“Every patient that received my initial treatment passed away”
Interview with Andrew Scarborough
In the proximity of death, there is no room for hesitation. The most effective method should be followed. Even if others are trying to dissuade us. But we should only do what we believe in with conviction. There is much confusion in the world of cancer therapies. Standard treatment modalities are without major effect while naturopathy ruthlessly exploits the vulnerability of patients. The classical ketogenic diet has been used for almost a century in the treatment of epilepsy. Its use in cancer treatment has been much more limited. Until now the classical ketogenic diet did not result in a major breakthrough in cancer treatment. There has been some success in improving quality of life, however, survival was not affected. It seems that the paleolithic ketogenic diet may be able to overcome imperfections of the classical ketogenic diet. As the paleolithic ketogenic diet become more and more popular there will be a possibility to compare treatment results. The reign of the delusive alternative medicine will end only when the academic medicine will have a real solution instead of repeating the same phrases such as ”not curable but treatable”, ”you have to take medicines for the rest of your life”. The example of our patients using the paleolithic ketogenic diet show that autoimmune diseases as well as diabetes can be cured despite the oppsite being declared. We hope this would be the situation in the treatment of cancer too.
Source of the image: https://twitter.com/ascarbs
Andrew Scarborough is a 30-year-old man with an original diagnosis of an agressive brain tumor (anaplastic astrocytoma). Currently, however, he is disease-free. In a former intreview he said that ”those patients that received my initial treatment passed away”. If we want to root back why he is still alive we should first mention his up-to-date scientific knowledge. From the available statistical data he figured out that he might not benefit from radio and chemotherapy. He recognized in time that these therapies only worsened his condition. Andrew was familiar with the ketogenic diet given his previous nutritional studies and decided to realize a nutritional strategy to control his disease. He started with the classical ketogenic diet but shortly experienced its drawbacks. Step by step, driven by his own feedback, he moved toward the paleolithic ketogenic diet. In the meantime he had had a new oncologist who is supporting and following him. Moreover, Andrew and his oncologist are now involved in setting up a clinical trial. The Paleomedicina group, with small differences, is using the same method as Andrew. We do not recommend patients to have worms for breakfast (yet?) and do not recommend dietary supplements (some of which Andrew says he may not either need them.)
We have interviewed Andrew Scarborough. There are three points we would like to draw your attention:
1. Andrew’s diet is a paleolithic ketogenic diet which is different from the classical ketogenic diet. Many of the practicioners may not be aware of the difference between the two. Our group has clinical experience also documented in scientific papers with the use of the diet.
2. Statistical data do not support that radio and/or chemotherapy would be of major effectiveness in the treatment of cancer. Genetic approaches of cancer also seem to fail. Only surgery seems to have an effect on cancer survival.
3. The metabolic theory of cancer has been known for a long time. For laymen as well as practicioners we recommend to study the scientific literature behind (first of all that of Thomas Seyfried).
Paleomedicina: How are you now?
Andrew Scarborough: I am doing very well at the moment, but it wasn’t always this way as you know. I am on no medication and I study Human and Medical Sciences at the University of Westminster in London. I am also an adviser for ketogenic diet trials at Charing Cross Hospital with Imperial College London as the research facility. This is under Dr. Kevin O’Neil who is a neurosurgeon, neuro oncologist, and heavily involved with the charity Brain Tumour Research, who fund metabolic therapies and novel surgical techniques to more effectively treat brain cancer and potentially find a cure. My story will be featured in next week’s issue of New Scientist and I will keep you up to date with more information as I get it.
Paleomedicina: How did your disease start? What kind of treatments did you receive?
Andrew Scarborough: It has been nearly 3 years since I suffered the brain haemorrhage that led to my diagnosis of an anaplastic astrocytoma on a train in London. I then suffered with life threatening grand mal seizures before and after surgery to remove most of the golf ball sized tumour in May 2013. They could not remove all of the tumour because it had infiltrated into the motor cortex area of my brain and it was incredibly vascular. After this I received chemotherapy and radiotherapy but abandoned this treatment once I had learned more about the pathology of my tumour. The pathology showed that it would not be chemosensitive as I was missing a number of tumour suppressor genes and I didn’t have any of the ‘good’ mutations that would predict longer survival and a more favourable response in their view- IDH1 and MGMT in particular. I was on a ketogenic diet at this stage but it was not monitored and I was still suffering from horrific seizures, migraines, loss of balance, severe fatigue, nausousness, visual disturbance, altered mood states, facial paresthesia, hemifacial spasms and poor cognitive functioning. Over time as I adapted the ketogenic diet to suit my requirements and addressed the micronutrient deficiencies caused by being on such high doses of medication as well as having a neurological disease, epilepsy, and a compromised blood brain barrier (contributing to ‘leaky brain’). I noticed that I could very carefully lower my medication for the epilepsy. Having studied a masters in Nutritional Therapy just before my diagnosis, I had a unique understanding of chemistry, ketogenic diets, and haemotology so learning more about neurology in order to resolve these issues seemed achievable in theory.
