Townsend Letter The Examiner of Alternative Medicine
Alternative Medicine Conference Calendar
Check recent tables of contents


From the Townsend Letter
August/September 2007


EFAs, Oxygenation, and Cancer Prevention:
A New Solution
by Brian Scott Peskin, BSEE

Search this site

Page 1, 2

Even with enormous budgets devoted to it, brilliant minds working on it, and an earnest desire by those researching it to end the cancer plague, little of significance has been accomplished in the last 30 years to reduce cancer's spread. Today, nearly half of Americans will contract cancer in their lifetimes, despite the plethora of lifestyle and nutritional changes that have been advocated by cancer specialists and eagerly followed by the public. Could the cancer research community be looking in the wrong place?

New Hope – It's Not Genetic
Most people currently believe cancers are caused by the activation of oncogenes – genes that predispose the individual toward cancer. Unfortunately, this theory was called into question by its original proponent. That's right. Dr. Robert A. Weinberg of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the discoverer of the so-called oncogene (cancer-causing gene), reversed himself almost ten years ago. After discovering that "[F]ewer than one DNA base in a million appears to have been miscopied," he concluded that is not enough of a defect to mutate the cell! His exact words: "Something was very wrong. The notion that a cancer developed through the successive activation of a series of oncogenes had lost its link to reality."1 In addition, over 35 years ago, Professor Henry Harris and coworkers took normal tissue cells and fused three types of cancer cells to them. It was thought that the cancer cells would take over the normal cells and "convert" them into cancer. Surprisingly, they grew normally, showing cancer is genetically recessive, not dominant.2

Furthermore, in 2005, the heads of the world's largest cancer research center in Houston, Texas, announced that cancer's prime cause is not genetic. Dr. John Mendelsohn, president of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, stated: "Any claims that this [genetic research] is going to be the key to curing cancer are not appropriate."3 However, the positive side to this announcement is that even if cancer apparently "runs in your family," there is real hope, since cancer has nothing to do with genes.

Popular Anti-Cancer Recommendations Often "Called into Question"
Many people diligently follow the experts' recommendations, hoping to beat cancer. Yet the inability of the medical and dietary professions to curb the rising level of cancer over the last sixty years bears exploring. Consider the following list of anti-cancer recommendations accompanied by the date that the findings were questioned or reversed as reported in the world's foremost medical journals: Fruits and vegetables protect us from cancer (called into question 2001);4 mammography detects initial cancer growth (called into question 2000);5 fiber protects against colon cancer (called into question 1999, 2001);6,7 fish oil alone is anti-cancer (called into question 2000);8 omega-3 alone prevents cancer (called into question 2006);9,10 soy is a positive addition to our diet (called into question 1946, 1960);11,12 low-fat diets are the anti-cancer answer (called into question 2006).13 Are there any developments relating to cancer that have withstood the test of time? The answer is an emphatic YES.

Dr. Otto Warburg's Seminal Anti-Cancer Discovery
Ralph W. Moss, PhD, wrote about Warburg's seminal discovery in the Townsend Letter ("War on Cancer," May 2007). Otto Warburg, MD, PhD, has been referred to as the greatest biochemist of the twentieth century; the sheer number and magnitude of his discoveries qualify him as the most accomplished biochemist of all time. Despite the fact that much of his groundbreaking work on cancer has been overlooked by the large research institutes, no scientist or researcher has ever disproved the validity, correctness, or applicability of Warburg's important discoveries as they relate to the prevention and cure of cancer.

The Prime Cause of Cancer
We have become so accustomed to having almost every discovery in the battle to defeat cancer, after a time, be called into question that the following strains credibility. Otto Warburg discovered, then clearly and simply stated, that the prime cause of cancer is oxygen deprivation at the cellular level. "We find by experiment about 35% inhibition of oxygen respiration already suffices to bring about such a transformation during cell growth,"14 he stated at a 1966 conference of Nobel laureates in Lindau, Germany. "…Summarized in a few words, the prime cause of cancer is the replacement of the respiration of oxygen in normal body cells by a fermentation of sugar. Because no cancer cell exists, the respiration of which is intact, it cannot be disputed that cancer could be prevented if the respiration of the body cells would be kept intact.... If it is so much decreased that the oxygen-transferring enzymes are no longer saturated with oxygen, respiration can decrease irreversibly, and normal cells can be transformed into facultative anaerobes".14 It is that simple: with just one-third less cellular oxygen than normal, you contract cancer. Based on meticulous experiments that he and many others verified numerous times, Dr. Warburg discovered the prime cause of cancer is sustaining a 35% inhibition of cellular respiration.14 You won't feel the decreased cellular oxygenation, and you won't know it is happening. Yet if cellular oxygen can be kept above this deprivation threshold, cancer cells will not be able to form.15

Exercise supplies additional oxygen to the blood; however, this doesn't address transfer of oxygen through the cell membrane. That's why elite athletes still develop cancer. Warburg stated: "To be sure, cancer development takes place even in the presence of free oxygen gas in the atmosphere, but this oxygen may not penetrate in sufficient quantity into the growing body cells, or the respiratory apoenzymes of the growing body cells may not be saturated with the active groups." Warburg addressed the danger of impaired cellular oxygen transfer even in the presence of oxygen.

