Fungal Infections Misdiagnosed as Cancer and Why Mold Exposure Raises Your Cancer Risk
By Erin Porter
It has been documented in medical literature since the 1950s that illnesses and growths caused by fungus and fungal infections have been mistaken for cancer. In the 1957 textbook from Johns Hopkins called Clinical and Immunological Aspects of Fungal Diseases, the author warns that localized cutaneous blastomycosis is “frequently mistaken for squamous cell carcinoma and that pulmonary coccidioidomycosis” (a fungal lung infection) “is suggestive of metastatic malignancy.”
Mistaking fungal colonization and infections for cancerous growths and lesions has continued in recent times. For example, in regions of the Southwestern US where valley fever, a fungal infection that can result when airborne spores from a certain mold are inhaled, is often misdiagnosed as pneumonia and lung cancer. There is also an interesting article published in 2013 in the Journal of Lung citing 37 patients who were clinically and radiologically diagnosed with cancer. All patients then went on to have biopsies that changed 46% of the diagnoses to fungal infection. That’s 17 of the 37 patients who actually did not have cancer after all! After I heard about this study, I wondered if I would have been given this same grim diagnosis if the aspergillomas inhaled from the moldy air in NY apartments had taken hold in my lungs rather than in my sinus cavities where they could be viewed more easily with a scope. It’s certainly plausible and a bit frightening.
A Warning about the “Great Mimicker”
The 2013 Journal of Lung article went on to state, “We would like to emphasize the relevance of fungal infections as an important cause of pulmonary nodules and masses that can mimic lung cancer, especially in endemic areas.” In addition to histoplasmosis, “other fungal infections, such as coccidioidomycosis, cryptococcosis, aspergillosis, blastomycosis, and paracoccidioidomycosis can simulate lung malignancy as well.” In simpler terms, these fungi and their infections can simulate conditions that can present with imaging features mimicking those of primary lung cancers. The irony here is that the fungus aspergillus (that had colonized my sinuses) emits a mycotoxin called aflatoxin which is one of the most carcinogenic substances known to man and therefore a Group 1 carcinogen according to cancer.org. This means that not only does fungus mimic cancer, but some fungus can also cause cancer.
Actress Suzanne Somers’s Misdiagnosis
Actress Suzanne Somers is no stranger to this information. In 2009 she ended up in the hospital for six days. After having a CAT scan, she was told by her doctors that she had cancer “everywhere” in her body. They informed her the cancer was in her lungs, her liver, and her chest. She said the doctors told her “you have so many masses in your chest we cannot count them”. On the sixth day in the hospital, they performed a biopsy which revealed the tumors weren’t cancer after all. Those “masses” were fungus. She said in an interview that she is now thankful to God she did not start chemotherapy before the biopsy.
So, you are probably wondering, what happened? What caused Suzanne to get sick, and what created the masses all inside her body? With a little investigation work, Suzanne realized the beautiful home she and her husband had rented after their Malibu house burned down, was infested with toxic mold. They had no idea because the mold was located downstairs in an unfinished basement where they never went or spent time. The species of mold turned out to be one of the most dangerous and toxigenic molds, Stachybotrys. The mycotoxins released by Stachybotrys are called trichothecenes. When humans are exposed to trichothecenes, it can bring on a host of health problems including damage to organs, memory loss, bleeding in the lungs, neurological disorders, and so much more. Speaking of neurological symptoms, Suzanne says her husband Alan Hamel acquired facial tics which were first thought to be pre-Parkinson’s disease while living in the home. He also had mold colonization in his sinuses and chronic sinus infections. Suzanne set out to detox the mold from their bodies to begin their healing process which took them about four years to accomplish. Today she states that they are both extremely healthy and are now very careful about their environment (mold and toxin-free), what they eat, and what they put on their bodies and around their bodies—they make sure not to use toxic skincare or toxic cleaning supplies in their home.
