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Chris Woolmams / Catherine Woollams
Acid Bodies increase cancer risk


This article looks at how acid bodies can cause both ill health and cancer. It provides ideas on how to alkalise for health and, indeed, how to alkalise to slow cancer progression, combat metastases, and prevent cancer forming or returning. In the article we also cover how alkalising your body can alkalise your cells and stimulate your immune system making both work more efficiently.

Acid bodies - alkalise for health

In Chris Woollams first of The 4 Pillars of Cancer articles (Pillar 1 - Poor Diet), he discussed cellular acidity and foods as a cause of cancer. Many people had questions and so here Stephen Colclough of Alkaline 4 Health and Chris flesh out the answers.

Open quotesAcid cells mean illness, even cancerClose quotes

The science of acid cells and acid bodies

Cancer cells are different. For the biochemists amongst you, a normal cell produces its energy in its power stations, or mitochondria, by a 20+ step process where carbohydrate is burned in the presence of oxygen to produce energy (and waste products). Over hundreds of thousands of years the chemical reactions in this oxygen-burning, energy-producing process have come to rely on potassium to make them work efficiently.

In the cellular membrane there are pumps that rely on magnesium to work properly. These pumps push potassium into the cell and pump out sodium. This is essential because normally the body ingests larger amounts of sodium than potassium and osmosis would just see a preponderance of sodium in the cell too. 

If too much sodium gets into the mitochondria rather than potassium, the energy producing steps start to use sodium instead of potassium - this will still work but not as efficiently. Less oxygen is burned and less energy produced. The waste products will now be sodium salts, which are more ´acid´ than potassium salts. This acidity in the power stations´ environment then makes the energy production process even less efficient - taking in even less oxygen and producing even less energy. A downward spiral has begun. You are on your way to ill health and even a cancer cell.

Most people in the Western world have sodium-rich and potassium-poor diets. On top of that they consume insufficient amounts of magnesium (40 per cent of Americans are deficient in magnesium), so the great risk is that cells can become acid by the process outline above.  And acid cells mean illness.

Once the cell has powered down, certain DNA repair genes (like p53) are switched off while the genes (like ras) that tell the cell to divide rapidly still run even at low power; this is a cancer cell in the making.

Low sodium, high magnesium and high potassium is the single most important equation, and one that governs this article. So start with that as the brief for your diet. 

Acid bodies and cancer - cause or effect?

But is it cause or effect? By that we mean, does the above process give you cancer - part of the metabolic theory of cancer - or do you get cancer by some ´unlucky´ mutation? Although the pharmaceutical companies and many old fashioned text books talk of mutations, it is important to understand this term. Mutation is defined, only, as ´a sequence change in the structure of the DNA´. Many, many people misuse this term. Only 7 per cent of people have a genetic mutation from hereditary factors. And the Science of Epigenetics is showing that rarely is a cancer really about mutation and structural change INSIDE the DNA. Most usually, the cause of cancer is histone build up causing blockages AROUND your ball of DNA. This has been caused by levels of homocysteine increasing in the body. Epigenetics concludes that cancer is very much a metabolic disease brought on by factors such as poor diet, environmental toxins, stress, and hormones such as oestrogen.

So it would seem that while you could have a genuine mutation that caused a tumour with a centre that was very acid, and this was independent of all else, it is far, far more likely that you have built a body conducive to cancer yourself and that has brought on metabolic changes - changes that can be corrected and are reversible.

This may not be a good scenario for the pharmaceutical companies, but as the American Cancer Society has recently shown with their study on diet and exercise with patients who were Stage 3 Colorectal, across the seven year study, those who most closely followed the diet and exercise programmes (i.e. built a body conducive to health) had 42 per cent less death.

Go To: Diet and exercise better than drugs? 

Cancer is very acidic

Both healthy cells and cancer cells use glucose as their prime energy source. But, for a normal cancer cell, glucose is essential. In a cancer cell the mitochondrial power stations of the healthy cell have run down and switched off. This means that the energy production system lies in the cytoplasm, where in healthy cells glucose is normally processed ready for the mitochondria. A little of the glucose burns in the cytoplasm; nothing like the mitochondrial output. So it´s all very inefficient. And therefore since a cancer cell needs lots of energy to grow, it demands lots of glucose. This process, called glycolysis, is very acidic and cancer tumours have a pH of about 6.2 at their core.

