SECTION - Causes and Characteristics of Cancer - Part 1
Causes and Characteristics of Cancer - Part 2
Hydrogen Medicine
Magnesium Medicine
Bicarbonate Medicine
Iodine Medicine
Diets, Fasting and Super-Nutrition
CO2, Cancer and Breathing
Oxygen Therapy for Cancer Patients
Cannabis Medicine
Final Considerations

Lesson 11 – The Key Cause of Cancer is Oxygen Deficiency

There is a lot for us to learn about the causes of cancer but the most basic cause, the one that the other fundamental causes cause, is low oxygen delivery to the cells. “Low oxygen levels in cells is the primary cause of uncontrollable tumor growth in most cancers,” according to Dr. Ying Xu at the University of Georgia. The findings of his study run counter to widely accepted beliefs that genetic mutations are responsible for cancer growth. “If hypoxia, or low oxygen levels in cells, is proven to be a key driver of certain types of cancer, treatment plans for curing the malignant growth could change in significant ways,” said Dr. Xu. 

“Scientists have confirmed that long-term lack of oxygen in cells is the key driver of cancer growth,” says Ying Xu, Research Alliance Eminent Scholar and professor of bioinformatics and computational biology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

He says, “Low oxygen levels in a cell interrupt the activity of oxidative phosphorylation, a term for the highly efficient way that cells normally use to convert food to energy. As oxygen decreases, the cells switch to glycolysis to produce their energy units, called ATP. Glycolysis is a drastically less efficient way to obtain energy, and so the cancer cells must work even harder to obtain even more food, specifically glucose, to survive. When oxygen levels dip dangerously low, angiogenesis, or the process of creating new blood vessels, begins. The new blood vessels provide fresh oxygen, thus improving oxygen levels in the cell and tumor and slowing the cancer growth-but only temporarily.”

If you deprive a group of cells of vital oxygen some will die, but others will manage to alter their genetic software program. They will regress as a method of survival into the types of cells that were common millions of years ago when oxygen was at much lower concentrations. Deep in the Mediterranean, scientists have discovered complex animals known to live without oxygen. It was previously thought that only viruses and single-celled microbes could survive without oxygen long-term.

Cancer as such can be seen as an evolutionary throw-back, drawing from a genetic 'tool-kit' a billion years old, which still lies buried deep within the genome of our cells. Dr. Paul Davies calls this subterranean genetic layer Metazoa 1.0, and it contains pathways and genetic programs that were once indispensable for our ancient cellular predecessors that grew up in a radically different environment. One billion years ago atmospheric oxygen was exceptionally low since photosynthesis has not yet evolved to produce an abundant supply.

Cells at the beginning of life on earth had no choice but thrive in a low or no oxygen environment, which is exactly what cancer cells do and continue to do even when oxygen is present. But bombard them with intense levels of oxygen and they start to have problems and as Dr. Warburg inferred, caught earlier enough cancer cells will return to normal respiration. Dr. Robert Rowan says, “Dr. Otto Warburg emphasized that you can’t make a cell ferment unless a LACK OF OXYGEN is involved. In 1955, two American scientists, R.A. Malmgren and C.C. Flanigan, confirmed Warburg’s findings. They found that oxygen deficiency is ALWAYS present when cancer develops.” Researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center found that important regulatory molecules are decreased when deprived of oxygen, which leads to increased cancer progression in vitro and in vivo.

D F Treacher and R M Leach teach, “Oxygen transport from environmental air to the mitochondria of individual cells occurs as a series of steps. The system must be energy efficient (avoiding unnecessary cardiorespiratory work), allowing efficient oxygen transport across the extravascular tissue matrix. At the tissue level, cells must extract oxygen from the extracellular environment and use it efficiently in cellular metabolic processes.” As we shall see in other chapters there are many co-factors to oxygen transport including some of the basic minerals for life like magnesium, iodine, iron, bicarbonates and sulfur.

As we will see there are many factors that cause hypoxia (low oxygen conditions). What is interesting is the iodine, thyroid, oxygen and pH connection. Oxygen is our gasoline; our thyroid provides the spark that allows the flame of metabolism to be lit. Low thyroid increases oxygen cost, hinders metabolism and forces us to breathe more, which increases the oxygen cost of breathing. We may get more energy immediately, but the oxygen cost is high. Our engine overworks to make up for the “dirty spark plugs” of our thyroid and parathyroid glands.

