Former All-American Rugby Star Dr. Anthony Chaffee to Present at 8th Annual Symposium for Metabolic Health (SMH) San Diego

By Chris S. Cornell

In a recent conversation with Dr. Anthony Chaffee, we had the opportunity to discuss the presentation he plans to deliver at the 8th Annual Symposium for Metabolic Health (SMH) in San Diego, August 17-20. Dr. Chaffee revealed he will be speaking about the metabolic theory of cancer, particularly how it relates to glioblastoma brain cancers. 

Currently based in Australia, Dr. Chaffee works as a neurosurgical registrar and does private consultations in metabolic health and functional medicine. He is also the host of The Plant-Free MD Podcast.

In addition to his work with cancer, Dr. Chaffee addressed several other topics of interest, including the importance of eating to satiety rather than focusing on restricting calories, autoimmune diseases and how they can be managed by very low carb or carnivore diets, his experience as an All-American and professional rugby player, and the many benefits of attending an SMH conference.  .

In the discussion about the metabolic theory of cancer, Dr. Anthony Chaffee underscored the need to reevaluate the prevailing beliefs surrounding the genetic origins of cancer. He pointed out that the traditional belief – that cancer is driven solely by genetics – has ignored a critical aspect of its development. He proposed that metabolic mitochondrial diseases, rather than genetic flaws, may be the primary or sole drivers of cancer.

“Our understanding that cancer is exclusively genetically driven has been erroneous,” said Dr. Chaffee, “We’ve been examining avenues of treatment that address these genetic issues and physiological ones, without realizing that a major component, if not the sole driver of cancer, is a metabolic mitochondrial disease. And if you’re treating the wrong cause, you’re going to get poor outcomes. Regrettably, we have been experiencing very poor outcomes with cancer.”

The link between metabolic mitochondrial diseases and cancer, particularly brain cancers like glioblastoma, is supported by Nobel Prize winner Dr. Otto Warburg’s research, and further developed by Professor Thomas Seyfried from Boston College among others. This body of work strongly suggests a change in cancer treatment approach could significantly improve outcomes.

Regarding diet, Dr. Chaffee advocated shifting from plant-based diets to a more carnivorous one. He noted the substantial resistance this idea faces, largely due to financial interests and long-standing belief systems. The current dietary guidelines that favor plant-based diets and seem indifferent to the consumption of sugars and seed oils appear to be influenced heavily by food companies’ marketing and decades of industry-funded research, according to Dr. Chaffee.

“Coca Cola currently spends 11 times more on nutritional research than the NIH, and that’s just Coca Cola. We’re not even discussing Kellogg’s, PepsiCo, Nestle, and all the rest of them.”

Dr. Chaffee stated that the field of dietary research was established by the Seventh Day Adventists, a religious group with an anti-meat bias. This bias, he contends, still impacts dietary guidelines and university-level education in nutrition.

Broadly speaking, he pointed out the interests of pharmaceutical companies in maintaining the status quo. If more people adopted healthier diets and lifestyles, such as a carnivore or ketogenic diet, he said, the demand for medications and treatments would decrease. 

“There are huge vested interests, multi trillion-dollar industries that would essentially go away, or at least have to pivot fully if this got out there, and people just got healthy,” said Dr. Chaffee. “These special interests understand it isn’t good financial policy to cure diseases, and that it’s more profitable to just perpetuate a disease state.”

He highlighted a growing tendency to prescribe medications such as metformin and statins even for conditions like borderline hypertension, despite the lack of evidence supporting their efficacy in such cases. This broadened market benefits pharmaceutical companies financially while contributing little to patients’ health. Adopting a ketogenic diet could resolve many of these health problems, according to Dr. Chaffee. 

In his practice, Dr. Chaffee has witnessed the transformative power of the carnivore and ketogenic diets on his patients’ health. Particularly in autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, Hashimoto’s disease, lupus, and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, he says he has seen extraordinary recoveries.

Dr. Chaffee talked about one of his patients, a woman with multiple sclerosis, who moved from being wheelchair-bound to practicing ballet within a year of adopting a carnivore diet. Not only did her mobility dramatically improve, but MRI scans revealed that the lesions characteristic of her disease were healing, which indicates an objective improvement in her condition.

Dr. Chaffee also shared an anecdote of a patient with metastatic cancer who reported significant shrinkage of tumors on her spine and liver after adopting a carnivore diet. Though anecdotal, this promising result highlights the potential impact of a diet change on improving health outcomes.

“If you’re just eating meat and a fully ancestrally appropriate diet with no processed foods, you don’t need all the medications. You don’t need Ozempic, you don’t need Metformin, you don’t need all the different blood pressure medications and all the biologicals that we use for autoimmune issues. These things just go away.”

Dr. Chaffee underscores the need for more research and data to substantiate these observations. If supported by rigorous scientific studies, he believes this knowledge could revolutionize the way we approach treatment and management of various diseases, from autoimmune disorders to cancer. The challenge lies in overcoming the vested interests that perpetuate current dietary guidelines and treatment approaches.

