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Cancer: Immune Resilience with Dr Mark Donohoe

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Cancer: Immune Resilience with Dr Mark Donohoe

Dysfunction to immune surveillance is a prevailing theory when it comes to tumour progression in cancer. The immune system is the housekeeper of the human body, so what happens when there is too much work for that housekeeper to perform its role effectively?

In today's podcast we are joined by Dr Mark Donohoe who shares his thoughts on supportive therapies for improving immune tolerance and thus, immune resilience to for cancer patients. Dr Donohoe expertly emphasises why food, diets, seasonal eating and a healthy microbiome are crucial to a capable immune system.

Covered in this episode

[00:45] Welcoming back Dr Mark Donohoe
[01:32] Exposing toxicity
[04:56] Poisons through diet
[10:46] Immune desensitisation
[15:43] Immune resilience
[18:25] Immunotherapy
[24:22] IV Vitamin C: apoptosis
[27:58] Exercise:  crucial factor
[31:21] "The job of life, is living"

Andrew: This is FX Medicine and I'm Andrew Whitfield-Cook, and joining me once more in the studio is my dear friend, Dr Mark Donohoe

He graduated in 1980 from Sydney Uni, worked around the central coast, and this is where his interest in integrated medicine sparked. Because patients just weren't fitting into the boxes of diagnosis and treatment. He's one of the fathers of integrated medicine in Australia. I'd still like to say grandfather, but he'd get offended.

Mark: Yeah. That's not good. 

Andrew: And he's been a vanguard for patient health throughout his career, and I warmly welcome you back. How are you, Mark? 

Mark: Oh, I'm great. It feels almost like I'm living here sometimes, in this wonderful expanse of joy and podcasting abilities. 

Andrew: This expansive studio, literally. 

Mark: This expansive studio. 

Andrew: Lounging.

Mark: I know. 

Andrew: It's a dog box. 

Mark: It is, but...

Andrew: Let's say cozy. 

Mark: It's good to focus us, isn't it? 

Andrew: Now, Mark, I've got to say, we're going to be talking about cancer immune therapy and what's going on here with our bodies, and even new classes of drugs, but I think first, I just want to segue, hopefully segue, back to your history. When I mentioned you've been a vanguard for patient's health. For those listeners that might be listening to us for the first time, Dr. Mark Donohoe, I've known of for two odd decades. Even from when you...

Mark: Very odd decades. 

Andrew: When you were talking about chronic fatigue syndrome when it was dismissed as psychosomatic. And I remember an argument that you had with a doctor who would not accept anything else than psychosomatism. You've then been the vanguard of families who were fishermen in Sydney Harbour...

Mark: Oh, yeah. 

Andrew: ...around the Sydney Olympics Village construction and the huge levels of dioxins that were found in the water. And indeed, the children, I think, had 8 to 10 times the amount, is that right? 

Mark: Yes, and it had contaminated the harbour, and we found that the fish that we were fishing commercially in the harbour and the reaches were highly contaminated

Yes, I'm responsible for the loss of Sydney prawns, and that's how I imagine some people will remember me. 

Andrew: Yes. 

Mark: Sadly. 

Andrew: I don't care about my madness. It was my prawns that I miss. But you also had a very unique clinic for some time that had ceramic walls and you were very heavily involved in multiple chemical sensitivities. 

Mark: And chemical toxicity, so it was a five-year hospital unit, specially constructed. We built it on having visited America. We went to Bill Rae's clinic, which is the Environmental Health Centre in Dallas, and I was quite impressed by what they were doing. 

Their idea was, well, how would you know if people are chemically affected? You have to get them away from the things that affect them. And then challenge them. And it seemed reasonable that if people were being affected the whole time... There's this fabulous line, "You don't know who discovered water, but it wasn't fish.” And the same thing was going on here. People were becoming chemically sickened, but how did you get them out of the environment that sickened them in order to see what they were like, how to test them? 