A lack of thyroid hormones/iodine leads to a general decrease in the rate of utilization of fat, protein, and carbohydrate. The burning of our foods does not run cleanly when iodine is deficient, so we would expect oxygen and CO2 to be affected. Magnesium deficiencies, very common in modern man, also affects oxygen delivery. Red blood cells get bent out of shape when they are deprived of magnesium. Magnesium deficiencies are much more common inside the cells where they affect the mitochondria, which are at the center of respiration involving both O2 and CO2. 

“But nobody today can say that one does not know what cancer and its prime cause be. On the contrary, there is no disease whose prime cause is better known, so that today ignorance is no longer an excuse,” said Nobel Prize Winner Otto Warburg in a meeting of Nobel Laureates on June 30, 1966. Warburg is considered one of the 20th century’s leading biochemists. He was the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1931. In total, he was nominated for the award 47 times over the course of his career. Some people, to defend their ignorance, say we cannot rely on scientists from decades ago but that is like physicists saying we should forget about Einstein.

Fifty-three years later and oncologists still have it wrong and some even in the alternative medicine community can’t see straight on this crucial point. Too little work has been done to investigate the relationship between hypoxia and cancer. And too much cancer research has focused on designing drug treatments that counteract genetic mutations associated with a particular type of cancer. It has been one huge expensive mistake that is responsible for the pain, death and suffering of millions.

Treatments should have been focused on all the factors that increase oxygen delivery to the cells but there is little money in such an approach. The most basic real cause of cancer has been known for more than half a century and yet today modern oncology is still severely missing the mark. Not only are they using tests and treatments that cause cancer to treat cancer but their treatments further drive down oxygen levels creating even worse hypoxic conditions.

Warburg showed that cells could always be made cancerous by subjecting them to periods of hypoxia.[1] Cancer cells survive by utilizing a energy creating process that is advantageous in low oxygen environments. Cancer cells and yeasts both use anaerobic respiration for energy. Anaerobic means "without oxygen." Warburg found that you can reverse fermentation simply by adding oxygen – but only if you do it early enough to cancer cells. Low oxygenation does accelerate malignant progression and metastasis, thereby creating a poorer prognosis irrespective of which cancer treatment is used.

Medical scientists already know that apoptosis of T-leukemia and B-myeloma cancer cells can be induced by hyperbaric oxygen. If oxygen content in a cell is reduced by 35% of its normal requirement, then that particular cell will either die or quickly turn cancerous when it starts to ferment. The spread or metastases of cancer is inversely proportional to the amount of oxygen and the acidity around and inside of cancer cells. The more oxygen, the slower the cancer spreads. The less oxygen and the higher the acidity (more lactic acid) the faster the cancer spreads and the harder it is to kill even with the most toxic forms of chemotherapy.

What happens is that acidity depresses oxidation. Increasing alkalinity, even to a marked degree, greatly increases the rate of oxidation for there is much more oxygen around to oxidize. When acid conditions prevail the oxidative process inside the mitochondria is compromised and as we switch to more alkaline conditions fermentation, which cancer cells use, is curtailed.

According to Warburg, damaged cell respiration causes fermentation, resulting in low pH (acidity) at the cellular level. “In every case, during the cancer development, the oxygen respiration always falls, fermentation appears, and the highly differentiated cells are transformed into fermenting anaerobes, which have lost all their body functions and retain only the now useless property of growth and replication. Thus, when respiration disappears, life does not disappear, but the meaning of life disappears, and what remains are growing machines that destroy the body in which they grow.

The Warburg theory of cancer postulates that the driver of tumorigenesis is an insufficient cellular respiration caused by insult to mitochondria. In other words, instead of fully respiring in the presence of adequate oxygen, cancer cells ferment. Cancer is a metabolic disease, with fermentation caused by malfunctioning mitochondria, resulting in increased anabolism and decreased catabolism.

Hypoxia or anoxia results in a dramatic decrease in the levels of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Hypoxia is the stimulus that creates the need for a replacement for the lost ATP. If a cell wants to survive (not suffer cell death) it must turn to fermentation and it does. When oxygen becomes limiting, mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OxPhos) is restricted and pyruvate is converted to lactate instead, which increases acid conditions which further stimulates cancer.

Very crucial to cellular health is the level of oxygen cells receive. Most tissues do not experience oxygen levels at 20-21%. In our lungs, oxygen levels are around 14.5% and in peripheral tissues oxygen can be as low as 3.4-6.8%. The term physiological normoxia is used to define oxygen levels between 3-7%.

