Study of water fast cancer treatment to be published

Fasting to treat cancer is “criminal quackery.”

That’s what an oncologist from Stanford Medical Center told his patient with four lemon-sized tumors and lymphoma before she undertook a 21-day water fast at TrueNorth Health Center in Santa Rosa, Calif.

Alan Goldhamer, director of the facility, shared the story Thursday night during a Vegetarian Society of Hawaii presentation called “Fasting: A Modern Application of an Ancient Practice” in the Cameron Center auditorium.

The husband of the oncologist’s patient had good results treating a separate medical issue at TrueNorth, and she wanted to give it a try. Against her doctor’s advice, she checked into the facility. The results shocked her Stanford doctor. Tests showed the absence of the tumors and no evidence of lymphoma, according to Goldhamer.

Goldhamer decided to submit the case study to one of the most esteemed medical journals in the world, against the advice of his colleague, Dr. John McDougall, who runs the McDougall Health & Medical Center, also in Santa Rosa.

McDougall predicted that the British Medical Journal wouldn’t publish it. “They’re a bunch of snobs,” he said.

“The paper is coming out in a week,” announced Goldhamer during his talk Thursday. “There’ll be a whole lot more doctors and programs doing this.”

The 59-bed, in-patient TrueNorth Health Center is one of the only facilities in the country that provides medically supervised fasting for patients. Goldhamer, a doctor of chiropractic, has been its director for more than 30 years. The center’s 50-member staff includes doctors of medicine, osteopathy, naturopathy, acupuncture and psychology.

“We do water-only fasts anywhere from five to 40 days,” said Goldhamer. “We’ve treated over 15,000 people, and they all survived.

“It is not starvation. It is exhausting labile nutritional reserves.”

Goldhamer said fasting protects normal cells. “This is being studied in the treatment of cancer,” he said, noting that drug companies are trying to develop a pill based on this research.

Goldhamer cautioned that people should not undertake a water fast without a medical doctor’s supervision, especially those with pre-existing health conditions or those taking any medication.

“Patient selection is important,” said Goldhamer.

There are two types of people who need to fast: “People who can’t change their diet and others who don’t like good food,” he said.

By good food, he means a plant-based diet that is free of added sugar, oil and salt.

That’s more than some people are willing to do, no matter how sick they are, said Goldhamer. A water fast can facilitate taste neuroadaptation to a plant-based diet that the patient previously believed was inedible, he said.

In addition to cancer patients, TrueNorth Health Center accepts patients seeking relief for a wide variety of ailments, most of which are behavior related. These include high blood pressure, diabetes and autoimmune disorders.

The reaction of the Stanford oncologist illustrates how water fasting may be met with alarm by people unfamiliar with the science behind it.

TrueNorth Health Center was sued for recommending fasting to members of a crane operators union by the state of California, said Goldhamer. It was later exonerated from any perceived danger.

Fasting has been practiced by humans for thousands of years.

“All major religions have a fasting tradition,” said Goldhamer.

During his presentation Thursday, he explained how humans evolved in an environment of scarcity and are biologically adapted to experiencing periods without food.

“In the last 100,000 years, the human brain has remained the same,” he said to illustrate how humans aren’t much different from their early predecessors.

Dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s pleasure centers, is released through obtaining two things: food and sex, said Goldhamer. Drugs like crack and chemicals in food like sugar or high-fructose corn syrup trigger the same reward centers in the brain and are a leading cause for many of the addictions affecting Western society today.

The Pleasure Trap, a book co-authored by Goldhamer, explains how this artificial stimulation of the brain is making humans sick.

Goldhamer laid out some of the facts during his talk:

* The average person in America will spend 15 to 18 years of his or her life being unhealthy.

* Behavioral choices are leading causes of death and an unhealthy life in America. Tobacco use, high blood pressure and alcohol abuse, respectively, are the first, second and third ultimate causes of death.

* America is No. 1 in increasing the rate of obesity, at 31 percent. Compare that with 3 percent in Japan and Korea.

* The majority of people in America will have high blood pressure at retirement.

Goldhamer showed some of the treatments to combat this epidemic, which revealed that sodium restriction is more powerful than drugs for reducing high blood pressure. Water fasting, followed by positive lifestyle changes, was the most effective treatment.

In addition to protecting normal cells and facilitating taste adaptation to a plant-based diet, water fasting removes toxins from the body, increases metabolism and changes behaviors, according to Goldhamer.

“It is the most powerful nontreatment treatment” he said.

Aside from booking a room at TrueNorth Health Center, Mauains have few options for finding an experienced medical doctor to monitor a water-only fast. However, with the upcoming case study publication in the British Medical Journal about the cancer patient who did a water fast at his facility, and other publicity, Goldhamer predicts more doctors will get on board.

“Doctors say this is the first time they’ve seen people get well,” said Goldhamer of the medical professionals who take advantage of training at his facility.

As for people who want to improve their health on their own, Goldhamer pointed to the recommended plant-based diet, proper sleep and exercise. He suggested the cookbook “Bravo!: Health Promoting Meals” from the TrueNorth Health Kitchen.

Goldhamer reiterated that people should not attempt a water-only fast on their own. The closest he would recommend for do-it-yourselfers is intermittent fasting, or intermittent feeding, in combination with the suggested plant-based diet.

An example of an intermittent diet would be a man eating only during an eight-hour window, say from noon to 8 p.m., and fasting for the remaining 16 hours of the day. There are a variety of intermittent diets, but he suggested the daily “feeding window” method.

For more information about TrueNorth Health Center, see www.healthpromoting.com.

* Rich Van Scoy can be reached richv@mauinews.com.