And so we had a clinic, 300 patients over those years, for detoxification, for assessment of sensitivities, and we even discovered that there was even a small subset that were electromagnetically very sensitive

And so it was a great learning experience. It was a very good hospital clinic. We were not so successful because we neglected something which was, you know, we've just talked about it in the symposium this year, is it's okay to mobilise toxins, but you've got to do something to actually make it...

Andrew: To get rid of them. 

Mark: ...safe for them to be rid. And so that concept of Chris Shade's phase three detoxification binders. Getting stuff out through the gut, getting stuff out safely. Was not something that was all that big at that time. 

And so we did make the error of intoxicating people. They were great about it, they learned a lot. They detoxified. We got about two years' worth of toxins out in a three-week period, but therein was the problem. These people, we learned the hard way. You have to protect people beforehand, and you have to bind the agents that you're mobilising to get them out of the body. 

Andrew: Speaking of poisons. I could ask so many questions with regards to what you did then, and maybe we'll do that on another podcast. But speaking of poisons, let's talk about poisons that are in our diet, and that actually have a function for us. 

Mark: Yes. 

Andrew: You know, we tend to blame, you know, things as all of these are things that we should avoid. Like, we know we need a low salicylate diet. And admittedly, there are those people that might have problems with them, at least at some stage or for some reason. 

I guess my issue is when we start to avoid things without knowing why we're avoiding something, and without correcting the underlying mechanism, or the underlying problem for which they have an issue with that. So, for instance, salicylate, why are they salicylate sensitive? 

Let's talk a little bit about these dietary poisons, if you like, but the plants have a function for them. 

Mark: That's... Look, I think it's a truly, truly fascinating story. We are evolutionary products. Which means that we grew up in an environment, not the one that we have today, but we grew up with plants, we grew up with very poisonous things. 

Now, generally, living things don't like to be killed, and they have mechanisms of inducing other things, other organisms, not to eat them, not to destroy them, or to participate in an evolutionary process. 

I think salicylates is a particularly interesting one because salicylates is the plant's insect defence system. And what you do see is organic foods are very high in salicylate relative to pesticide-treated foods. Why? Because the pesticide-treated foods don't need to produce the insect poisons. They don't need the salicylates, and so non-organic foods are lower in salicylates than are organic foods. That's a paradox. You know, we trade one poison for another. We're saying, let's get the poisons that we apply to the crops out and let's live with what the plant produced. 

And the salicylate story, I think, is fascinating because salicylates are, what in the future, they're phenolic agents. These are things that are in the future, you know, 10 million years buried underground, a bit of heat and pressure are going to become petrochemicals. The plants have the phenol rings that are, and eventually going to become something else. Yes, they're poisonous, but what we have done is we are the survivors of all the organisms around. Plants were food, you had to be able to utilise the poisons for benefit, and so there are two aspects of poisons. 

One is many poisons are nutrients, and many nutrients are poisonous, but what they do is they interact with us in very specific ways. So salicylate's a great example. What do salicylates do? They open the gap junctions of the gastrointestinal tract. They increase gut permeability. And why would something increase gut permeability? We think of increased gut permeability as a bad thing. It's not a bad thing. The gut permeability...

Andrew: As long as it's measured. 

Mark: That's right. The gut permeability should be there in a measured way that allows the body to sample the molecules that are there on the outside, figure out what's foe, what's friend, what's bacteria, what's virus, what's nutrient? And get its act together so that the deeper layers of the immune system within the gut wall do get to sample the outside world, but not get overwhelmed by it. 

You get people who've got leaky guts already, or the increased gut permeability, say post antibiotic inflammation. Some of the things that we've been through just recently in the symposium. You get those people, for them, the salicylates are the straw that breaks the camel's back. They are the thing that opens the gut permeability more.

Andrew: Too much. 

Mark: And so when they come off salicylates, they say I feel better. But that's because they've gone from very severe gut permeability to less severe. 

Andrew: So is the problem then, when you talk about severe gut permeability. Is it severe gut permeability or is it gut permeability that is normal in other people, but they don't have the tolerogenic effect of that?

Mark: Good question. 

Andrew: So, therefore, their response is average. 

Mark: Really, really good question. 