Pathological hypoxia may occur in certain instances of loss or occlusion of blood vessels or, in such cases as cancer, leaky and inadequate vasculature. In these examples, O2 levels tend to fall below 2%, but can range from 0.3- 4.2%. The lowest level of O2, or being oxygen-free, is referred to as an anaerobic environment. Many microorganisms, including bacteria within the digestive tract of humans and at the bottom of the ocean are considered anaerobic species. Since many of these species would be killed off by any trace of O2, these microorganisms must be studied by scientists within an environment completely devoid of O2.

Dr. Rockwell from Yale University School of Medicine (USA) studied malignant changes on the cellular level and wrote, “The physiological effects of hypoxia and the associated micro environmental inadequacies increase mutation rates, select for cells deficient in normal pathways of programmed cell death, and contribute to the development of an increasingly invasive, metastatic phenotype.” In response to hypoxia, mitochondria generate an initial burst of ROS.

Two papers appearing in the March 13 (2008) issue of the journal Nature conforming again to Warburg’s theories. Led by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre (BIDMC) and Harvard Medical School, the papers found that the metabolic process that has come to be known as the Warburg effect is essential for tumor’ rapid growth and identifies the M2 form of pyruvate kinase (PKM2), an enzyme involved in sugar metabolism, as an important mechanism behind this process.

“We showed that that hypoxia causes a down regulation of, or decrease in, quantities of Drosha and Dicer, enzymes that are necessary for producing microRNAs (miRNAs). MiRNAs are molecules naturally expressed by the cell that regulate a variety of genes,” said Dr. Anil Sood, professor of gynecologic oncology and reproductive medicine and cancer biology. “At a functional level, this process results in increased cancer progression when studied at the cellular level.”

Dr. Robert J. Gillies and team from Wayne State University School of Medicine said, “In every case, the peritumoral pH was acidic and heterogeneous and the regions of highest tumor invasion corresponded to areas of lowest pH. In support of the functional importance of our findings, oral administration of sodium bicarbonate was sufficient to increase peritumoral pH and inhibit tumor growth and local invasion in a pre-clinical model, supporting the acid-mediated invasion hypothesis.” For this and other reasons it is heavily suggested that bicarbonates should be used in every cancer patients protocol.

Oxygen stimulates the growth of new blood vessels in tumors and the common belief is that this leads to metastasis and genetic instability in cancer.[3] The theory follows that breathing oxygen or enriching the oxygen content of hypoxic (low in oxygen) cancer tissues improves therapy. Instead of boosting a tumor’s growth potential, it has the opposite effect and weakens the cancer cells from the inside, making them much more sensitive to harsh radiotherapy or any therapy that is applied for cancer treatment. Cancer cells fight to survive but oxygen makes them vulnerable to any other treatment used. Cancers low in oxygen are three times more resistant to radiotherapy. Restoring oxygen levels to that of a normal cell makes the tumors three times more sensitive to treatment.

UT Southwestern scientists led by Dr. Ralph Mason reported in the online issue of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine that countering hypoxic and aggressive tumors with an "oxygen challenge" — inhaling oxygen while monitoring tumor response — coincides with a greater delay in tumor growth in an irradiated animal model.

Scientists at the University of Colorado Cancer Center said, “It seems as if a tumor deprived of oxygen would shrink. However, numerous studies have shown that tumor hypoxia, in which portions of the tumor have significantly low oxygen concentrations, is in fact linked with more aggressive tumor behavior and poorer prognosis. It’s as if rather than succumbing to gently hypoxic conditions, the lack of oxygen commonly created as a tumor outgrows its blood supply signals a tumor to grow and metastasize in search of new oxygen sources — for example, hypoxic bladder cancers are likely to metastasize to the lungs, which is frequently deadly.”[5]

A team of researchers lead by Dr. Bradly Wouters, at the University of Toronto, Canada assert that tumors with large areas with low levels of oxygen (areas known as hypoxic regions) are associated with poor prognosis and treatment response.[6] Not all the regions of a tumor are equal in terms of their oxygen levels. One clinically important implication of this is that tumors with large areas with low levels of oxygen (areas known as hypoxic regions) are associated with poor prognosis and treatment response.

Dr. Paolo Michieli and colleagues, at the University of Turin Medical School, Italy found that tumors rely on hypoxia to promote their own expansion. Hypoxia is a key factor driving tumor progression. This is a hallmark of malignant tumors and has been suggested to promote tumor progression.[7]

Dr. Chiang and colleagues at Burnham Institute for Medical Research (Burnham) say, “Cells initially shut down the most energy-costly processes, such as growth, when they’re under hypoxic stress.”[8]

In another chapter we will discuss in depth another major point made by Warburg. “If our internal environment was changed from an acidic oxygen deprived environment to an alkaline environment full of oxygen, viruses, bacteria and fungus cannot live.” The fact is that these infections are another major cause of cancer.

