Oxygen breathing may be a cheaper and safer alternative to exogenous erythropoietin (EPO)
Received 22 March 2007; accepted 23 March 2007. published online 11 May 2007.
Erythropoietin (EPO) is a glycoprotein hormone produced by renal tissue in response to hypoxia; EPO functions as a cytokine to precursor cells produced by the bone marrow, stimulating red blood cell production. Erythropoiesis stimulating agents (ESAs) are manufactured molecules designed to mimic the ability of endogenous EPO to bind to EPO receptors and increase red blood cell production.
To achieve desired dosing schedules and avoid the need for blood transfusions, oncologists have become increasingly reliant on ESAs to counter the anemia often experienced during chemotherapy. In recent years, significant concerns have been raised about the safety of ESAs, including the possibility of increased cardiovascular events and even increased tumor growth and accelerated mortality in cancer patients. ESAs also contribute significantly to the expense of chemotherapy, rendering them unavailable to some patients and available to others only upon achieving insurance-mandated levels of anemia.
A recently discovered “normobaric oxygen paradox” demonstrates that renal tissue can be stimulated to increase EPO production via a simple pattern of oxygen breathing at normal atmospheric pressures. This leads directly to the hypothesis that oxygen breathing may provide chemotherapy patients with a convenient and inexpensive alternative to ESAs. Stimulating endogenous EPO production eliminates the small risk of immune system reaction associated with ESAs. Further, the endogenous physiological EPO doses provided by this method may be safer, in terms of cancer mortality, than the exogenous pharmacological doses inherent in ESA administration.
A single patient test case is presented to support the hypothesis that normobaric oxygen breathing can be an effective replacement for ESAs in treating chemotherapy-induced anemia. In this case, a stage III breast cancer patient undergoing dose-dense AC+T chemotherapy obtained a clear response equivalent to ESA treatment by using a pattern of simple oxygen breathing.
Dr. Weeks’ comment: when I called the author of this published article, he told me three interesting things:
1) I was the only doctor who have ever called him to discuss this work “I would have at least expected some doctors from insurance companies to call me since it would save them billions, but no one has called.
2) he is not a doctor…
3) the patient is his wife!
This is a thinking fellow whose love for his wife and whose determination to care for her created a breakthough in medical care! which, alas only he, his wife, me and now YOU dear reader, know about. Spread the word and get some exercise!