What it does look like we needed is variety. So what I have against salicylate diets or FODMAP diets or any other diet is, it's a temporary thing that can induce a benefit in some people. It is not the rest of your life. It's not a lifestyle. It's none of those things. 

What we do know about nature and what we know now about microbial, you know...the bugs in our gut, the bugs on our skin, the foods that we eat, is that they vary over time. The idea that there is a ‘right microbiome’, that there is a right diet, that there is a right anything, a right living environment, is crazy. We have seasons. We've lived with seasons. We've survived winters. We are the survivors of an evolutionary process, which is highly selective. And then we come to a time where there are no winters. Effectively, no supermarket has a winter anymore. They have winter food, summer foods. They have everything as constant. 

Andrew: Just the apples taste like rubbish. 

Mark: Yes, they do. And when you come to homes, we keep the environment the same all the time. 

We think that what humans need is stability. You know, the right answer. As if it is a single-data-point and that will make you well. And you see these diets every time: the ketogenic diet, the paleo diet. Whereas it really does seem that variety is the principle of biology. That if you have a good variety of the microbes in the microbiota of the gut, you are doing great. If you lose that biodiversity, you do poorly. If you have a good variety of foods in season, you do great. The vast majority of people. 

There are allergenic sides. You know, there are places like reactions to peanuts, eggs, and the like, where individuals have to make a very serious decision to avoid particular things. 

Andrew: However, I know that we're going to be talking about gut bugs because you and I always will, and so...

Mark: Yes, we will. It bounces back to that, doesn't it? 

Andrew: Well, let's talk about this incredible research by Mimi Tang and her group down at...in Melbourne, is it Monash? Using, was it one 200th of a peanut, to desensitise to anaphylactic reactions to peanuts. Now, I caution every listener, every practitioner out there, never ever, ever do this at home. This must be done with appropriate adrenaline and...

Mark: Kids, this has to be done by supervision, and...

Andrew: Yes. But...

Mark: ...adult supervision. 

Andrew: No. Well, more than adult supervision. This must be done with medical supervision with emergency treatment at hand. So just so that you know, do not do this. 

But with appropriate treatment on hand, or emergency rescue on hand, they've had miraculous results. Where people are no longer anaphylactic to peanuts. Now, she's done work on immunotherapy using the peanut. She's also done work on using a lactobacillus rhamnosus Chinese strain. Forgive me. I can't remember what it... I'm very confused about this because some paper say LGG, some papers don't. So I don't know which is happening, whether she used both or whatever. Watch this space. 

But my question is, what were the results from lactobacillus rhamnosus, whatever strain, versus immunotherapy? Were they different? Were they the same? Were they additive, synergistic, whatever? I don't know that answer. 

Mark: Yeah. But tolerance is a thing that can be turned on and off. We do see this really regularly. In fact, allergists use it all the time when they use desensitising drops. What do we do? We take the allergen, we start the drops at a very low concentration, and we build it up progressively. 

So induction of tolerance. It used to be that you had to have injections, and I had real problems with injections. Many people who had the injections developed later autoimmune consequences of those injections. And I suspect it was the phenols and the preservatives that were in there rather than the things that we we're trying to induce the tolerance for. The reason I say that is I've never seen it happen with the oral drops. 

Andrew: Oral drops. Right.

Mark: Which are now being used much more regularly by the allergists. 

Andrew: And if you think about it, you've got 65% to 70% of your immune system, active surveillance system, in your gut. It's not in your skin. It's got to move there. 

Mark: Yeah, it's the place to do it. The idea of using the gut, I think, is becoming a big part of immunotherapy. Everybody is looking down that line because we've had our times of putting injections under the skin and using adjuvants to try and induce particular immune responses. And I think the recognition is there now, that there is a sophisticated system in the gastrointestinal tract that we can rely on to have its own, if you like, feedback system. Its own ability to induce tolerance, and then to induce tolerance in the host. And I would put my money on nearly all of the immunotherapy work happening down on the gut. There's a complex interaction with the microbes. But there is an immune system and a pattern of immune system recognition and tolerance, which is just remarkable. 

