The Bi-Phasic Effect: Why Chemo Doesn’t Work

Every time we put a drug in our body, two things happen:

  1. What the drug initially does to the body;
  2. How the body adapts to the drug.

Any example will do. Antibiotics? First, the drug kills all bacteria in the body. Then the body responds by growing them back, often with the bad bacteria out of balance, which come back in more powerful, mutated forms.

Steroids? First, muscles are built because testosterone has been mimicked. Then the body responds by cutting production of natural testosterone, which eventually feminizes the athlete by shrinking the gonads.

Heroin? First it blocks the pain receptors and sends happy hormones called endorphins through the body, giving an overall feeling of wonderfulness. The body responds, by getting so used to this euphoria that when the heroin is stopped, the reality of pain receptors going back to work again is unbearable.

Obviously these are simplifications, but you get the idea.

The Bi-Phasic Effect is well-explained by Dr Dean Black and many other researchers who were trying to figure out why tumours seemed to come back with such a vengeance after chemotherapy. Some original work was done by American Cancer Society researcher Robert Schimke in 1985, who discovered that the way cancer cells resist chemotherapy is to replicate even harder and faster.

Chemo drugs are lethal to all cells; so the cancer cells are stimulated to try and survive any way they can, which means faster growth. In the presence of any toxin, cells will resist it to stay alive. The more they resist, the stronger they get.

Black sees cancer itself as just such an adaptation; a normal response to an abnormal poison. Chemotherapy simply provokes adaptation.(Black, p. 45) This is why we all know people who have had chemotherapy and experienced temporary remission. But when the tumour came back, it did so with a vengeance, and the patient was quickly overwhelmed. All too common.

Schimke talks about the possible effects on a tumour that otherwise may have been self-limiting:

“Might such treatments convert relatively benign tumours into more lethal forms?” – Robert Schimke p. 1915

Think about this the next time you hear an oncologist talk about “mopping up” with powerful chemo drugs just to be sure we “got it all.” Or prescribing powerful chemotherapy for a “pre-cancerous” or even a benign situation. You don’t introduce cell-killers unless you absolutely have to. These drugs kill normal cells, by definition.

The Bi-Phasic Effect is also called the Rebound Phenomenon. The drugs attack the tumour cells, which then resist and rebound twice as strong, often mutating in the process.

In the above study, Robert Schimke noted that with chemo combos the rebound effect may bring about a tumour cell proliferation rate which may be 100 times faster than before.

Cytotoxic is the word that describes chemotherapeutic drugs. It means “cell-killing”.

Chemo-therapy kills all the cells of the body, not just the cancer cells. The risk is that chemo will kill the patient before it kills the cancer. Which often happens. Therefore the only question that should be asked when deciding whether or not to begin chemo is this: will this drug prolong the patient’s natural lifespan? Not his drugged ICU horror-movie lifespan – his natural lifespan. The unadorned data say no.