Stem Cells: Secrets of the Fountain of Youthfulness – Neil H. Riordan PA, PhD – Chapter 2
My father, Dr. Hugh Riordan, is known as the "great tree" of modern medicine. He was a strong man, partly because of the way he saw things but mostly because he didn't care what others thought about his way of life.
My father was a doctor who followed no rules, believing that the best thing he could do for his patients was not to give them prescriptions, but to encourage them to cure themselves. He specializes in diseases related to vitamin deficiencies. As a medical student, he did research in mouse models of mice that were deficient in an essential nutrient – selenium. He realized that mice with selenium deficiency gradually lost vitality and what was the cause of their fur discoloration. After a short period of adjustment of the selenium content in the rats' diets, all these phenomena disappeared. Later, he became a neurologist, discovering that adjusting nutritional balance to the needs of each individual can bring about significant improvements in health in patients with mental illness, especially schizophrenia.
When I was in high school in the 1970s, he expanded his research toward external conditions of mental health. At the time, he was treating a patient with cancer with high doses of vitamin C at the Center for Human Rehabilitation (now the Riordan clinic). His centre has faced a lot of criticism from health authorities for this unique treatment – many have called him a charlatan and given him even worse language. But my father didn't care because he knew what was best for his patients.
In my teens, I spent a lot of time at the house of my friend, Joel. I used to think his mother, Esther, was my second mother. When I was in my freshman year of Business at Wichita State University, which I considered useless and had nothing to do with the real world, Esther had cancer.
She has squamous cell cancer that starts at the stem of her tongue and has spread throughout her body. It seems unfair to this woman, she does not smoke, drink, or even curse or scold anyone for a word, yet suffers from this evil and incurable disease. I was 18 years old, and I had never seen anyone treated as badly as Esther in medical facilities. The chemotherapy devastated her body and when she died, she weighed only 70 pounds. She died miserably in the hospital, lying on top of her own feces. Her poor and poor treatment conditions left such a deep impression on my mind that I still shudder every time I think about it. She was the first person I loved who was gone forever.
For just a moment, everything turned against me. I was angry and heartbroken, not knowing what to do to face this. I didn't know what to do, I just knew I wanted to leave Wichita. My father suggested a job as a diver in the oil fields of Mexico, and I moved to Louisiana and started it.
Then I got the impeccable skills of a diver, which was very interesting. A year later, I attended the California Diving School, and after graduation, I got a job in Dubai's oil fields. A few years later, I met Shirley, my beautiful English wife, who was working at the bar of a hotel in Dubai. We fell in love, then got married. Just before we were about to go on our honeymoon, I had a great show, one that all the other divers in the area looked forward to. I would have to stay in a dive booth with another person for 30 days, but in return we would get $1,000 per day. Shirley was pregnant with our first child, Chloe. This seemed like a great opportunity to accumulate some money for my family's future. But the incident that happened there completely changed our lives and brought me to a turning point in my career.
When my partner and I spent 30 days underwater, we were in our deepest nitrogen/oxygen saturation ever, so there was no decompression chamber to guide people to take us up. They had a theory to do this but they got it wrong at the last minute.
The closer divers get to the surface when they are in a decompression compartment, the more you have to take care of them, because the bubbles inside the diver's body grow at the highest speed. We were brought up very slowly over the course of two days, but in the very last ten minutes they were in a hurry. They assumed we had been there long enough, right at the time we were potentially most vulnerable. The moment they broke the closing button on the cabin, I felt my hands and legs go numb.
The people who brought me up immediately put me in another decompression chamber, compressed me to a depth of 60 feet(*******) and passed pure oxygen into me. I felt pretty good soon after, and my symptoms were gone. When they started bringing me up again, I had another bubble and all the symptoms came back. I couldn't feel my hands and feet, I started to go numb. I had just gotten married and was about to welcome my first daughter, and suddenly I couldn't get up.
(******) About 18 meters.
The company kept me in Dubai for a while to try to figure out how to solve this problem. Then they sent me to the University of Dundee, Scotland, where Philip James, a world-renowned doctor in the field of diving, had experience using hyperbaric oxygen. Dr. James made a strong impression on me. He was the only doctor, besides my father, who dared to think outside the box and didn't care what others thought of his work. He pursued research into hyperbaric oxygen therapy for patients with multiple sclerosis, a therapy that no one else was exploring at the time. He became a major influencer and then took on the role of mentor to me.
