We know from Dr. Otto Warburg’s landmark research nearly a century ago that cancer thrives in an oxygen-deficient environment. When cancer makes ATP, the cellular energy currency, it does so in a very primitive way. Unlike the body’s healthy cells, cancer cells do not require oxygen to make energy, and instead, use a process known as fermentation. The assumption is that cancer requires low oxygen environments, and by giving oxygen, we will kill cancer.
Understanding the Research
Research since Dr. Warburg’s time has uncovered the profound role that hypoxia (low oxygen levels) plays in the development of cancer, as well as its continued growth and metastasis. We now know that frequent and sustained hypoxia makes cancer cells more aggressive, and also regulates the environment around tumors to support cancer’s growth and progression. However, the story does not end there, and is much more complicated than simply concluding that cancer doesn’t like oxygen.
When tumors do not have enough oxygen, and have used up all available oxygen, they are able to up-regulate the production of substances which promote angiogenesis (cancer’s stimulation of new blood vessel formation). These new blood vessels serve to deliver additional oxygen as well as other growth factors, to the tumor. To further complicate matters, it turns out that most all tumors have some areas of hypoxia and some areas of adequate oxygen supply. As a result, a combination of angiogenesis and oxidative stress exist, a phenomenon known as cycling hypoxia. Left unchecked, this influences response to treatment as well as metastatic behavior. As you can see, people who tell you that “cancer hates oxygen” are wrong.
It is important to note that there are no randomized controlled trials studying ozone and cancer.
How We Use Ozone
Although there is no evidence that ozone has a direct cancer killing effect, and is certainly not a stand-alone cancer treatment, we can still use ozone to our benefit. In our office, we use an ozone sauna to provide ozone transdermally (through the skin). Ozone has been shown to increase immune system function. More specifically, it stimulates the production of interleukin-2 (IL-2) and interferon gamma (IFN-γ), cytokines which have been shown to have anti-tumor effects in the body.
The ozone sauna treatments in our office are gentle and safe, and provide a wonderful complement to our other therapies.