This episode is the second in a two-part series where Dr. Ron interviews Chris Wark of Chris Beat Cancer. Chris was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer and after having surgery to remove the tumor he opted out of chemotherapy and used evidence-based nutrition and natural, non-toxic therapies to heal.

In this episode, Chris shares about diving into nutrition research, and how to get started with natural healing.

To learn more about Chris and all the ways he is helping people with cancer educate themselves, visit

Thank You to This Episode’s Sponsor

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Episode Transcripts

Disclaimer: The information contained on the Real Health podcast. And the resources mentioned are for educational purposes only they are not intended as, and shall not be understood or construed as medical or health advice. The information contained on this podcast is not a substitute for medical or health advice from a professional who is aware of the facts and circumstances of your individual situation. Information provided by hosts and guests on the Real Health Podcast or the use of any products or services mentioned does not create a practitioner/patient relationship between you and any persons affiliated with this podcast.

Intro: This is the Real Health Podcast brought to you by Riordan Clinic. Our mission is to bring you the latest information and top experts in functional and integrative medicine to help you make informed decisions on your path to real health.

Chris Wark: If you have a strong will to live and you’ve made up your mind, I’m going to live, and you believe you can get well, then you have set a mental foundation for yourself and for the actions that you take going forward, right? Because that’s, you know, I wanted to live. I had a young wife and I have two parents and I didn’t want to see those people put me in the ground. That’s what I had to live for. I was very clear, right? I knew what I had to live for.

Dr. Ron: Chris, speaking back, Dr. Cohen and his book, Anti-Cancer Living, the number one thing that he lists as the epigenetic factor that promotes survival of cancer patients is what he calls connectivity. And that connectivity can be on so many different levels. That can be with your family, your marriage, your children, your grandparents. How many people have I heard that say, doctor, I can’t die, I’ve got to make it to my granddaughter’s wedding or graduation. And if they have that strong will to survive and they kind of set a goal for themselves that I’ve, I’m going to live.

And then once they set that goal, then they can start looking at the assumptions that they’ve made about their lifestyle. Because you know, some people have thought that cancer is genetic because you’ll see, uh, cancers running through certain families. Well, you know, lung cancer just runs in my family. Uh, oh yeah, we all smoke. And we all eat a crazy diet. And so it’s really behaviors that evoke disease processes, not so much genetic.  As a matter of fact, the whole genetic link to cancer is now being shown to not be that strong at all. It’s behaviors, epigenetic choices that we’re making in our lives or unconscious, like for example, this notion of 70% of our food in the grocery store is processed. Most people don’t see that as a problem. So, so it’s processed. So what? The label says, it’s got this vitamin and that vitamin, isn’t that good enough? And the answer is no, and there’s good evidence that it’s not good enough, but that evidence is not reaching the public. And a lot of doctors say, there’s no evidence that nutrition is going to help you.

Well, there is plenty of evidence that nutrition is going to help you, but it’s not reaching the doctors because that’s not what they go to get their continuing medical education for, unless they’re motivated to take care of themselves and their family. And that’s actually how most doctors change is they, a family member gets sick and they begin questioning their, the standard treatments. Wondering, my gosh, is this really going to help my wife? Is this really going to help my child? What else can I do that might enhance their survivability and thrivability, and this is where they start digging into the astounding amount of proven research that lifestyle does make a difference. It’s just that if you don’t do it, it doesn’t make a difference. You have to make the changes that you’re talking about, that people are, once they have the cancer diagnosis, they have a much stronger motivation to take a look at their life and maybe make a change that otherwise, their routine would disallow them from changing.

Chris Wark: Thanks for bringing that up. Uh, yeah. There’s volumes of evidence on anti-cancer nutrition and lifestyle. And, it’s so much so that any one person couldn’t even read it all, it’s that much, Right? And, uh, and yet there’s this trope that is just repeated constantly, you know, well, there’s no evidence that the diet and lifestyle really have any impact on survival. So just go home and eat whatever you want. You know? Don’t get on the internet, just make sure you show up for treatment. And, you know, we’ll do, we’ll do the rest. You’ll get the very best care at our facility or whatever. And, I hear that all the time and I just have to laugh and shake my head because the evidence is everywhere. It’s, I mean, all you have to do is start looking and you see just a massive, massive amount.

