by DND | Mar 22, 2023
Understanding Cancer: Preventing and Lowering Your Risk | Joe Zundell PhD
Dr. Joe Zundell received his PhD in cancer biology through the University of the Sciences and The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, PA. As a cancer biologist he has over 10 years of cancer research experience. Much of his published research has focused on finding new therapies for the treatment of many different cancer types upon epigenetic and metabolic characteristics of cancers. Currently, he is a Research Scientist at a biotherapeutic company near Philadelphia where he is examining Immunotherapies for treating cancers. Joe aims to develop and characterize therapies to enhance cancer patient outcomes. Secondly, he aims to produce educational tools to enable better scientific understanding and instructing. Thirdly, and lastly, he aims to have his own lab with his own projects to progress cancer research.
In this episode we discuss:
– What causes cancer.
– How can you lower your risk of cancer?
– The food and lifestyle practices that actually make a difference.
– Can supplements prevent cancer?
Dr. Zundell, Dr Lyon
Dr Lyon 00:01
Welcome to the Dr. Gabrielle Lyon show where I believe a healthy world is based on transparent conversations. In this episode of The Dr. Gabrielle Lyon show, I sit down with Dr. Joe Zundell, who received his PhD in cancer biology through the University of the sciences, and the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, as a cancer biologist, he has over 10 years of cancer research experience, much of his published research has focused on finding new therapies for the treatment of many different cancer types on epigenetic and metabolic characteristics of cancer. We talk in great detail about a few things that I think are going to be very valuable for you. Number one, what is cancer? Number two, what relationship does diet play in cancer promotion and cancer causing? Number three, what do we actually know about what causes cancer? And what can we do about it? This is a very important and complex topic that deserves at least one other episode. There’s nothing more scary than a cancer diagnosis. I think that we can all agree whether we’ve had it ourselves or someone we love has gotten this diagnosis, it can really leave us helpless. It is my wish that you really sit down and listen to this very transparent conversation with Dr. Joe Zundell. Dr. Joe Zundell.
Dr. Zundell 01:48
Dr Lyon 01:48
Thanks so much for being here.
Dr. Zundell 01:50
Thanks for having me,
Dr Lyon 01:50
was not expected you to be tatted up, but love it.
Dr. Zundell 01:54
Dr Lyon 01:55
Absolutely love it.
Dr. Zundell 01:56
Yeah, we can talk about some other time.
Dr Lyon 01:57
And well, maybe we’ll talk about it today.
Dr. Zundell 01:59
Dr Lyon 02:00
I wanted to have you on because there’s a lot of interest and information in the space of cancer. And you’re actually a cancer researcher and well published, I was pretty impressed.
Dr. Zundell 02:10
Thanks. I appreciate a lot of effort into those publications.
Dr Lyon 02:13
I would say that there’s nothing more scary for my patients or really for any individual than cancer. I’m curious as to how you actually got involved in cancer research?
Dr. Zundell 02:23
Yeah, that’s a great question. And it’s something that I try and maintain transparency on my own platforms with. So a lot of reasons why I gotten involved in cancer research was largely personal. So as I’ve spoken with you kind of offline. Personally, my mom had cancer, she was diagnosed with esophageal cancer when, you know, towards the end of my high school career, and you know, when you see somebody, a loved one of yours go through that disease, it kind of changes things inside of you. You know, at that point in my life, I was very, very involved with marine biology. And I was hell bent on this track of pursuing marine biology. And so seeing my mom gets sick, changed things, and also changed the way that I thought about particular diseases. So eventually, when I got into undergrad after my mom passed, and everything like that, I was on this marine bio track, but it just didn’t feel right. And so I decided to change gears a little bit. And I started figuring out that I was, you know, really in tune with biochemistry and specifically cancer biology. I had some really good professors in undergrad and Florida, where I went to school at St. Leo University. And I did some internships at the Moffitt Cancer Research Center for a bit. And I just kind of fell in love with it. And there was something oddly therapeutic about studying cancer biology to me, that just made me feel better at the end of the day like that what I was doing was was the right thing. And also trying to understand this information. So that way, I can translate it for other people to understand just how complex this diseases so I’m, I’m a cancer biologist, due to personal reasons, but now it’s become something much more.
Dr Lyon 04:02
Yeah, that’s very impactful. And because it’s personal, it probably makes your mission.
Dr. Zundell 04:08
Try not to get upset but yeah.
Dr Lyon 04:10
at the time, did you feel just helpless?
Dr. Zundell 04:13
Yeah, so yeah, this is kind of leading into the tattoo. My tattoo is my scientific journey. So at the top of my tattoo is actually like a memorandum from my mom, to kind of exemplify the helplessness that I felt at the time. So I pursued cancer biology degree, eventually graduated with a PhD over in a school in Philadelphia called the University of sciences. And, sorry, I got a little bit distracted. But basically, that level of helplessness that I felt kind of translated into how I went about pursuing my science, and so like I said, it was therapeutic to study all of these various things in cancer. And now I don’t necessary We feel as helpless anymore, because now I feel like I have acquired the tool set from an educational perspective to be able to offer that to people and show them how complex this disease is. And try and make them feel more comfortable about some of the things that even cancer patients may feel when they entered the clinic. Their doctors are prescribing these medications, I can explain to them you know, what exactly they’re doing off target effects, if any, and sort of what they can expect from the therapy. Yeah.
Dr Lyon 05:25
And when people talk about cancer, they always talk about cancer in this global term. But really, there’s multiple different kinds of cancers, the way in which they interact in the body. Totally different. Can you highlight some of that stuff for the listener?
Dr. Zundell 05:40
Like the the what is cancer?
Dr Lyon 05:42
Dr. Zundell 05:43
Yeah. So basically, if I was to summarize, on a laments terms level, what is cancer cancer is essentially this, this ability of cancer cells to continually divide past what is considered, quote, unquote, normal. And as they adapt these abilities to continuously divide, they adapt new metabolic programs, whether it’s utilizing glucose, amino acids, and we’ll talk about a little bit of those later, or even fat sources to sustain their metabolism or if they’re driven by genetic factors, like mutations, which can increase specific likelihoods for disease. So cancer being this kind of blanket term for a variety of different types of cancers is essentially established upon all these various environmental and genetic factors combined, which vary on a patient by patient basis.
Dr Lyon 06:36
And it’s different for everybody, right?
Dr. Zundell 06:38
Dr Lyon 06:38
Whether there’s a genetic and just because someone has a genetic predisposition doesn’t mean there’s 100% penetrance, or, for the most part, an absolute diagnosis that they’re gonna get
Dr. Zundell 06:50
no, no, I mean, there are, there are some genetic cases, for example, there’s this this syndrome called Lynch syndrome, for people who have, you know, high very high likelihood for developing colon cancer, it’s like, something like greater than 50% of them will get colon cancer, actually, one of my friends has Lynch syndrome, which is a genetic heritable mutation of a specific protein, the name of which doesn’t necessarily matter here. But it dramatically increases their their likelihood of developing colon cancer as an example. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will get colon cancer, it’s just that the likelihood is significantly greater. And so people who have that particular syndrome, there’s certain things they have to do through their lifestyle, like, you know, eating a excuse my language, but a shit ton of fiber to kind of help offset the inflammatory effects that come with that particular disease.
Dr Lyon 07:40
And that I mean, I’m sure that that’s helpful. And Lynch syndrome is pretty rare. Right?
Dr. Zundell 07:46
Um, I don’t know how rare it is, to be honest. All I know is people who have it, it kind of sucks.
Dr Lyon 07:52
Yeah, yeah, for sure. So in terms of your personal research, can you talk a little bit about what your research has been in where it is now, where it’s going, what your interests are?
Dr. Zundell 08:03
Sure. So I started in a lab studying a type of cancer called Connor, excuse me, chronic lymphocytic leukemia. All of these things are mouthful. They don’t make it easy for us scientist, which is why we abbreviate things to CLL as an example, which is a type of blood cancer. And so it’s specifically on an immune cell subset called B cells. And so these chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients are the CLL patients, they kind of have an outgrowth of these B cell populations. And that essentially results in a very swollen spleen splenomegaly is the medical term for it. And so a lot of my research, early research, one of my first papers published was on targetable mechanisms in CLL, as a component of kind of altered metabolism associated with how those, those cancer cells of that specific type continue to grow by specifically targeting this thing called the endoplasmic reticulum stress response or ER stress response. And so the ER stress response is essentially a way that even just normal B cells maintain their their biology. As B cells differentiate from kind of like naive B cells into plasma B cells, which secrete antibodies throughout our serum to kind of combat antigens or environment. They utilize the ER stress response to kind of differentiate into plasma B cells. And so cancer cells have found a way to use this in the in the context of CLL. And so we can target those those mechanisms with inhibitors against specific arms of the ER stress response. And it’s been relatively successful, although those drugs haven’t made it into the clinic because unfortunately, the ER stress response is very diverse. And oftentimes through clinical trials, the drugs which target it are, they can be pretty toxic because of those diverse right kind of evolution. They’re really ingrained associations with that response.
Dr Lyon 10:02
And is that one of the challenges with the treatment of cancer, the toxicity of the chemotherapy?