A cancer cell is very inflexible. It is glucose or almost nothing (in certain cases it may be able to use glutamine, an amino acid from proteins).

Not surprisingly, there are about six research studies in the last few years that show people with the highest plasma glucose levels develop more cancers, and people with cancer who have higher blood glucose levels survive least!

Cancer cells are also clever - cancer cells make their own glucose: One waste product of their energy production process is lactic acid, which is only broken down in the liver. However, the end product of that chemical process is .....glucose, which passes round the body to feed the cancer cell. ´Alien´ has taken over your body! The cancer may survive but this is not necessarily enough glucose for your cancer to grow. You need to feed it more glucose. And, of course, people do!

Cut empty glucose calories (and high fructose corn syrup); 40% of these come from fizzy soft drinks Cut puddings, sweets, biscuits, cake, jams, honey - and glucose in all forms.

The Acidity of cancer tumours

To stress the acid nature of cancer, I refer to research published online (March 10th 2009) in Pubmed (19276390 - Cancer Res 2009; 69 (6); 2260-8) from Arizona Cancer Center (University of Arizona); the Department of Pharmacology, Wayne State University, Detroit and the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center Florida seems pretty convincing. It is entitled ´Bicarbonate increases Tumor pH and inhibits spontaneous metastases.´

The researchers start by commenting on the acid nature of cancer tumours, saying that the internal pH of solid tumours is acidic due to the glycolysis mentioned above. The external surrounds are also acidic, and this seems to encourage metastases to fire off, and also to take hold and develop. The researchers comment that the pH inside a tumour can be as low as 6, whereas a healthy body should have cells at 7.2 to 7.5.

Oral ingestion of sodium bicarbonate (an alkali - think antacids) reduced the formation of new metastases in breast cancer models in mice. The equivalent human consumption would be 12 gms of sodium bicarbonate a day! 4 teaspoons of sodium bicarbonate a day in luke warm water to help it dissolve. (This seems a bit high). In the research, this level reduced metastases to the lungs and intestines. No lymph node infection occurred. Oral ingestion of sodium bicarbonate stopped the growth of the tumours.

When using injections directly into the tumours, the tumours regressed. A shot of alkali is a simple way to stop a chemical reaction that demands acidic conditions. A 16-year old at school will tell you that!

Consider taking a little sodium bicarbonate in warm water on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning.

Flexible healthy cells

Unlike inflexible cancer cells, healthy cells have healthy mitochondria (which produce more alkaline salts). They are also flexible in that they can burn fuels other than glucose - most notably fats and oils. 

2012 and 2013 have recoded a number of research studies about this - all covered in detail in Cancer Watch. First we have had  research showing that Calorie Restriction can improve the outcomes of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, with clinical trials now planned. We also had research showing that a poor diet - full of sodium salts and glucose - encourages cancers to regrow. When you read the above it is clear. They both cause acid cells and set up a feeding frenzy for cancer cells.

Then we had research into ´Fasting and cancer´ showing that by fasting (eating no calories and no glucose) progression of cancers stopped. But 70 per cent of cancer patients do not like the idea of fasting for three to five days!

When fasting, the free glucose runs out after about 12 to 16 hours. But healthy cells switch over to burning fats from the fat stores - it´s called ketosis. Cancer cells cannot burn fats. Without glucose they whither and can die.  So, an alternative to eating nothing, is to eat a little carbohydrate, low protein, high ´good´ fat diet (extra virgin olive oils, fish oils, flaxseed, coconut oil, seeds and nuts in general). It is called a Ketogenic Diet.

Interestingly with mice models it outperforms chemotherapy. Also, the acidic centres of tumours are protected by hypoxic pockets in their blood vessels. These act like valves to stop poisons or oxygen attacking the cancer tumour. Alkaline diets are thought capable of destroying these pockets. Interestingly, hyperbaric oxygen on its own had no effect on tumours because of these pockets. But when used with a Ketogenic Diet it enhanced the anti-cancer effects and resulted in significantly higher survival rates in the mice models. Clinical trials are now planned for this too.

