“No matter how much surgery you do to cut out cancer, or how much radiation you use to burn out cancer, or how much chemotherapy you use to poison cancer, if the patient’s immune system is not functioning properly, that patient will die from cancer.”
That statement, made by world-famous cancer expert Dr. Russell Blaylock in my book, The Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs, really says it all.
After surgery cuts out most of the cancer, and chemotherapy kills most of the cancer, and radiation burns most of the cancer, what’s left to do destroy any remaining cancer cells? Absolutely nothing! Unless the patient continues therapy, using a combination of proper diet, mind-body medicine, and nutritional supplements, any cancer cells that have survived conventional therapy will, at some point, continue to grow, spread, and ultimately kill the patient.
Unfortunately, unless you are familiar with naturopathic medicine or are lucky enough to work with a naturopathic doctor, your conventional doctors will not tell you any of this. Despite the fact that Sandy has visited several outstanding conventional doctors, not one of them, NOT ONE, has ever talked about the use of diet or supplements to kill cancer or boost her immune system.
The sad news is that so many cancer patients will ultimately die after surviving conventional therapies because nothing is done to prevent the recurrence of cancer. Ever since Sandy’s diagnosis, it seems that not a day goes by that I don’t discover that someone else I know has been diagnosed with cancer (usually breast cancer.) Yet not one of these patients is doing anything “natural” to support her immune system or continue the fight against cancer once conventional therapies have finished. How sad and tragic to know that many people will needlessly die out of ignorance once their cancer returns.
The most important reason I’m writing these blogs is to educate current and future cancer patients about all of their options. Just because your conventional doctors don’t know about these options or don’t agree with these options doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider them.
The questions are very simple: what are you doing now to make your conventional therapies more effective and reduce their side effects, and what will you do once your conventional therapies stop to prevent your cancer from coming back?
In this blog and the ones to follow, I will share with you the supplements that I have put together (with help from several naturopathic doctors) to help Sandy maximize the benefits from our conventional therapies, reduce their side effects, and remain cancer-free the rest of her life. While there are no guarantees, we believe this is a better approach than simply doing nothing and waiting to see what happens (in most cases, “what happens” is that the cancer returns and kills the patient.)
In my own veterinary practice, while I can never offer guarantees to my patients, I tell them that based upon my years of using natural therapies to help pets with cancer, I expect my patients to live one and a half to two times longer than their conventional doctors expect them to live IF they will use properly prescribed natural therapies.
Please note that I am NOT saying that the supplements we have chosen for Sandy are appropriate for you if you have cancer. You MUST work with your naturopathic doctors to find the right treatments for you, similar to working with your conventional doctors to find the right conventional therapies for you.
And since there are many out there who are skeptical about the effectiveness of natural supplements, I have included a description of why each supplement was chosen to help Sandy win the war against her cancer based upon volumes of research.
Sandy’s supplement regimen (which changes depending upon her circumstances and as new research becomes available):
Cimetidine is an antihistamine (H2 blocker) that is usually prescribed for its antacid function (blocking the production of stomach acid through inhibition of histamine’s actions on the acid-secreting cells in the stomach.)
Taken at night before bed, it is very useful for cancer patients and works through several mechanisms of action: preventing suppression of the immune system caused by tumor secretion of histamine, halting cancer cell growth, preventing angiogenesis (new blood vessel formation that cancer cells need in order to grow and spread,) promoting cancer cell death (apoptosis,) and averting often fatal cancer metastasis (cimetidine inhibits cancer cell adhesion by blocking the expression of an adhesive molecule—called E-selectin—on the surface of cells lining blood vessels. Cancer cells latch onto E-selectin in order to adhere to the lining of blood vessels; by preventing the expression of E-selectin, cimetidine significantly limits the ability of cancer cell adherence to the blood vessel walls.
Cimetidine also increases NK cells.
