The title of Dr. Lise Alshuler’s presentation was: “How Stress Unravels the Garment of Life and Perforates it with Cancer”. She explained how chronic stress plays an important role in increasing cancer risk and decreasing survival, with relevant distress present in 50% of people who get cancer. Depression, anxiety, optimism, isolation, fear and pessimism are the main psycho-social emotions when it comes to cancer, with pessimism (hopelessness) posing the most significant risk factor for death. Suppression of emotions will also inhibit the immune system’s ability to fight cancer.
Examples of stress that increase the risk for cancer include:
- Depression for over 6 years
- Twofold increase in breast CA risk following divorce, separation or death of a spouse.
- High stress combined with low social support will increase risk for breast cancer 9 fold.
- Severe, prolonged and or significant childhood stress substantially increases cancer risk
- Night time shift workers are at increased risk for breast and colorectal cancer due to disruption of circadian rhythm.
It is now known that cancer cells have the ability to recruit normal cells from surrounding tissues and force them to support, maintain and enhance tumor growth and spread. For example, the blood brain barrier sheath which is meant to prevent unwanted invasion of dangerous compounds such as cancer, can be disarmed by normal cells re-programmed to do so by cancer cells. The more stressed an individual is, the easier it is for cancer cells to overthrow and utilize healthy cells.
The biochemistry of stress leading to cancer initiation and progression is complex, but quite well understood at this time, and Dr. Alshuler addressed multiple natural treatments to support the affected pathways both metabolically and psychologically. Her book on this subject 5 To Thrive can be found at www.five2thrive.com
Drs. Birdsall ND and Block MD, addressed one of the most controversial aspects of cancer care; the use of antioxidants such as vitamins C, A, and E during chemo and/or radiation. Oncologists believe that antioxidants will compromise their treatments, although they have no research to back up this belief. Birdsall and Block presented research findings that addressed and refuted this concern. They found that antioxidants do not compromise the treatments or long term outcomes of people getting chemotherapy and or radiation. In fact, those who took antioxidants concurrent with chemotherapy and or radiation had a better success rate during treatment and better survival rate after treatment, than those who didn’t use antioxidants.
There is a compound in our body called galectin-3, and cancer cells use this compound to grow, to spread and to ward off attack by the immune system. Issac Eliaz, MD addressed a novel natural treatment coming from citrus fruits that bind to and inactivates galectin-3. This treatment will compliment chemotherapy and radiation, minimize side effects and enhance long term survival and quality of life. Other mechanisms of action include inhibition of sugar metabolism in tumors (sugar being their favorite food), reversing elevated prostate specific antigen (PSA), increasing cancer fighting immune cells and removal of heavy metals from the body. All without side effects.
Michael McCulloch ND, of the Pine Street Clinic in San Francisco discussed his research results of long term (10 years) post chemotherapy and or radiation treatment for stage IV lung cancer. What they proved was that those receiving no chemotherapy and or radiation had about the same survival rate, while those who received natural treatments including specific herbs and supplements after conventional treatment had a substantially longer survival time and improved quality of life.
Drs. Lamson and Kussmann ND addressed natural treatments to minimize chemotherapy and radiation side effects. Nerve damage, low white blood cell count, nausea, depression, and gastrointestinal problems are common side effects of conventional treatment and respond well to appropriately selected herbs, supplements and lifestyle habits. To get the most benefit from the natural treatments they should be started before the chemotherapy or radiation rather than waiting until damage is already done. An example of this is the use of Life-mel honey to prevent life threatening white blood cell drops that often occur with chemotherapy. One study showed that 40% of those who used this honey had no drop in white blood cells while all other study participants had slight to significant white blood cells drops that could potentially allow life threatening bacterial or viral infections to occur.
In summary, natural medicines at appropriate dose and properly targeted will minimize conventional cancer care sides effects, enhance treatment outcomes and prolong survival time along with improved quality of life. As we continue to unravel and understand the biochemical pathways of cancer and how they enroll healthy cells to grow and spread, we can enlist safe, effective, non-toxic natural therapies to restore and maintain optimal health, well being and vitality.
I hope you have enjoyed this month’s newsletter. As always, questions and comments are welcome.
Jon Dunn, ND