Dr. Zundell 10:09
Yeah, absolutely. And that’s something that that we, you know, try our best not me specifically, but people who do clinical trials, try and weed out in, in the clinical trials in early stages. It’s never easy to you know, despite, you know, the mechanistic papers, we publish on a variety of different drugs, it’s never easy to make them as specific as we want them. Just because inherently human biology is incredibly complicated. There’s overlap in just about everything. So we make a specific drug to target a specific mechanism. But by no means does it mean that normal cells won’t will utilize similar things to mediate their own their function.
Dr Lyon 10:50
And when it comes to cancer, specifically, are there certain pathways that are known? And there are a handful of pathways that are really the highlight pathways for cancer?
Yes, and this is kind of something that I’ve sent you regarding the hallmarks of cancer, which we
Dr Lyon 11:08
will actually link it’s a great paper and apparently milestone paper. Yeah,
Dr. Zundell 11:12
there’s three of them now, and they kind of adapt over time. But if I were to summarize, we know specific contributors to cancer that kind of broadly, cover a variety of different cancers. So people might see things like oncogenes, things like K RAs, or MC. All of these. K RAs in this context is an enzyme which controls and is related to mTOR signaling protein biology. Mc is a transcription factor very hard to target clinically, from a pharmacokinetic or pharmacology standpoint. But there are a variety of overlapping targets like MC like a variety of different cancers, whether it’s liver cancer, even leukemias will utilize MC signatures or MC transcription factor activity to promote genes being increased, which can make those cancer characteristics worse,
Dr Lyon 12:10
right? Is it safe to say that there are really two groups of cancer? So there’s the sporadic and inherited? Or is that just a complete oversimplification?
Dr. Zundell 12:19
No. I think that they kind of work hand in hand, it is very oversimplified. And oftentimes, it’s very contextual. So I think honestly, might just leave it at that.
Dr Lyon 12:32
Yeah. I mean, I would say that, and we could probably all agree about this in medicine is there’s very few diseases that are as complex as cancer with the multifaceted expressions of cancer than probably nearly anything in medicine.
Dr. Zundell 12:48
Yeah. I mean, maybe this is biased, because I’m a cancer biologist. But I certainly feel that way. And I think as testament as a part of our education, we have to learn a lot of literally everything. So I’ve taken courses in microbiology, how various microbes interact with each other, whether it’s, you know, talking about gut biology, or viruses, even because there’s viral contributions to cancer, you know, like
Dr Lyon 13:13
and also probably for treatment, right? They have now new emerging immunotherapy treatment.
Dr. Zundell 13:17
Absolutely, yeah. Yeah. So we have to take all these different courses, through a very diverse education to be able to understand what is cancer essentially, okay. And in many ways, we still don’t know.
Dr Lyon 13:29
Darn, because, again, it’s really scary for the listener, would you say that, if we were to kind of distill it down as best as possible that there’s, you know, like that cancer, there’s a component of it for cell regulation, and then maybe, difficulty with controlling cell death, and then repair damage?
Dr. Zundell 13:51
Dr Lyon 13:52
You’re laughing I know, because I’m simplifying it.
Dr. Zundell 13:55
No this is literally, I’m laughing because this is this is kind of like a necessary conversation you have to have in order to get people to understand just how complex this stuff is. And this is literally tying back to the hallmarks of cancer thing, and which is why I’ve gone through a lot of efforts on my Instagram to kind of break each of these hallmarks down so that people can say, okay, there are things related to DNA repair mechanisms, which are messed up, we have drugs to target those. There are things related to you know, hypoxic responses because as tumors grow, they have this kind of like, very low oxygen core, and those can stimulate, you know, a lot of various things in Kansas, which make it worse, we can target those, whether it’s continuous growth, like regarding sorry, kicked the mic, like, like regarding K RAs, we’ve produced now drugs to target K RAS metabolism. So, whether it’s, you know, targeting continuous growth senescence, now, epigenetic modifiers to very much change like methylation patterns in DNA, targeting DNA repair path rays, which are commonly messed up, like with bracket gene mutations commonly seen in breast cancers, all these sorts of things, there’s a lot of diverse strategies, which ultimately culminate to these hallmarks of cancers.
Dr Lyon 15:09
You know, I was, I have a really good friend who is also a cancer researcher. And we’ve talked a lot about this, especially in the health and nutrition space, which we were talking about offline in terms of what are the things that people can actually do? And it’s usually not one thing in particular, right? There’s not one food, there’s not one chemical. I mean, who knows? Maybe that’s true, but it there is a whole complex array of things that have to happen,
Dr. Zundell 15:36
Dr Lyon 15:38
When it comes to down to at its very core, could you define cancer as a because you and I, again, we’re speaking a disease of the, like a genetic disease, whether it is inherent or sporadic, it really is a, from what I understand a disease of the genome.
Dr. Zundell 15:55
There, this debate has been going on for a very long time, whether it’s a metabolic disease or genetic disease, I’m in the camp of people that reasonably says that it’s both. Because if we consider this from an evolutionary standpoint, in order for things to evolve, as cancers do over time, from when a cancer cell or originates from a particular tissue layer, to when it develops as a tumor. If we consider this from an evolutionary perspective, it requires both genetic changes and environmental changes over time, which even the genetic things from which or environmental things from which the cancer started will change over time, they’ll be very different from when that cancer started. So the also the mechanisms of action for what we target changes as time progresses through through a cancer patients progression.
Dr Lyon 16:43
And do you think that there, and this is maybe a crazy question, do you think there’s any evolutionary advantage to cancer?
Dr. Zundell 16:49
What do you mean?
Dr Lyon 16:49
Meaning, you know, sometimes, things happen in the body to protect itself? Or, you know, they there’s potentially a hypothesis that plaque is building up because it’s due to damage or protection. Could there does that make sense? Could there be any evolutionary benefit to cancer
Dr. Zundell 17:10
benefit to having cancer?
Dr Lyon 17:13
benefit in the human? Obviously, there’s no benefit but,
Dr. Zundell 17:16
Dr Lyon 17:17
Is it perhaps a way in which the body is trying to who knows target something else?
Dr. Zundell 17:25
I honestly don’t know how to answer the question. But again, from an evolutionary perspective, I don’t think that either having cancer it would be a good sort of thing for the human body in terms of your cancer existing to kind of set things straight. It doesn’t doesn’t necessarily just to balance things out. But cancer itself is this kind of like, continuous accrument of issues, which, you know, as this as the disease progresses, we need to treat, because then it causes other things
Dr Lyon 18:04
So, no evolutionary advantage. No evolutionary advantage, yeah, There’s no like there’s sickle cell malaria, none of those
Dr. Zundell 18:09
No, no evolutionary advantage to having cancer.
Dr Lyon 18:12
Well, that’s good news.
Dr. Zundell 18:14
Well, maybe I can say this from a very morbid sense of view. And I don’t want this to come off the wrong way.
Dr Lyon 18:21
Dr. Zundell 18:22
But, and I’ve thought about this, and I’m kind of remiss in saying it, but the earth is heavily populated by humans. So I think cancer kind of exists as as kind of a product of our own creation, in that it can serve to kind of lessen the, the, the effects of humans that they have on the earth.
Dr Lyon 18:45
Dr. Zundell 18:46
because we’re needy beings on this planet, and we kind of consume a lot of resources. So much like any disease, it kind of keeps the population at bay. But I wouldn’t say that that’s a good thing It’s just part of it. Still no evolutionary advantange.
Dr Lyon 18:58
Right, totally agree. Again, I just wanted to be able to ask a cancer biologists if there is any, you know, just just a question there. In terms of obesity. We know that obesity is linked to 13, according to the CDC, a higher risk of 13 different cancers and that those 13 cancers, whether it’s breast colon gallbladder make up roughly 40% of all cancers. What are some things that what number one, why is that? Is it because if it’s a low grade inflammatory state, is it because there’s some metabolic changes that are happening? Have you thought much about that?
Dr. Zundell 19:40
Yeah, yeah. And it’s something that in my last lab, we kind of considered a lot as, as we study, you know, the the metabolic changes that happen in the context of the liver, at least when somebody becomes obese or they have that excess visceral adiposity cause obesity is kind of like a fraction of the picture, but um, you know, The especially in the Western world, the hyper consumption of or overconsumption of hyper palatable foods can lead to conditions which kind of mess up normal liver metabolism. And that can increase likelihoods for specific types of liver damage, which can eventually, you know, cancer is a progression. It’s not like you just get cancer one day, it’s all these these particular choices sometimes that we have as human beings, sometimes within our own control, sometimes not. But they over time, they can translate to increased cancer rates, and a lot of it is metabolic. As we see, you know, in the context of liver cancer, again, like if you consume a lot of alcohol, if you eat a lot of fatty foods, they change the way that the liver metabolizes anything, they change the insulin, glucagon ratio, all those sorts of things, which, you know, play this role in creating balance between how all of our organs kind of function together to maintain this state of homeostasis or balance in a in a human being. And we typically develop cancer, when this this balance is kind of offset. And eventually, over time, you know, when when these people get cancer, that balance is messed up.
Dr Lyon 21:18
And you know, you mentioned alcohol and cancer and not, that’s a known risk.
Dr. Zundell 21:22
Dr Lyon 21:23
And is there a certain amount of alcohol that would be advisable versus not drinking at all?