Ten percent of all the cells on the gut are lymphocytes, T lymphocytes. We used to say that they were all suppressor lymphocytes. They're not. There are, you know, the toll-like receptors. There are a whole variety of them, but I would also caution that immunology is moving in the direction of saying, well, all of these TLRs and all of those types of cells, they're highly interchangeable. We give them names, and we give them labels as if they are different cell lines, never to meet again. But these are chameleons that change their shape, change their colour, change what they do, almost minute to minute. And the ability of them to serve their host is, probably, the reason that we survive.

Much to my shock, medicine is not the only reason that we're alive these days. Although, you would ask doctors who would say we live by the grace of medicine only. But we managed to make it through to here. And I honestly suspect that interaction of gut microbes, the food that we eat, and then the gut permeability, to sample the world outside, is the main reason that we do so well. And that we can survive all kinds of catastrophes by eating plant poisons which give us samples of what we need to be able to fight or manage in the outside world. 

So lots of plant chemicals are poisonous. We use them in a different way. We'd always thought of them as, "Oh, they're antioxidant." That they're, you know, nutritional, they are something or other. But it may well be that a lot of food is just giving us a little nudge and saying, "Hey, here's another poison, develop tolerance, develop an ability to handle it." And that we are resilient because we are challenged by really good foods, that provide poisons on a regular basis, that we have adapted to and that we really need for good long-term health. 

Andrew: I remember years ago seeing a...it was, basically, a movie, if you like, a little clip of a kupffer cell being challenged, and I think it was with alcohol? And it was...basically, you could watch it. You could watch the alcohol flying through and being detoxified. 

Mark: Is that right? 

Andrew: It was the alcohol stimulating the detoxification process of that cell. Now, you know, that was saying, basically, we’ve got to stop living this ultra-pure life. And I am sort of that way. In that, if you live an ultra-pure life, you are in a bubble. You can only live in that bubble. You start to lose this...

Mark: Resilience. 

Andrew: ...resilience, and you, you know, what do they call it? Antigenic ambivalence. So you then become an antigen looking for a poison, looking for something to react to. That is one of my problems with these long-term use of these restrictive diets. 

Mark: That may be true. There are people who fall off the edge, however. And in chemical sensitivity, this is a really difficult area. 

Because people who become chemically sensitised or sensitised to some environmental agent, when they fall off the edge, you have to work really hard to get them back. And so the paradox is you've got to withdraw the person from that particular stimulus, long enough for them to redevelop their tolerance. 

So in the short term, again, you know, this is a mistake I'm happy to admit I made it. That when it comes to chemical sensitivity, first step is unload them. The second step is progressively reload them with things that allow them to participate in life. We do not want them living on Kangaroo Island, in isolation. That's not a, you know, that's not what the fate of most humans is. 

There are people who are so sensitive that I've, you know, I kind of fear that this world is not made for them. Remember John Howard's saying, you know, "The times are right for me." Sometimes the times are wrong for individuals, and they really have to work hard to escape. And we have to make allowances for those people who really do need to control every aspect, to rebuild health sufficiently, for them to re-enter life, start to eat the broader range of foods, be able to even take supplements, pills or potions. 

Some people I see, every attempt to do something to manipulate biology, digestive processes, or anything else. Every one of them fails and we’re left with a tiny therapeutic range. And at that point, all we can really do is go back to the foods, and rather than even the extracted herbs or, certainly, not the drugs, even supplements just cause terrible reactions. They're so on edge. The tiny pushes knock them around. Shepherd them through that, but build them back. You do not want people painted into a corner with the only life that they could have is a life that's almost not worth living. 

Andrew: Let's move on from tolerogenicity, to more active surveillance with regards to our...what we, you know, naturopaths will term, you know, the stimulation of the immune system. That, you know, given that 99.99% of the time the job of the immune system is to actively not react. But there are times when we need reaction. There are times when we need to go, "Get thee the hell out of my body. You're out of balance. You're not wanted here." And we're not just talking infections here. Indeed, you know, there was an old theory when it went out of fashion, particularly with oncologists, and now it's back. And we're talking about cancer, obviously. 