The next stop was back to the United States, where I sat in a large hyperbaric oxygen compartment (the only treatment at this time for diseases related to compression reduction, or bending) for 30 consecutive days alongside people with wounds that could not be healed, radiation poisoning and other diseases. That's incredibly depressing. Many of them have had overdose effects due to cancer treatment. A woman sitting next to me was overdosed with radiation, which I could see right through her neck as she turned her head back at a certain angle. Seeing the barbaric acts of those treatments reminded me of what happened to Esther when she was sick.
Eventually, my leg injury was resolved, although I still have numbness in my hands and feet, especially on my fingertips. I knew I would never be able to dive again. I, from a very successful diver to a promising career, once again felt like there was nothing left. Shirley and I moved to Wichita, where I worked in my father's research lab. I also went back to school and finally decided to enroll in a program to become a physician's assistant. I graduated from Wichita State University with honors.
During my internship, before graduating, I discovered that my real interest was in researching and finding cures that could help thousands of people. At my father's lab, he oversaw a groundbreaking program using high doses of vitamin C to stop the growth of cancerous tumors. Within a year of working in the lab, I was overseeing all research projects.
In 1986, my father had a patient named George Williams who had stage IV kidney cancer with multiple metastases that had spread to the lymph nodes. This is a cancer that does not respond to chemotherapy. In fact, at the time, the appointment of chemotherapy was considered a negligence. He tried several therapies, but nothing worked. George's doctor suggested he accept his condition because he could not live long.
George had heard about Linus Pauling's research and that some Scottish doctors had used large doses of vitamin C to treat cancer. My father agreed to treat him with 30 grams of vitamin C given intravenously twice a week for six weeks. Within six weeks, his tumor had shrunk dramatically; And six months later, they disappeared completely. My dad started treating George when he was 70, and he lived to be 84, receiving vitamin C drips every few months. When he died, he had no signs of cancer. He died of congestive heart failure, which is too bad because with what we know about stem cells now, we could have helped him.
In 1989, the center received a $13 million grant from the Garvey Foundation of Wichita to promote cancer treatment with this vitamin C. Bob Page, the head of the organization, was very specific about what he wanted from us. He said he would give us ten years and only ten years to look for non-toxic therapies that would be clinically applicable to cancer patients. He said he didn't want us to work or spend a lot of time looking for a small molecule that wasn't in nature, and it would take ten years of animal testing before we could try it in humans. He wanted us to come up with something that could be clinically applicable right now.
We call it the RECNAC project, which is "cancer" spelled backwards. We do not use conventional medical methods to "poison" the whole body to weaken the cancer process. We want to boost the immune system to help it fight tumors more effectively. The body has an innate ability to heal itself under the right conditions. My job has always been to focus around this premise. The first goal we look at is nutrition. We already have data on vitamin C and its selective toxicity, or how it kills tumor cells and leaves normal cells behind. We started our work there.
I am grateful to have worked with my father, who dared to "swim against the tide." We disputed data from a 1979 study at the Mayo Clinic that discredited the use of vitamin C to treat cancer . Clinical trials conducted there suggested that treatment with vitamin C did not alter the course of the disease, and the article recommended that it be "abandoned" as a course of therapy.
We found some flaws in the Mayo clinic's methodology and conclusions based on our research. We gave patients intravenous vitamin C and treated them for a long time. The Mayo Clinic provides doses of vitamin C to patients orally, one of our studies found that the oral route failed to deliver the vitamin at doses high enough to be toxic to tumors. Two articles later published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal argued that Mayo's study was flawed and that scientists were biased against the use of "alternative" cancer treatments [2, 3]. John Hoffer, professor of medicine at McGill University, said: "In 1971, even saying that vitamin C could be useful was so outlandish that the process of discussion between doctors and researchers was stopped." But things came back. The Mayo Clinic is currently interested in clinical trials using intravenous ascorbic acid to treat cancer.
