The last two weeks have been busy and hence the combined update for week 67 and 68. Here are the highlights:
- Dyanne has started taking iron tablets to increase and it seems this has reduced fatigue.
- We were in Frankfurt last week and got a new vaccine injection, as well as new injections of nivolumab and ipilimumab (both at low doses). We also got some good news. The team in Frankfurt has done some further testing to investigate the immune response that the vaccine has generated. They have found that another two peptides have generated an immune response. So we now have a total of three peptides which each have generated a CD4 response. No CD8 response has been generated, and no one knows quite why. However, our doctors in Germany seemed very pleased with the CD4 responses and we hope this means that Dyanne’s immue system is helping to battle the cancer.
- As expected, Dyanne is having some side effects from the ipilimumab injection. A bit of stomach issues now, and quite likely some other issues later this week. We will see and cross our fingers the side effects will not be too bad.
Here is how the immune response to the second vaccine cocktail looks like:
Last week, I was at the World Conference on Lung Cancer (WCLC) in Vienna. It is the world’s largest gathering of lung cancer researchers and doctors. Lots can be said about the conference, but I will focus on the talk that I found the most fascinating: new research indicating that cow milk may be the cause of many cancers, and (yet more) evidence that most of us get too little sun exposure. The talk was by Professor Emeritus and Nobel Laureate in Medicine, Dr Harald zur Hausen. In the late 1970s zur Hausen discovered that cervical cancer often are caused by human papilloma viruses (HPV). This discovery later enabled the development of vaccines in the decades to come will save hundreds of thousands from dying from cervical cancer.
So, what is the latest theory of Dr zur Hausen? I will not try to explain the details (they are above my paygrade anyway), but below is a short summary of what I have understood.
Dr zur Hausen believes that consumption of cow milk and bovine meat may cause a certain type of infections in cells. If the same cells later are also infected with certain viruses (e.g. Herpes virus), and the person is lacking vitamin D, then several types of solid tumors may develop, including lung cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer. Dr zur Hausen notes that the whole process can take decades and involve several factors. Hence the reason no one has figured it out yet. If you think all of this sounds far-fetched, consider this:
- Workers of slaughterhouses and butchers have significantly increased risk of lung cancer (and no, it is not because they smoke).
- A recent study from Sweden found that people who are lactose intolerante have a 45% reduced risk of getting lung cancer.
- India has one of the lowest incidences of lung cancer in the world. And they have holy cows.
- Mongolians eat a lot of red meat, but they don’t eat the type of bovine meat that is common in much of the rest of the world. Surprisingly, they have a very low incidence of colon cancer, for which red meat consumption is a known risk factor. Mongolians also have low risks of breast cancer and a relatively low risk of lung cancer.
- Dr zur Hausen and his team have discovered some new types of singel-stranded DNA in the blood of dairy cows and in commercially available dairy products. And they believe that these DNA agents are what infects human cells and, perhaps decades later, play a central role in the development of lung, breast and colon cancer.
- Dr zur Hausen also believes vitamin D deficiency is a central component. If vitamin D is at a good level, it is much harder for cancer to develop.
Dr zur Hausen’s model is summarized on this figure:
So, Dyanne and I have now cut out cow milk from our diet and, importantly, from our daughter’s diet. Oat milk is an excellent replacement. We will also steer away from bovine meat. Yesterday I also went to the tanning studio next door and soaked up some sun light (avoiding sun burn is important though). I plan to repeat that several times this winter.
And no, don’t expect our public health officials to update their advice on cow milk consumption (they will claim it is good for another decade or two) or the importance of sun avoidance (sun is bad for you and tanning studies will kill you!). There is too much inertia, pride, bad management, doubt and too many cow milk lobbyists for them to update their harmful publich health advice.
If you would like to read the whole presentation by Dr zur Hausen, I have put it in this dropbox folder. In the same folder, I have also put an article by Dr zur Hausen from 2015. The article is focused on breast and colon cancer, as well as multiple sclerosis, and do not mention lung cancer. However, the arguments are virtually the same.
Finally, here is a photo from Vienna. Having a glass of red wine with world famous lung oncologist and researcher Dr Rafael Rosell and his right hand woman, Dr Niki Karachaliou, was both an honour and a pleasure.