We're talking about immunotherapy. The immune therapy drugs. The mAb drugs, commonly. Some NIBs as well. But anything with a very confusing long name and then M-A-B, at the end, is a monoclonal antibody. Talk us through what the mAbs are, and let's delve into some of the actions of some of these key drugs. Key. There was a little segue. Yeah. 

Mark: Oh, I see. They... Look, in no way am I an expert on monoclonal antibodies. There's a whole section of...just down the road from San Francisco, between there and Silicon Valley, where monoclonal antibodies and the next trillion or $100 trillion industry is of identifying every last detail of immunology and building a drug that is un-copiable by any third-party drug manufacturer, is tightly patented and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. 

Andrew: I've got to say, I...it's my theory that these drugs are named so confusingly so that people will not name them generically, but instead, will use the trade name. Like, Adalimumab. 

Mark: Yes, everything that has a mAb is difficult to pronounce, so you're quite possibly right. 

Andrew: That's my theory… Anyway. 

Mark: Look, I still think though that the interesting movement in oncology at the moment is that it's coming back from, “we will burn, cut, and destroy.” Right? So the burn, cut, and poison concept was, we will win the war on cancer. In a typical almost American way of, we will invade, we will kill, we will murder, nothing will be left standing, and what's left in is a healthy person. 

And what we have realised over, you know, 40 years is that that approach is innately flawed. Why? Because the damage done to the host leaves them vulnerable down the line, and so you could only go so far with that. The majority of people these days die of the chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and the surgery. Not the cancer. And we still call it a cancer death because in the heroic attempt to rescue them, we have a very high mortality rate, and it's probably the reason that the net effect of oncology has not been as great as we would have hoped, in most areas. Childhood cancer is a big exception, but there's good reasons for that. 

What I think is exciting is just the movement back to the recognition of the damaged cell. The cell that needs removal. How do cancers evade us? What did the cells do to not get turned off? 

So we learn that the natural killer cells job is to identify cells that have got no place in our body. The cancer cell is one that loses some of the markers that attract the natural killer cells. So oncology is turning back. I had a discussion with Joachim Fluhrer who's been in this for years doing research at Sydney Uni right now on this. The research is that these cells managed to evade the expression of basically, a little protein, a ligand on the surface which says, "Hey, come and get me." The cancer cells pull those in. They don't pull them in entirely, and if we up the natural killer cell function and activity, the natural killer cells come along and like "Kill Bill 2," there's kind of 5 point palm exploding heart. They touch the cell, they trigger apoptosis, and then they move on. 

So it's not an aggressive inflammatory thing. We'd always imagined killing cancer, murder, inflammation, damage, burn, cut. The technique of biology is, no, you're programmed for death. Go off five steps, later you will die. Move on to the next cell and do this in vast numbers very, very swiftly. So it seems the oncologists, are coming all the way back to saying, “What turns the natural killer cells into better apoptosis-inducing agents?” 

And we're learning lots of technicalities about it. But at the initial starting point, the polyphenols are a really big agent here. They're...the classic research is done in resveratrol. But the polyphenols in plants are cancer poisons, in the sense that they turn on our natural killer cells, they make them more active in their surveillance. And if there's something to be said for this, it is that a diet high in polyphenols is likely to be anti-carcinogenic. Did we know that? 

Andrew: Gee, yeah. 

Mark: What a surprise!

Andrew: What a surprise. Yeah. 

Mark: Eating fruits and veggies, eating plenty of vegetables, eating ferments, having red wine. The French paradox is explainable for the cardiovascular side. But longevity is explained by having something which is, technically, a bit of a poison, but those polyphenols act in a way that induce our responses. Get us aggressively, not even aggressively, more particularly, looking for the tumour cells, the viral cells. And I think the beauty of this is the reversion back to something that was known all along, that if you do things that are good for immunity, that are good for health. That the cancer is one of the things managed. It's not a magical terrible thing that biology has given us just to struggle with. 

