that maybe I’ve gone down the wrong hole. Or perhaps I catch myself and question the journey. But I’ve come so far, I can’t turn back now! This is known as the sunk cost fallacy. Tripping over the Truth reminds me that no matter how big the investment of time and resources, it’s often wise to step back and try a different route.

Readability – 4/5

Parts can be technical. If you’re willing to push through, the stories of how doctors and researchers have battled cancer through the ages are worth it. I couldn’t put the book down, mainly because I enjoy having my assumptions questioned. Despite many obstacles, the author left me believing a cure is close.

You might enjoy this book if…

You or someone you know is battling cancer, or you’re interested in scientific research.

Key Takeaways

  1. “Maybe we are losing the war against cancer because scientists are chasing a flawed scientific paradigm, and cancer is not a disease of damaged DNA but rather one of defective metabolism.”
  2. The Warburg effect was discovered by Otto Warburg in 1924. Have we been ignoring the true cause of cancer since then?
  3. Are we making progress? Christofferson pulls a sobering stat from a 2004 Fortune article by Clifton Leaf: “[T]he current death rate from cancer was still the same as it was in 1950.”
  4. “Among those ages 45 to 64, cancer is responsible for more deaths than the next three causes—heart disease, accidents, and stroke—put together.”
  5. The cause of cancer is complex, therefore the treatment must also be complex. But, what if the cause is simple and the cure is simple?
  6. Cancer cells are more vulnerable to reactive oxygen species (free radicals) than healthy cells. Antioxidants actually help cancer cells. “[A]ntioxidants may even help cause cancer in the first place.”
  7. The Ketogenic diet “makes healthy cells healthier and cancer cells sicker”. It prevents cancer cells from making their own antioxidants and forces healthy cells to manufacture more of their own antioxidants.
  8. The Ketogenic diet can make other therapies like chemo more effective and less toxic.
  9. Dr. Thomas Seyfried’s believes in the “press-pulse” strategy of treatment. “First pressing on cancer cells via the ketogenic diet, followed by pulses of metabolic therapies.”
  10. “Because metabolic cancer treatment is so cheap, ironically, it is difficult to get funding.”
  11. “A mere 6.7 percent of drugs that enter clinical trials make it to FDA approval.” The FDA is protecting us, but are they being too cautious?
  12. Without taking risks, progress crawls. Some researchers think cancer can be treated successfully with a combination of therapies. Unfortunately, “the clinical trial framework established by the FDA encourages the testing of single agents, one at a time. It is a slow and frustrating process.”
  13. “[I]n Turkey guidelines for the care of patients with very advanced cancers are much more permissive than the United States and the EU. Oncologists are given the latitude to try anything, within reason, that they think might help—in other words, they are given permission to figure it out.”

My favorite part of the book

The afterword. Reading about scientists who are working outside the system and taking risks, to find cancer treatments that work.

Why did I read this book?

My wife recommended it. I’d also heard it mentioned in Tim Ferriss’s interview with Dominic D’Agostino (who wrote the forward).

What other books did this inspire me to read?

Cancer as a Metabolic Disease – by Thomas Seyfried

Best Quote

How many other cancers could be cured if talented oncologists were given the chance to “figure it out”?

– Travis Christofferson

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