For a long time now, many scientists and researchers have been engaged in an unending quest to know the cause and treatment for cancer. There are so many theories that have been put forward to try and explain this seemingly unsolvable mystery.
Some of those theories are credible while others are downright ridiculous. One of the soundest theories that have been postulated regarding the cause and possible cure for cancer is the Warburg theory.
It was postulated by a German physiologist and doctor by the name Otto Heinrich Warburg. According to the theory, cancer is initiated by incorrect respiration occurring in some cells. The theory has sparked some interesting debates, but suffice it to say that Warburg was on to something.
What is the History of the Warburg Method?
In order to know about the history of the Warburg method, it is important to know a little about the scientist behind this theory. Otto Heinrich was born in 1883 in Germany to Christian parents. His father, Emil Warburg, was of Jewish descent. But he later converted to Christianity after he fell out with his otherwise strict Jewish parents. His mother was born into a Christian protestant family.
Otto was a man of many talents, but it was apparent from an early age that he was specifically gifted in academia. As a young man, he served in the German army during the Second World War. Because of his efforts and the bravery he showed during the war, Otto was given an Iron Cross, which is one of the most treasured accolades that survivors of that war were given.
You would be surprised to learn that it was the legendary scholar Albert Einstein who called Otto from the war when it became apparent that Germany would lose. Albert asked Otto to return to safety as it would be disheartening if a brain such as his would go to waste.
Albert was a friend to Otto’s father, and later on, he and Otto would also become good friends. In fact, Einstein’s influence is very evident in some of Otto’s theories and works.
Otto Warburg applied himself to serious scientific study and was religiously devoted to his laboratory. He held many impressive titles: he was a medical doctor, a physiologist, and a Nobel Laureate. Otto won the 1931 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He was actually nominated for a solid 47 Nobel Prize Awards.
But Otto was not as concerned about the awards and the glory as he was about his work. He was known to have declined the offer to attend several ceremonies that were aimed at awarding him honors in order to spend more time in his beloved laboratory.
He is also known to have had very strong convictions about his work and theories. He would not hesitate to give his opinion to anyone who asked for it, and he simply didn’t have much patience for critics.
He had a particular dislike for those who adamantly refused to accept changes in ideas, and he saw science as very progressive in nature. Otto never married his entire life, and he had a very long life. He died at the age of eighty six of pulmonary embolism, although he also suffered a broken femur shortly before his death.
In those very many years, Otto gave his heart and soul to serving humanity through scientific research. It is because of his dedication that theories such as the Warburg theory exist, and these theories have gone a long way in shedding more light about cancer.
How Does the Warburg Method Work?
According to Otto Warburg, cancer is caused by incorrect respiration occurring in the cells. In healthy cells, glucose is ideally broken down in two cycles. During the first half, a pyruvate is formed, and it is then oxidized to release more energy. This is however not the case for cancerous cells.
Tumorous cells show a deviation from the norm when it comes to respiration. Rather than breaking down glucose using the oxidative process, fermentation of that glucose occurs. This takes place even when there is sufficient supply of oxygen.
This process is referred to as glycolysis. Warburg carried out extensive research to back his theory, and he did have plenty of convincing facts that he documented at great length in a paper he entitled The Prime Cause and Prevention of Cancer.
He concluded that the cancerous cells did not have much mitochondrial respiration, which resulted in their uncontrolled growth and multiplication. This is known as the Warburg effect.
However, a lot still remains to be ascertained about Warburg’s theory. Generally, cancer is thought to occur due to genetic mutation by malignant transformation. Currently, the general notion around the world regarding Warburg’s theory is that his observations are characteristics of cancerous mutations, and not the cause of the disease.
Scientists generally believe that the cancerous cells respire normally, although fermentation still occurs. The fermentation is supposed to result from an adaptation of cancerous cells to tumorous conditions that are generally deficient in oxygen.
What Are the Advantages of the Warburg Method?
Research may not very strongly support Warburg’s theory on the cause of cancer, but one has to admit that the theory goes a long way in shedding more light about cancer.
Recent discoveries link the incorrect functioning of mitochondria to the growth of cancerous cells. Scientists are certainly gaining more leads on the causes and possible cure for cancer thanks to the Warburg method.
Warburg Method Review Summary
Although the Warburg method clearly has its shortcomings, it certainly is one of the most impressive and important theories about cancer that have ever been put forward. Today’s scientists concur with Warburg’s theory albeit in part, and that is a starting point for more research on this disease.
One has to applaud Warburg’s devotion to helping find an answer to the cancer mystery. It was evidently his lifelong passion. He made remarkable progress in his quest for answers regarding cancer.
And although critics continue to challenge his theory time after time, the theory has withstood the test of time. When the cancer mystery is finally solved, Otto Heinrich Warburg certainly deserves part of the credit. His contribution is more than noteworthy.