Dr. Warburg's discovery has been verified over and over again (never called into question), both as to how normal cells turn cancerous and in showing that cancer doesn't develop in highly oxygenated areas. Two American physicians conclusively proved this in 1953, and two more investigators confirmed this finding in 1955. Goldblatt and Cameron noted in the Journal of Experimental Medicine that once damage is too great to the cell, then no amount of oxygen will return the cell's respiration back to normal: it is forever doomed to a cancerous life.15 However, they confirmed that it is possible to prevent a "respiration impacted" precancerous cell from becoming permanently cancerous if oxygen deficiency is stopped early enough. In 1955, Malmgren and Flanigan confirmed the oxygen/cancer cause in an ingenious experiment with tetanus spores.16 Consequently, prevention is the ultimate solution to conquering cancer.

Greater Oxygen Deprivation = Worse Prognosis
Articles in cancer journals confirm the decreased oxygen/increased cancer prognosis. "Tumor hypoxia [too little oxygen in the cell] adversely affects the prognosis of carcinoma of the head and neck".17 "[A]nalysis showed significantly lower survival and recurrence-free survival for patients with a median pO2 of £ 10 mmHg compared to those with better oxygenated tumors (median pO2 > 10 mmHg). [M]edian pO2 and the clinical stage according to the FIGO are independent, highly significant predictors of survival and recurrence-free survival".18 "Tumor oxygenation predicts for the likelihood of distant metastases [cancer spreading] in human soft tissue sarcoma".19 Greater cellular oxygen deprivation/hypoxia is directly correlated with a worse prognosis, shorter lifespan, and greater risk of metastases.

A New Hypothesis: Cancer Develops When Cell Membranes' Oxygenation Capability is Compromised
With Warburg's observations as the basis of this hypothesis, we posed the question of what could cause cells to become oxygen-deficient to the degree (35%) that they would become cancerous, and what dietary commonalities or deficiencies might have come to exist over the last 50 years that would predispose an ever-increasing number of people to develop cancer.

Cell Oxygenation and Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)
We focused on the primary oxygen-absorption function of cells. The body requires special fats which, among other important functions, make it possible for sufficient oxygen to reach the cells via the cell membranes. These special fats are highly oxygen-absorbing entities called essential fatty acids (EFAs) and must be consumed daily, because the body can't manufacture them on its own. Consumption of two primary or "parent" forms of EFAs allow the body to make whatever EFA "derivatives" it needs from them. These two primary forms are parent omega-6, termed linoleic acid (LA), and parent omega-3, termed alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Supplemental EFA-derivatives like EPA and DHA, though available, are not required because the body makes them as needed.

Parent Omega-6 Increases Oxygen Transfer Like Miniature "Oxygen Magnets"
Campbell et al. found that LA (parent omega-6) can associate with oxygen and dissociate the oxygen at relatively high oxygen pressure in cellular membranes. These researchers also found that fatty acids (in particular, LA) affect the permeability of cell membranes to molecular oxygen by increasing cellular oxygenation by up to 50%.20 This supplies the next piece of the puzzle. Insufficient EFAs in the diet can reduce the oxygen absorption of cells sufficiently to cause cancer. Additionally, Campbell et al. concluded that interference with the movement of oxygen can occur at any cell membrane in any tissue.20 This is the reason that we can state, regardless of where the cancer occurs, the cause is the same.14,20 This bears repeating. Warburg unequivocally showed all cancers occur for the same reason.14 Moreover, EFA deficiency can cause the body to substitute into the cell membranes non-oxygenating fats that impair oxygen transport (such as the ubiquitous hydrogenated fats and trans fats), exacerbating the cancer-causing state.

Is there more confirmation of EFAs' oxygenating ability? Yes. For example, Harper's Illustrated Biochemistry (26th edition, 2003: 93, 191, 418)21; Postgrad Med J (1980 Aug;56(658):579-84); Principles of Biomedical Chemistry (1998:226)22; and Sinclair,23,24 to name a few, all confirm oxygenating ability.

