Cancer and the New Biology of Water by Thomas Cowan

The Westin Price Foundation

Cancer and the New Biology of Water: Why the War on Cancer Has Failed and What That Means for More Effective Prevention and Treatment
By Thomas Cowan, MD
Chelsea Green Publishing

A decade ago, I found myself chatting with Tom Cowan at the Wise Traditions conference. The conversation was wide-ranging—touching on farming, food, economics, art, politics and health. I realized that Dr. Cowan was far more well-rounded than the average doctor, with a broad and deep knowledge of the world. Back then, he had written perhaps one book. Now, he has many—each one well worth reading. Few authors are able to combine practical experience, historical observations and information from many fields and disciplines in the manner he achieves.

Cancer and the New Biology of Water isn’t long (under two hundred pages). This is probably a good thing, as it offers plenty to consider; a longer book might confuse and overwhelm. The book describes what is wrong with the conventional cancer paradigm and why it has failed us; explores different therapies that offer an alternative to the standard “cut, burn and poison” approach promoted by mainstream medicine; and gives practical counsel. Given that roughly a third of modern people will face cancer in their lifetime, who among us doesn’t need to consider treatment options, if not for ourselves, then for those we love?

Cowan’s books always contain a wealth of source material (often straight from the mainstream medical establishment’s mouth), which I greatly appreciate. And when he says that the current approach to cancer has failed, he isn’t engaging in hyperbole—he is merely quoting what the medical establishment has found, time and again, in its own research. One of the cited studies states, “The overall contribution of curative adjuvant cytotoxic chemotherapy to 5 year survival in adults was estimated to be 2.3% in Australia and 2.1% in the USA.” In other words, chemotherapy contributed almost nothing.

Cowan digs deep into a number of fascinating facts. One especially helpful observation concerns how the medical system covers up its failure to make any real progress in treating, curing or preventing cancer—in spite of hundreds of billions of dollars of investment. It does so by moving the goalposts from actual patient outcomes to surrogate markers, which makes it possible to sell a false bill of goods (and incredibly large hospital bills) to those looking for effective treatment options.

Modern cancer treatment benefits from some of the world’s brightest and most well-meaning thinkers and untold sums of money—so why does it continue to fail? Dr. Cowan gives a compelling answer: it’s because our understanding of cancer is flawed. The two main hypotheses that undergird all modern cancer research—that genetic mutations (also called oncogenes) are the cause of cancer, and that our DNA controls (all by itself) everything that happens in our cells and thus, to a large extent, us—have led scientists down the wrong path. Because modern researchers remain committed to an erroneous framework for understanding cancer’s causes, they are unable to make progress in stopping cancer’s effects—no matter how well-intentioned or well-funded they may be.

What is the right framework? Dr. Cowan seeks to persuade us that cancer points to a deeper problem—cell dysfunction—but not at the genetic level. Rather, we should be looking at the cytoplasmic space that makes up the preponderance of the cell. He states, “When our life forces are weak or disturbed, when the structure of water in our cells is amiss, the disease we call cancer arises.” Thus, the “abnormal number or types of chromosomes, mutations, [and] abnormal proteins synthesized” that we normally consider “cancer” are not cancer’s causes but merely secondary effects.

When energy generation, meaning our mitochondria—which is our life force—and gel in our cytoplasm go awry, the stage is set for cancer to develop. The very basis of cancer diagnostics relies on this phenomenon. Citing Otto Warburg’s work on the metabolic origins of cancer, Dr. Cowan states, “To dispute the centrality of this Warburg phenomenon in cancer is to dispute the fundamental basis of modern oncology diagnostic practices. . . .Placing the source of cancer in the mitochondria is consistent with my premise that cancer is a loss of cellular integrity due to the deterioration of the intracellular gel structure.” When the gel structure deteriorates, the cells no longer have a healthy space between them but begin to clump together—the hallmark of cancer.

Cowan avoids a long discussion of causes and prevention, which he has covered elsewhere, and instead considers how and why different therapies and approaches work in light of his assertion about cancer’s real cause. These chapters are unique, combining Cowan’s practical experience helping hundreds of patients face various types of cancer with other clinical and research information. He is not afraid to point out the promises, perils and limitations of popular alternative treatments. In an age of X-is-the-answer-for-everything marketing, it is refreshing to see a balanced—even restrained—discussion of alternative therapies.

What do the approaches Cowan describes have in common? They help restore proper cellular integrity and function. Some do it by addressing the sodium-potassium gradient of cells. Some do it by mimicking fever or other conditions, which help the body regenerate at the cellular level. As I worked through the book, I found myself eager to see how Cowan would connect the dots between causes and possible treatments, and also how various approaches could work synergistically. Dr. Cowan’s hypothesis also explains why some treatments help such divergent disease conditions—if the root cause of many disparate diseases is disrupted water structure and power generation in our cells, then it makes sense that a single treatment could provide benefit for the wide range of symptoms that this underlying disorder contributes to or creates.

Cowan’s recommendations for those facing cancer are forthright; he notes that while some have had great success with various alternatives, his best outcomes generally combine surgical removal, when possible, with alternative therapies. He adds a few more options to consider, including high-dose vitamin C and saunas. By book’s end, the reader, in partnership with a qualified holistic doctor who deals with cancer, will have an array of resources to support his or her journey to overcome this modern killer.

A few of the books that I review get a second reading or end up on our family bookshelf. Cancer and the New Biology of Water will get both, along with two thumbs up. This is a must-read for anyone wanting to explore the causes of cancer and effective treatments in an age of mainstream medical snake oil.

This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Fall 2019 Print post

About John Moody

John Moody is a well-known food grower, researcher and author, ap­pearing at conferences across the country and helping people improve their lives, land and health. His most recent books, The Elderberry Book and Winning the War Against Weeds, are available at Elderberry products are available at

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