Cancer – Getting the Most from Your Treatment
It is a word that has the potential to strike fear in us all.
A diagnosis of Cancer can itself imply a sinister outcome.
Faced with survival rate statistics, aggressive treatment options and an uncertain prognosis, it is easy to get overwhelmed.
When feeling vulnerable and fearful, it is natural to heed the advice of the medical experts. Cancer treatment of old was largely based on the theory that to kill the rogue cells meant to cure the patient of the disease.
Dr Harvey Schipper, a Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto, has instead proposed a new concept. That cancer is a process rather than a specific lump of abnormal tissue. That aberrant cell causing damage is in fact the result of subtle changes to normal cell signalling. As it is therefore a dynamic process, this condition can also be reversed.
So instead of nuking the abnormal cells, the focus instead turns to restoring normal regulatory processes.
Here is where Complementary Therapies hit their stride.
Cancer patients have been turning to Integrative and Complementary Therapies as a way to take back some of their control over the disease. It can also be used to counteract the fear surrounding the disease – fear of the side effects of medical treatment and just plain fear that the medical option will not work.
At the very least, Complementary Therapies can offer a patient hope.
But they are more than a mere placebo.
Opponents of Complementary Therapies consistently trumpet that there is not enough evidence to support using nutritional and herbal remedies. True evidence-based medicine is however patient centred and patient driven and combines best available research with clinical expertise.
Survival rates for some cancers are on the improve. How much of this is medical intervention and how much is awareness, prevention and timely health practices?
Ty Bollinger the author of “Cancer – Step outside the Box” further asserts this by stating that “You probably think the true cure rate of orthodox medicine is 40% to 50% and growing rapidly. Nope, it has been 3% for the last 80 years and it isn’t going anywhere”.
Over the years there have been a number of fad cures for cancer, including:
- That Cancer is caused by particular parasites or viruses
- Cancer is an opportunistic infection by the organism Candida albicans
- Cancer patients are deficient in essential lipoproteins and phosphatides
- As Sharks do not get cancer, shark cartilage or shark liver oil must be curative
While some theories do not necessarily hold up, at the core of each is that there is an ongoing influence on a cancer tumour that can be changed.
Dr Thomas Seyfried, researcher and author of Nutrition and Metabolism, states that “Prolonged exposure to almost any provocative agent in the environment can potentially cause cancer”.
Putting it simply – Lower the load and you increase your threshold.
There is no doubt that our thresholds for disease are on the decline.
As our society progressively develops, the loads on our fragile systems are continually increasing. We are exposed to chemicals, xenoestrogens, electromagnetic radiation and gasses.
We ingest processed, “convenience” foods, we inhale pollution and numerous allergens and we move less than ever.
When regarded this way, it is little wonder that cancer cells have their opportunity to mutate and wreak havoc.
Here are some options for restoring health, increasing your own cancer threshold and supporting specific cancer treatments.
Sugar has seduced us all since its introduction in the 11th Century. It hides in many foods and has a myriad of aliases. Sugar is the primary fuel for cancer cells. In fact, cancer cells can only use carbohydrates (sugar) for energy production, not fats or proteins.
It is no coincidence then that as we diverged from our ancestral Paleolithic diet (fish, meats, vegetables, fruits and nuts), cancer started its hostile takeover.
Sugar increases acidity in the body which promotes degenerative diseases. Sugar dampens the immune system, leaches out essential nutrients and feeds Candida in the body.
In short, when treating cancer, sugar has to go.
Opt instead for Stevia or Xylitol. Stevia is a member of the chrysanthemum family and has been used for hundreds of years as a sweetener in South America.
Xylitol sounds artificial but is in fact extracted from birch trees and corn cobs. It has a very low Glycaemic Index and promotes healthy gums, intestinal flora and can stabilise blood sugar.
Aim also for an alkalising diet – one that is rich in fruits, vegetables and plant based proteins. Nothing cripples cancer like an alkaline environment.
If you like recipes, check out this great book – Foods that Fight Cancer – Preventing and Treating Cancer Through Diet.
Nutrients for Chemotherapy
The artillery in the Kill equals Cure battle is Chemotherapy. The use of highly toxic and aggressive medicine is regarded as the only option for cancer treatment. But it has a price.
A medical text actually states that “The goal of chemotherapy is to kill the cancer, before chemotherapy kills the patient”. (Guyton’s Medical Physiology)
Most cytotoxic drugs actually have immune suppressive side effects. The immune suppression associated with chemotherapy can actually result in an increased rate of infection by viruses. And this viral infection can then further increase the risk of secondary cancers.
So it begs the question – Can chemotherapy actually lower natural immunity to the extent that it promotes cancer growth?
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has actually identified 20 single chemotherapy agents or regimes that cause cancer in humans and approximately 50 additional ones that are suspect.
Chemotherapy treatments are still widely used because of the common misconception that shrinkage of a tumour (or its “response rate”) translates as an increased survival time. This unfortunately is not the case as a response rate does not correlate with increased survival or even with an improved quality of life.
However, chemotherapy can be made more effective with the concurrent use of certain supplementation by:
- Reducing the side effects of chemotherapy so a higher and more effective dose can be administered safely (the antioxidants Vitamins C, Vitamin E, betacarotene and curcumin are especially relevant here)
- Encouraging cellular apoptosis (cellular suicide) rather than necrosis (cell death). Necrosis actually causes cells to rupture and spill inflammatory mediators which itself produces free radicals and contributes to cancer progression. Those nutrients that promote cellular suicide are Coenzyme Q10, Acetyl-L-Carnitine and glutathione.
It is recommended to supplement cancer patients 12 hours before or 6 hours after a chemotherapy treatment for best effect. Listed below are additional nutrients to support the chemotherapy process:
- Bromelain – this improves the effectiveness of chemotherapy
- Glutamine – reduces the injury to the mucous lining, inhibits cell proliferation, increases cell apoptosis
- Probiotics – reduce gut inflammation
- Adenosine – improves white blood cell count
Nutrients to support healing from surgery
A frequent complication in cancer patients is their inability to heal effectively from surgical wounds. Often malnourished, it is common for wound healing to be delayed or even not to resolve at all.
- Vitamin A – required for immune function and for epithelial and bone formation
- Vitamin C – necessary for collagen formation, immunity and a tissue antioxidant
- Bromelain – reduces oedema, bruising, pain and healing time
- Dietary protein – to promote wound healing
- Zinc – to promote wound healing as well as acting as a cellular growth protector
Nutrients to support radiotherapy
The casualty in radiotherapy is the amount of widespread tissue injury it can cause. Protective nutrients have been shown to be very effective here:
- Supplementing with Vitamin A and betacarotene alongside radiation has been found to significantly increase antitumour response more than radiation or supplementation alone. Betacarotene (at doses of 75mg/day) prescribed during radiotherapy also significantly reduced the incidence of severe mucositis. An oral solution of glutamine (even as a paste) also reduces oral mucositis.
- Vitamin C (at a dose of 5g/day) taken concurrently with radiotherapy results in an improved response to treatment and lowers the side effects
- Increasing omega 3 intake will increase the effectiveness of radiotherapy
The supplementation of the Antioxidants (Vitamins A, C, E, betacarotene, selenium, CoQ10) have shown a significant improvement in survival, quality of life (no weight loss and reduced need for pain relief medication) and a further reduction in metastasis.
A diagnosis of Cancer is an overwhelming event. As more research is being invested in Cancer treatments, it is encouraging to discover how much of a role Complementary Therapies can have.
To find out what you can do to improve your treatment outcomes or even how to improve your cancer threshold, talk to our qualified Emed Consultants.