Food Processors Ruin EFAs
My decade-long research strongly suggests that the cellular hypoxia, which Warburg showed is a fundamental cause of cancer, occurs primarily from consumption of adulterated polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which are incorporated into cell membranes and interfere with cellular oxygen transmission.

Natural oils in prepared foods turn rancid over time. Likewise, so do oils used in both restaurant and commercial deep fryers. Food processors, for economic reasons, must stop the oxidation of unsaturated fats that result in spoiled food. They use only two approaches: remove the oil or convert the unsaturated fats into entities such as trans fats and interesterified fats. Their second solution for a longer shelf life is a prime cause of the unstoppable cancer epidemic. As long as food processors continue to find creative but dangerous ways to reduce oxidation of unsaturated fatty acids, which result in adulterated PUFAs, unwitting consumers should be terrified. The only plausible choice for us is to incorporate unadulterated oils in our diets by way of a dietary supplement.

What Are the Tissue Parent Omega-6/3 Ratios?
It is necessary to understand the EFA composition of various tissues and organs, like your brain, skin, heart, and muscle, to discover the overall EFA requirement of the body. A little-known but vital fact about muscle structure is that muscle contains from 5.5 to 7.5 times more parent omega-6 than parent omega-3, depending on the degree of physical condition. Extremely fit individuals require less omega-6 because their oxygen-transferring efficiency, including an increased number of cell mitochondria, is greater than in non-exercising individuals. Skin contains no omega-3, only parent omega-6. Body fat contains 20 times more parent omega-6 than omega-3. Table 1 presents parent omega-6/3 ratios of major organs along with the respective weights.

Table 1: Omega-6:3 Ratios in Body Tissues25-28


Brain/Nervous System


Organs and Other Tissues

Adipose Tissue (Body Fat)


% of total
body weight






Omega 6






Omega 3






We see from the Tissue Composition Chart (Table 1) the abundance of parent omega-6 throughout the body. If tissues and organs are not supplied through diet with undamaged parent EFAs, either those damaged EFAs or even non-EFA oils such as omega-9 (as in olive oil), causing de-oxygenation of the cells, are utilized, since the body has no choice.29

In view of current omega-3 recommendations, when the supply of EFAs – in particular, unprocessed parent omega-6 – is less than the body's total requirement, the body prioritorizes delivery, feeding the organs it considers most important first: the brain, heart, lungs, and kidneys. This deprives "less important" organs like breast and prostate glands from receiving adequate EFAs and oxygen. Breast and prostate tissues are predominately fat, requiring lots of functional parent omega-6 EFAs. They are both the #1 cancers worldwide for the respective sexes. Is that merely a coincidence?

Are We Overdosing on Omega-3?
In "What is the role of alpha-linolenic acid [parent omega-3] for mammals?" (Lipids. 2002 Dec;37(12):1113-23), we discover that the major metabolic route of ALA (parent omega-3) in the body is beta-oxidation – burning for energy, not incorporation into tissue structure.30 Despite the fact that a high proportion of ALA is metabolized for energy, overdoses of this EFA are likely to be injuriously incorporated into tissue structure.29 In view of this, we should proceed cautiously with omega-3 supplementation.

We are told that we require lots of omega-3 derivatives, such as EPA and DHA. This, too, is called into question because "Alpha-linolenic acid conversion revisited," by Norman Salem and his colleagues in the PUFA Newsletter (, December 2003) explains why only about five percent of the parent ALA (parent omega-3) is converted into derivatives. Pawlosky et al. calculate that less than a mere one percent goes to derivatives.31

Food sources rich in omega-3, such as flax seed, fish oil, and seafood, can overload the body with both parent and derivative omega-3 EFAs. Fish, especially farmed fish, contains almost entirely omega-3 derivatives. Because of this, fish oil supplements originally thought to help prevent cancer have been called into question.8,24 Never forget that supra-physiological doses of omega-3 series oils cause an abnormal pattern of EFAs to be incorporated into cell tissue.29 In light of this information, we may have an explanation for the rampant rise in skin cancer. As the chart highlights, our skin has no omega-3 in its structure. Could a factor be a supra-pharmacological omega-3 overload that the body, in desperation, dumps into the skin, or conversely, a shortage of the functional parent omega-6 component of the skin?

In spite of these issues, nutritional recommendations still often advocate consumption of quantities of omega-3 that, based on human physiology and biochemistry, are far too large. The problem is compounded when they overlook supplementation of unprocessed (and therefore non-oxygenating) parent omega-6. This may play a significant role in the increase of the incidence of skin cancer.

