Home > The Hidden Story of Cancer > Excerpt from “On the Origin of Cancer Cells”, Science, February 1956, Volume 123, Number 3191

Excerpt from “On the Origin of Cancer Cells”, Science, February 1956, Volume 123, Number 3191

The following was written by Dr. Otto Warburg (comments inserted by Professor Peskin as “bp”)

For more of this information, please read, “The Hidden Story of Cancer” (www.brianpeskin.com).


Cancer cells originate from normal body cells in TWO PHASES. The first phase is the IRREVERSIBLE INJURING OF RESPIRATION. Just as there are many remote causes of plague – heat, insects, rats – but only one common cause, the plague bacillus, there are a great many remote causes of cancer – tar, rays, arsenic, pressure, urethane – BUT THERE IS ONLY ONE COMMON CAUSE INTO WHICH ALL OTHER CAUSES OF CANCER MERGE: THE IRREVERSIBLE INJURING OF RESPIRATION.

(bp: Dr. Warburg makes it clear that cancer has but one primary cause, and all other effects lead to this prime cause.)

The irreversible injuring of respiration is followed, as the second phase of cancer formation, by a long struggle for existence by the injured cells to maintain their structure, in which a part of the cells perish from lack of energy, while another part succeed in replacing the irretrievably lost respiration energy by fermentation energy.

Because of the morphological inferiority of fermentation energy, the highly differentiated body cells are converted by this into undifferentiated cells that grow wildly – the cancer cells.

To the thousands of quantitative experiments on which these results are based, I should like to add, as a further argument, the fact that there is no alternative today. If the explanation of a vital process is its reduction to physics and chemistry, there is today no other explanation for the origin of cancer cells, either special or general.

(bp: Thousands of experiments confirm Dr. Warburg’s conclusions.)

From this point of view, mutation and carcinogenic agent are not alternatives, but empty words, unless metabolically specified. Even more harmful in the struggle against cancer can be the continual discovery of miscellaneous cancer agents and cancer viruses, which, by obscuring the underlying phenomena, may hinder necessary preventive measures and thereby become responsible for cancer cases.


Harvard Professor Lewontin eategorically states that genetic causes are meaningless unless a metabolic pathway is specified and understood. Dr. Warburg knew of, and stated this same insight earlier, in 1955.

Dr. Warburg’s Conclusions:

* Mutation (the “genetic theory”) is not cancer’s cause.

* Supposed carcinogenic agents (other than oxygen deprivers) are not cancer’s cause.

Dr. Warburg warns here that researchers looking into genetic causes or various non-specific carcinogens will bring forth no significant results because they are not the true direct cause of cancer. Valuable time has been wasted in these fruitless searches.

But apparently, no one has listened. We keep hearing about the so-called genetic “predisposition”, the “viral” possibility, the DNA “mutation”. Dr. Warburg made it clear that those “researching” these areas are wasting precious time, hindering protective measures, and indeed, becoming responsible for causing more cancer cases…

See the full explanation in “The Hidden Story of Cancer” by Professor Brian Peskin. You can get a copy at http://www.brianpeskin.com.


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