So, think about a highly colourful Rainbow diet - because the pigments are often natural compounds that can be very helpful against cancer. A high vegetable diet is high in potassium and low in sodium.

Eat good oils - walnuts and almonds; extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, coconut oil, avocados, oily fish (or supplement with a daily fish or krill oil).

Eat grass fed animals - free range chickens, salmon, even beef. It contains Conjugated linoleic acid, which has anti-cancer properties

Think about a ketogenic diet, and even a couple of hyperbaric oxygen sessions - the MS society have centres across the country.

Other ways to develop an acid body?

1. Hormones like Oestrogen

These same acid conditions inside the power stations and cells can also be set up by certain forms of oestrogen, the female sex hormone, binding to receptor sites on the cells membrane. One natural oestrogen, oestradiol, is created in the body´s fat stores by aromatase enzymes (for females or males) - it is particularly aggressive and can create havoc inside the cell, effectively shutting down the magnesium pump, reducing potassium levels, increasing sodium levels, with the resultant effect that the cell becomes more acid, uses less and less oxygen, and powers down´ in the same way as above. Again, the result can be ill health and cancer. So, cut your fat levels, reduce your oestrogen levels naturally. Weight control is linked to longer survival times.

2. Lack of sleep

After 90 minutes of falling to sleep, your pineal gland produces melatonin, which helps put you into a deeper sleep. Apart from being a powerful antioxidant melatonin also helps regulate hormones like oestrogen and IGF-1 in the body. Without melatonin at adequate levels oestrogen levels rise, as does Insulin like Growth Factor 1, which makes your cells grow and divide more rapidly. So poor sleep patterns set up an acid body.

If you don´t sleep well, you could try taking 3 mgs at most of melatonin, having made sure there are no EMFs near your bed room.

3. EMFs

This is because Electromagnetic Forces (masts etc.) are known to depress melatonin levels too.

4. Some chemicals and pesticides

Some pesticides, and some quite common chemicals contain ingredients which, once inside the body, can mimic the action of oestrogen in your cells. Chemicals like Bisphenol A, Parabens, Phthalates and Toluene to name just a few are found in common usage as plasticisers, as preservatives and in nail polishes. Start by reading our article on environmental causes of cancer, if you are concerned

5. Stress hormones

All of the above cause acid stress in the body, as do the sress hormones themselves. Hormones like cortisol, produced by the adrenal glands in stressful times affect localised hormones around your cells - these are called eicosanoids. Insulin and steroids also stress your cells in this way. Stress can set up acid conditions in the body, along with cellular inflammation through the eicosanoid system. Interestingly, people with cancer have higher cortisol levels, more acid bodies, more inflammation and more metastases - it is all interlinked. Stress management courses (diet, yoga, meditation, fish oils, counseling etc.) have been shown in America to greatly improve survival times.

6. Low blood oxygen

Dr. Otto Warburg was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1931 for the discovery that, unlike healthy cells in the human body, cancer cells do not "breathe" oxygen. Cancer cells are anaerobic, in other words they function with no oxygen present. In fact, cancer cells cannot survive in the presence of high levels of oxygen. Having a good level of oxygen in your blood and cells helps prevent cancer.

All of the above acid generating, stressful cell conditions lead to lowered cellular oxygen levels. In The Prime Cause and Prevention of Cancer, Dr. Warburg theorised that the way to treat cancer was to saturate the cells of the body with oxygen. This was his priority in treating cancer. The second priority was to avoid further exposure to toxins.

Keiichi Morishita agrees with this. "Cancer above all other disease, has countless secondary causes, but there is only one prime cause. The prime cause is the replacement of the normal oxygen respiration of body cells by an anaerobic cell respiration."

However, Morishita went on to express another point: "The great advantage of knowing the prime cause of a disease is that it can then be attacked logically and over a broad front. This is particularly important in the case of cancer, with its numerous secondary and remote causes, and because it is often stated that in man alone there are over one hundred well-known and quite different kinds of cancer, with the implication that we will have to find one or several hundred bases for prevention and treatment, and usually without any realization that this need not necessarily be the case now that we know that all cancers studied have a characteristic metabolism in common, a prime cause."

