This section is from the book "The Hygienic System: Fasting And Sun Bathing", by Herbert M. Shelton. Also available from Amazon: The Hygienic System Vol III Fasting and Sun Bathing.
Trall asserted that all abnormal growths possess a lower grade of vitality than normal growths, hence are easier to destroy. I think it may be equally true that they do not command the support of the organism as do normal growths, as they are lacking in nerve and blood supply. This lack of support makes them the ready victims of the autolytic processes of the body. It is generally held by men with wide experience with the fast that abnormal tissues are broken down and eliminated more rapidly than normal tissue during periods of abstinence. Physiologists have studied the process of autolysis, although they have suggested no practical use that may be made of it save that of employing it to reduce weight. It now remains for physiologists to learn that by means of rigidly controlled autolysis, the body is able to digest tumors and utilize the proteins and other food elements contained in them to nourish its vital tissues. Why have they not investigated this vitally important subject? The facts have been before the world for more than a hundred years.
More than a hundred years ago Sylvester Graham wrote: "It is a general law of the vital economy, that when, by any means, the general function of decomposition exceeds that of composition or nutrition, the decomposing absorbents always first lay hold of and remove those substances which are of least use to the economy; and hence, all morbid accumulations, such as wens, tumors, abscesses, etc., are rapidly diminished and often wholly removed under severe and protracted abstinence or fasting."--Science of Life, pp. 194-195.
The process of autolysis may be put to great practical use and may be made to serve in getting rid of tumors and other growths. To fully understand this, it is necessary for the reader to know that tumors are made up of flesh and blood and bone. There are many names for the different kinds of tumors, but the names all indicate the kind of tissue of which the tumor is composed. For example, an osteoma is made up of bone tissue; a myoma is composed of muscular tissue; a neuroma is constituted of nerve tissue; a lipoma consists of fatty tissue; a fibroma is composed of fibrous tissues; an epithelioma is composed of epithelial tissue, etc. Growths of this nature are known, technically, as neoplasms (new growth) to distinguish them from mere swellings or enlargements. A large lump in the breast may be nothing more than an enlarged lymphatic gland, or an enlarged mammary gland. Such an enlarged gland may be very painful, but it is no neoplasm.
Tumors being composed of tissues, the same kinds of tissues as the other structures of the body, are susceptible of autolytic disintegration, the same as normal tissue, and do, as a matter of experience, undergo dissolution and absorption under a variety of circumstances, but especially during a fast. The reader who can understand how fasting reduces the amount of fat on the body and how it reduces the size of the muscles, can also understand how it will reduce the size of a tumor, or cause it to disappear altogether. He needs, then, only to realize that the process of disintegrating (autolyzing) the tumor takes place much more rapidly than it does in the normal tissues.
In his Notes On Tumors, a work for students of pathology, Francis Carter Wood says: "In a very small proportion of human malignant tumors spontaneous disappearance for longer or shorter periods has been noted. The greater number of such disappearances has followed incomplete surgical removal of the tumor; they have occurred next in order of frequency during some acute febrile process, and less frequently in connection with some profound alteration of the metabolic processes of the organism, such as extreme cachexia, artificial menopause, or the puerperium."
No more profound change in metabolism is possible than that produced by fasting and the change is of a character best suited to bring about the autolysis of a tumor, malignant or otherwise.
The conditions Dr. Wood mentions as causing spontaneous disappearance of tumors are, for the most part, "accidents" and are not within the range of voluntary control. Fasting, on the other hand, may be instituted and carried out under control and at any time desired. It is the rule that operations are followed by increased growth in the tumor. Spontaneous disappearance following incomplete removal is rare. The same may be said for extreme cachexia and artificial menopause. In fevers we have rapid autolysis in many tissues of the body and much reparative work going on, but we cannot develop a fever at will. Pregnancy and childbirth occasion many profound changes in the body, but they are certainly not to be recommended to sick women as cures for their tumors. Even if this were desirable, it would be a hit-or-miss process. The effects of fasting are certain. There is nothing hit-or-miss about the process. It works always in the same general direction.
Fever is a curative process and does help to remove the cause of the tumor. None of Dr. Wood's other causes of spontaneous disappearance assist in removing the cause of tumors. Fasting does assist greatly in the removal of such cause.
During a fast the accumulations of superfluous tissues are overhauled and analyzed; the available component parts are turned over to the department of nutrition to be utilized in nourishing the essential tissues; the refuse is thoroughly and permanently removed.
Due to a variety of circumstances, some known, others unknown, the rate of absorption of tumors in fasting individuals varies. The general condition of the patient, the amount of surplus contained in is body, the kind of tumor, the hardness or softness of the tumor, the location of the tumor and the age of the patient are all known to influence the rate of tumor absorption. Let me cite two extreme cases to show the wide range of variation in this respect.
A woman, under forty, had a uterine fibroid about the size of an average grapefruit. It was completely absorbed in twenty-eight days of total abstinence from all food but water. This was an unusually rapid rate of absorption. Another case is that of a similar tumor in a woman of about the same age. In this case the growth was about the size of a goose egg. One fast of twenty-one days reduced the tumor to the size of an English walnut. The fast was broken due to the return of hunger. Another fast a few weeks subsequent, of seventeen days, was required to complete the absorption of the tumor. This was an unusually slow rate of tumor-absorption.