And what I try to do in my first book was just sort of condense it down into the most important studies, the most compelling, the strongest studies on diet and lifestyle for cancer. And then also the studies on, you know, the risks and the perils and pitfalls of conventional treatment and how the pharmaceutical industry they designed studies to succeed. And there’s a, they just have a long history of not only rigging studies to succeed, but of getting caught rigging studies and prosecuted and convicted of criminal behavior in order to sell drugs. And it’s just not, and not that all drugs are bad and can’t be useful because some certainly can be. But, generally speaking, that there’s more books than any person would even want to read on the corruption in the pharmaceutical industry and the medical industry.

Like you want to go down that rabbit hole? I’ve been down it. It’s deep. Uh, and so, I mean, that is something that, uh, no one talks about, no doctors don’t know about it. They don’t realize how much corruption is involved in medicine, and in medical education and how it’s really just bent toward the most profitable treatment. And what I like to refer to as evidence-based medicine, I feel like is a misnomer because it’s sort of like a half truth, you know, like a half truth is actually a lie. And, evidence-based medicine is more aptly described or defined as patent based, profit-based medicine because they’re only looking at evidence that supports patentable highly profitable drugs, right? So they’re not looking at all the evidence on survival, which would include diet and lifestyle and not natural and non-toxic compounds because there’s no money in those things. They’re only looking at what are the most profitable things we can do that we can cobble some evidence together to support. And they are very, very clever and they know how to create studies that inflate the evidence of a drug in terms of its efficacy or, minimizing the actual reporting of side effects. And so it’s, it’s deep discouraging pit that, uh, I think the average patient needs, uh, just a cursory understanding of how the system is working at least in the United States

Dr. Ron: Well, as you mentioned in, even in real estate, you know, buyer beware, you know that, you have to be a kind of medical consumer these days, but yeah, just like in every area of life, because we know that there, there is, in every area, whether you’re talking about food, agriculture, medicine, government, it’s, it’s tough to know what the real truth is because people sometimes feel like they have a monopoly on science. Like this is science-based and you can find science to support many different things. But, this is where I think it’s important that people, uh, stand up for themselves and begin to check these things out and to try these things, that series, I noticed that you were, uh, on your website, we’re talking about proven it’s a series that’s coming out, basically demonstrating in ten one hour programs.

That much of what we, uh, talk about in terms of lifestyle medicine or natural medicine, is very well proven, but it’s not proven to be a standalone therapy. You, you, the, what works the best is synergism. If you can get a number of things working for you, Chris has a beautiful program called Square One that I happened to print out here. Uh, some of the modules that we’ve already talked about, uh, and getting people to educate themselves and look at what are all the variables that goes into, why cancer happens, why it manifests and all the things you need to do. Hey, this is no easy deal. I would have never believed that I would be dealing with so many cancer patients as a family physician. And there are people that say, wait a minute, you’re just a family doctor.

Why are you trying to treat cancer? Probably you get the same question. Hey, you have no medical training at all. How can you say, you know anything about cancer? Well, we live in an era where the information is there and, granted, there is fake news, but I think when you’ve got cancer and you’re trying to survive, you’re going to really be much more discerning about what you believe and what you don’t believe. Now, that’s not always true. I’ve seen people go down rabbit holes, just like you say. And I think it’s important for people to try to be as objective and scientific as they can, but nevertheless, the best science is to, for example, with food, try eating more vegetables and see how you feel and try watching out for toxins in your everyday lifestyle choices, like your cleaning supplies and your cosmetics and your gardening supplies. Read the labels. If, if the label has more than five ingredients, maybe it’s been processed that food has been processed more than you realize. So these are things that I encourage patients to do to empower themselves. So they have a chance in this difficult environment of having cancer and trying to survive it.