Dr. Zundell 21:31
Yeah absolutely. And I think this is true with with any carcinogen, because you know, alcohol is a carcinogen. There are standards, and I’ve done a post on this, I can’t give you the exact numbers right now. But I’ve done a post on this explaining, like, you know, dietary guidelines, a drink a week isn’t going to get to, can you kill somebody or make them get cancer, like I said, it’s a progression. But if you’re, you know, drinking frequently, you know, if you’re having a few beers a day, five times a week, four times a week, you’re gonna experience some issues over time. Because your body, you know, we have these ingrained mechanisms to deal with these, you know, stresses, I’ve studied stress responses for a while, we have ingrained mechanisms to deal with these, you know, our consumption of various foods, whether they’re healthy for us or not. But over time, if we continue to consume things like alcohol, or, you know, a non balanced diet, maybe low in protein, those sorts of things, over time will develop not only cancer, but obesity, which can eventually lead to things like cancers.
Dr Lyon 22:32
Yeah, I think that it’s a really important perspective that it’s, it’s interesting how we normalize alcohol is very normalized. Yeah. And it’s a normalized carcinogen, whereas smoking is not. No one is like, yeah, you know, smoking is, no one’s arguing, you know, you can have a cigarette a day, and that’s good for you. But you might hear people say, Well, no, you should. A glass of wine a day is okay. And, you know, perhaps that’s good for you. When actually, yeah, maybe it’s not.
Dr. Zundell 23:01
Yeah, no and that’s a really good point, too, because I was actually in Mexico for my honeymoon somewhat recently.
Dr Lyon 23:06
When did you get married?
Dr. Zundell 23:07
Dr Lyon 23:08
Dr. Zundell 23:09
Thank you. Yeah, but outside of that I was in Mexico. And I saw in Mexico, they actually have the warnings on the on the alcohol, you know, say this mike, like bold labeling in the airport, saying This may cause cancer. And I literally told my wife was like, that’s good. That’s a good thing they’re telling people this, because you know, you go to the US like, here, we don’t we don’t see that. And like you said, it’s normalized. So I think that we should kind of normalize you know, this kind of label associated with carcinogens in our environment.
Dr Lyon 23:37
Yeah. You just reminded me of something, because you talked about the labeling. And I’m going to read this. So there’s this proposition 65, in LA, or in LA, listen to me in California, sorry, my LA friends. But in California, I think I probably first saw this in LA. But the labeling is really interesting, like you had mentioned that something was actually labeled as a carcinogen and the cancer space is, you know, you have the cancer biologists and then you have the oncologists. And there’s so much the field is so rapidly, I don’t want to say advancing, but there’s so much research being done. And it often takes a lot of time for information to get to the public. And there’s this goal to create policy to actually impact change. And really, policy often is not necessarily thought of as an individual level. It’s really these generalized recommendations. This was one of these generalized recommendations with this proposition 65 and it said, If anyone goes to California, they may see a warning. A warning that coffee Have you seen this? You’ve seen it?
Dr. Zundell 24:43
I’ve seen it. Yeah,
Dr Lyon 24:43
I’m just gonna read this. Coffee is a beverage that contains a mixture of many chemicals. Some chemicals are present in unroasted coffee beans, and some like acrylamide formed during the roasting or brewing. Some of these include acrylamide cause cancer. Others including antioxidants and dietary fiber might may protect against cancer. So yeah, it just goes on to talk about the potential warnings required and about cancer and it says because it has acrylamide in it.
Dr. Zundell 25:16
Yeah, I mean, I think some labels existed to moreso. Protect the coffee brewer company from a business perspective and not necessarily because it’s like, super realistic advice. Realistically, the levels assuming that the coffee brewing company is doing justice and putting out a safe product, there shouldn’t be significant amounts of acrylamide. Like I work with acrylamide regularly in terms of like making protein gels, SDS page gels for those of you nerds out there, including yourself.
Dr Lyon 25:44
No, no. Really hard pass on that one.
Dr. Zundell 25:46
Yeah, no we work with acrylamide regularly, but we have to be very careful, especially when it’s, you know, in powder form. It’s probably not in powder form when you’re working with as a powdered form. It’s it’s carcinogenic, but when it’s, you know, as a cross linked to something else, or chemically conjugated to something else, or in very, very low amounts. The dose makes the poison. You’ve heard that time and time again, I wager that it’s very, very low in regarding parts per million, where it’s not going to harm somebody unless you’re consuming gallons of coffee a day, which then you have other issues, right? Yeah. And long caffeine addiction.
Dr Lyon 26:24
Right and no sleep.
Dr. Zundell 26:25
Dr Lyon 26:28
When I think about things like that, it often translates over to Okay, so what are the other things the other chemicals in foods are put on foods like pesticides and fruits and vegetables? There was this whole big thing on the Dirty Dozen? Which Have you seen the Dirty Dozen?
Dr. Zundell 26:42
A little bit. Yeah,
Dr Lyon 26:42
so the Dirty Dozen is like the list of produce, or, you know, fruits and vegetables that potentially have higher amounts of pesticides? And I’m not sure actually, quite frankly, how accurate that is. And if we can really translate does do these pesticides in the amounts that we’re getting? Do they cause cancer? What do we know about these kinds of environmental components?
Dr. Zundell 27:04
Yeah, so an example of one that I’ve talked about on my own Instagram is glyphosate. And in general, it’s an herbicide, you know, people use it to protect plants. But when those crops are processed to be sold to a consumer, the amount of glyphosate again in parts per million that’s making it to the consumer is so low that you’d have to consume a literal shit ton of veggies to where it would actually harm you. The only people I’d be worried about in terms of handling pesticides and herbicides are the actual farm workers. So, you know, there’s still safe safeguards we can put in place to protect farm workers now that we know more about these carcinogens, you know, the levels of interactions and how they relate to specific cancer types. But regarding consumption of vegetables that, you know, are, you know, potentially have a little bit of herbicide or pesticide on them, which is negligible at best. I think people are afraid for kind of no reason. And a lot of that stems from people online with big mouths, who assume they’re correct about things, but they aren’t. and it makes people scared within reasons.
Dr Lyon 28:16
It makes people scared within reason. And I think that there’s, I think it makes logical sense to think, Okay, if we are eating fruits and vegetables that are sprayed, potentially, that’s not a good thing. But again, how much of it that we’re getting? And again, I don’t know these answers. But I think that when we start talking about organic versus non organic, and then the next level is what if someone can’t afford organic? And we know that fruits and vegetables are important, and dietary fiber is important. What is kind of the message that we end up sending people It makes people very afraid in an environment to function.
Dr. Zundell 28:55
Dr Lyon 28:56
And I think that that’s a real negative.
Dr. Zundell 28:59
So how do you think we combat the fear associated with people consuming food? Because I’m not like a nutritionist, so I don’t necessarily know. And it’s something that I see regularly following Layne Norton and things like that and even food science baby, which is awesome. And one of my friends who’s a nutritionist, her her Instagram handle is cancer nutrition HQ. So Dr. Crystal Zuniga. I don’t know if you’ve spoken to her, but we try and some
Dr Lyon 29:24
She’s great she’s gonna come on. She’s gonna be awesome cancer and sarcopenia Caixa Yeah,
Dr. Zundell 29:29
amazing. Yeah, I’ve collaborated with her in the past. She’s awesome. But, you know, going back to my question, how do we how do you think we resolve these these issues?
Dr Lyon 29:38
Yeah, I think it’s really tricky. I don’t know. But for in our family, I would much prefer to have my children have fruits and vegetables than not.
Dr. Zundell 29:47
Yeah, of course. Yeah.
Dr Lyon 29:49
You know. So that’s kind of how I think about it. In terms of risks, what are some of the other we talked about alcohol as a known carcinogen? Can you run This through a few of the other known risks.
Dr. Zundell 30:03
Yeah, and it’s something I talked about on my channel quite often is lack of exercise. Leading a sedentary life is a pretty well known risk, of course, you know, depending on who we are, you know, our accessibility to gym or various, you know, workout equipment, we’re all going to have certain abilities regarding, you know, our level of exercise. So again, lack of exercise is, is a known contributor to not only cancer, but a variety of diseases like obesity and heart disease, which is actually, you know, more prevalent in society than than cancer.
Dr Lyon 30:38
Although I really question that, it’s crazy, but you know, on a death certificate, even if you die of natural causes, and your heart stops, where do you get categorized?
Dr. Zundell 30:46
Yeah, so actually, my mom, you know, as an example of this is, my mom, you know, had very clearly had cancer, but she died of a heart attack, who’s to say wasn’t heart disease?
Dr Lyon 30:56
Dr. Zundell 30:57
And I think even on her death certificate, it was like heart complications. And it’s like, no, she had
Dr Lyon 31:01
Dr. Zundell 31:02
a lot of chemo, and a lot of medications, and she had cancer. That was a fact.
Dr Lyon 31:08
Dr. Zundell 31:09
And these things affect, you know, your overall metabolism and eventually put a lot of stress on your heart, and oh, shit, she died from a heart attack.
Dr Lyon 31:16
And that’s, unfortunately, perhaps how she was categorized.
Dr. Zundell 31:19
Yeah, most likely, because that’s, that’s all the coroner sees or the mortician.
Dr Lyon 31:19
And you know, or whoever, you know how to kind of document that
Dr. Zundell 31:19
Dr Lyon 31:21
In terms of the mechanism of action, do we know the mechanism of action as it relates to cancer exercise implication on cancer.