Andrew: No. It's a stupid cell rather than an active evil cell. 

Mark: Well, its evilness or its brilliance is, that it finds a way to avoid being told to drop dead and...

Andrew: But that's by stupidity. It just forgets what it is. 

Mark: Yes. It forgets along the way. 

Andrew: It's not an active evilness, sort of thing. That's this wrong mentality of people. 

Mark: Yeah. And what we're saying now is intravenous vitamin C see has been used to turn on the apoptosis. How does it do it? It seems to do it through maturation and differentiation of natural killer cells. It may turn out that Linus Pauling was in fact, right. That what you can do may not be that you just take a vitamin C tablet every day, you have to eat well. You have to eat the polyphenols. You have to get the full plant, and there are no shortcuts to this. Variety is important. 

Andrew: And you have to take the right dose of vitamin C, in the right route. 

Mark: Yes. 

Andrew: For instance, oral vitamin C does not work the same...

Mark: That's correct. 

Andrew: ...as intravenous vitamin C. And there is some evidence to show effect with, I think it was ovarian cancer. I think at Kansas State Uni. Showing that intravenous vitamin C helped to support the chemotherapy with patients with ovarian cancer. 

Mark: Yeah. There's New Zealand research as well, two studies now. On apoptosis-inducing, inducing apoptosis of cancers by intravenous vitamin C. 

So what happens in medicine is we have our mindset in a certain way. You declare war on cancer, and I always think it's Nixon's fault. Like, Nixon caused a lot of problems over there. The presidents of the United States are just...they're troublemakers dressed up, aren't they? Declare war, and you go to war with weapons that may be inappropriate. Maybe what was needed all along was to find the ways that our body managed cancer and to move down the line of cancer management. 

I have a patient right at the moment. It taught me a big lesson in this last week. She was sickened by in vitro fertilisation. There was a whole lot of pelvic inflammatory, and other conditions. She had a colonoscopy, and in passing, they just took a bit of a sample of the anal-rectal area. And when they took that sample, they noticed a small cancer, very, very tiny. Immediately, the mindset of everybody lost track of everything else that was wrong with her and the focus was, immediately, on, "You must start chemotherapy. You must start radiotherapy for that because one day it might turn bad." She was nutritionally a wreck. She was inflamed. She had chronic infections from the pelvic inflammatory problems induced. Had she started chemotherapy and radiotherapy, she would die. 

And it just showed me, in that moment, that doctors minds are so focused on cancer that we lose all perspective about health. Within 10 days of being just on a probiotic and stewed apple program, along with some nutrient supplementation, she went from being carried into my practice to walking into the practice, to saying, "Okay, I'm getting over the infection." What everyone was focused on was causing no symptoms and no problems at all. But when doctors hear the word cancer, our mind snaps. We go into...

Andrew: Yeah. It becomes a priority. 

Mark: …"We must go to war with this person and their cancer”. And I think that the change that we, as integrated practitioners can bring about, is there is now proven, evidence-based value, to going on to whether it's foods or supplements. Those things that support natural killer cell development and differentiation, and cancer apoptosis. That's not the murdering of it, inflammation’s is the wrong way to do it. We're turning off cancer cells thousands of times a day. Everywhere through our body. We're flicking them off, flicking them off. It's only when enough of them gather that we think, "Oh, we can't do that anymore.” And I think the change is now useful that natural practitioners and natural methods are the very first things they're looking at. The polyphenols are early on, but there'll be many more plant products that we see. 

Andrew: Indeed. It's not just the polyphenols and how we use them, but how our microbiota use them. You and I could talk about that for a few sessions. But one other important aspect is the actions on our immune system from exercise. 

Mark: Yeah. Yeah. That's...

Andrew: And that is the number one thing that everybody should be doing once they receive a diagnosis of cancer, is exercise. 

Mark: Yes. It is hard for some people with particular types of cancer. If you are fading and your muscle strength is dropping down, it's really hard. But you are right. I think if there was one thing that people can change immediately, that is most important. The thing that people with a diagnosis of cancer keep on doing is they feel depressed. They give up. They imagine...

