Six Americans trapped in Iran in 1979 were in hiding. A CIA master of disguise, Tony Mendez, was sent to extricate them. Discovery would mean painful death for Tony and the Americans. Tony created a fake film company, gave the Americans Canadian passports, disguised the Americans, quick-taught them their new personas, and made them his film crew in Iran. He was able to fool the Iranians and get the six past the militants at Tehran Airport and flown to safety. The ruse required making everyone completely different than they really were.
That wasn’t the only mission for Tony. In Laos, he was able to turn an Asian man and a black CIA agent into two white businessmen to skirt past Laos counter-intelligence. He used make-up, disguise materials, and fake documentation to completely remake people to fool authorities. They were no different underneath, but they appeared and acted differently.
Cells are disguise artists as well. They can completely remake themselves, change their persona, yet not really change at their core. Their DNA can keep their base codes and still change their instructions to the cells. How is that possible? It turns out that DNA is much more complicated than we once thought. We will look first at the many faces of DNA, and then the impact on health and disease — particularly the ramifications for cancer.
If you were to write an instruction manual for how to drive your car, you probably wouldn’t include a lot of information you expect to never be used. You would write the book covering the usual things the driver would need to know, but you would not likely write a chapter on what to do if you drive the car into a lake or get caught in a hurricane. DNA is different: a lot of its information amounts to instructions on what to do in extraordinary circumstances. Over time and many generations, pieces of DNA have been added to handle extraordinary situations. These pieces are segments of code that can be brought into play when needed.
Sometimes code segments are taken from a foreign virus, bacteria, or other cells through a process called Horizontal Gene Transfer. Cells can learn survival techniques that they don’t yet have through such transfer. As a result, the cell’s library of disguises and new personas can grow. And cells in a colony can learn from each other.
So how does the cell know it needs an unused piece of code? Usually when it is under stress. Like the spy under threat of death, cells can become highly motivated to change their personas: higher stress causes them to actively try different code segments to find ones that allow them to cope with their hostile environment. They try on different disguises to see what will work — they may not “know” what will work, but keep trying until they get something that does. We call those changes “mutations.”
We once thought DNA was a basic, straightforward set of instructions for cells, but we’ve learned it is multi-faceted and capable of many environmentally-driven personas. The prefix “epi” means “on top of”, and the field of genetics now includes epigenetics, which is the study of cell behavior “on top of” the genetics. Much like a 3-dimensional movie is much more complex than a 2-dimensional picture, so epigenetics adds a whole new dimension to the activity of genetics. Now, when we refer to a person’s genetics, we understand that much of the code is inactive and the working out of those genetics can have many forms.
Genetics set our base characteristics. You won’t change brown eyes into blue eyes through environmental changes. Genetics set the baseline of our body, which limits epigenetics: we aren’t able to turn into some other life form through epigenetics, but we can still change significantly and use epigenetics to our advantage to improve our health. In science, the base genetics are the “genotype”, but the overall observable “you”, your genotype plus all the environmentally caused observable changes to your body and even your behavior, are the “phenotype”. Your phenotype can change significantly as your health changes, because your epigenetics respond to the environment you present to your body.
Methylation is the process where a methyl group (CH3) is added to a DNA strand, which can act as a marker to turn off (silence) gene segments without actually removing that code segment from the DNA. The cell won’t act on the marked segments. Methylation is vital to our lives, since it turns off segments which, if they were active, could do harm. Segments of code donated from viruses are turned off, and other segments which are inappropriate for the current environment are deactivated by this marking system. Methylation markings can be replicated during cell division, keeping those segments silenced in the next generation of cells.
Normally methylation turns off segments to maintain your health. The cells in your body are working towards the common goal of making a better you. But they have obstacles in the way of doing so, and in the face of poor nutrition can make less healthy compromises to deal with the poorer environment. Cell nutrition, oxygen supply, hydration, and low stress act together to encourage your cells to make the most health-promoting decisions as to which segments to act upon.
In cancer, methylation can be turned against you. Now the cancer acts as its own organism, working for its best interest rather than yours. Genetics for DNA repair, normal cell cycling, and tumor suppression are more often silenced (hypermethylated or over-methylated), and sequences leading to rapid growth and cell invasion are more active because of less methylation (hypomethylation). This is all meant to aid the cancer rather than you. The good news is that this works both ways: what gets silenced can be activated, and vice versa, when the environment changes.
Breast Cancer Specifics
Breast cancer is one of many cancers, and as such it follows many of the same rules. We know that all cancers spawn from a harsh environment and stop responding to the needs of the body, but instead they become selfish organisms. What differentiates cancers, in part, are specific genes that are silenced or activated. In breast cancer, only a few genes have been discovered to be hypomethylated: the metastasis gene (PLAU), the breast cancer-specific gene 1 (BCSG1), and the insulin-like growth factor II (IGF2) gene. Hypermethylated genes include those involved in cell-cycle regulation, apoptosis (cell death on command), tissue invasion, angiogenesis (small blood vessel development), and hormone signaling.
What makes breast cancer different from other cancers is simple: it started from a breast tissue cell while the other cancers started from other cell types. One assumption is that getting rid of breast tissue means that breast cancer can’t get started. Well the fact is: even if the breast is removed they can never remove all breast tissue, and with just a few cells cancer can begin once again. Remember what leads to any cancer is the environment, and if your internal environment is bad, you are at risks for all types of cancer. You can never completely cut the risk of one specific cancer by removing the source cells, because you cannot ever remove all of the source cells.