Dr. Zundell 31:38
So there are a variety of different mechanisms. I’m actually just released a reel talking about a newer established mechanism, which kind of relates to the immune system. So your immune system is very interwoven with your your lymphatic system, or sorry, your lymphatic system is very interwoven with your your skeletal mass, your skeletal mass actually drives lymphatic fluid movement, which is something I’ve spoken about as well. So there was this new study that showed that basically, you know, in mouse models, these mice who exercise had increased levels of this cytokine, which kind of produce this anti cancer effect, the cytokine is a protein called il 15, or interleukin 15. For those specifically interested. And, you know, that’s one reported mechanism of how exercise may increase interleukin 15 levels in your serum and reduce tumor growth. This would be like in cancer patients, as example. So it’s very important for cancer patients to exercise. But regarding disease prevention, you know, just reducing overall fat mass in the body, particularly viscerally would be a good way that we can reduce disease risks.
Dr Lyon 33:00
Do you think that we can prevent cancer?
Dr. Zundell 33:05
contextually within reason, right. So like, some people have genetic predispositions for cancer, like we talked about Lynch syndrome to begin with, those people may have to do more to reduce their risks for cancer. So I’m very remissed, to use the word prevent. And actually, there are some people when I first started my channel, I was using that word a lot. And it was actually triggering a lot of triggering a lot of of cancer patients, it makes people upset, because implies that
Dr Lyon 33:31
they could have done something,
Dr. Zundell 33:32
they could have done something and oftentimes, there’s not much you can do, you can do the best you can do. But that’s it, you can’t do any more than what the best is. And so regarding prevention or risk reduction, you know, all we can do is eat a balanced diet, try and incorporate fiber, if we have the ability to, you know, in our environment to acquire enough fiber, various different types of fiber, eat lots of protein exercise, try and keep our weight down our blood pressure down consistent checkups, which again, is a privilege to have decent health care. It’s another issue. Not even gonna get on the whole issue of insurance companies. But, you know, there’s a variety of things that we can do, but it doesn’t always mean that you’re going to prevent cancer. Some people just, you know, their dealt a shit hand.
Dr Lyon 34:19
Yeah. You mentioned something that I think is interesting. You said eat protein and there seems to be a lot of not so much. I don’t think so much in the cancer space, but a lot in the nutrition space about protein and cancer and protein. You know, they really go out on a limb there and say it’s causative,
Dr. Zundell 34:41
and protein consumption causative?
Dr Lyon 34:42
Dr. Zundell 34:44
So I think a lot of this idea stems from in a lot of specific cancer types, namely like renal cancers, pancreatic cancers, amino acid metabolism, specific amino acid metabolisms are altered and even even in a paper that I published Glu Tammany Is expression glutamine metabolism is affected in a variety of different cancers and where do you get glutamine from protein. So it’s easy to make that causative link between protein and cancer rates. But realistically, it’s not. It’s not very accurate. But when we consider, you know, when somebody has cancer as an example, and you’ll talk about this more when crystal is on your channel, calcium is is something that the majority of cancer patients end up suffering with. Because even as we treat these patients, it kind of creates this hyper catabolic state where Annapolis them the building of molecules, is a much much lesser than the breakdown of molecules and you see cancer patients as they progress throughout their disease, they lose a lot of weight and these drugs that we give them, they can kind of induce that as well. So it’s kind of like we try and mitigate that response. And one of the ways that we can do that is by at least now and I’m starting to see this surge of medical health professionals in the oncology space increasing the amounts of exercise, recommendations that cancer patients are getting, but also increasing protein consumption, various diverse sources of protein consumption, to help offset those effects of calcium, they’re going to happen regardless. Yeah. But again, you know, trying to incorporate more protein and exercise into a person’s diet can help offset the effects of kick Exia.
Dr Lyon 36:26
I couldn’t agree more. And, you know, I just want to highlight what you said that that cancer is a multifactorial disease, at the time you get it is not caused by this one single food,
Dr. Zundell 36:39
Dr Lyon 36:39
It’s not caused by a lean piece of meat or I don’t know, take your pick tofu.
Dr. Zundell 36:46
I love tofu, I love steak.
Dr Lyon 36:47
And the mechanism of action, the impact on dietary dietary proteins impact on mTOR, which has mechanistic target of rapamycin, whether it’s leucine, there’s also there’s also other drivers on tour if people believe that dietary protein causes cancer, it’s, I can’t say that I’ve that that makes sense,
Dr. Zundell 37:10
right. And it doesn’t even like when we go back to the hallmarks of cancer thing, again, which I’ll probably constantly refer to, there’s much more about cancer mechanisms that stimulate cancer progression than just the growth. So even if a protein source contributes to, you know, an amino acid source to progress, a particular cancer type, over time as that cancer progresses, it’ll switch off mTOR signaling, if it’s not evolutionarily favorable. So there’s this other aspect of cancer, like, you know, go back to the evolution component, there’s clonal evolution. So like I said, and in the beginning, cancer, you know, when it starts, it’s very different than cancer from, you know, a different time point towards the, you know, as the disease progresses, and the things when, you know, the mechanistic things, when the disease began are going to be very different than the mechanistic things that, you know, kind of come about when the disease progresses. And that’s kind of this idea of clonal evolution. And it’s also the premise of life on this planet life. You know, when you deal with specific stresses, you adapt to your environment, whether you know, you have the genetic tool belt, so to speak, to deal with these things, but you have epigenetic or environmental signals within your mechanistic biology in your cells to help kind of offset and adapt to these, these cues. And cancer cells are no different than you, they are you. So they, they utilize the same mechanisms that your stress response being one of them that I studied, to adapt to the stresses over time. And so yeah, they’ll shut off mTOR when they don’t need it anymore, and they’ll evolve in a different way. That’s even even when we treat with chemotherapeutics. So like, a common thing that we studies chemo resistance. Cancers are, you know, if we look at a solid tumor, cancer, a solid mass is not just one type of cell, there’s immune cells in there. Even amongst the cancer cells, there’s a subset of cancer cells that has a completely different genetic signature, depending on where it is and the tumor, then tumors, tumor cells or cancer cells at the center of the tumor. So when you give a chemotherapeutic to target a specific mechanism, you’re going to kill off a subset of cells within the tumor that are sensitive to that. But then the other cells that don’t respond to at all they’re going to outgrow, and that’s when you have chemo resistance, those cells are resistant, you can’t give that same chemotherapeutic anymore. And so that’s often while we combine chemotherapeutics as an approach to target those various populations of a specific cancer,
Dr Lyon 39:36
and have we gotten better at treating cancer?
Dr. Zundell 39:39
Yeah, definitely. And I think a lot of that that evidence is relied or reliant upon. You know, people with cancer now live a lot longer than they did before.
Dr Lyon 39:50
Can Can you just when you say a lot longer do you mean it depends
Dr. Zundell 39:57
The five year survival rate, specifically. So if we’re looking at five yearssurvival rate has gone up over time.
Dr Lyon 40:02
Dr. Zundell 40:03
You know, due to the very broad set of tools we have regarding chemo therapies, radiation, and now immunotherapies and surgeries, you know, there’s the five pillars of cancer. I think I forgot one, I can’t remember which one it is. But you know, these these pillars of cancer care, basically, they they’ve helped to increase the lifespan of cancer patients very significantly over even the past 10 years.
Dr Lyon 40:28
And in terms of early detection, we’re starting to see again, we were talking about this earlier Grail, which is DNA methylation.
Dr. Zundell 40:34
Dr Lyon 40:35
then not something that we do in our practice, and I think physicians are getting more keen on is the survival, you talked about the, the way in which cancer progresses, is your survivability increased if you catch it earlier? Or are some cancers like pancreatic cancer, that even if you catch it earlier, your survivability is still really poor, your prognosis is really poor.
Dr. Zundell 41:01
So let me let me add some context here too, because like, if you if you actually catch pancreatic cancer early, the survivability is quite good. But the issue with pancreatic cancer is that we often have trouble detecting it early. So we are limited by the technology we have in the space to be able to detect specific cancers early. If you can detect any cancer early, no matter what type of cancer it is, the survival rate of that cancer is going to be significantly greater, the degree of which is going to vary depending on the cancer type, you know, the various genetic component of patients and, you know, other environmental factors that they have or have not had control over. But yes, in general, early detection will reduce or enhance patient survival. And in all aspects,
Dr Lyon 41:48
are you so the Grail test, which again, is that DNA methylation test that was originally just recently became available to providers? Is that something that you were familiar with, or have been familiar with for sometime?
Dr. Zundell 42:00
Yeah, so actually, when this first came out, I follow a lot of people on social media they sent, you know, kind of like these, these amazing therapies that came out. And Grail was one of the first ones that I covered. So you know, kind of teach people about the technology and what it does. It’s something I would definitely suggest I’m a huge supporter of personalized therapy approaches. I think Grail, and other various blood based tests are at the forefront of that in terms of determining contributors to or even risk factors for specific types of cancers.
Dr Lyon 42:32
Yeah, we had a military. You know, I work with a lot of the Special Operations and work with 107 nco Future Foundation, and Hunter seven is all about exposure risk. And, you know, my husband was in the military, and he was teasing asking you about Agent Orange, very concerned and some of the burn pits and those kinds of things. We see an enormous increase, you know, and I say this hesitantly, but it just seems as if population based the soldiers and the individuals that are exposed to these burn pits, and just some of these other organophosphates are really have a much higher level of cancer. Yeah, I don’t know if you’ve looked at that. But one thing is that we actually caught a cancer early on. And it
Dr. Zundell 43:21
Dr Lyon 43:21
Yes. Okay, so we had a positive Grail test.