However, because recent studies show that it may stimulate prolactin, and in at least one study, the administration of cimetidine to men decreases the 2-hydroxylation of estradiol and results in an increase in the serum estradiol concentration. This mechanism may help to account for the signs and symptoms of estrogen excess reported with the long-term use of cimetidine. Because this could be harmful to women with estrogen influenced breast cancer, Sandy stopped taking cimetidine after several months of administration. Additionally, she is taking additional supplements which favor the formation of “good” estrogen (the 2-series) rather than “bad” estrogen (the 16 series.)
People taking cimetidine as part of their cancer treatment protocol tend to live longer than patients who do not take cimetidine (improved 10 year survival rate.)
While well-known as a sleep aid, high dose melatonin is prescribed for patients with cancer due to its effect as an anti-oxidant (particularly in neutralizing the hydroxyl radical.) It is also effective in reducing adverse effects of as well as enhancing the cancer killing ability of various chemotherapy drugs. For breast cancer patients, administering melatonin with tamoxifen may increase the effectiveness of and reduce side effects of tamoxifen. Melatonin may also directly modulate estrogen receptor expression to inhibit breast cancer cell growth (especially valuable in the most common form of breast cancer ER+ tumors) and also boosts the production of immune components that kill metastasized cancer cells.
Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is the most powerful of the catechins contained in green and black tea and functions as an antioxidant that is about 25-100 times more potent than vitamins C and E.
EGCG has a number of benefits to help the patient with cancer, including: suppresses angiogenesis (new blood vessel growth that tumors use to grow and spread;) helps prevent metastasis in a number of ways, including inhibiting the secretion of collagenases by tumor cells, thus arresting their ability to invade normal tissue; enhancing glucuronization of estrogens in the liver, a process through which estrogens are rendered inactive by being conjugated with glucuronic acid, a form in which they are excreted from the body (very important in preventing and treating breast cancer;) protects against radiation-induced DNA damage (possibly by scavenging the dangerous hydroxyl radical that is formed by radiation damage to the cell;) inhibit the activation of protein kinase C, and interfere with the binding of growth factors to their receptors (in the case of breast cancer, catechins interfere with the binding of estrogen to estrogen receptors;) inhibits the release of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), a highly inflammatory cytokine, and of nitric oxide synthase, an enzyme necessary for the production of nitric oxide (nitric oxide plays an important role in inflammation and carcinogenesis;) inhibits telomerase (the enzyme that “immortalizes” cancer cells by maintaining the end portions of the tumor cell chromosomes. In the presence of EGCG, cancer cells but not normal cells exhibited telomere shortening and death;) interferes with the enzyme quinol oxidase (NOX, an enzyme is required for growth by both normal and malignant cells. While normal cells express NOX only when dividing, tumor cells express it all the time. The tumor form of the enzyme is called t-NOX, or tumor-associated NOX. Drugs that inhibit tNOX also inhibit tumor growth. EGCG inhibitstNOX while sparing the NOX of healthy cells;) lowers serum glucose and insulin (elevated insulin is a potent growth factor for many kinds of tumors, as well as a pro-inflammatory and immunosuppressive hormone, the lowering of insulin in itself should help prevent cancer or, in cases of existing cancer, slow down its growth;) and protects the liver against damage during tamoxifen administration.
EGCG arrests tumor cell growth in a different cell-cycle stage than curcumin. When the two compounds are combined, growth inhibition was enhanced, suggesting a synergistic effect.
Coming Soon-Blog #11- Using Supplements to Save Your Life-Part 2
As there are many wonderful books have been written exclusively on the topic of mind-body medicine, I will just keep my remarks in this blog brief and to the point.
Mind-body medicine is an area of naturopathic medicine that recognizes the influence our minds and emotional states have on our bodies. We’ve all heard the term “psychosomatic” diseases. These are simply conditions where the body is negatively affected by adverse mental states. While the body is technically ill in people with psychosomatic disorders, the real problem is in the mind. Unless you treat the abnormal thought processes that are causing the body to react negatively, the body never will fully recover.
By recognizing the negative influence bad emotional states can have on our bodies, we can easily turn that thinking around and enjoy positive effects on our health if our minds and emotional states are functioning in a healthy manner.