But be clear. Possibly due to the hypoxic pockets talked about above, as yet there is no research that says flooding the body with oxygen on its own can beat the cancer defences. The basic acidity issue has to be overcome first. What is interesting is the roll of exercise. Exercise reduces weight, powers the heart, moves the lymph, clears toxic visceral fat away from your organs and even improves the diversity of your gut bacteria. Light daily exercise, first thing in the morning for 40 minutes is a good aim

7. ´Acid dumping´

The toxins point of Warburg is amplified by Morishita. In his theory, as described in his book Hidden Truth of Cancer, it can all work at a more macro level than the mitochondrial and cellular goings on described above. He argues that the body dumps acidic substances from the blood into our cells to keep the blood in its naturally and essentially alkaline state. This causes the cells to become toxic and acidic, decreases their oxygen levels, and harms DNA. Eventually most of the acidic cells will die. However, some will evolve, and adapt, and survive by becoming abnormal, mutated cells. Malignant cells. These multiply indefinitely and without order. They are cancer.

Open quotesThe body dumps acidic substances from the blood into our cells to keep         the blood in its naturally and essentially alkaline stateClose quotes

Both Warburg and Morishita agree, from slightly different angles, that low oxygen levels turn some cells cancerous. Their research indicates, then, that to get as much oxygen as you can into the cells can be an effective way to prevent cancer, and increasing oxygen levels in already cancerous cells could destroy the mutant cells.

As Chris Woollams explained in The First Pillar of Cancer, and we have covered above, lowered cellular oxygen can be caused by a number of factors. Too much cellular sodium is one of the biggest contributors, and our salt-rich western diets are no help. Japanese research has shown that a doubling of sodium intake doubles colon cancer risk. But please be clear - poor diet, although vitally important, is only one factor that can give you an acid body, acid cells and lowered blood oxygen.

An Acid body means a weak immune system

You will probably have read that not just your cells, but your immune system flourishes in an alkaline environment. You may wonder how?

The short answer is the Microbiome or the Beneficial Bacteria in your gut. The gut is known to contain about 800 different strains of bacteria; 400 have been identified and about 12 keep coming up in research. To put this in context there have been over 4,000 studies and 80 clinical trials on them in the last five or six years - and your doctor probably knows nothing about them.

However, thousands of years ago we did a deal with these bacteria - they will protect us, as long as we give them a nice cosy place to live. Unfortunately, we have broken the deal.

Over the thousands of years, they have come to work best in an environment of a certain acidity. Increase that and they just wont work as well. It is like a chemical reaction. Change the acidity or alkalinity in the test tube and it stops.

We have stopped feeding them their favourite foods - fibrous whole foods, whole grains, green vegetables.

Instead we eat too much salt or drink too much alcohol that increases the gut acidity. As does meat, as does stress.

Then to make matters worse, we feed their enemies - we eat too much sugar and dairy, the favourite food of yeasts and microbes. There is nothing a yeast likes more than a molecule of glucose. As we said, it is also the favourite food of a cancer cell.

The final coup de grace is we then kill them off - antibiotics (prescribed or in chicken breast), steroids and drugs, chlorinated tap water.

These beneficial bacteria are crucial to our very existence - something no doctor, drug company or Government Health baron seems to realise.

  1. At night when we sleep they consume yeasts and microbes for us - up to 2.2 kgs. They are our first line of defence. (Can Candida cause cancer? Essential reading.)

  2. Their very presence stimulates our immune system. It has been estimated that these beneficial bacteria direct a whopping 85 per cent of our antibody production. It is now thought they even orchestrate vour immune memory system.

  3. They help release crucial vitamins from our food; particularly the anti-cancer vitamins biotin, B-12, folic acid and vitamin K (all can be found in reviews in our nutritionals section).

  4. They even produce a powerful anti-cancer chemical (sodium butyrate)

  5. They help chelate with and eliminate cancer causing oestrogenic chemicals and nitrosamines, plus heavy metals like cadmium and mercury.

There is more - and you really should read our article on Beneficial Bacteria (click here)

But just from this you can see that changing the acidity in the gut hinders their action and aids the enemies. In particular it is now known that your microbiome gets ill first It loses diversity, and with that, some of the good bacteria Unfortunately, the good bacteria kept the bad ones in check They then produce toxins, cause inflammation and even an immune reaction - it is vitally important to take a daily Lactic Acid Probiotic and feed the bacteria the foods they love. 