Dr. Zundell 43:24
Dr Lyon 43:24
it was, I think it was esophageal cancer.
Dr. Zundell 43:27
Okay, had it. So would you mind me asking how you revealed that sort of information? Without getting into like the patient details? Obviously,
Dr Lyon 43:35
what do you mean? How do
Dr. Zundell 43:36
So what sort of markers did you determine were related to that person’s likelihood of esophageal cancer?
Dr Lyon 43:42
Great question. So we’re starting to screen these guys early on. And, again, this is not standard of care outside of, you know, for example, for colonoscopy, typically recommend a colonoscopy is at 45. And, you know, they’re certain, you know, breast cancer and breast screening starts at 40.
Dr. Zundell 44:00
Dr Lyon 44:01
Okay, unless there’s a family history, but we’re starting to do Grail tests on many of the soldiers. And this guy, it, the threshold to doing them is very low. In terms of it doesn’t if they’re symptomatic or not, we’ll still do it.
Dr. Zundell 44:16
Yeah, preventative measure
Dr Lyon 44:16
we’ll still do it because of their because of their exposure. So he was having some, you know, challenges swallowing and or just he, you know, had some sensation, but it wasn’t detected, and he was evaluated, and they didn’t, they didn’t visually see anything,
Dr. Zundell 44:33
Dr Lyon 44:34
Dr. Zundell 44:34
so is what is he doing now? if you don’t mind.
Dr Lyon 44:37
That I don’t know.
Okay, I mean, that’s, that’s really interesting to me. And it’s, it’s cool that they were able to, you know, catch some semblance of esophageal cancer. Again, I’m a huge supporter of preventative care. I think it’s something we don’t do enough. And I think that, you know, companies like Grail are at the forefront of this and I think that everybody should have access to this. I think it should be made, just as you know, a common measure of care. Whereas exercise, I think, you know, a gym membership should be part of everyone’s insurance. You know, like nobody should ever have to pay for a gym. I think these tests, just like we can give out vaccines, I think these tests should also be given out maybe that’s a bold thing to say. But I think we don’t do enough in this country, at least about preventative measures for disease. Yeah. Because, again, when it comes down to it, if we can catch any disease at an early stage, we reduce their you know, or we enhance patient survival. So,
Dr Lyon 45:28
you know, I, I’ve actually never shared this, but my stepdad died of esophageal cancer. And to watch that was really, I mean, yeah, it’s you do you feel very, very helpless. And the progression is, you know, like, slow and it goes away. And there’s all this false hope that, you know, now that you’ve been treated, it’s now in remission.
Dr. Zundell 45:57
It’s funny, it seems like you had Well, not funny, but you seems you have the same story. Like, you know, maybe it’s a common trend, like my mom, also, she went into remission for a time there. And then just came back.
Dr Lyon 46:09
And you know, I struggle with this. And I’m curious to what your thoughts are. At the time, you know, when we were told that it was in remission, everyone is happy. And we’re like, oh, my gosh, this is so great. But they I think there’s a failure to understand that remission. I don’t know if that is curative, it’s almost like remission in that moment. But do you know the likelihood of these cancers coming back?
Yeah, so, by definition, remission is just, you know, cancer, a relatively non detectable level, or it does not appear to be growing. It doesn’t mean that you’ve cured cancer. And so oftentimes, there’s, there’s this misconception, I think, I think it’s for good reason. Because every oncologist I’ve spoken to hasn’t, in my opinion, done necessarily a good job at explaining those things. And to no fault of their own. I guess, as an oncologist, I wouldn’t necessarily want to explain, hey, you know, your mom’s in remission. But this doesn’t mean she’s cured. Like, nobody wants to hear that. So like, I understand the sentiment behind why people don’t know enough. But again, remission doesn’t mean cure. And so there is this kind of false hope that goes into, you know, when somebody hears the word remission, like, Oh, my God, my mom’s gonna live longer, or my stepdads gonna live longer. And then when the cancer comes back, you just you just feel pissed. You feel upset, you feel hopeless, and you’re like, What do I do? And it’s nothing you can’t do
Dr Lyon 47:36
totally, and it came back as back pain. He was just having this irretractable back pain.
Dr. Zundell 47:40
Dr Lyon 47:41
And that was it.
Dr. Zundell 47:44
Dr Lyon 47:44
Dr. Zundell 47:44
All things considered.
Dr Lyon 47:45
Yep. You know, when we think about when someone has a diagnosis of cancer, there’s a lot of a lot of therapeutic options that are outside the scope of chemotherapy and radiation. And those are people talk about diet, a ketogenic diet, they talk about again, exercise, some people go plant based. And you know, I’ve heard of people going down to Mexico and saying, Well, I’m not going to do chemotherapy and radiation, or I’m going to do juice cleanse or any any of the other holistic ways because I think as humans, we inherently believe that the body can heal itself. And sorry, just scoot over here. So don’t fall off into Stephan’s whatever.
Dr. Zundell 48:32
Dr Lyon 48:32
Yeah. But there is, you know, the human spirit, I think, believes in hope. And they believe that, you know, the body can heal itself. And I guarantee you, nearly every listener has been touched by cancer in some way. Whether it’s them whether it’s a family member, whether if they’re a healthcare provider, they’ve seen someone passed away or a patient. Have you seen how long have you been in the field?
Dr. Zundell 48:59
over 10 years now,
Dr Lyon 49:00
over 10 years, have you as of late and more recently seen an explosion in natural treatments and the discussion around natural treatments and modalities of cancer?
Dr. Zundell 49:10
I suppose this has been around for a long time, maybe I’ve just become more cognizant of it. But I again, I suppose this has been around for a long time, I think that people have to be very careful where they get their information from because like you said, people will go to Mexico and get this kind of non traditional therapy. You know, at least in the United States, here, we do have FDA approval for things and to get FDA approval for a medication requires very, very careful testing about the dosage levels of toxicity. You know, there are phases to get things into the clinic, but other countries don’t have that. So when you go to another country to get this, you know, untested therapy, this unvalidated therapy, you’re taking a huge risk and a lot of times it results in people just wasting their money. You know, on a therapy that doesn’t work just because some social media influencer told him that it was a great idea and there’s a have too many to count on one hand that that kind of have this approach and and from a layman’s perspective, it’s, you know, it’s understandable to feel that way I empathize with people that, you know, want this, you know, natural approach to to healing their bodies, because there is like, as you know, I’ve spoken about even here, engrained mechanisms for how our body deals with various stresses. So our bodies can can deal with a lot of things. But, you know, if you have cancer, it’s not like, you can just reverse that outcome by, you know, getting a stem cell transplant in a lot of cases. And we’re trying the best we can to kind of, from a clinical perspective, get the things that we test into the clinic. So they can be used in patients increase their outcomes. But I think ultimately, people also need to be patient with us. I know, it’s, when you’re when you have a cancer diagnosis, it’s, you know, it’s incredibly scary from both the patient’s perspective and the family’s perspective. But it doesn’t mean that that holistic approach that we heard about online is going to help the ones that we love. And so that’s a lot of why my page exists, so that I can kind of convey those complexities so that people can make better decisions about their health so that they say, Hey, you know, grandma, maybe you don’t go to Mexico to get that alternative therapy, because, you know, turns out it’s actually dangerous,
Dr Lyon 51:16
and it can delay treatment
Dr. Zundell 51:17
It could counteract treatment if you’re currently on treatment as well.
Dr Lyon 51:21
I actually had a mentor, she was psychiatrists, and she was diagnosed with breast cancer. And she decided not to do radiation or chemotherapy. And she completely changed her diet and went, you know, went to some of those alternative treatment clinics, and she she died. And maybe she would have passed, you know, who knows? Had they been able to treat it early? There’s no way to tell, but she died pretty quickly.
Dr. Zundell 51:49
Dr Lyon 51:50
We, you know, when you think about the natural modalities, are there things that potentially could work? Do we know of any, any potential modality aside from diet and exercise? Are there specific kinds of I don’t know, curcumin or tumeric? or anything? Turret? What is that Turkey Tail mushroom? Are there anything that we know can impact, maybe perhaps prevention, and not treatment.
Dr. Zundell 52:21
I mean, there are a variety of supplements on the market. And I think a lot of supplement companies do meanwell. But in general, the way that they display their information is, is wrong. Most of the time, it’s not exactly accurate. Regarding supplements as a risk reduction or preventative measure for cancer, I can say with some degree of certainty that supplements they’re not going to help you that much. So a common thing you might see is like NAD, supplementation, Anti Aging and Longevity. Realistically, if I were to take that supplement, and I had cancer could actually make it worse. You know, some cancers, I’ve even published papers on this and some cancer types, at least high grade serous ovarian carcinoma, they can use NAD metabolism to sustain their own growth. If I’m providing that fuel source, you can make that that cancer worse. So regarding reduction of risk, if somebody doesn’t have cancer, I will say that in general, there’s no supplement on the market that can reduce risk. Now if you’re supplementing with something to try like, like whey isolate protein to try increase your, you know, amino acid intake for protein, or even like a greens, like I know, greens are kind of speculative to talk about. But if you’re trying to increase your fiber, maybe consuming your green, just from a micronutrient perspective, some vitamins and minerals in there that can help you. Electrolyte supplements. I love electroids actually, in my bottle out there. I have one of the LMNT supplements that actually Max got me involved with I love absolutely
Dr Lyon 53:59
Did you try the hot chocolate? Have you tried?
