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Med Hypotheses. 2001 Oct;57(4):429-31.

Dysfunctional mitochondria, not oxygen insufficiency, cause cancer cells to produce inordinate amounts of lactic acid: the impact of this on the treatment of cancer.

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A. P. John Institute for Cancer Research, Greenwich, Connecticut 06830, USA.


It has been known for decades that cancer cells produce excessive amounts of lactic acid. The fact that most cancers have poor vascular systems has led cancer scientists to assume that such cells are deprived of a normal supply of oxygen. Researchers believe that without sufficient oxygen, cancer cells must revert to fermentation for their energy supply and this is what causes them to produce excessive lactic acid. I challenge this traditional assumption and suggest instead that cancer cells have dysfunctional mitochondria, which prevent their use of the citric acid or Krebs cycle. Consequently, pyruvic acid, the end product of glycolysis, which normally would enter the mitochondria for its total combustion into energy, is instead converted to lactic acid. Evidence exists to support this hypothesis which, when acknowledged, could dynamically impact both cancer research and the treatment of all forms of cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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