So, take a daily probiotic, and feed the bacteria with fibre - they love pectins (apples) and whole oats, chickory, fennel, onions, garlic and vegetables in general.

How can you Alkalise your body and your cells?

 Open quotesRegular exercise will help as this can increase oxygen 
                and haemoglobin levels
Close quotes

So how do we go about increasing the oxygen levels in our cells? It is not as easy as it sounds. Deep breathing - part of the package of therapies used for cancer patients in China? This can increase oxygen, but not in a sufficient amount, because it can be limited by the amount of haemoglobin in the blood, and by acidity levels.

Regular exercise will certainly help as this can increase oxygen and haemoglobin levels whilst also providing happy endorphin hormones to neutralise some more toxic hormones. Yoga has been proven to reduce cortisol levels - we have covered the research in icon.

Being slightly underweight will also help as this will reduce your total oestrogen levels, as will getting a good night´s sleep in a darkened room, avoiding EMFs, and avoiding pesticides and harmful ´oestrogen mimics´, or xenoestrogens, in household products and toiletries.

But, while all of the above is essential, Warburg stated that our cells inability to uptake oxygen is due to increased amounts of toxicity, or over-acidity. To counter cancer, countering the acidity problem is the first step.

Sang Whang, in his book Reverse Ageing, agrees. If your body is overly acidic, your cells cannot detoxify. You then develop acidic and poorly oxygenated cells, which may turn cancerous. "In general, degenerative diseases are the result of acid waste build ups within us. When we are born, we have the highest alkaline mineral concentration and also the highest body pH. (i.e. we are very alkaline). From that point on, the normal process of life is to gradually acidify. That is why these degenerative diseases do not occur when you are young. Reverse ageing requires two separate steps: chemical and physical. The first step is to lower the acidity of the body so that it can dispose of acidic wastes in the blood and cellular fluids safely and easily. The second is to physically pull out old stored wastes into the blood stream so that they can be discharged from the body."

To increase oxygen, to decrease toxins, to build health and well-being we need to positively alkalise. Greens, greens and more greens is a start Broccoli, cabbage, chlorella, spirulina, wheat grass and more!

Water and Diet - the focus of alkalising for health!

The aim, then, is to ensure the pH level of your body is very slightly alkaline. You can test yourself using pH strips you can buy at your chemists´. pH (potential of hydrogen) is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. It is measured on a scale of 0 to 14-the lower the pH the more acidic the solution, the higher the pH the more alkaline (or base) the solution. When a solution is neither acid nor alkaline it has a pH of 7 which is neutral. Your body is at its healthiest at a pH of about 7.2 - 7.4.

There is extensive research showing that cancer exists and flourishes in an acidic environment, and deteriorates and dies in an alkaline environment. Making the body more alkaline is important in fighting cancer. So, focus on alkalising for health! Let´s look at some more things that can help:

Open quotesMaking the body more alkaline is crucial in fighting cancerClose quotes

As JB Haldane said famously,"Even the Archbishop of Canterbury is 80 per cent water".

1 Acidic water can hold very little oxygen. Alkaline water can hold large amounts of oxygen. This is particularly relkevant to the water in your body and your cells. To increase the amount of oxygen in your cells, you therefore need to create a more alkaline water environment.

Open quotesWater is the key to balancing your inner terrainClose quotes

Sang Whang believes that water is the key to balancing your inner terrain. "The best kind of water for this function is acid-free, alkaline water, the water that neutralises harmful acids and disposes of them safely while it does not leach out valuable alkaline minerals such as potassium, magnesium, sodium, calcium." Sang Whang also states that, as everyone knows, water is H2O; two hydrogen atoms for each oxygen atom. Neutral water has an equal number of OH- ions (hydroxyl ions) and H+ ions (hydrogen ions), maintaining the 2 to 1 ratio of hydrogen and oxygen atoms. Alkaline water is water with more OH- ions than H+ ions. This water has more oxygen atoms compared to the 2 to 1 ratio of hydrogen to oxygen atom of regular water. For this reason, alkaline water is considered water with more oxygen.