Tumor-like lumps in female breasts ranging from the size of a pea to that of a goose egg will disappear in from three days to as many weeks. Here is a remarkable case of this kind that will prove both interesting and instructive to the reader. A young lady, age 21, had a large, hard lump--a little smaller than a billiard ball--in her right breast. For four months it had caused her considerable pain. Finally she consulted a physician who diagnosed the condition, cancer, and urged immediate removal. She went to another, and another and still another physician, and each made the same diagnosis and each urged immediate removal. Instead of resorting to surgery the young lady resorted to fasting and in exactly three days without food, the "cancer" and all its attendant pain were gone. There has been no recurrence after twenty-three years and I think that we are justified in considering the condition remedied.
Hundreds of such occurrences under fasting have convinced me that many "tumors" and "cancers" are removed by surgeons that are not tumors or cancers. They cause me to be very skeptical of the statistics issued to show that early operation prevents or cures cancer.
Let me cite a comparatively recent instance from my own practice. A manufacturer brought his wife to me from Los Angeles. A growth in one of her breasts had caused her to consult two or three physicians in that city. Each of them had insisted upon the immediate removal of her breast. I placed her upon a fast which was continued for thirty days. At the end of the fast, the tumor, which was about the size of an English walnut at its beginning, had been reduced to the size of a pea. In less than a month on a vegetable and fruit diet this small remainder disappeared.
Subsequently the woman gave birth to two children at about two year intervals. She nursed each child for two years during which nursing periods the formerly tumurous breast functioned well. The health and vigor of the boys presented unequivocal evidence of the quality of the mother's milk. Was this not better than removal of the breast? Was this an exceptional case? By no means. I see them regularly. Such cases are seen daily in institutions in various parts of the world where fasting is employed.
. The removal of tumors by autolysis has several advantages over their surgical removal. Surgery is always dangerous; autolysis is a physiological process and carries no danger. Surgery always lowers vitality and thus adds to the metabolic perversion that is back of the tumor. Fasting, by which autolysis of tumors is accelerated, normalizes nutrition and permits the elimination of accumulated toxins, thus helping to remove the cause of the tumor. After surgical removal tumors tend to recur. After their autolytic removal, there is little tendency to recurrence. Tumors often recur in malignant form after their operative removal. The tendency to malignancy is removal by fasting.
John W. Armstrong (England) says: "I have seen lumps in female breasts treated to fast, some of them after diagnosis by 'experts,' the bulk after self-diagnosis and to disappear, on water only, in from four to twenty days."
Bernarr Macfadden says: "My experience of fasting has shown me beyond all possible doubt that a foreign growth of any kind can be absorbed into the circulation by simply compelling the body to use every unnecessary element contained within it for food. When a foreign growth has become hardened, sometimes one long fast will not accomplish the result, but where they are soft, the fast will usually cause them to be absorbed."
A small tumorous growth which had existed for more than twenty years was absorbed during Mr. Pearson's longest fast and did not return thereafter. Dr. Hazzard records the recovery, during a fifty-five days' fast, of a case diagnosed by physicians as cancer of the stomach. Tilden, Weger, Rabagliati and many others record many such cases.
I have seen repeated instances of the absorption of tumors in my own patients. I had one complete recovery in the case of a uterine cancer during a thirty days' fast. I have seen numerous small tumors completely absorbed and large ones greatly reduced in size.
In Europe and America, literally thousands of tumors have been autolyzed during the past fifty years, and the effectiveness of the method is beyond doubt. I can give no definite information about bone tumors and nerve tumors; but, since these are subject to the same laws of nutrition as all other tumors, I am disposed to think that they may be autolyzed as effectively as other tumors.
In my own experience I have seen numerous fibroid tumors of the uterus and breast, lipomas in various parts of the body, a few epitheliomas, a whole group of myomas and a number of tumors that were apparently early cancer autolyzed and absorbed while the patient fasted. I have seen many warts disappear during fasting and I have seen many warts on which the fasting process seemed to have no effect. I have never seen a mole affected by the fasting process. I have seen a number of cysts completely destroyed by fasting and others that were merely reduced in size. It will be recalled that Graham mentions having seen cysts (wens) absorbed during fasting.
It is certain that the autolyzing process has its limitations. For example, a tumor that has been permitted to grow to enormous size cannot be autolyzed in one fast. Indeed, many of them are so large that several long fasts during the course of two years or more, with a rigid feeding schedule between fasts, would be required to break them down and absorb them, if, indeed, it could be done. There was a school in Chicago some years ago that taught that "the normal tissue may be consumed before the morbid tissues are used up," in fasting. While this school did not confine this statement to tumors, there are few conditions in which this can be a fact, and in large tumors it may be so. Aside from large tumors, it is hardly probable that this is so in any recoverable cases. Only in rare instances, where the amount of morbid tissue is very great, and these are probably all irremediable, can this occur.
In general, good tissue is not used up as fast as bad and the tumor will "starve" before the body. Except where it is very large, we may be sure that in all cases, hunger will return before any damage is done to the vital tissues. In more than one case of cancer, where opiates had been used to relieve pain, I have seen three or four days' fasting bring relief.
One other limitation must be noted; namely, tumors that are so situated that they dam-up the lymph stream will continue to grow (feeding upon the excess of lymph behind them) despite fasting.
In cases where complete absorption is not obtained, the tumor is sufficiently reduced in size not to constitute a menace. Thereafter proper living will prevent added growth. Indeed, we have seen a number of cases where a further decrease in size followed right living subsequent to fasting.