There is nothing more important that you can give a patient than hope.

In 2010, the Smith family had little hope. Their 13 year old son had a series of abnormal lab tests which finally resulted in hopeless diagnosis. He was diagnosed with myelodysplasia (MDS) and given a poor prognosis by his oncologist.

The survival rate is close to the flip of a coin. There is a slight advantage for children that receive a successful bone marrow transplant; for the rest of the kids the survival rate is dismal. Essentially the treatment is wildly expensive and many lose their child.

While many of you may have never heard of this condition, it is the number one cancer among children in the United States. Myelodysplasia typically leads to full blown leukemia. [1]

This would be alarming if not for the fact that cancer has been reaching epidemic rates among all age groups since the 1940s. Nearly a hundred years ago, cancer rates were about 1 in 8000 with childhood cancers being nearly unheard of. Fast forward to 2014 and cancer rates have skyrocketed to the unacceptable rates of 1 in 2 Americans, with childhood cancers following. MDS / leukemia account for the majority of childhood cancers, slightly above brain (CNS) cancers. As of today, the expectation is that 1 out of every 10,000 children will get cancer each year. [2]

The Smith’s son was diagnosed through a bone marrow aspiration from his pelvis. The results showed that the cause of his cancer was an abnormal chromosome mutation at 9q (J-3396, J-6911, and K-5930). This means that every time his bone marrow tried to make normal cells, the coding was broken. This accounts for the abnormal cell lines leading to anisopoikilocytosis, macrocytosis, polychromasia, leucopenia, neutropenia, refractory anemias or in more common terms, his cells were messed up. Each year the bone marrow aspiration test demonstrated the same result, 100% abnormal 46 XY karyotype with the same mutated DNA.

Two years later, after attending one of my Food as Medicine seminars, Mrs. Smith gave me a call to see if I could help her son. I told her something no other specialist had said, genetics can be fixed. Finally there was some cautious hope in her eyes. I explained that each time a cell divides it will either produce the same mutation or it will fix the mutation. I told her that mutation was a normal thing that the body has to contend with each and every day. It isn’t until the exposures to chemical toxicities overwhelms our nutritional ability that we end up with such chronic mutations or disease. This process is called epigenetics.

Epigenetics is a fascinating process by which the body turns on and off genes through one carbon metabolism. By understanding how to help the body with its epigenetic gene manipulation, a physician can help recover mutations and unfavorable gene sequencing. [3] This whole process is why my identical twin daughters are slightly different as they get older. Their DNA is 100% identical but through environmental factors, diet, and lifestyle, their DNA sequencing has evolved to allow these slight variations. So without getting overly complicated, this means Mrs. Smith’s son can improve his DNA and un-mutate his chromosome.

After a lengthy discussion with the family I learned that we were on a time deadline. His next chromosome test was in 6 months. Because of the severity of this case I did some additional research and put together a comprehensive treatment plan that would achieve success in the time allotted. Since I am a lifestyle functional medicine doctor, the focus was on food that would provide improved epigenetic potential while removing the most likely causes of the DNA mutation.

So what is the likely cause of her son’s cancer? The main cause of mutation with MDS is exposure to chemicals like benzene or its derivatives. [4,5] Since benzene is a highly flammable component of crude oil, you might think exposure to such a volatile chemical would be rare, especially in children. That would be true except for the fact that many food companies use benzene derivatives to preserve your food.

If you look at food labels you might notice chemicals like benzoate or benzoic acid or BHT. To make these common preservatives you would start by converting benzene into toluene. This is the chemical that is responsible for the smell in paint thinner. Now by oxidizing toluene it can be converted to benzoate or benzoic acid. [5] Next they add this petroleum derivative into foods, drinks, and even supplements to maximize profitability by providing an abnormally longer shelf life. It can be done by ascorbic acid or citric acids too but petrol is cheaper and thus more profitable.

This is why these preservative derived from benzene are so toxic to our DNA. For MDS patients, avoiding these chemical preservatives is one of the most important places to start. Next we want to restore normal DNA through diet.

My dietary goal is to balance out the methylation process to improve the gene signaling while improving the body’s ability to repair and edit the mutated DNA. This was accomplished by switching the patient to a low glycemic, nutrient dense diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, berries, and legumes; real actual food with the least processing. Next we supplemented with methylcobalamin (methyl B12 lozenges), folate, and B6 supplements. Each of these helps regulate the homocysteine pathway which regulates gene sequencing. This one carbon metabolism of methylation normally is fed by a rich diet of beans, greens and fermented foods. [8]

One of the most important processes is the re-establishing of a normal microbiome with gut bacteria. The human body is only 1/10th human, meaning that for every one human cell, we should have 10 beneficial bacteria taking care of us. There are about three pounds of bacteria in and on the human body; this includes a diversity of 750 different strains of good bacteria. [6] All of which are designed to keep us happy and healthy. These probiotics not only help digest our food, provide the bulk of our immunity, but most importantly, they provide us with a constant production of B vitamins. These vitamins help regulate DNA. Don’t forget that these probiotics also digest oligosaccharides from our undigested fibrous foods (prebiotics) which then produce chemicals that nourish our DNA polymerase. The DNA polymerase is the safe guard for DNA mutation. It edits out mutated DNA with every replication. This is how we improve DNA over time. [7]

What does all this mean? Well 6 months later, the boy has new DNA aspirated from his hip. When the results come in, even the oncologist didn’t know what to say; the results were 100% normal DNA. The next year, the parents had the test repeated to ensure that the change was sustained, and again, 100% normal DNA.

Through dietary and lifestyle changes, their son was able to heal his DNA and beat cancer. Hope prevailed.

The moral to this story is that you are not broken or damaged. You are genetically designed to heal. Your physiology is designed to overcome and to make you stronger. Disease is merely the result of living a lifestyle that is incompatible with life and longevity. If your current doctor is only helping you manage your condition with drugs rather than reversing it, you might want to find a new doctor.

Dr. Patrick Garrett DC, B.SCi., DABFM, FAAFM, DAACN, has a successful practice specializing in reversing acute and chronic conditions naturally. His focus on the triad of lifestyle medicine, functional medicine and clinical nutrition is one of the primary reasons that his services are sought out by clients all around the world. Learn more.

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