Under the date of MAY 19, 1931, Dr. P. Schrumpf-Pierron presented a paper entitled "On the Cause Of the Rarity of Cancer in Egypt," which was printed in the Bulletin of the Academy of Medicine, and the Bulletin of the French Association for the Study of Cancer in July, 1931. The following is a digested and simplified version of it:
During the year 1931 I presented to the Academy of Medicine in Paris several papers on the rarity of cancer in Egypt, which came to the following conclusions:
(1) Cancer for Egypt is about one-tenth that of Europe and America.
(2) In Egypt, cancer is less frequent in country fellahin than in the Egyptians who live in the towns and who have adopted Europeanized dietary habits.
(3) The degree of malignancy of Egyptian cancers is less than that of European cancers. They develop less quickly, and have less of a tendency to invade neighboring tissues.
(4) The type of cancer which is the most frequent in all the countries rich in cancer is cancer of the digestive, tract, which represents 40 to 50 percent of all cancers. In the case of Egyptians, this type of cancer is remarkably rare; in the country fellahin, practically nonexistent.
My predecessors at l'École de Médecine, Fergusson, Madden, Day, Dolbey, as well as the eminent English cancer specialist, Roger Williams, have arrived at the same conclusions. Engel Bey wrote in 1908. "From these data it appears that the reputation of Egypt for comparative immunity from cancer is well founded."
What are the causes of the rarity of cancer in Egypt? After having eliminated racial and climatic factors for reasons which can be found in my preceding papers, I said to myself that it must be looked for in an element contained in the food. It is this which led me to do research on the food of the fellah, and I found that that which characterizes the diet of the fellah is its richness in salts of magnesium. The fellah consumes in his food, in the water which he drinks, and in the crude salt which he uses from 2.5 to 3 grams of magnesium per day, against 4 to 5 grams of potash.
What is, by comparison, the mineralization of the average diet of the inhabitant of the towns of Europe and America? Let us look at the following:
Bread--for the populace, bread furnishes 40 percent of the calorie total; in the well-to-do classes only 20 Percent. And it is always a question of bread which is relatively rich in potash, poor in minerals in general. Thus the principal contribution of magnesium is lacking.
Meat--the amount of minerals in meat is practically negligible.
Potatoes--the 'industrial' varieties of potatoes with a large yield and with voluminous tubercles all show an excessive wealth of potash and are poor in magnesium. Thus, the consumption of large quantities of potatoes, such, for example, in, Germany, represents an important contribution in potash.
Doughs, rices, macaronis, etc. have the same composition as the flours from which they have been made. (Thus .5 percent of ashes at the maximum). Husked and polished rice is also poor in mineral elements.
Vegetables--spinach, carrots, beets, celery, cabbage, peas, all are rich in potash. (0.5 Percent). Except for spinach, they are poor in magnesium, but contain at times as much calcium as potash. Salads have as an average 0.38 percent of potash, 0.08 percent of, calcium, and 0.04 percent of magnesium.
But, according to the analyses of M. Villain, the greater part of vegetables today are, compared to those of Wolff's time (1870), too poor in magnesium and relatively too rich in potash.
Fruits--only the skins and rinds of fruits contain minerals and in particular magnesium.
It can thus be seen that whole cereals, especially corn, are the foodstuffs in which there is enough magnesium. It is because of the processing and refining of foods that the world is being robbed of magnesium. Whereas the Egyptian fellah's ratio is 2.5 to 3 grams of magnesium against 4 to 5 grams of potash a day, in Europe and America it is only 0.5 gram of magnesium against 2 to 4 grams of potash per day.
An intoxication of potash--an excess of potash poisons--can "kill" the soil where the food is grown. It poisons the plants, then man. Besides, several other authorities have already accused potash of producing cancer. Theis and Benedikt, as will as Mentrier, have already stated that the higher amount of potash in cancerous tissue, which is a radioactive body, would cause the multiplication of cancerous cells.
"If our opinion is correct, that is to say that potassium plays a preponderant role in the genesis of cancer, we will be better able to understand why the number of cancer cases has increased to such a degree: because the generalisation of the use of modern chemical fertilizers today brings to the organism of men and animals much more potash than was formerly true."