Andrew: That's right. 

Mark: ...a dying future, and they don't do the things that have kept them healthy till that time in life. 

Getting people exercising, even just putting fitness bands on them and saying, "Hey, look, let's aim for 2,000 steps. Let's aim for 3,000." They get them outdoors. They get their vitamin D. They have movement and activity, and this has a very powerful effect on the outcomes of cancer. If you are getting sicker while waiting for the cancer therapy to work, you are dying. 

Andrew: And, indeed, just the movement. You're talking about perfusion to the extremities. Even simple things like that that we keep forgetting about. 

But one thing that I will remember is the work by a doctor when I went to this conference. This guy came into his hospital, he has a Cancer Support Hospital. This guy came in drips, drains, and nasogastric tube. Totally stuffed. Totally de-energised, and he said, "Well, how much exercise can you do?" He could only exercise for 40 seconds. 

Mark: Right. 

Andrew: So what they did is exercise him for 40 seconds, 20 times a day. And they just did it. Just 40 seconds, but 20 times a day. Now, that's dedication by the medical and nursing staff, I have to say, and physiotherapists and other staff. 

But dramatic improvements. This guy was on a treadmill two weeks later. Now, so I guess my caution is, don't give up on any exercise even if it...that's doing you bending the finger, some movement. As soon as you stop, what is it? What is it? If there...when there's no ups and downs, there's...that's when you know you're dead. 

Mark: Yes. When... Yeah, you're right. The moment... There's a kind of giving up thing that goes on in the minds of some people. I think that's the danger of the way that we've portrayed cancer. We've portrayed it is as that enemy secretly invading. You cannot know it. You're at the mercy of experts, and people feel helpless. And if they feel helpless and they don't understand that their diet, and their exercise, and their family relations, and support, are the critical things to survival. If they've got no reason to live, then all that's left is a reason to die. And that's been the negative outcome of the technical approach to cancer. 

What we're realising, I think, in summary, is do the stuff that kind of pushes you to your limits a little bit. It's not taking away from your ability to deal with cancer. 

Andrew: No. 

Mark: It enhances it at every step of the way. 

Andrew: That's right. 

Mark: Go back and enjoy your glass of wine. I had an oncologist in the last week telling a person, "Don't do anything. Just do chemotherapy." If all you're doing is chemotherapy, that's just saying, "Well, we're going to push the timing of death off a little bit." It's not saying that there's any life to be had, so it's our job... 

Look, this is what integrative medicine is about. This is what naturopaths have known for years. The job of life is living. We are all dying. We just never want to admit it to ourselves. All cancer does is it focuses on that process of dying, and once the spirit has gone from a person, they're dying already. So you lose nothing by adding the spirit, the exercise, the socialising, the joy of life, even if you die. Everyone is going to die. Dying that way is a pretty good out. 

Andrew: Dying with honour. Salient advice always, Dr Mark Donohoe, thank you so much. 

I love the way that you always bring all of these quite technical aspects back to a personable level. Something… somebody in front of you who requires your care, who requires your expertise, your knowledge, but it's your care. So thank you very much for taking us through that. 

Mark: My pleasure. Thank you. 

Andrew: This is FX Medicine. I'm Andrew Whitfield-Cook.

Additional Resources

Dr Mark Donohoe
Dr William (Bill) Rae: Environmental Health Centre, Dallas
Prof Mimi Tang
Dr Joachim Fluhrer

Research explored in this podcast

Tang M, Posonby AL, Orsini F et al. Administration of a probiotic with peanut oral immunotherapy: A randomized trial. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2015 Mar; 135(3):737-744

Janovy CJ. Researchers establish benefits of high-dose vitamin C for ovarian cancer patients. KU Medical Center News 2014 Feb 5 


Other podcasts with Mark include:


The information provided on FX Medicine is for educational and informational purposes only. The information provided on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional advice or care. Please seek the advice of a qualified health care professional in the event something you have read here raises questions or concerns regarding your health.

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