Paleomedicina: What was the opinion of your oncologist?
Andrew Scarborough: Several medical professionals informed me that I would need to be on the medications for life and what I was doing would be extremely dangerous as I was still having frequent seizures. My oncologist was of the opinion that I have to receive chemotherapy for at least two years (if I live that long). Six weeks after the onset of chemotherapy I decided to stop it. At this time my scans showed enhancement which may have either suggested that there was malignant activity or that we had a significant amount of scar tissue. This was around February 2014. As a response I did therapeutic fasting a couple of days a week (I naturally have very low body fat so this is very difficult for me so I struggle with longer fasts as there is very little stored body fat I can use. The positive side of this is that I am metabolically very flexible so I can mimic a longer fast with little effort. Over time I was to gradually come off the medication and my scans were improving as I adapted the diet to suit my needs.
Paleomedicina: When did you begin to believe that you would recover?
Andrew Scarborough: I didn’t think I would ever recover, but I was encouraged by the epilepsy improving and the symptoms of the brain haemorrhage showing significant improvement. Over time I achieved complete remission of the cancer and control of the epilepsy without standard medication. I now have MRI spectroscopy to look at biomarkers in the microenvironment of the brain in order to see how the diet is changing the chemical makeup of my brain over time.
Paleomedicina: Our group is using the same diet (although with small differences) in treating cancer patients. You have managed to get this far through your own experience and through the study of the literature. This is a fantastic achievement for a 30-years-old young man! How could you carry it through?
Andrew Scarborough: I think I was able to apply what I have learned from my analytical skills I acquired at university and from my athletic background as a personal trainer and sportsman. I also had assistance from Dr. Dominic D’agostino and Dr. Thomas Seyfried, who provided terrific resources to help me on this journey. I am constantly questioning and adapting the formula. I always say that I may not have all the answers, but I always try to answer of the right questions. If I have questions I look for the research and if I can’t find it I will find the research.
Paleomedicina: What kind of foods do you eat?
Andrew Scarborough: The main foods I eat for this are oily fish (sardines, mackerel), sweetbreads, caviar, brains and omega 3 enriched eggs. I limit red meat and when I eat it I exclusively have lamb heart because it is the best food source I have found for coenzyme Q10. I find that if I am zero carb (carnivorous eating only from the animal kingdom), that I achieve greater control of blood glucose and ketones and I have improved symptom control. I no longer have headaches which I realised can be a problem with salicylates in the diet after certain types of acquired brain injury to the temporal lobe. I understood that this was likely due to the area of scar tissue causing an inflammatory response to these plant foods which is another reason for being zero carb. It is much easier to not count carbohydrates and I have had great success with this approach. As my brain tumour was showing remission the diet was more strict, being 90% fat, 10% protein. I find the most therapeutic ketogenic foods I eat are sardines and sweetbreads (the pancreas and thymus gland of the animal – I made a youtube video of this where I test ketones of sweetbreads.
Braised lamb heart
Source of the image: https://twitter.com/ascarbs
Paleomedicina: What is your favorite meal?
Andrew Scarborough: My favourite food is fish and I love mackerel. I eat the whole fish including the skin, bones, and eyes to get the whole benefits of the animal.
Paleomedicina: What was your favorite meal before 2013?
Andrew Scarborough: My favourite meals used to be spaghetti bolognaise and homemade pizza!! I did so much exercise that I thought I needed the carbs. That couldn’t be more false. I wish I knew that in the past.
Paleomedicina: Do you prepare your meals on your own?
Andrew Scarborough: I prepare all my meals on my own, I weigh them out before the day for up to 3 days in advance. If I don’t have time I fast and take more magnesium chloride which I mix in water. If I fast without magnesium I can have seizures. The magnesium chloride controls my seizures completely by maintaining ionic homeostasis in my brain. I eat all food almost raw, just lightly cooked, to get the most benefit.
Paleomedicina: Why do you eat insects?
Andrew Scarborough: I eat these organ meats and insects to get all the micronutrients I need that I thought I might miss from plants. I can manipulate their feed to get the nutrient profile I seek to gain the maximum benefit. I typically prefer to eat beetles, waxworms and silkworm pupae because they have favourable fatty acid profiles for a ketogenic diet but I also eat crickets and locusts to make a fatty ‘bread’ made of egg, animal fat, and ground up insects. It is very convenient and tasty. I have another video of this on youtube. Insects can be very beneficial for the gut microbiome as the animal fibre is an excellent probiotic. Many insects have antimicrobial and andtifungal benefits.
Waxworm with brain
Source of the image: https://twitter.com/ascarbs
Paleomedicina: Your oncologist, Dr. Kevin O’Neil, and you are working together. Do you have followers? Do you use the diet in the treatment of other cancer patients?
Andrew Scarborough: We are starting clinical trials with the ketogenic diet for brain cancer under Dr. Kevin O’Neil this year. It will be written about with my story in next week’s issue of New Scientist magazine.