Not only are there many types of cancers, but any specific case of breast cancer contains different types of cancerous cells. Published in Breast Cancer Research, researchers at Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands profiled 51 cancer cell lines that resulted from 725 microRNA (miRNA) strands. “Numerous lines of evidence indicate that breast cancer is genetically and epigenetically not just one disease but a diverse group of diseases with diverse clinically relevant biological and phenotypical features.” This research was limited to breast cancer, but so diverse is any cancer that the list of possible causes is huge. They all start from your own cells which are pushed into rogue behavior by something in their environment. “Risk factor” simply mean that some factor increases the chance that cells might be pushed into cancerous behavior. Many risk factors are within our control, because they are environmental, and we control a certain percentage of our environment.
The big question is: are you encouraging or discouraging all cancers, not just breast cancer, with your internal body environment?
The least controversial example of environmentally caused cancer is the way smoking relates to lung cancer. It’s accepted fact that smoking is a major cause of lung cancer. Scientists have been able to detect DNA methylation changes in the cells lining the lung well before cancer appears. Smoking pressures the cells to adjust DNA code segments to deal with the constant assault of carcinogens in smoke. And what happens when the smoker quits? The process begins to reverse. Published in Nature, researchers at University College London sequenced genomes of 632 colonies from single bronchial epithelial cells across 16 subjects. They saw that tobacco smoking was causing a major “mutational burden”, adding from 1,000 to 10,000 mutations per cell. However, they also discovered that after quitting smoking, the un-mutated cells started replenishing the bronchial epithelium, causing less distinction between the ex-smokers and the non-smokers over time. The environment caused epigenetic changes with smoking, and with a return to a normal environment, the damage began to remit. Environment was the key in both cases.
Published in Science, researchers at the National Cancer Center Research Institute in Japan and the Genome Institute of Singapore used DNA sequencing and advanced imaging to model genomic changes as cancer develops. As stated in the article, “it is becoming clear that both the genome and the epigenome changes together play a significant role in cancer evolution.” They were able to model epigenetic changes leading up to cancer, as well as modeling the transition from a cancer tumor to cancer metastasis. So diverse are the mechanisms of cancer development, and the diversity of cell types in a single tumor, that they were employing “Big Data” techniques, where a massive amount of data is poured into computer programs that make a 3-D representation of the data points to look for trends and patterns. They found that there are “many layers” to genetic expression, because of the many personas of the epigenetic responses.
If you were a cell…
If you were caught behind enemy lines, you would be frantically trying out disguises and personas that could let you sneak out. You would have to find a combination that worked particularly well, and it would be something quite different than your normal self. Once out, you would rip away the disguise and return to normal. This is the life of your cells. Give them a good environment, and they aren’t pressured to become something else. This is the best path to being cancer and disease free.
While you are cutting risk factors, or if treating active cancer, don’t forget to address the biggest risk factor: your cellular environment. That yields the biggest dividends. Don’t make your cells put on disguises and try to escape — you like them just the way they are!
Dr. Nemec’s Review
Epigenetics is what turns on and off your genes. Epigenetic information is constantly being received from the physical and mental/emotional environment that surrounds your cells day in and day out. For example, certain B cells in your immune defense have an adaptive immunity —
meaning they have learned from the environment so they can make antibodies for present and future assaults to a particular pathogen and store that information — they can make antibodies to be ready for the second exposure to a pathogen, responding very quickly. Your epigenetic map (we test each patient) also stores the environmentally received information in the nuclear and mitochondrial DNA to adapt to the environment. This once again demonstrates that we are not a victim of weak genes but instead we are a product of the environments that have bathed our cells. This causes the epigenetic turning on and off of genes. This is very liberating — let’s say you have the BRCA gene that is weak and every female in your family has developed breast cancer. You have a choice: you can do the conventional treatment of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and hormonal blocking therapy if you have been diagnosed with breast cancer. You can remove your breasts preventatively so those weak genes don’t turn into breast cancer, and in doing so you reduce your breast cancer risk from 87% to 11%, but you do not remove it completely because you cannot remove all the breast cells. Or you can know that the genes do not dictate the disease, but the environment turns those genes on or off with epigenetic markers, and that environment is driven mostly by these 4 major factors:
- Your mind and emotions
- Your diet and nutrition
- Your amount and type of exercise
- Your accumulated toxin load
So nothing is wrong with having conventional treatment, even preventative surgery, if — and it’s a big if — you have changed the environment in these 4 areas before doing so. But many patients we have treated with cancer over the last 38 years healed from their cancer when we changed the epigenetic environment by releasing the subconscious and conscious stress programs, adopting a customized anti-inflammatory, anti-allergen diet, began an exercise program tailored for their unique cell health, and they were naturally detoxified at the cellular level. Why live in doubt and fear when you can change the environment, change the outcome, and live in peace.
Here are the ways we can help you in your health journey:
- Outpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-has the most benefit of teaching, treatment, live classes and personalized coaching. This program has the most contact with Dr. Nemec with 3- 6 month programs that can be turned into a regular checking and support program for life. This is our core program that has helped so many restore their health and maintain that restoration for years.
- Inpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-is our four-week intensive inpatient program for those that are not in driving distance, usually over 4 hour drive. This is the program that is an intensive jumpstart with treatment, teaching, live classes and coaching designed for all our international patients along with those in the US that do not live in Illinois. This program is very effective especially when combined with our new membership program support.
- Stay at Home Program-is offered to continental US patients who cannot come to Total Health Institute but still want a more personal, customized plan to restore their health. This program also includes our Learn Membership Program.
- Membership Program is our newest program offered for those that want to work on their health at a high level and want access to the teaching at Total Health Institute along with the Forums: both Dr. Nemec’s posts and other members posting. And also, to have the chance to get personalized questions answered on the conference calls which are all archived in case you miss the call. The Membership Program has 3 levels to choose from: Learn, Overcome and Master. The difference is at the Overcome and Master levels you received one on one calls with Dr. Nemec personalizing your program for your areas of focus.