Dr. Zundell 54:01
No, we’re gonna buy those. I’m gonna mix it with my car.
Dr Lyon 54:03
I’ll give you some I’m obsessed.
They’re so good. Yeah, but outside of this, supplements can help us get nutrients that we wouldn’t otherwise get from our diet. Because, you know, in the modern world, we’re taking a lot of those vitamins and minerals out of the foods we eat. So it’s important to get those from other sources. Yeah, and those sorts of things can help us reduce disease risk, but things like Tumeric however you say it. Not going to have that great of an effect. You have to be careful. Sorry to interrupt me,
Dr Lyon 54:33
No yeah ofcourse. But you know, sometimes the listeners are like, Ah, she interrupts too much. Well, it’s because I’m excited and I really
Dr. Zundell 54:40
That’s why I apologized, because I do the same thing. Yeah.
Dr Lyon 54:42
You know we’re having a you know, it’s it’s a conversation.
Dr. Zundell 54:46
Dr Lyon 54:46
we were gonna get excited. So guys, I’m sorry. I’ve done a much better job as of late write Stephan? Yeah, much better job as of late. I’m a very amped up human. Just in general.
Dr. Zundell 54:58
Dr Lyon 54:58
Yes. So You know, there are isolated compounds that potentially have some impact. But again, these are just all mechanistic, right?
Dr. Zundell 55:06
Dr Lyon 55:07
When you isolate, say, whatever the your curcuminoid, or whatever that molecule is in rodent models that they can isolate, potentially showing a mechanism. But again, what you’re saying is it’s just so incredibly complex.
Dr. Zundell 55:24
Yes, but it so again, I kind of suggest not to use supplements to prevent a disease, but we have used these chemical components to derive potential mechanisms for therapies. So a really good example of this and something I’ve posted out as well as the the premise behind Paclitaxel or even vincristine. These are standard of care therapies right now. But their original foundation is they were purified Paclitaxel, specifically was purified from the Pacific you tree from I think even the berry of the tree. And so, oftentimes scientists look in nature first to derive compounds for you know, for cancer treatments. And so, Paclitaxel is a direct contribution from that, or contribution from that. So we, you know, we get these these plant extracts, we treat cancer cells, they die, what in that plant extract is creating this effect where these cancer cells are dying, just from a very broad perspective, we can do chemical analyses on that extract, you know, isolate the various components of them, you know, considering the dose of a particular component in the, in the, in the plant extract, and, you know, isolate each one and test it on the cancer cells at various doses and dose curves and determine which of the compounds has the anti cancer effects. So Paclitaxel was produced on that vincristine was produced upon that even curcuminoids cannabinoids are another thing that are being investigated. A THC derivatives for those who aren’t familiar with the cannabis, you know, mechanistic or chemical names. And actually, I’m gonna post about that next week. It’s a rebrand of an old post that I did. But you know, we take a lot of these, these natural, these naturally existing chemicals and use them as templates to determine how they’re interacting with specific cell types when they’re interacting with specific cell types, their metabolic characteristics of how there is just molecule characterization.
Dr Lyon 57:30
And it’s, it’s, what you’re saying is, it’s also much more structured, yeah, we can give it an A dose that we know how that goes center interacts, and then we can monitor it.
Dr. Zundell 57:37
And then we can change the structure chemically to make it more specific, less specific, in some cases, because you can have too much of a response. And we see this often with the case of even immunotherapies. You know, you hyper activate the immune system against a cancer, they’ll secrete all their, you know, cytokines or chemicals against that, that cancer, but you can have too much of a good thing, so to speak too much of an immune response against cancer. And this is called like a cytokine storm. So we worry about off target effects with small molecules targeting, you know, various metabolic components and leading to like hair loss and things like that some drugs. But in immunotherapy context, we also look at, like how our own responses to that tumor need to be kind of blunted to effect, you know, to keep a patient healthy.
Dr Lyon 58:23
You know, we got a lot of listener questions, and I want to kind of share some of those with you. Sure. And I’m just gonna go through some of the list because they’re really, they’re really interesting. So do ready for this,
Dr. Zundell 58:34
Dr Lyon 58:34
here comes That’s what I’m here for. do carbs speed up cancer growth,
Dr. Zundell 58:39
Dr Lyon 58:41
tell me about that.
Dr. Zundell 58:41
Sure. So there’s this understanding amongst most people, that carbs can speed up cancer growth, and a lot of that is reliant upon observation seen within PET scans. So for those who aren’t familiar with a PET scan, a PET scan essentially utilizes radio active isotope of glucose that’s injected into the serum or the in the vein of a person. And all of your cells in general utilize glucose to some capacity. But in a PET scan, you can weed out kind of that background of baseline absorption of that, that radioactive isotope of glucose to determine cells that have a higher uptake of glucose. And so this is an observation that was very rarely seen in the cancer biology field by people like Otto Warburg, so who’s frequently quoted the Warburg effect is real for the listeners. But glucose uptake isn’t the only thing. glucose uptake is kind of like a byproduct of cancer metabolism. They’re increasing their uptake of glucose for a variety of reasons. Glucose can be a fuel source or carbon source for a variety of different metabolic outputs. And it’s very complicated and it’s very I’m diverse between cancers. So this idea that glucose can fuel specifically glucose can fuel cancer growth is true. But it’s heavily context dependent just like anything just like protein consumption or amino acid consumption. The same could be said about amino acids. If I was taking BCAAs, and I had cancer, you could say BCAAs caused cancer along the same lines. But I wouldn’t say that because I know the context. A lot of Yeah, like a lot of what people don’t realize is when you when somebody has a PET scan, all the cells glow in your body, but the ones that have the highest uptake of glucose are gonna glow much brighter, and you weed out that background noise. So, you know, like I said, All cells in the body use glucose. Cancer cells have a preference, sometimes, a lot of the time, not all the time to utilize more glucose than surrounding cells.
Dr Lyon 1:00:50
Would that be a reason why someone would have a lower carbohydrate diet or a lower glucose diet if they had active cancer?
Dr. Zundell 1:00:56
So this is something that’s newer in terms of investigation, and we have evidence now that things like ketogenic diets may be helpful. I say that very, very carefully. I want to emphasize may be helpful, right? This isn’t this isn’t advice to say, oh, you should totally go on a ketogenic diet. But we have evidence to suggest that lower carbohydrate diets such like the ketogenic diet, may help cancer patient outcomes. Actually a group at Princeton, published this study, Josh Rabinowitz, which you actually had somebody on your
Dr Lyon 1:01:28
she’s a she is a collaborator. Yeah. Alexis Cowan. Yeah.
Dr. Zundell 1:01:33
Alexis Cowen, so she is actually in Josh Rabinowitz, his lab. And they published a really, really beautiful paper about ketogenic diet being combined with standard of care therapy. And I believe the model was pancreatic cancer, which is great, because you know, we don’t have really any treatment for pancreatic cancer, especially when it’s detected late stage, which we spoke about. But ketogenic diets alone in that paper didn’t actually look like it worsened the outcomes of the cancer in their pancreatic cancer model, but ketogenic diet in combination with the chemotherapy, kind of, it looks like it shifts the metabolism of the cancer cells to be more susceptible to the thing that is targeted by the chemotherapy. So we’re utilizing these sort of dietary strategies as kind of like windows of opportunity to treat a particular cancer type. And again, I think people need to be very careful about the diets, especially cancer patients, the diets that they choose to consume, because it could make things worse. I absolutely agree. Timing is very, very challenging when we regard therapeutic strategies. So I think that when we start a ketogenic diet is as important as doing it in the first place. We don’t have enough evidence right now to to really say that with confidence. People should be doing these things. But clinical trials are attempting to weed this weed this out as Josh Rabinowitz his group is doing.
Dr Lyon 1:02:56
When you say when they initiate a ketogenic diet. Why Why do you say that? It’s so let’s say someone comes in with a new cancer diagnosis. And who knows, maybe they’re eating a standard American diet, arguably, anything is better than that? When would you know, Would someone then initiate a ketogenic diet? Or perhaps they’re interested in doing that? Would there be any downside?
Dr. Zundell 1:03:19
The only downside would be if they started it without knowing why. Fair enough. If they wanted to do a ketogenic diet, and their doctor approved it, because of something they knew about their particular cancer type, again, their doctor would have to have strong reasoning as to you know, why they would say, you know, this is a good idea or a bad idea. But if somebody wanted to, you know, start a ketogenic diet, or maybe high carb diet, low carb diet, whatever high protein diet, there would have to be strong rationale to suggest it. But again, the level of evidence on this would be we’d have to be very careful about making those those statements specially to a patient.
Dr Lyon 1:03:58
Ready for another one?
Dr. Zundell 1:03:59
Dr Lyon 1:04:00
Fasting and chemotherapy, what what is the research say so far?
Dr. Zundell 1:04:04
Fasting and chemotherapy? Not much.