Chris Wark: Yeah. And you need to be an expert in your disease. You really do. And that, that is intimidating because you don’t, when you’re diagnosed, you don’t know anything about cancer at all. You don’t know anything about medicine or cancer treatment, or probably not much about health or nutrition either. So there’s a big learning curve. And yeah, I did create a course called Square One to just tell people, just to teach them, here’s what you need to know. Like, this is where you need to start. And here are the steps you can take to change your life and in every way. So you can identify the things that are contributors to cancer that are known contributors to cancer based on science. And then you can replace them with things that are known to help your body, repair, regenerate, detoxify, and heal to strengthen your internal systems, your nervous system, your immune system, your digestive system, all of these wonderful systems, your cardiovascular system that work together to promote health in your body.

And so, you know, it’s, it is a challenge, but that’s the thing. Going back to what I said earlier, if you’re determined to live and you believe you can get well, then it just becomes your motivation and to keep learning and growing, to keep reading and researching, to take your life one day at a time and just do the best you can each day to overdose on nutrition, to reduce your stress, to identify and replace toxic stuff in your life with nontoxic stuff, you know, every little bit helps, right? It’s, you know, like there’s going to be one thing like, oh, I switched my shampoo and now my cancer went away. Right? Like that doesn’t happen. That’s not the deal. But if you think about most of us, don’t think about the fact that, you know, your body is constantly detoxifying all day, every day, right?

It’s constantly trying to eliminate toxic stuff. Some of that is from your own cells. And some of that is from things you’ve consumed, right? You’ve either breathed in toxic fumes, toxic air. Or, are you eating foods with lots of artificial additives and flavors and colors and chemicals, and so, or even viruses bacteria, right? Your body’s constantly trying to get rid of this stuff. And so the less you can expose it to toxic stuff like reducing your toxic load, the easier it is on the whole system, right? Your liver has less work to do if it’s not being bombarded with toxic junk everyday. So to just illustrate your point, we encourage, you know, just people in our community, encourage patients to take massive action to change their life, not to rely on a silver bullet because healing cancer is not about some miracle cure or magic bullet and whether it’s chemo or whether it’s, you know, some are, but it’s not about that.

And, and that rarely works. Like there’s a few testimonials out there of people who did one thing and their cancer went away and that’s wonderful. And I certainly would want to do whatever that thing was, but it wouldn’t be the only thing I did. You know what I mean? And so my approach was, it was sort of like everything, but the kitchen sink, I was taking lots of supplements. I was overdosing on nutrition. I was just changing my life in every way. And I was thinking, look, if this is something that has no risk of harm and a potential benefit to my body in some way, I’ll take it, I’ll drink it. I’ll, you know, smoke it, just kidding. But I’ll eat it or drink it, or do it like therapeutically. So, um, I think that’s a very reasonable and healthy way to approach it.

And you know, one of the things I wanted to talk about too is this whole word, the word evidence is such a tricky and slippery word because there’s a lot of different types of evidence. There’s different levels of evidence. And there is sort of a, you know, I think we should believe each other, first of all. I think most people are worthy of consideration and belief. And if so, if they have a healing testimony or a story that they’re sharing, I think it should be listened to. I don’t think it should be dismissed as an anecdote. In fact, whenever I hear a story about someone who has healed cancer against the odds or outside of conventional treatment, I want to interview them. I want to know, tell me exactly what you did, right? I want to learn from you.