Why traditional “diets” don’t work

When asked about the common traits among those who successfully adopt sustainable lifestyle changes, Dr. Chaffee emphasized the importance of education. He believes understanding the science and reasoning behind a ketogenic or carnivore diet, not just the logistics of the diet itself, is crucial for lasting commitment.

Dr. Chaffee advises his patients to approach this way of eating not as a temporary diet but as a lifelong commitment to health. When they fully comprehend why this diet makes physiological and biological sense, and they observe the dramatic health improvements, their motivation to continue increases. He encourages his patients to rid their homes of all unhealthy food options, symbolizing their commitment to the new lifestyle.

He also noted that a common characteristic among his successful patients is the realization of just how significantly their health can improve. Many, believing they were destined to live sick and unhappy, are pleasantly surprised by how good they feel once they commit to the new way of eating. Their improvements in health and wellbeing often provide the motivation they need to resist reverting to their old dietary habits.

“Diets, in general, don’t work because they’re not what we’re supposed to eat,” said Dr. Chaffee. “We’re starving ourselves, we’re limiting ourselves, we’re limiting nutrients, which is miserable. People are unhappy, and they’re unhealthy. They might be losing weight, but they’re also sick and miserable. So, it’s understandable that people are not going to be too keen on maintaining that.”

Dr. Chaffee aims to help patients understand that an ancestrally appropriate diet is biologically the optimal way for them to eat.

“You need to think of this as a way of life,” he said. “This isn’t a crash diet, this isn’t something to do for a short term. This is something you really need to think of as a way of life. This is just how I eat, this is my lifestyle.”

Interestingly, Dr. Chaffee noted that occasional lapses can serve as a powerful reinforcement for the benefits of the carnivore or ketogenic lifestyle. Patients who deviate from the diet often feel miserable afterward, presenting a stark contrast to the benefits they’ve experienced while following the diet. This realization often drives them to commit more strongly to their new way of eating.

“I spoke to a patient today, who has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, and he was doing very, very well, but decided to eat some steel cut oats that he grew up on, and for the next three days, his gums and tongue and roof of his mouth were so itchy and he just felt miserable, and he said never again, he just threw them all out. And so that was a very good lesson for him.”

Dr. Chaffee’s approach encourages an attitude of acceptance and resilience. He emphasizes to his patients that it’s okay to make mistakes, and that a single lapse does not mean failure. The important thing is to learn from the experience and get back on track. This mindset, coupled with the tangible health benefits of the diet, generally keeps people motivated to continue.

Symposium for Metabolic Health (SMH), San Diego

Dr. Chaffee expressed great enthusiasm about sharing the stage at the Symposium for Metabolic Health in San Diego with other esteemed professionals in the field of cancer and metabolic health. This unique opportunity to engage in intellectual discourse with like minded experts excites him, especially as they collectively seek innovative approaches to addressing and treating cancer.

“A conference like this provides an opportunity to compare notes and see what successes others are achieving with their patients, to review upcoming studies and newly emerging research, as well as the latest data,” said Dr. Chaffee. 

“Hopefully, that will help encourage other clinicians to look into this more, and see about using this as an adjunct to cancer treatments. Any time you can get a group of people together, speaking about this, and discussing the data, and discussing the studies, and the real world effects, these are very powerful moments. Clinicians are going to pass this on to their colleagues, educate their patients, and incorporate what they learn into their practices.”

He underscored the significance of these interactions as an opportunity to collectively evaluate the early success and potential viability of novel treatments. With numerous studies continuously being conducted on ketogenic metabolic therapy and cancer, the Symposium offers a platform to compare findings and keep up-to-date with new research and data.

When asked about the benefits of attending a Symposium in person, Dr. Chaffee expressed great enthusiasm for the opportunity to witness insightful talks and engaging presentations from renowned speakers. He also pointed out the value of being able to interact with the speakers and other attendees. 

“It’s really a unique experience to be able to interact with all the different people and speakers at these conferences,” said Dr. Chaffee. “I think one of the biggest benefits of going to these conferences is that you can actually speak to the speakers. And you can ask them questions. You get to be the person in the crowd that asks a question. And people are just walking around, and they’re accessible, and you can have a long, involved conversation with them and discuss things further. And you will also meet a lot of other like minded people that are interested in these same things.”

All-American & professional rugby player, MMA fighter

Dr. Anthony Chaffee discussed his career as an All-American and professional rugby player and his early years as a MMA fighter, experiences that provided him with an unusual yet fascinating perspective.

Dr. Chaffee’s athletic career saw him playing rugby at a professional level across the US, Canada, and Europe. During this period, he adopted a carnivorous diet and noted that his performance during these years was superior to any other phase of his career. His personal experience made him realize the importance of a meat-based diet for his athletic performance. 

While predominantly a back row player, playing seven and eight positions in rugby, Dr. Chaffee often enjoyed showcasing his speed and size as a center as well. At 6 feet 3 inches and 240 pounds, his physique was undeniably impressive, a testament to his rigorous training and dietary discipline.