Tackling Toxins and Ridding Them from Our Bodies- An Important First Step
Toxins enter our bodies through our skin, the food we eat, and the air we breathe. Tackling all areas simultaneously can help alleviate some of the toxic burdens from the body. When it comes to our environment, our home is where we spend most of our time. The use of high-quality air filters to capture dust, viruses, and molds is crucial. Because mold is ubiquitous, we cannot always escape it completely, but we can test our environments with mold testing plates if we suspect a mold problem in our home.
Keeping your indoor environments clean and mold-free is, of course, especially important, but you are not doing your body any favors if you are using chemicals and toxic products to do the work. A company called Micro Balance has a line of natural, non-toxic cleaning products that treat the air, surfaces, and belongings in your home. They also have a Laundry Additive to treat clothing and washable items. All of the products are botanically-derived and can help reduce the fungal load in your everywhere you use them—even on your pets!
I have discussed this before on my own blog, that I fog my home with the EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate and I have made a video on how to test your air as well as how to fog your home. I have also found this guide on how to detox the body helpful from Mold Free Living. If you are suffering from any mold-related illnesses, it can be beneficial to speak to your doctor about taking natural antifungals such as oil of oregano, clove oil, olive leaf, garlic, and one of my favorites CitriDrops Dietary Supplement—I often even use the CitriDrops in a saline nose wash for irrigating my sinuses. Lastly, eating a diet low in sugar and carbohydrates can help starve the fungus which literally feeds and thrives on high sugar and high carb foods.
A Word about Mold in Our Food Supply – (Especially Corn, Peanuts, and Wheat)
In Qidong China, the liver cancer statistics were staggering back in the 1980s. Quidong even had their own liver cancer institute because of the sheer amount of people with the disease. After much research they came to this conclusion: The high cancer rate was linked to the corn. You see, at the time when cancer rates were through the roof, maize was the staple food in their diet, but then they noticed once the farmers started growing rice instead of corn, there was a drastic decrease in cancer (and aflatoxin exposure). The decline was by 4,000% over 30 years and the liver cancer mortality rate has decreased by 45%. For the full research and video from the NIH website, you can find it here.
In 1960 our eyes were opened to the damage of mold toxins in the food supply when moldy peanut meal was fed to turkeys and caused the famous “turkey X disease”. Hundreds of thousands of birds died from liver disease, and they found that the mycotoxin from the Aspergillus flavus mold called Aflatoxin, was also causing cancer in the animals. Of course, we have come a long way since the 1960s in regard to the damage mold can inflict upon our bodies, but we still have a long way to go. We are headed in the right direction though, an exciting article came out from the CDC back in 2018 in which they suggested doctors and patients should “think fungus” when dealing with an illness that does not respond to conventional medicine.
Similarities Between Fungus and Cancer
Cancer and fungus are incredibly similar. Both can metabolize nutrients in the absence of oxygen. Sugar causes both to thrive, and both can die without it. Both respond favorably to antifungal medications. Researchers came to this conclusion when cancer patients started responding favorably to the antifungal Sporonox that they were taking for toenail fungus. Both cancer and fungus also produce sacs (tumors), and both produce lactic acid. Dogs that can detect cancer can also detect fungus as both emit something called VOC’s (volatile organic compounds); it’s not actually cancer or mold specifically they are sniffing out but the VOC’s themselves. Just think, if the 37 people in that lung study mentioned at the beginning of this article had not had a biopsy, they would have most likely gone on to have chemo and radiation instead of been given antifungals. This would have not only affected their prognosis but also would have taken them down the debilitating and costly path of cancer treatment. Doesn’t knowing this make you think that anyone diagnosed with cancer should ask for a biopsy?
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Author Erin Porter is the founder, photographer, blogger, author, and recipe developer of Eat Pray Get Well–a website devoted to sharing how she was finally able to heal her body from chronic illness and autoimmune disease. Erin lives in Florida with her family and is grateful to God for all of the healing, opportunities, and love He has placed in her path. Eat Pray Get Well has become so much more than a blog; it is also a book now available on her website, Amazon, and at some retail book stores. Eat Pray Get Well also has also created a healthy snack line free of preservatives, processed sugars, and gluten.