And I think we’ve just gotten into this age where that’s sort of happening with social media, which is great, but then there’s a pushback from conventional, I guess, power structures, but we should be learning from each other. And then in the scientific community, there’s evidence where, you know, you’re doing a drug trial and it’s phase three and it’s randomized placebo controlled drug trial. And that’s the highest level of evidence for a drug. And that’s usually why doctors will say, well, there’s no evidence that nutrition helps with cancer. Well, yeah, because they can’t do a double blind placebo controlled trial on broccoli, right? Either you know you’re eating broccoli or you don’t, and so, they can’t do a placebo controlled trial on exercise. So you’re either exercising or you aren’t. And so most of these diet and lifestyle therapies, holistic therapies, they can never be, uh, they can never be put into a scientific trial in the way that a drug can be. And it’s a convenient way for drug industry cronies, and people in that camp that they call themselves the evidence-based or science-based medicine camp, try to dismiss anything that is nontoxic, or natural, or non-pharmaceutical as saying it has no evidence.

But there are more survivor stories than, than you can count every day. People are sharing their healing stories online, which is just an obviously beautiful, wonderful thing. And that the movement is growing and more and more physicians, like we said earlier, are waking up to the fact that, oh, wait a minute, nutrition matters. Like I can, I can serve my patient, my patients at the highest level, if I help them get their diet and lifestyle right. They can see that we can still treat them in a lot of ways in the clinic, but yeah, we’ve got to help this person. We can help this person, like they’ve got to quit smoking. Right? They’re overweight. We’ve got to get the weight off. Obesity is the second leading cause of cancer. Cigarettes are number one, obesity is number two. It’s like, oh, these are obvious cancer promoters in a patient’s life. Like, okay, we’ve got to get serious about this. We’ve got to get off the tobacco. And we’ve gotta get you back to a healthy weight range because that’s going to increase your odds of survival. So it’s like very practical, right?

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Dr. Ron: It’s practical. And it has to be coordinated. Uh, there are many different moving parts to the person who is changing their life to a better, healthier lifestyle. Uh, one of the things I thought about as you were speaking was if we go back and look at Ayurvedic medicine or Traditional Chinese Medicine, they did not rely upon single item treatments. They used herbs, they used movement. They use stretching meditation, prayer, a number of things were coordinated into a kind of healing strategy. And, when Dr. Riordan developed or helped design the architecture of the Riordan clinic, I don’t know if you’ve seen pictures, Chris, but we have a pyramid. People say what’s a pyramid doing there? Well, pyramid represents ancient medical care, ancient health thought. And then we’ve got the geodesic domes, you know, Buckminster Fuller which is, you know, it was supposed to be one of the strongest structures you could make, but it’s very unique that we put the most modern and the most ancient together. I think we’re seeing that happen now that people are realizing that health and healing requires a little bit of both. It’s not like one or the other, it’s finding the integration of the two, and this is why the term integrative medicine is taking on more and more power as time goes along.

Chris Wark: I’ve interviewed a number of doctors like yourself that have, uh, have had, you know, the great awakening, so to speak of. Hey, they didn’t teach me everything I should know in med school. And, and that does kind of tie back to the pharmaceutical tentacles, which is that med school is mainly focused on, you know, learning every drug for every disease, right? You need internal medicine, right? It’s like, you’ve got, gotta memorize every drug for every disease. This is what you have to know as a doctor

Dr. Ron:  Well you actually learn all the biochemistry, the physiology, the anatomy, all the fundamentals, but then it’s like, you get to the second half of medical school, and it’s like, why did we even bother with that? You know, it was, it’s very interesting, but it’s not made alive in the way we think and work with patients. And actually in the 30 years that I’ve been here at the Riordan clinic, I’ve relearned a lot of my biology and chemistry, biochemistry, in an effort to really understand what’s going on at the cellular level and how we have to take care of ourselves. And we have to take care of our organs and none of these function alone, they function as the community of the body. And in a similar way, I think if we’re going to defeat cancer, patients have to look at a multiplicity of changes that they’re going to need to make. If they’re going to basically detoxify and reduce their stress, improve their sleep, get a more effective form of exercise, restore the connectivity in their lives, reduce their, toxic exposures, these types of things. And when patients kind of realize that they’re on fire and their life does change. And, I, as I tell people, I see a lot of cancer patients. I say, if you play your cards, right, you’re going to be healthier than you ever were. Health is going to heal. It’s funny. Health is going to heal your cancer.