How Much Omega-6 Are We Consuming?
Many nutrition writers state that the US population is consuming 15, 20, or even 30 times more omega-6 than omega-3 in its diet. However, their analyses ignore the fact that meats like beef, chicken, and pork contain lots of omega-3 (although cooking denatures some of it). This unaccounted-for omega-3 in foods decreases overbalanced omega-6 ratio dramatically. For example, depending on the specific diet of the animal, steak and hamburger will contain a ratio typically between 2:1 to a high of 10:1 in favor of omega-6. A grain-fed chicken produces eggs that contain a ratio of from 1:1 to as much as 10:1 in favor of omega-6. But fish, shrimp, and shellfish – a primary protein in many people's diets – contain more omega-3 series than omega-6 – usually from 2:1 to a high of 20:1 in favor of the omega-3 series EFAs. Therefore, the average American's omega-6 to -3 ratio for consumption can't be above 12:1. Of the 12:1, at least half (conservatively) of the parent omega-6 in most processed foods has lost its oxygenating ability. For example, margarine and most supermarket cooking oils (olive oil excluded) have no appreciable oxygenating ability; they won't oxidize and become rancid and consequently will remain unspoiled even when kept outdoors for years. They are so unappealing that given a choice, no animal will even attempt to eat them. Tragically, the widespread commercial use of preservatives and other de-oxygenating additives have become the norm.

Rethinking EFA Supplementation Ratios and Amounts
The current message to eat more omega-3 or fish is dangerously simplistic. What dieticians should be telling us is to replace the adulterated omega-6 (e.g., trans fatty acids/partially hydrogenated oils, etc.) with unadulterated, organic, minimally processed sources such as organically processed oils, nuts, and seeds, while adding moderate supplements of parent omega-3.

We are warned about "overdosing" on omega-6 in our diets and told that we must take lots of oils containing omega-3 to compensate. Because the body requires significantly less parent omega-3 than parent omega-6 overall (see Table 1), and because little of the parent omega-3 we eat is damaged (for example, we don't fry or cook with omega-3, nor do commercial food processors), a key to better health is to increase supplemental sources of undamaged parent omega-6 instead of exclusively taking excess omega-3 supplements that the tissues don't want.

My research strongly supports the use of an unprocessed, organic supplement with a ratio of greater than 1:1, up to 2.5:1 of parent omega-6 to parent omega-3. With this ratio, suggested use of this combination is 725 mg per 40 lb. of body weight (e.g., a 160-lb. person requires 3 grams on a daily basis). For complete details of how this specific ratio is arrived at, please see "The Scientific Calculation of the Optimum Omega-6/3 Ratio," available at (click on "EFA Report").

How Well Does This Omega-6:3 Ratio Work?
In my research, I commissioned an experiment using mice to study the relationship between cancer growth rates and supplementation with Peskin Protocol EFAs. Mice metabolize EFAs like humans.32 The experiment showed, that in spite of tumor implantation simultaneously with two million cancer cells at once, there was a statistically significant 24% reduction in tumor growth rate in the longer four-week pretreated mice compared to the control mice that received no EFA supplementation. In the last ten days of the experiment, there was a 42.8% lower growth volume of the tumors in the four-week pretreated mice compared to the untreated mice. These results clearly show the increasing value of a longer pretreatment period of EFAs. This experiment conclusively shows that EFA-based oils are modifying the cells' internal structure in an epigenetic fashion, making them more cancer-resistant; the desired increased cellular oxygenation anti-cancer solution is accomplished in agreement with Warburg's findings. For my original work on this subject, I encourage you to visit my website and review the Peskin Protocol as implemented in both an animal experiment and a dramatic case study with a 62-year-old-patient. You will find them at: (106KB .pdf) and (345KB .pdf) The effects of Peskin Protocol EFAs go far beyond solely cancer treatment and prevention.

Page 1, 2

Consult your doctor before using any of the treatments found within this site.

Subscriptions are available for Townsend Letter, the Examiner of Alternative Medicine magazine, which is published 10 times each year.

Search our pre-2001 archives for further information. Older issues of the printed magazine are also indexed for your convenience.
1983-2001 indices ; recent indices

Once you find the magazines you'd like to order, please use our convenient form, e-mail, or call 360.385.6021 (PST).


Who are we? | New articles | Featured topics |
Tables of contents
| Subscriptions | Contact us | Links | Classifieds | Advertise | Alternative Medicine Conference Calendar | Search site | Archives |
EDTA Chelation Therapy | Home


© 1983-2007 Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients
All rights reserved.
Website by Sandy Hershelman Designs

August 30, 2007

Order back issues
Advertise with TLDP!
Visit our pre-2001 archives