Special Note: It is interesting to read Dr. Johanna Budwig saying that, “Von Helmholtz had attempted to get more oxygen into the cell. He showed that when we treat doves who have become asphyctic (i.e. doves that have been fed in such a manner that oxygen absorption is blocked), with increased ozone or oxygen, they then die more quickly – and this is still the case today. If the “oxygen bomb” is set up in the hospital for a person with oxygen deficiency, then the sick person dies more quickly.”

Dr. Budwig wrote, “Without fatty acids, the respiratory enzymes cannot function and the person suffocates, even when he is given oxygen-rich air. A deficiency in these highly unsaturated fatty-acids impairs many vital functions. First of all, it decreases the person’s supply of available oxygen. We cannot survive without air and food; nor can we survive without these fatty acids. That has been proven long ago.”

I wrote in my essay ‘Oxygen can be Dangerous but is Necessary’ that new Canadian research published in April 2018, in The Lancet, presented evidence that supplemental oxygen, when given liberally to acutely ill patients, increases the risk of death in people with sepsis, stroke, cardiac arrest, as well as those with trauma or requiring emergency surgery. This seems to confirm what Dr. Budwig stated.

The Natural Allopathic protocol conforms to this knowledge and that is why we use a full protocol that includes many of the factors favorable to oxygen transport and absorption. And that is why we recommend for the future of medicine that hydrogen always be mixed with oxygen as CO2 already is.

Hydrogen makes oxygen safer for several reasons. First, we need less oxygen for healing when hydrogen is present and that is illustrated by the fact that at 2000 feet below sea level divers breathe up to 96 percent hydrogen and only 4 percent oxygen. Also, hydrogen puts out the oxidative fires inherent in the body’s use of oxygen. Hydrogen turns the nastiest free radicals into water.

Oxygen is invincible in its ability to give or take away life and that goes as much for cancer cells as it does for healthy human cells. Oxygen can heal and it can kill so it is perfect for infections of all types. Every ozone user knows this. One cannot stay physically present on earth forever but with enough oxygen enduring youth can be ours until our time is up!

Although oxygen will not save everyone oxygen does operate at the heart of life, along with its sister, CO2. There is nothing more basic to life, so command of both carbon dioxide and oxygen give us what we need to fight cancer and many other serious diseases. The only safe way to use oxygen at high enough levels to kill all cancer cells is when it is used with carbon dioxide.


[2]              Acidity generated by the tumor microenvironment drives local Invasion; Veronica Estrella, Tingan Chen, Mark Lloyd, et al; Cancer Res Published OnlineFirst January 3, 2013; doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-2796

[3] Cancer-related inflammation, the seventh hallmark of cancer: links to genetic instability;Francesco Colotta1et al; Carcinogenesis vol.30 no.7 pp.1073–1081, 2009;

Nerviano Medical Sciences, Nerviano, 20014 Nerviano, Milan, I;

[4] UT Southwestern Medical Center. "Oxygen – key to most life – decelerates many cancer tumors when combined with radiation therapy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 July 2013. <>.

[5]  S. Thomas, M. Harding, S. C. Smith, J. B. Overdevest, M. D. Nitz, H. F. Frierson, S. A. Tomlins, G. Kristiansen, D. Theodorescu. CD24 is an effector of HIF-1 driven primary tumor growth and metastasisCancer Research, 2012; DOI:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-11-3666;

[6] Kasper M.a. Rouschop, Twan Van Den Beucken, Ludwig Dubois, Hanneke Niessen, Johan Bussink, Kim Savelkouls, Tom Keulers, Hilda Mujcic, Willy Landuyt, Jan Willem Voncken, Philippe Lambin, Albert J. Van Der Kogel, Marianne Koritzinsky, and Bradly G. Wouters. The unfolded protein response protects human tumor cells during hypoxia through regulation of the autophagy genes MAP1LC3B and ATG5Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2009; DOI: 10.1172/JCI40027

[7] Maria Galluzzo, Selma Pennacchietti, Stefania Rosano, Paolo M. Comoglio and Paolo Michieli. Prevention of hypoxia by myoglobin expression in human tumor cells promotes differentiation and inhibits metastasisJournal of Clinical Investigation, 2009; DOI: 10.1172/JCI36579

[8] Burnham Institute. (2009, August 9). Unraveling How Cells Respond To Low Oxygen. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 7, 2014 from