When I first researched intravenous vitamin C treatment, many saw it as purely a charlatan ploy, but just a few months earlier, I had been invited by the Marcus Foundation to evaluate proposals funded to Thomas Jefferson University, Johns Hopkins, National Institutes of Health and Mayo Clinic on intravenous use of vitamin C for cancer. Reputable medical organizations worldwide are now researching these natural treatments. However, since 1997, I hold a U.S. patent, along with my father, on the use of intravenous vitamin C as a tumor cytotoxicity . I also hold a US patent with Dr. Joseph Casciari on the use of intravenous vitamin C along with lipoic acid to treat cancer .
We had a different starting point than the treatment given by most oncologists. Since our starting point is to strengthen the immune system, we wanted to know if our patients had vitamin deficiencies. The immune system cannot function normally without vitamins. In some studies, up to 30% of cancer patients suffer from scurvy – a significant vitamin C deficiency . Leukocytes, also known as phagocytes, absorb cancer cells and other foreign organisms, which do not work well without enough vitamin C in the system. One of our first tests was to see if a patient's phagocytosis could digest foreign agents, such as yeast. We found that in cancer patients, sometimes only 1 or 2 percent of phagocytes digest yeast, whereas in healthy people that number will be between 40 and 70 percent. These numbers increased in cancer patients treated with vitamin C, demonstrating an immune response supported by the vitamin. In one study in patients with stage IV pancreatic cancer, intravenous vitamin C was added to standard chemotherapy drugs that increased survival rates by more than ten months when compared to chemotherapy drugs alone .
We also looked at the stress that patients experienced in their lives. Several studies have shown that stress has the potential to increase the risk of cancer in later years . When the adrenal glands are overworked and under stress, the body uses large amounts of vitamin C to synthesize stress hormones. Dr. Candace Pert's book Molecules of Emotion describes the link between mental health and immune dysfunctions. Basically, macrophages, or white blood cells, almost instantly receive a message from your brain about whatever you're thinking. Most of my cancer patients have gone through a period of severe stress before being diagnosed.
What convinced me of the role of the immune system in the fight against cancer was that a study of 77 women with breast cancer was published in Dr. James McCoy's Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences . When these women underwent surgery, the doctor took the tumor and cultured it with the patient's white blood cells. In some women, white blood cells do not react to tumor cells; But in some others, they are stimulated to proliferate. In other words, the women's immune systems reacted to cancer. The researchers followed them more than 12 years later. Of the women whose immune systems did not respond, 47% died. But for women whose immune systems are stimulated by cancer cells, 95 percent are still alive.
The immune systems of deceased women have developed immune tolerance, meaning they have tolerated the development of cancer. The goal of our work is to disrupt immune tolerance and translate it into immune resistance, or the ability to induce normal immune responses to foreign agents – in this case, cancer. We use a number of different techniques to stimulate the immune system to recognize and attack tumors so that the body can heal itself without chemotherapy or radiation.
Adapted from data by Head JF, Wang F, Elliott RL, McCoy JL.
Assessment of immunologic competence and host reactivity against tumor antigens in breast cancer patients.
Prognostic value and rationale of immunotherapy development.
Ann N Y Acad Sci.1993; 690: 340-2.
We were successful in finding a non-toxic method to fight cancer. At the end of the RECNAC project, we had the results and made every effort to publish our studies . But I found something else when I looked at all the data on the patients we treated during that ten-year period. Some patients, even miraculously, as in the case of George Williams, have not received doses of vitamin C high enough to cause harmful effects. Something else we are doing to stimulate the body's natural defenses against disease, along with high doses of vitamin C, has killed cancer cells.
Then I started thinking of cancer as a wound that didn't heal. This is very different from conventional explanations for cancer, which assume that environmental or genetic factors cause cells to mutate in a way that continues to divide and form tumors. There was a study in Korea that substantiated my idea. Scientists put metal plates into rabbits' stomachs, and in response, rabbits always develop a type of cancer around those plates. But if the researchers perforated the metal plates, the rabbits did not develop tumors anymore. My hypothesis is that when the plates are a solid mass, the tissues cannot make contact with the wound, so it continues to grow tumors around the site of chronic irritation.