Chris Wark: Yeah. And the, and the body, there’s something I repeat often is that, you know, the body creates cancer and the body can heal it, if given the proper nutrients and care. That’s the sort of foundational mantra that I repeat often just to help people understand. Listen, healing is possible. Your body wants to heal. It doesn’t want to be sick. And do you have a part to play? You have a role to play, and you’re not a victim of disease. And, uh, and you have power to change your life. And the choices you make today create your future tomorrow. And so you can either sow seeds of health and reap a harvest of health, or you can sow seeds of disease and you reap a harvest of disease. And so this is why your choices matter, right?

And it’s why consistency matters. And that’s the hard part, right? The hard part is it’s easy to get excited and it’s easy to get started, and it’s easy to make changes, but the hard part is you have to be diligent and you have to be determined and consistent. My second book is called Beat Cancer Daily, which is sort of like a daily encouraging, daily devotional type book. It’s like one page per day that, for 365 days, and it’s just to help, the reader, whether it’s a patient or somebody who’s into prevention, just to help keep them on track. Like, stay on the healthy path, because it’s easy to go back to your old bad habits. And the, the cool thing is there’s a momentum that happens in the healing process. If you keep it up, right?

And it’s easy to explain, right? If you do a crash diet. Sure, you can lose a few pounds in a week or maybe 10 pounds in a month with some crazy crash diet. But if you go back to your normal way of eating after the crash diet, the weight’s going to come back. Uh, if you go to the gym for a week or a few weeks, you’ll get a little stronger, right? You’ll get a little in a little better shape, but if you quit going to the gym, eventually the progress you made, it just fades away. And so consistency means you have to realize that the changes that you’re making in order to help yourself are not a crash course. It’s not a quick fix, not a magic bullet. This is you’re changing your diet and your lifestyle for life, right? Like I’m making lifelong changes that I’m sticking with because I want to live, right. I believe I can get well, and I want to live. I have reasons to live. And, um, this is part of what I call the beat cancer mindset. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get well and whatever it takes does it mean the strongest chemo, whatever it takes means I’m willing to change anything and everything in my life.

Dr. Ron: I was very happy to see in your module, 10, how to test and monitor your progress. Because what we found at Riordan clinic is that information is motivation. And oftentimes when people can see that certain nutrient levels are improving or certain inflammation markers are coming down, or other ratios, your neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio, if that’s improving, we can tell people you’re getting better. Now we want to keep measuring it in order to keep the motivation strong, because it’s real easy to kind of, become a bit lackadaisical once you start to feel better, because really, I think most of the cancer survivors that I’ve dealt with realize that, uh, you know, they are always at risk for the cancer coming back. Well, all of us are at risk. One in two men will get cancer. One in 2.3, women will get cancer in their lifetime. These are huge statistics. So you can’t really say, Hey, I’ve done what I need to do, I’m finished. I can just go back to my old ways. You’ve got to forge ahead in terms of improving your health each and every day.

Chris Wark: That’s right. Even now, I mean, it’s been 17 years since my diagnosis and I am not, I don’t consider myself to be cancer proof. Because I’m 44 and  I’m planning on living at least another 40 years, but hopefully, maybe 60 years. And that’s a long time. That’s a long time and there are definitely opportunities in over 40 to 60 years for new cancers to form in my body. And so I have to be, you know, I’m not as strict as I was when I was in had active cancer, for sure. But I’m still at a very, very high level of conscientious eating and living and exercising and stress reduction like, right. My life is designed around that. Uh, because like you said, you know, you can’t, you can’t just sort of sit back and be like, okay, I’m, I’m all, I’m cancer-free, I’m going back to, back to my old ways. You’re putting yourself back in the high risk zone by doing that. So it really is a lifestyle change. And, and once you get in the groove, it really does become easy. It does. It takes, you know, there’s a, there’s a learning curve. It takes some time to get organized and figure things out. And your taste buds will change. And you, you will find new, wonderful, delicious, healthy foods and meals that you can prepare for yourself. And I help. We help patients do that. And I do have a cookbook coming out this fall. It’s not out yet. It will be out in early November called Beat Cancer Kitchen. But, you know, don’t get discouraged if it’s a little hard at first, you just have to push through and, and you will figure it out. You can do it. You can change your life. And it is absolutely remarkable. What, the benefits that you derive from changing your life, once you decide to do it from forgiving people who’ve hurt you, from putting your faith, hope, and trust in God, to lead you, from finding practitioners that support you, that are, you know, that support you is the best word. Because some practitioners don’t, some practitioners, it’s like a battle. When you go in there, like patients are just fighting with their doctors constantly. I’m like, you need to find a new doctor. If you’re fighting with your doctor, this is the wrong doctor for you