Dr Lyon 1:04:08
And then again, now he’s going to serve so then now you’re talking about muscle wasting, eventually cokexia
Dr. Zundell 1:04:13
Yeah, so that could actually be ideal deleterious to cancer patient outcomes, because these people already, if it’s late stage disease, again, if it’s late stage disease, they could be having, you know, complications due to kick Exia which fasting would go that’d be horrible for that for that particular patient. But again, in the context of you know, things like the ketogenic diet, fasting may be you know, in some contexts, a window of opportunity to be able to provide a drug assuming that the output of fasting creates a condition where treatment was something during that particular state will be more targetable to the cancer.
Dr Lyon 1:04:50
Yeah, you know, with the fasting you know, you do I have seen you talk about autophagy and this is, you know, this person asked does prolong fasting combined with sulforaphane and actually work. So we’ve identified the fasting component of that sulforaphane. Have you heard of that?
Dr. Zundell 1:05:06
Yeah, like in broccoli.
Dr Lyon 1:05:08
Dr. Zundell 1:05:08
So Mark Hyman has spoken about this. And I’ve kind of spoken about that in the past somewhat abrasively. But in general, the research is not in favor of this.
Dr Lyon 1:05:18
Okay. Thoughts on IV, vitamin C and ozone for adjunct therapies?
Dr. Zundell 1:05:26
No good evidence,
Dr Lyon 1:05:28
no good evidence.
Dr. Zundell 1:05:29
Yeah and I’ve tried, trust me, I’ve tried. So like I, again, I empathize with people. They asked me these questions, I look it up. And that’s one of those things I see next to no evidence for. And usually, it’s from these obscure clinics in the middle of nowhere.
Dr Lyon 1:05:45
Let’s talk about, you know, you mentioned stress. Are you talking about and you know, you talked about, er stress? Do you look at other components of stress or
Dr. Zundell 1:05:56
Dr Lyon 1:05:57
Okay, let’s talk about it.
Dr. Zundell 1:05:59
So I did a post a while ago, and it’s gonna take me a bit to remember here, but so I did talk about if there’s any sort of links between things like anxiety related stress to cancer, and it’s really hard to tease apart those those kinds of psychological aspects in relation to cancer. But you could reason that there’s behaviors, which might make one more likely to be susceptible to any disease, let alone cancer due to like, you know, risky behaviors and things like that, which I was literally just talking about with your husband.
Dr Lyon 1:06:33
Not that he’s into risky behaviors,
Dr. Zundell 1:06:35
not that he’s ever been into any risky behaviors. He’s never taken any risks. But yeah, so in general, there’s, there’s evidence for, you know, stress being related to it, but it’s not causative, causative. Yeah.
Dr Lyon 1:06:50
And that was a question someone had asked about, are there certain personality types that are more likely to get cancer, whether it’s the type A,
Dr. Zundell 1:06:58
I haven’t investigated this, but i i Being a type A person would probably say that I’m much more likely getting cancer than maybe some of my more chill. Collaborators.
Dr Lyon 1:07:09
Yeah. I really liked this question. In a career like the fire service, what ways can we prevent getting cancer? So they’re exposed to a lot of this kind of smoke and not just the smoke, but the things that they practice with?
Dr. Zundell 1:07:24
You mean firefighters?
Dr Lyon 1:07:25
Yeah, yeah. Any suggestion on ways in which they could prevent that and I think where he’s going with this is detoxification pathways. I don’t know sauna glutathione these things that people oftentimes think of think of as it relates to detoxification.
Dr. Zundell 1:07:42
Yeah. You know, some jobs, they just suck. There’s not much you can do. Like your husband would agree having been in the military, especially in the Special Forces,
Dr Lyon 1:07:53
Dr. Zundell 1:07:54
Special Ops, sorry, my bad
Dr Lyon 1:07:55
Special forces are forced
Dr. Zundell 1:07:56
Very different. Yeah, that was an insult. My bad. That was an insult.
Dr Lyon 1:08:00
Nah, Come on, SF, guys. We love you, too.
Dr. Zundell 1:08:03
Yeah. But, you know, some occupations, they just suck. You know, firefighters, we can we can try and invent or engineer better ways that they can be protected, or protected from, you know, dealing with fires. But sometimes that’s just the nature of the business. Whether or not these these guys can sublimate. Sorry, guys and girls can supplement with particular things help offset their effects due to their occupational exposure to smoke, various carcinogens? I don’t quite know. But I know, things like glutathione are probably not the answer, considering you know, just how much glutathione is in your body. I think in general, the whole glutathione supplementation is is a bit of a scam, because it exists in like, I think, even millimolar range in your body. There were unless you had some sort of disease, which glutathione was severely depleted, there would almost be no reason why you take something like a glutathione supplements,
Dr Lyon 1:08:57
do you take any supplements
Dr. Zundell 1:08:59
I have in the past? I don’t anymore because I started learning. And so I mean, I’ve I’ve just kept it to the bare minimum. So like, I also found that I felt better when I stopped taking as many supplements. So I’ve tried, you know, pro hormones and things in the past, which is not necessarily a supplement, but you know, I take pre workout right now, I have whey isolate.
Dr Lyon 1:09:26
I’ve taken fish oil in the past, but actually, I try and focus on consuming the foods where I get the fish oil from. So if I weren’t eating enough foods that had omega threes or omega sixes, those things, I would I would maybe consume an Omega three supplement I have in the past, they’re not bad. I actually I’m an advocate for taking something like an Omega three. There’s plenty of research to support that.
Dr Lyon 1:09:53
I agree and also we have to really understand that we’re framing the context as it relates to cancer. And there are Moulton, there are many other preventative areas, there’s many other diseases. There’s many other things,
Dr. Zundell 1:10:08
All of which I don’t know a damn thing about Yeah. Yeah. So there’s a few studies and a lot of people went on, they want to say that red meat causes cancer, that’s false. But the way that we cook certain foods like meats can, you know, produce carcinogenic things like you know, firefighters going into smoke as an example heterocyclic Amiens, when you cook proteins at high heats, particularly red meats, it’ll break down the amino acids to produce these carcinogenic compounds like heterocyclic, amines, poly aromatic hydrocarbons, I think that’s the other one. And the NCI, the National Cancer Institute has, you know, released information on this as well. Ultimately, you know, we should be consuming a decent amount of red meat but within reason, but the way that we cook it very much matters. If we’re eating it a lot, and we’re always cooking it over the grill, probably not the healthiest thing to do. So yeah, so we should keep our red meat consumption within reason but also consider the way that we cook it. I love I love a chart charted steak. Medium Rare is my shit. But um, you know, I try and limit the amount that I consume just because of the you know, the heterocyclic amines, the poly aromatic hydrocarbons that come from cooking at a high temps.
Dr Lyon 1:10:09
So, as the listener is thinking about this, I want you to understand that we are really talking about the evidence to the best of our ability as it relates to cancer. So I think that that’s just important to understand, Okay, we got lots tons of questions. Can charred meats be carcinogenic? And do we know the dosage? For example? Do we know okay, there’s, if you have one charred steak a week, or it’s still just,
Dr. Zundell 1:11:57
we don’t necessarily know that dose, I would say I would feel comfortable, I actually eat probably too much red meat. But I would say, you know, one delicious steak a week cooked over the grill is a decent, reasonable explanation, maybe even two. But again, a lot of this is very individualistic. From a dietary perspective. If that’s the only thing I’m eating, it’s gonna give me some health issues. A lot of people think, oh, red meat causes cancer, but they’re not considering red meat alone may produce specific outcomes to disease. But we also need to consume other things like vegetables, fruits, you know, all these other things that come with our diets to help offset those effects that consume, you know, come from just consumption of one food, right, which you would expect because you’re just consuming one food group
Dr Lyon 1:12:49
one food group. Yeah. People ask about their Is there a connection between prostate cancer and TRT? I don’t know if you’ve looked at that.
Dr. Zundell 1:12:59
I haven’t looked at that. But I would imagine that there would be a link due to the androgenic signaling, which happens and is directly related to prostate cancer progression.
Dr Lyon 1:13:12
I’ll I’ll jump in on on the prostate TRT one.
Dr. Zundell 1:13:15
Dr Lyon 1:13:15
so the so TRT typically, testosterone replacement therapy does not cause prostate cancer, but it would be more likely to reveal it if an individual does have it. So there’s that.
Dr. Zundell 1:13:28
it makes sense. Yep. Yeah. Thanks for adding context.
Dr Lyon 1:13:30
Yeah, no, no, because I don’t want the listener to be like, Oh my gosh, I’ve been on TRT forever. Yeah. Am I increasing my risk,
there are states in life where TRT is going to be favorable for a lot of people, especially men as they age
Dr Lyon 1:13:43
Dr. Zundell 1:13:43
Dr Lyon 1:13:44
How can we avoid it biggest cause of cancer? ask all these questions here? Now, this is an interesting question. Do high cortisol levels contribute to cancer?
Dr. Zundell 1:13:56
So we just kind of touched on this a little bit regarding stress? Not a causative way. But I’m sure given the evidence that we eventually will acquire, not that we currently have, but I’m sure that cortisol levels depending on cancer type can directly relate to poor outcomes regarding cancer. You know, it’s not easy to say you know, to a cancer patient or somebody who has potentially cancer, calm down, it’s going to be okay. Totally. Cortisol is is it’s also like, it’s my wife is a circadian biologists so
Dr Lyon 1:14:31
Dr. Zundell 1:14:31
she is yeah,
Dr Lyon 1:14:32
We gotta get her on.
Dr. Zundell 1:14:33
Yeah, she’s brilliant.
Dr Lyon 1:14:35
I would expect nothing less.