At icon we are advocates of clean water and recommend ionisers or reverse osmosis systems for purifying water. The former, newer systems overcome the concern that although RO systems make the water purer, they do actually leave the water with no minerals and slightly acid. One other idea is the use of prime pH, which contains ionic mineral elements to increase the alkalinity of drinking water and can help release the oxygen molecules within water for easier absorption by the body.

2 Diet One key to realising this goal is by cutting your daily intake of SODIUM salt down to less than a gram. High sodium foods are typically processed and packaged foods, canned foods, dried meats like sausages and bacon, soy sauce, Chinese food with mono-sodium glutamate. Even 4 slices of bread, or three bowls of packaged breakfast cereal provide a gram of sodium.

Open quotesEveryone with cancer has acidic (low) blood pH levelsClose quotes

Another area to cut out is what the Chinese would describe as ´phlegm foods´: cows´ dairy, and excesses of hormone and pesticide containing meats.

And alcohol and caffeine don´t help in your alkalising regime.

Instead increase your consumption of POTASSIUM AND MAGNESIUM-RICH FOODS. And this means raw foods, greens, whole foods, whole grains, greens, vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruits. Other additions should be chlorella or wheatgrass, olive oil, sprouted seeds, garlic, ginger, herbs and figs, raisins, lemons, limes, carrots and apples.

Chlorella and other green foods and drinks are an easy way to incorporate green, alkalising, nutrient-dense food into your diet. As readers know we have long encouraged the use of chlorella, which apart from alkalising your body and helping to detoxify it, provides excellent levels of enzymes, and vitamins like B-12 and beta-carotene in a natural form. Green foods have also been linked in studies on the sunbelt in the USA to the lowered levels of cancer. Put simply, green foods photosynthesise under sunlight producing oxygen. They also provide high levels of glutathione in the cells and this increases cellular oxygen.

Many of you may have heard of Super Greens. This is a drink which has a deep, rich, herb-like natural flavour. If you have tried wheatgrass juice and cannot cope with its pungency, you will be pleasantly surprised, as this is a much nicer drink. You can increase its alkalising effects by mixing it with water and this mixture has a high pH level, being very alkaline.

Other tips?

You can also achieve a pH balance by adding in high quality natural supplements, alkalising pH drops, and certain mineral supplements, for example calcium and magnesium. (See also Prime pH below)

Several other considerations are important. Firstly, people assume that eating acid things makes you acid. This is just not true. Vinegar and lemons seem to be acidic, but in the short term can actually alkalise your bodies.

Taking a teaspoon of raw organic, unrefined Apple cider vinegar three times a day may be of benefit in the short term. As will a cup of ginger and lemon tea first thing in the morning (just slice ginger, squeeze in a lemon or lime and add a little raw honey).

Secondly, we have talked about the importance of beneficial bacteria. The counter to them is yeast infection - and particularly candida. One way of alkalising your body and creating an anti-yeast environment is to drink a small teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate in a glass of warm water first thing in the morning. It is also very alkalising. We even have a ´Living Proof´ article on our CANCERactive web site on a man who beat his prostate cancer by taking sodium bicarbonate 4 times a day, in this way!

Every reader of this article should read Can Candida Cause Cancer?

(We also have an article on former Italian Doctor Simoncini, who believes cancer is a fungus and its growth can be stopped by sodium bicarbonate and an alkaline body - see bottom of page for link). 

A must-read book is Chris Woollams´ The Rainbow Diet - and how it can help you beat cancer. (Click title to read review) 

*Natural Chlorella and Clean Water systems can be bought from Natural Selection Products of Choice (click the site) on this web site (or by ringing 0203 186 1006).

Further Reading - Books

"The pH Miracle" by Robert O. Young, Shelley Redford Young
"Reverse Ageing" by Sang Y. Whang
"Alkalize or die" by Theodore A. Baroody
"The Calcium Factor" by Robert R Barefoot, Carl J., M.D. Reich
"The acid-alkaline diet for optimum health" by Christopher Vasey
"Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill" by Erasmus Udo, Ph.D.

For more information read:
Beneficial bacteria
Can candida cause cancer?
The Rainbow diet and how it can help you beat cancer
Hydrazine Sulphate

People who read this page also read -

Sodium Bicarbonate increases tumour pH and suppresses spontaneous metastases

The Ketogenic Diet

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