Paleomedicina: What would be your message to our patients with cancer who cannot decide to follow the diet or not? Why is it worth to adhere to this type of diet?
Andrew Scarborough: I would tell patients to definitely follow the diet but that they need supervision to understand how to do it safely and effectively. It could save your life or at least give you a much better quality of life. It is also sparing of lean tissue which is why many use it for weight loss and the brain and heart function more efficiently using ketone bodies for energy.
Paleomedicina: In Hungary, some doctors especially diabetologists, but even some proponents of the popular paleolithic diet are saying that this type of diet is dangereous. They claim that an animal based ketogenic diet may result in nutritional deficiency and kidney damage. What do you think about this?
Andrew Scarborough: This type of diet is certainly not dangerous and has a history of nearly a century of use in clinical settings to treat drug resistant epilepsy in children. Internally all of the blood tests show that I am actually healthier than before I had cancer. I don’t have any deficiencies because I eat nutrient dense organ meats and insects. I monitor micronutrients very carefully because my diet is restricted. In terms of kidney damage, this is not an issue if patients drink enough water and get enough potassium to alkalise the urine. Potassium citrate can be very useful to achieve this aim. My kidney health is excellent and I have regular tests for this. I have been on the diet strictly for nearly 3 years now.
Paleomedicina: In your blog you said that when shifting from the classical ketogenic diet toward the animal based ketogenic diet your condition improved greatly. Once you have abandoned coconut oil your epileptic seizures stopped as well as your migraines. There are many who are using the classical form of the ketogenic diet. However in your case an ”unconventional” form was of greater effectiveness.
Andrew Scarborough: I noticed that in the few human case studies we have we were only able to see remission for a relatively short period of time and the animal studies showed a greater response so I believed the diet could be made more suitable in the human case studies. My main aim was to replicate the animal studies as closely as possible so I monitored the rodent studies and the Ketopet sanctuary, which is run by Quest Nutrition. I enjoy chemistry so I simply see diet as chemistry and I apply this to what I understand of cancer biology and the metabolic mechanisms and needs of every organ in the body. I decided that the diet for children with epilepsy is most likely not suitable for brain cancer management to get the best response because it is too high in inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids, does not contain enough omega 3 fatty acids, and it contains dairy. The Ketopet model seemed more valid to me so I tried to copy what the dogs were doing, a carnivorous, paleolithic ketogenic diet. It seemed obvious to me and I have been thriving on it ever since.
A dog being treated in in Ketopet Sanctuary
Source of the image: Andrew’s blog (http://mybraincancerstory.blogspot.hu)
Paleomedicina: Are you taking vitamin or mineral supplements?
Andrew Scarborough: I only take magnesium chloride, curcumin, and potassium citrate at the moment. Sometimes I use CBD oil, it helps me to sleep better.
Paleomedicina: You mentioned in an interview that you had stopped taking melatonin. What was the reason for this?
Andrew Scarborough: I stopped taking melatonin because I wanted to produce melatonin naturally and I didn’t want my brain to get too used to taking it this way.
Paleomedicina: Do you think vegetables and fruits are important for our health?
Andrew Scarborough: I think fruits can vegetables can be useful as medicines in small amounts, but they are not essential.
Paleomedicina: Do you experience any side effect of ketosis?
Andrew Scarborough: Weight loss is the only side effect.
Paleomedicina: I read in one of your interviews that you are eating 250-275 g food daily. How tall are you and how much you weight?
Andrew Scarborough: I weight 58kg and I am 5’9″ tall. I eat 50-60g protein and 190g fat a day. Macronutrient ratios are 85% fat, 15% protein, neglible carbohydrate (this is from animal fibre- chitin from insects, fish skin, etc.). The amount of food may vary to some degree, for different goals but the ratios are mostly the same.
Paleomedicina: Will you change your diet once recovered?
Andrew Scarborough: I don’t think I will ever change my diet because the human case studies I have seen that achieved remission on ketogenic diets had their cancer come back as soon as they stopped the diet. I think it needs to be continued for the rest of my life unless I see better alternatives that allow me to be less strict.
Paleomedicina: Do you think that the way you eat is the healthy diet itself?
Andrew Scarborough: I do think this way of eating is generally very healthy generally as it improves the insulin response, stabilising blood glucose and using fat as a very efficient fuel source but if I didn’t have cancer I would eat more protein on it. I find that it gives me a lot of energy to concentrate on my university work and I don’t need breaks to eat because I don’t get hungry- my blood sugar is always low and stable, as a result I only typically eat twice a day depending on how I feel. I have to restrict protein because glutamine also fuels cancer cells. I think I was quite lucky in a way because my tumour was lighting up like a Christmas tree which possibly indicated that it was taking up a lot of glucose as fuel. Some cancers even use glutamine as the predominant fuel to proliferate.
Paleomedicina is involved in activities that has a scientific basis. We do not use naturopathic methods and we distance ourselves from such approaches. The approach and method represented by Paleomedicina belongs to the evolutionary medicine, which is the part of the real science.