"There are prime and
secondary causes of disease. For example, the prime cause of the
plague is the plague bacillus, but the secondary causes of the plague
are filth, rats, and the fleas that transfer the plague bacillus from
rats to man. By a prime cause of a disease I mean one that is found
in every case of the disease.
Cancer, above all other
diseases, has countless secondary causes. Almost anything can cause
cancer. But, even for cancer,there is only one prime
cause. 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.
All normal body cells
meet their energy needs by respiration of oxygen, whereas cancer
cells meet their energy needs in great part by fermentation. All
normal body cells are thus obligate aerobes, whereas all cancer cells
are partial anaerobes. From the standpoint of the physics and
chemistry of life, this difference between normal and cancer cells is
so great that one can scarcely picture a greater
- Oxygen gas, the donor
of energy in plants and animals is dethroned in the cancer cells
and replaced by an energy yielding reaction of the lowest living
forms; namely, a fermentation of glucose.
- As emphasized, it is
the first precondition of the proposed treatment that all growing
body cells be saturated with oxygen.
- It is the second
precondition that exogenous carcinogens be kept away, at least
during the treatment.
All carcinogens impair
respiration directly or indirectly by deranging capillary
circulation, a statement that is proved by the fact that no cancer
cell exists, the respiration of which is not impaired. Of course,
respiration cannot be repaired if it is impaired at the same time by
"There is no
disease whose prime cause is better known. That the prevention of
cancer will come there is no doubt, but how long prevention will
be avoided depends on how long the prophets of agnosticism will
succeed in inhibiting the application of scientific knowledge in
the cancer field. In the meantime, millions of men and women must
die of cancer unnecessarily."
- Dr Otto Warburg, to
Nobel-Laureates on June 30, 1966