Today, at the age of 43, Dr. Chaffee attributes his youthful appearance to his carnivorous diet, jokingly stating he has been aging backward since returning to the carnivore diet at age 38, after slipping off the diet for a few years. Despite some inevitable physical wear and tear from his athletic career, he maintains that he feels as fit as he did when he was 22.

Dr. Chaffee also trained at one of the world’s top MMA gyms under the guidance of Matt Hume. From a young age of 14, Chaffee was exposed to professional-level training, honing his fighting skills alongside future UFC champions. Although he was interested in becoming a professional MMA fighter, his burgeoning rugby career ultimately diverted his path. Despite his love for both sports, the rigors of professional training schedules didn’t allow him to juggle both, and he chose rugby.

Overcoming autoimmune diseases with carnivore diet

Dr. Anthony Chaffee concluded our conversation by sharing his perspectives on autoimmune diseases. He believes autoimmune diseases are a response to foreign substances introduced into the body, which then may resemble certain bodily cells closely enough that they’re attacked by the body’s immune system. This perspective counters the mainstream idea that the body becomes sensitized to its own cells and starts attacking them, a concept that Dr. Chaffee found hard to align with the robust checks and balances in the immune system that prevent such reactions.

The potential benefit of a carnivore diet in managing autoimmune diseases is that it removes many of these potential foreign substances, which could be triggering the autoimmune response. By consuming only animal products, which are unlikely to trigger the immune system in the same way as many other types of food, you might see an improvement in autoimmune conditions.

Dr. Chaffee offers the example of Crohn’s disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease, considered to be an autoimmune condition. He mentions that an elemental diet, which only includes essential macronutrients and micronutrients, is better at mitigating acute flare-ups than the use of steroids, which can have numerous side effects.

“Further underscoring the potential effectiveness of a carnivore diet, Dr. Chaffee discusses anecdotal evidence of individuals reversing conditions such as vitiligo, where the immune system attacks pigment cells, and even improving disorders like Huntington’s Disease, a genetic disorder that leads to the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain.”

“Certain autoimmune issues just go away with a carnivore diet because you’re removing the cause,” said Dr.Chaffee. “You’re removing the things that your body’s attacking, and making antibodies towards, and so it’s gonna stop making antibodies. And the problem goes away.”

Dr. Anthony Chaffee suggests that a diet consisting of red meat and water can be an extremely effective way to combat autoimmune diseases. His reasoning is that any food which increases inflammation has the potential to trigger autoimmune issues. From his experience with treating autoimmune patients and speaking to hundreds of sufferers, he found that most of them do very well on a diet of red meat and water. Some people might need to stick to grass-finished meat for the best outcomes, he said, but most do well on commercially available beef. He recommends cutting out all plants, sugars, sweeteners, anything artificial, and all non-ruminant meats.

“The carnivore diet can sound daunting, it can sound limiting,” said Dr.Chaffee, “but I guarantee you that autoimmune conditions are more limiting… I guarantee you that major depression is more limiting. Schizophrenia is more limiting. Cancer is more limiting, diabetes is more limiting. Taking multiple medications multiple times a day is much more limiting. Spending thousands of dollars on medications and doctors every year is far more limiting. Being tired all the time, not having energy, not sleeping? Well, these are all far more limiting. And then, when you start eating beef and lamb, you start really loving it, and you start feeling amazing, and you don’t want to eat anything else. I have no interest in eating anything else. I have a big ass tomahawk sitting there waiting for me, I can’t wait. Every single day, I have one of those things. And it’s amazing, every single day. And that’s because when you’re hungry, proper nutrition tastes good”

He suggests that adhering to this diet can help recalibrate hunger signals, enabling you to tune in more closely to your body’s needs. In his perspective, hunger is a reliable signal that the body requires nutrients, and fatty meat will be appealing when you’re truly hungry.

8th Annual SMH – San Diego, August 17-20, 2023

Attendees of this year’s Symposium will have the opportunity to learn about the use of carbohydrate reduction in addressing, and even reversing, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, fatty liver, PCOS, CVD, epilepsy, TBI, Alzheimer’s, neurological pathologies, mental health conditions and much more.

This year’s conference will also include a very special session dedicated to presentations regarding the connection between cancer and metabolic disease, and will educate practitioners and laypersons about metabolic therapies that may improve outcomes in addition to traditional treatments, and how they may make them more effective, with less side effects.

For those interested in delving into the extensive evidence supporting carbohydrate reduction as a therapeutic intervention, and discovering ways to improve one’s metabolic health through lifestyle changes, the Symposium for Metabolic Health in San Diego is slated for August 17-20, 2023.

We encourage you to sign up for the livestream even if you can’t attend in person. The connections made even through the chat application, and the opportunity to watch inspiring, informative lectures from your own home or office, are incredibly valuable!”

Plus, everyone registered, whether in person or livestream, gets access to replays for an unlimited time!  So in case you miss anything live, you will have the ability to view and review at any time!

Save 15% on tickets, low-carb meals, and optional CME credits with code: Summer Savings (discount expires after June 30).

Learn more and register here.

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