Cancer is a last-ditch attempt to heal wounds that cannot be healed
Another study that supported my cancer hypothesis was conducted by my professor, Dr. JeanMarie Houghton and published in the journal Science . In a mouse model of gastric carcinoma, starting from an ulcer-causing H. pylori infection, she showed how bone marrow cells transplanted from another animal develop into stomach cancer cells. This has made the conventional cancer model — that the body's cells undergo a three-step conversion process that leads to cancer — become false. None of the cancer cells came from animals — all came from donor animals as a last-ditch effort to heal wounds that couldn't heal, in this case, ulcers. So it is not tissue (in the host) that is undergoing initiation, promotion and transformation, as the conventional cancer model suggests. Rather, it is the tissue (in the host) that is running out of capacity for repair. I believe that a local deficiency of MSCs leads to a failure to heal, resulting in the release of bone marrow stem cells that proliferate in an attempt to heal the wound, but become cancerous.
There is another great study in veterans returning from war with injuries. There is a high percentage of tumors that form right at the wound, chronically irritated sites. Lung cancer is a great example of this. Cigarette smoking is a chronic irritant to the lungs, and it increases the incidence of lung cancer. So here's my hypothesis: Most or all tumors form as a last-ditch attempt to heal wounds that can't heal.
The body has some very sensitive reactions, working quickly to heal wounds. There are cells that are activated when the body detects an imbalance, damage, or inflammation, and rushes there to begin the healing process. In our study, we found that vitamin C is incredibly helpful in stimulating the immune system to attack these problems. I believe this is just the beginning of what we can discover if we delve into the mechanisms of healing and study methods to activate these natural elements to fight disease.
When the RECNAC project ended, my father and I had to part ways. I learned so much from him during that time, and will be forever grateful for the guidance and support he gave me while I was honing my skills as a researcher and a scientist. I'm excited about the opportunities I can create myself by using my knowledge of my body's self-strength. It's time for me to do it my own way as a real Maverick(****).
(*******) Maverick: someone who refuses to follow the rules of the organization.
1. Creagan ET, Moertel CG, O’Fallon JR, et al. Failure of high-dose vitamin C (ascorbic acid) therapy to benefit patients with advanced cancer. A controlled trial. N Engl J Med. 1979 Sep 27; 301(13): 687-90.
2. Hoffer LJ. Proof versus plausibility: rules of engagement for the struggle to evaluate alternative cancer therapies. CMAJ. 2001; 164(3): 351-3.
3. Padayatty SJ, Levine M. New insights into the physiology and pharmacology of vitamin C. CMAJ. 2001; 164(3): 353-5.
4. Riordan NH, Riordan HD, inventors; The Center for the Improvement of Human Functioning Int’l, Inc., assignee. Therapeutic method for the treatment of cancer. US patent 5,639,787. June 17, 1997.
5. Casciari JJ, Riordan NH, inventors; The Center for the Improvement of Human Functioning Int’l, Inc., assignee. Treatment of cancer using lipoic acid in combination with ascorbic acid. US patent 6,448,287. September 10, 2002.
6. Mayland CR, Bennett MI, Allan K. Vitamin C deficiency in cancer patients. Palliat Med. 2005; 19(1): 17-20.
7. Cieslak JA, Cullen JJ. Treatment of pancreatic cancer with pharmacological ascorbate. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2015; 16(9): 759-70.
8. Lillberg K, Verkasalo PK, Kaprio J, Teppo L, Helenius H, Koskenvuo M. Stressful life events and risk of breast cancer in 10,808 women: a cohort study. Am J Epidemiol. 2003; 157(5): 415-23.
9. Head JF, Wang F, Elliott RL, McCoy JL. Assessment of immunologic competence and host reactivity against tumor antigens in breast cancer patients. Prognostic value and rationale of immunotherapy development. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1993; 690: 340-2.
10. Riordan NH, Riordan HD, Meng X, Li Y, Jackson JA. Intravenous ascorbate as a tumor cytotoxic chemotherapeutic agent. Med Hypotheses. 1995; 44(3): 207-13.
11. Houghton J, Stoicov C, Nomura S, et al. Gastric cancer originating from bone marrow-derived cells. Science. 2004; 306(5701): 1568-71