It is absence of magnesium that permits potash to become toxic and cancerogenic. Potash is useful and indispensable to the plant as to man, but only if it is in a favorable ratio with magnesium and calcium. Magnesium acts as a "brake for cancer" (Delbet), as much as an antitoxic of potash. This is why "the predisposition to cancer accompanies the deficit of magnesium reserves" (Dubar and Voisenet). The older the individual is, the easier the intoxication by potash, because the organism grows older and becomes poorer in magnesium than the young organism; this loss in magnesium decreases vitality, resistance, the power of regeneration of cells (Delbet), "provoking a sort of cellular anarchy which favors the evolution of cancerous processes" (L. Randoin). Thus one must conceive the role of magnesium as twofold: first as an antitoxin for potash and second as an antisenility element.
But why, it will be objected, are there in Europe agricultural districts where the inhabitants eat principally products of their own land, many vegetables, little meat, brown bread, etc., and where, however, we find regular nests of cancer, villages where the cancer mortality reaches enormous proportions? Because it is a question of districts where the earth has become so poor in magnesium, or where an excessive amount of chemical fertilizing made it so rich in potash, that the ratio of magnesium, potash, and calcium has become unfavorable to such a point that it leads particularly quickly to cancer. It is a question then in some way of a surmineralization by minerals the balance of which is unfavorable. It is thus that one can often explain the failure, and at times the clearly harmful effect, of the classic milk-vegetarian diet, of which there have been so many practitioners again these past years. The magnesium content is too low.
The practical conclusions which result from our thesis are the following:
To prevent cancer and progressively diminish its frequency, two conditions should be fulfilled:
First, agriculture should tend to produce new healthy plants, with "normal" mineralization. This can be obtained, as proved by M. Villain, by a regeneration of the earth with the aid of appropriate fertilizers, under a systematic control of the mineralization of cultivated vegetables. It is a question of a new science, which must be inspired with the fundamental principle that abnormal mineralization of an alimentary plant logically has its repercussion on the mineral balance of animals and men who feed themselves on it; that besides, the more the mineralization is "normal," the more the alimentary quality, if not the yield of the plant, is raised; that finally, in agriculture, quality must never be sacrificed to quantity.
Second, the principles of modem alimentary hygiene must be greatly modified and above all detached from the too-narrow concept of "caloric worth" of an aliment as the only measure of its "nutritive worth." The overly civilized world feeds itself poorly. Without being obliged to return to the quasi animal diet of the fellahin, it should relearn to mineralize itself normally. Thus, it is above all a bread reform that should be imposed; that is, certain varieties of wheat grown that are richer in magnesium than others. But the safest cereal is corn (maize) in which the proportion of magnesium is quite high. Corn is the magnesium aliment par excellence.
Even when it grows on less favorable soil, less rich, in magnesium than Egyptian soil, corn still always contains a relatively large amount of magnesium, little potash and calcium, and a lot of phosphoric acid.
In the southern countries, where corn is the base of the diet of the people, cancer is relatively rare. It is very rare where the corn is consumed integrally, as is done by the fellahin in Egypt. If colored people in, the United States show less cases of cancer than whites, it is not because the dark race is refractory, as has been said, but very probably because the American Negroes have retained the African habit of eating corn.
One can state that the problem of cancer and many other illnesses depends mainly on the bread in the diet. There must be a reorganization of agricultural methods, especially with regard to the kind of fertilizers used, and a change of concept in the food factories and bakeries. It is urgent that we act, because cancer is terribly on the increase.
With regard to fertilizers, the organic method, using no chemical fertilizer but only composts made from animal manures and vegetable matter, ensures against the overapplication of potash to the soil. Read our magazine Organic Gardening. Dolomite limestone, rich in magnesium should be used.
Here are some figures:
In 1961 the cancer death rate per 100,000 population was 178.3 for the New England states, compared to 128.2 for the South Atlantic states. The Middle Atlantic states (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania) had a rate of 180.5, compared to 127.7 in the East South Central states. The highest rate for the continental United States was in New York (186.5) and the lowest in New Mexico (78.8).
More corroboration. In 1958, the last year for which a figure is available, the Egyptian rate was 28.5 and the United States rate, 146.9.
Eat plenty of corn.
This page was first uploaded to The Magnesium Web Site on January 3, 2001