The Trophoblast and the Origins of Cancer: One Solution to the Medical Enigma of our Time
By Nicholas J. Gonzalez, MD and Linda L. Issacs, MD
New Spring Press
At long last we have a book by Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez, outlining his theory of cancer and corresponding treatment.
The story begins with biologist Dr. John Beard (1858-1924), who first proposed the trophoblast theory of cancer in his 1911 book The Enzyme Treatment of Cancer. Based on a lifetime of research, Beard proposed that cancer developed from nests of germ cells scattered throughout the body, the remnants of their migration from the yolk sac of the newly impregnated ovum. According to Beard, normally such germ cells remain quiescent, but if stimulated into activity, they could develop into a rapidly dividing malignancy, complete with its own trophoblast.
The trophoblast is a rapidly dividing cellular mass that grows outside the egg sack; it eventually develops into a large part of the placenta. Trophoblasts are invasive, eroding and metastasizing cells that burrow into the endometrium in order to implant the embryo. This is a highly complex process involving the secretion of numerous hormones, enzymes and other factors that allow the trophoblast to literally eat away at the dense fibrous tissue to the endometrium; in fact, the trophoblastic tissue kidnaps the mother’s immune system, “encouraging large numbers of lymphocytes and other immune cells to migrate into the uterine dedidua in a mock inflammatory reaction, with the benefits of angiogenesis but without the problem of immune rejection.”
Beard incurred the wrath of his profession with his unconventional theories; yet, just recently scientists have recognized the similaritiy of trophoblastic cells and cancer cells: “Although the placenta is a normal tissue, its constituent cells, the trophoblastic cells, share several common features with malignant cells, Their high cell proliferation, their lack of cell-contact inhibition, their migratory and invasive properties as well as their capacity to escape effectors of the immune system, in particular during the first trimester of pregnancy, have led to the definition of the trophoblast as a ‘pseudo-malignant’ type of tissue. . .”
The current theory of cancer presumes that the normal differentiated cells of the various organs somehow reverse themselves into an undifferentiated state and then begin growing wildly. But Beard insisted that malignancies develop only from misplaced trophoblastic cells—or what he called “germ” cells, in distinction to the “somatic” or differentiated cells of the various organs. We now know from studies in mice that during the early days of embryo development, a small group of the undifferentiated germ cells migrate from the epiblast (cells adjacent to the trophoblast) to a location at the base of the future umbilical cord. These cells then enter the embryo where most of them migrate to the gonadal tissues, but some of them are left behind, scattered in the various organs and tissues. Beard referred to these as “vagrant” germ cells and believed that cancer occurred under circumstances that caused these cells to behave like the invasive, proliferative trophoblast.
Modern biology vindicates Beard’s research. Today we call these “germ” cells stem cells, and scientists have discovered that stem cells hang out in the various organs, creating new differentiated cells to replace cells lost through cell death or injury. It is now an accepted fact that mature, differentiated cells do not ever divide; only the stem cells divide and then differentiate into the kinds of cells with which they are surrounded.
Beard reasoned that the best treatment for cancer involved providing the substances that caused the trophoblast to stop proliferating; this happens when the fetal pancreas comes online and begins producing pancreatic enzymes.
Fast forward to the 1950s and the colorful dentist William Kelley. Kelley began treating cancer patients with large amounts of digestive enzymes, along with dietary changes, supplements and detoxification procedures like coffee enemas (which help to remove dead cancerous tissue and toxic components given off during the therapy). Dr. Gonzalez knew Kelley and worked with him, ultimately writing up fifty detailed case reports representing twenty-six different types of cancer, for each documenting excellent tumor regression and patient survival.
The Trophoblast and the Origins of Cancer is a fascinating read, with much difficult material carefully explained. As a bonus, the authors provide an excellent discussion on the production methods used to obtain pancreatic enzymes; Gonzalez has obviously done his homework on this subject and has figured out the best way to produce an effective product. He believes that the inconsistent nature of Kelley’s treatment results is due to the fact that the enzyme products he was using were not always activated in the body.
The one flaw in the book is the lack of discussion about the nutritional component of his therapy. Gonzalez plans to address this complex subject in a companion book on the work of Dr. Kelley, but it would be helpful to have at least a summary of the dietary guidelines in this volume. (A third book, about the sabotage of a National Institutes of Health trial on the Gonzalez protocol is also in the works.)
We’d also like to see a discussion of the role of vitamin A in cancer prevention, because vitamin A is the vitamin that tells the stem cells how to become differentiated cells; thus a deficiency in vitamin A might lead to the proliferation of stem cells waiting in vain for their orders to differentiate.
Gonzalez has made an invaluable contribution to medical progress by putting the whole story together in a readable way, and describing the modern research that vindicates Dr. Beard.The oncology community is just beginning to connect the dots that Beard connected almost one hundred years ago. This book will hasten the process and represents a huge step towards acceptance of new, more humane and more effective treatments for cancer, that most dreadful disease of civilization.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Winter 2009.