Mind-body medicine makes use of techniques such as prayer, meditation, yoga, and music therapy. By using any or all of these techniques to reduce anxiety and unnecessary worry (all cancer patients, as well as their supportive family members, have anxieties and worries at various times in their diagnosis and treatment,) we can positively influence the health of the cancer patient. It’s been well proven that a constant state of stress and anxiety and unnecessary worry create whole host of problems in our bodies including a state of hypercortisolemia (too much cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands which suppresses our immune systems,) excess epinephrine in our bloodstreams (which increases blood pressure and heart rate and decrease the proper digestion and absorption of nutrients from the diet,) and insulin resistance, (which predisposes people to obesity, type II diabetes, and cancer cell growth.)
Mind-body medicine techniques are designed to lower stress hormones in the patient’s body and induce a sense of calmness. By returning to a calm physiological state our immune systems function better and cancer cells are less likely to grow and spread.
It is the rare cancer doctor who discusses the positive and negative influences the mind and emotional states have on the cancer patient’s body, yet it is important for you to find techniques that can help you deal with day-to-day stressors in order to maximize the benefits of whichever treatment you choose to fight your cancer.
Coming Soon-Blog #11- Using Supplements to Save Your Life-Part 1
Hippocrates said “Let food be your medicine.” Regardless of the kind of care chosen by the cancer patient, a proper cancer fighting diet is the foundation upon which other treatments are built.
Fortunately for Sandy, her diet was already better than 99% of Americans at the time of her diagnosis. She eats mainly fresh food (organic when possible,) minimizes her sugar intake, and eats only minimal amounts of packaged food (always reading the labels to avoid, when possible, the addition of harmful inflammatory-producing ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.)
The best diet for cancer patients relies on whole grains with a low glycemic index (high insulin levels produce inflammation so minimizing refined starches and carbohydrates is important.) Fresh vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and kale are loaded with antioxidants and cancer fighting chemicals such as indole 3 carbinol (I3C.) Dark-colored fruits (berries) are also full of phytonutrients that reduce inflammation and oxidation and help fight cancer. Red meat (especially hormone and antibiotic loaded grain feed beef) promotes cancer and other inflammatory diseases, so Sandy (who was never a big red meat eater anyway) is limiting her consumption of red meat to a few servings per week (usually naturally raised grass fed beef or bison.) Additionally, she is trying to eat other meats (preferably naturally raised or organic) no more than one meal per day. Fish, especially fish high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, are also an important part of the cancer patient’s diet. Because it is illegal to sell wild caught salmon in this country (except from a few areas of the country such as Alaska,) and because farm raised salmon contains chemicals, hormones, and artificial coloring, we had to find a source of high-quality wild caught salmon. Fortunately, a company called Vital Choice (http://www.vitalchoice.com/shop/pc/home.asp) sells the best freshly caught wild salmon from the waters of Alaska. They freeze it within hours of catching it and ship it on dry ice to your home. It is simply the best salmon we’ve ever eaten. We try to eat at least one meal a week with this salmon, cooking it a variety of ways and adding it to a fresh leafy green salad topped with homemade virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. We also like the Vital Choice smoked salmon with our breakfast in the morning.
Finally, one of the most important changes to Sandy’s diet was the addition of freshly ground flaxseed. While she already added some flaxseed to her daily diet intake, the amount was lower than needed to help fight her breast cancer. Studies have shown that 3 to 4 tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseed can effectively kill breast cancer cells (by inhibiting human breast cancer growth and metastasis and downregulating the expression of insulin-like growth factor and epidermal growth factor receptor.) It’s important to freshly grind the flaxseed as the omega-3 oils degrade within a few days of grinding. Freshly ground flaxseed should be kept refrigerated to slow down the degradation of the natural oils in the flaxseed.
Because Sandy’s diet was already good at the time of her diagnosis, it’s been very easy for us to make the few changes necessary to supercharger diet. Sadly, most people in our country eat a pro-inflammatory diet that predisposes them to a whole host of horrible chronic diseases. For these folks, changing their diet will be difficult but necessary in order to ensure long healthy lives.
Coming Soon-Blog #10-Understanding the Importance of Mind-Body Medicine