Dr. Ron: Find a doctor that’s a, co-learner. Co- learning means that we’re always open to learning something new, that the truth is not done. It’s ever evolving and growing. And so that was the most powerful word I learned from Dr. Riordan, is be a co-learner and then you, you can grow with your patient and celebrate their successes as they grow

Chris Wark: Well. And that’s such a beautiful and humble, right? There’s so much humility in that, in that statement. And so much wisdom in that, being a co-learner with your patient approach. I just, I love that so much. And, so I guess to wrap up that thought, once you go down the path, once you get the ball rolling, things get easier, you build this momentum, you will get healing momentum. And then again, it’s like rolling a ball, you know, down a mountain, right? It’s like, it gets easier and it starts rolling faster. And then you, it kind of goes on its own.

Dr. Ron: The inertia lessens. Yeah. As you get momentum. And so you start to get some wind behind your sail. You know, you really start to feel like, Hey, I can heal. That was a patient of mine. He wrote me a song. I should, sometime I should get it and play it. But he had this realization I can heal. And it was such a powerful, inner, not just like a thought, but it, it consumed his whole being I can heal. And I think that’s what cancer patients need to feel

Chris Wark: Yeah. They believe it. They believed it versus like thinking it, thinking about it, it became a belief. And, uh, that that’s critical. And it’s, you know, there’s something else other related to physics and inertia. I talk about this in Beat Cancer Daily. There’s one page that is sort of about this idea, but there’s a, it’s actually harder to move a stationary object than it is to move the same object once it’s in motion. Right? It’s like, it’s a static resistance basically. And so again, it’s hardest right In the beginning to get the ball rolling, but once it’s rolling, you have inertia and it’s like riding a bike, right. Once the wheels are turning, it’s easy to keep them turning and, and just, you just keep going. So, I just want to put that encouragement out there for folks that are feeling intimidated and feeling like they can’t do it, you definitely can, you can change your life in so many ways. And, uh, it really is. It just boils down to you deciding to do it, that’s it. And then learning what to do and how to do it.

Dr. Ron:  We are nearing the end of our chat and it has been so great being here, I just realized something. You are the explanation point behind Chris Beat Cancer. You are an exclamation point. That’s what I meant to say. So keep that up. Yeah. Keep exclaiming.

Chris Wark:  You know what, that’s awesome. I love that idea so much. It’s true. I am, I am a proclaimer and an exclaimer, because I feel like we’re the same in a lot of ways, but I just, I love to learn. I get excited when I learn new information that I feel like is helpful to people and I want to share it. And, uh, and there’s just so much incredible research happening every day, right? In the nutrition and cancer world, or just the nutritional science world. And I just get excited every time I discover a new study. Um, and so, I am continually learning and growing and trying to be better at what I do, which is hard to define actually, but being a patient advocate and a health and wellness lover is about the shortest bio I’ve got for myself.

Dr. Ron: Well,whatever it is, keep it up, keep it up. And thank you so much. If you ever in Kansas, stop by and see us.

Chris Wark: And, uh, it will happen.

Dr. Ron Good. Good. Well, anyway, uh, loved talking with you best wishes in the future. And I can’t wait to read your, your new books.

Chris Wark:  Thank you, Dr. Ron.

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