Dr. Zundell 1:14:36
Well, I have high standards. So does she, so maybe she chose me, I would I would wager that. But anyways, so cortisol is circadian. So we need a certain amount of cortisol to function normally. So it’s hard to establish a baseline of what would be correlated to a specific type of cancer. So I imagine that’s one thing that circadian biology at the interface between cancer biology, we’d have trouble figuring out. And I’m confident it’s ongoing.
Dr Lyon 1:15:06
Yeah. And what were some of the other that you had mentioned the other cancers that you were specifically interested in. So you were really interested in ovarian cancer. You studied ovarian cancer. Did you all and you looked at liver cancer, there was a third one, yeah
Dr. Zundell 1:15:19
ovarian, ovarian, leukemia, leukemia and liver a little bit.
Dr Lyon 1:15:25
Anything unique to either of those, any three of those, as it relates to preventative measures for the listener?
Dr. Zundell 1:15:37
Not that we haven’t really already discussed regarding preventative measures, there are unique genetic signatures, and metabolic signatures, but that doesn’t necessarily mean much to the standard viewer. That’s more so along like how we, you know, decide specific therapies, which, you know, I provide those those contexts on my channel, like why would we produce a drug to target this pathway in leukemia versus ovarian cancer? A lot of it’s going to depend on the bracket status for ovarian, you know, regarding ovarian cancer, breast cancer. Leukemia, a lot of it is metabolic, maybe carcinogen exposure, those sorts of things. For Cancer, alcohol, whether or not they’ve been infected with HPV. Yeah.
Dr Lyon 1:16:24
How effective are some of the treatments for breast cancer? Because I think that that is something that really does scare alarmingly
Dr. Zundell 1:16:29
Extremely effective. So I, yeah, I have to be very careful when I talk about breast cancer because it is a very emotionally charged topic. I’ve actually been told that as a man, how could I understand it because I don’t have breasts, which is somewhat comical, because I’m a mammal. All men have breasts, if you know, listeners need to be informed on that. But um, regarding breast cancer, the treatments that we have for breast cancer are very, very good. And not only regarding detection, we’ve gotten a lot better in terms of detecting breast cancer early. But even if you know we have some of these more metastatic cancers, triple negative breast cancer being one of them, the therapies for that are very good, and they’ve very dramatically increased patient outcomes, positive patient outcomes over the past even five years. Yeah.
Dr Lyon 1:17:18
And there, there was an I think that we can all agree that that’s super important in early detection, like you said, getting regular mammograms. I know people are, they’re concerned about the impact of the mammogram, tissue. And I have heard that, you know, some of my patients will say, Oh, well, I’m not, I’m not going to actually get image because I’m afraid it’s going to cause cancer. And I said, Listen, these are the things we have to look at. And I think that it’s really critical. So if you’re bitten, if your list a listener, and you’re putting it off, then you should go get any of those those screening tests.
Dr. Zundell 1:17:52
Yeah. Can I can I add a little bit?
Dr Lyon 1:17:54
Dr. Zundell 1:17:54
Yeah. So regarding mammograms, I think it’s incredibly important that people try not to be afraid to get them there, there is no evidence to suggest that getting a mammogram will actually worsen breast cancer. People will say Oh, touching around the breast tissue touching lumps engages metastasis characteristics and the cancer. It doesn’t there’s no evidence to suggest that. But there is a reasonable amount of fear that comes with finding a lump in breast tissue, whether your man or female, or male or female. So I strongly empathize with you know, any any listener who is afraid of getting a mammogram. I know it’s scary if you find a lump, but you got to do it. mammogram isn’t the endpoint. There, there are a variety of other tests. So you find a lump, you got to figure out what the next point is, you got to figure out what to do about it. And a lot of times, they’re benign. So it’s best after a mammogram, it’s only one test, just like a PET scan. So only one test, it’s best to get multiple viewpoints, multiple tests done to kind of, you know, determine if it’s cancer, for one, how malignant it is, or how bad it is, and then what you can do about it. So I very much try to enable people to seek out that sort of information so that they can be less scared. It’s scary fear associated with these things is natural, but
Dr Lyon 1:19:17
action is critical
Dr. Zundell 1:19:18
action is critical. People have to act on these things. Indecision kills people
Dr Lyon 1:19:23
for sure. Are there a handful of myths that you always hear?
Dr. Zundell 1:19:27
Other than sugar causing cancer meat causing cancer? um a lot of the times these these myths come from people online who have a seemingly logical Foundation, like we’ve talked about with you know, with glucose or or even insulin. I know that Mark Hyman has spoken about insulin before, you know, being a causative link to cancer, but it’s much more complex than that. So I think that that is a myth, but there’s there’s logical reason behind why things like insulin and glucose fats can contribute to particular cancer types, but they’re not the only thing. And I think teaching people about these complexities and displaying kind of like the biological Foundation, the cell biology aspect about them Can, can show them, you know, the context behind why certain things occur, so that they don’t make those strong and strong statements about correlation. And cause I think that a lot of this, these myths arise from people’s, you know, understandably, their, their misunderstanding of what correlation and what caused me. So,
Dr Lyon 1:20:38
and if you had one wish that everyone could walk away with, after hearing you and listening to you, I think that you feel very passionate about the subject because of your experience. And that initial experience of being very helpless. Yeah. Is there something that you wish for everybody? Because you are, you’re really spending a lot of time trying to educate people? Yeah, that that’s not an easy task. And there has to be a reason and a driver much bigger than it’s not about you. Right? There has to be another reason as to why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Dr. Zundell 1:21:10
Yeah, I don’t, I don’t do what I do. For my own purposes, I don’t want to make money off of what I do. People have asked me to write a book, sell it, I will, I will always everything that I do about cancer biology, I’ll always give away. Because I feel like like, like we’ve talked about, or we’ve spoken about this, there’s this just huge issue with people’s lack of understanding of science, and I get it, it’s complicated. We’ve dedicated our careers to it. So my hope is that no matter what I discussed, people walk away learning to think much more critically about just how diverse and also how beautiful life is. We exist as human beings on this planet for, you know, to to exist as a part of our environment. We aren’t special. And I think that displaying the complexities associated with even our own biology can relate to how people understand, you know, other things in life. So I just want I really just want people to think more critically, so that way when they hear that person on online saying, you know, like insulin causes cancer, sugar causes cancer, fat cause seed oils for Christ’s sake. You know, again, all of these ideas, they’re within reason they have a logical foundation
Dr Lyon 1:22:24
So you don’t think seed oils cause cancer,
Dr. Zundell 1:22:27
I don’t care do cause cancer. But beyond this, there’s there’s discussion to be had about how these things can contribute to any disease, let alone cancer, I’m sure seed oils, when you when you dig down to it, sugars, they have these contributors to any disease. But the conversations need to be had with people so they can understand when these particular contexts can relate to a disease instead of just making this blanket statement that, you know, is easy to misconstrue, and and misinform others on
Dr Lyon 1:22:58
and make people afraid.
Dr. Zundell 1:22:59
Yeah, I don’t, I don’t want people to be afraid. So like, that’s, that’s my goal is just, you know, I have a lot of goals. But that’s, I just don’t want people to be afraid. It’s, you know, learning is a very hard process. It’s scary. You know, you don’t think I think if anyone was more scared during their education to realize that cancer is just horrible, it’s a horrible disease. And my mom didn’t really have much control over it to realize that that’s depressing. And I was up till like, two in the morning, just combing every section of my biochemistry, book, cancer biology books, because it was addictive, but also at the same time, it was like, just to feel that this wasn’t necessarily her fault, gave me some sort of therapeutic value. I want to provide that to people. People need to understand that and not be scared.
Dr Lyon 1:23:48
Thank you so much.
Dr. Zundell 1:23:50
Yeah absolutely. Thank you so much for having me.
Dr Lyon 1:23:51
And we’ll link to all your channels. And we’ll do a part two, we’ll link to that, then you should definitely have a newsletter. But I would love to have you back on, we’ll get some more questions from the listener, because what I think you do a great job at is that there’s a foundational understanding that you’re bringing forth, and you’re really putting an effort to bring that forth. And I think by you talking about some of these things, it’s really going to save people’s lives.
Dr. Zundell 1:24:16
I hope so.
Dr Lyon 1:24:17
Because there is this is the the more afraid of something we are the more vulnerable we are to influence around it. And by coming and having a conversation about what you know, what are the potential implications, and perhaps we get screening at, you know, these intervals, and maybe you actually go and do genetic testing for how we’re going to initiate the chemotherapy versus going to some other place to be treated for a cancer that you could have survived otherwise, and that’s critical.
Dr. Zundell 1:24:52
Yeah, so it’s all about just enabling people to make better decisions about their health.
Dr Lyon 1:24:57
Thank you so much.
Dr. Zundell 1:24:58
Thank you. I really appreciate it.
Dr Lyon 1:25:01
The doctor Gabrielle Lyon podcast and YouTube are for general information purposes only, and do not constitute the practice of medicine, nursing, or other professional health care services, including the giving of medical advice, and no patient doctor relationship is formed. The use of information on this podcast YouTube or materials linked from a podcast or YouTube is at the user’s own risk. The content of this podcast is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. User should not disregard or delay in obtaining medical advice for any medical condition. They may have and should seek the assistance of their health care professional for any such conditions. This is purely for entertainment and educational purposes only