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Is it Safe to Take Antioxidants and Other Natural Agents During Chemo and Radiation?

In Uncategorized on January 28, 2015 at 7:16 pm
Support for Before, During and Post Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy, Part I

 

Is it safe to take antioxidants and other natural compounds during chemotherapy and radiation? While most oncologists would vehemently say no, actually many nutraceuticals synergistically interact to enhance treatment and diminish the side effects of these treatments. Although radiotherapy and chemo kill cancer cells, they lack specificity; they are unable to distinguish between cancer cells and normal cells. Therefore, these treatments cause significant damage to the body’s healthy tissue- much of which is permanent and can be life-threatening. However, the selective use of nutraceuticals–antioxidants and natural agents found in certain foods and supplements–can enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation while minimizing damage to normal cells. Nutraceuticals also help to detoxify the body both during and post treatment (Part II), and target the cancer stem cells that not only survive most conventional treatments, but are responsible for recurrent and progressive disease.[i]

I frequently find myself answering the question, “what should I take before, during and post treatment”?   

Chemotherapy and radiation produce free radicals that can damage cellular DNA.  By damaging DNA, tumor cells die, a process known as apoptosis.  Antioxidants protect healthy cells from damage caused by chemotherapy and radiotherapy and the lingering free radicals they create. Cancer cells are not able to correct DNA damage as efficiently as normal cells, which is why chemo and radiation are able to kill cancer cells. I find it interesting that there is still so much controversy on this subject.  Brilliant researchers such as Dr Keith Block MD, Dr Mitch Gaynor MD, and Dr Brian Lawenda MD have been studying and reporting on this subject for years.  Even Big Pharma jumped on the wagon by creating an antioxidant drug by the name of Amifostine, which was touted as the ‘first selective-target and broad spectrum radioprotector”[ii]. I guess it is okay for Big Pharma to cash in but not our farmers. But I digress.

Yes, antioxidants and other natural agents are to be embraced. Blueberries, for example, are strong antioxidants, and pterostilbene, a stilbenoid chemically related to resveratrol and found in blueberries and grapes, helps suppress and repair damage from radiation therapy.  Common herbs such as mint, rosemary and basil help prevent damage from radiation and have many anticancer benefits such as reducing inflammation and killing cancer cells. Ashwagandha reduces oxidative stress load and may help maintain a higher level of energy during treatment.  Cats claw may help with cell damage caused by chemotherapy and radiation treatment by repairing DNA, and can also help prevent loss of white blood cells and immune cell damage caused by many chemotherapy drugs (a common side effect known as leukopenia). Patients taking cat’s claw in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiation also tend to have fewer side effects like hair loss, weight loss, nausea and secondary infections. Plus, cat’s claw can help prevent cells from mutating, and halt the spread of cancer.[iii] Numerous studies have found flaxseed to be protective during and post radiation and has other anticancer benefits.[iv] Quercitin, a bioflavonoid found in apples, red wine and onions, also enhances the radio-sensitivity of tumor cells. The list is endless.

rosemary

One of the other problems with radiation and chemo is the destruction of the immune system. The immune system, which plays a critical part in keeping a patient cancer free following therapy, can become severely damaged, increasing risk for recurrence or new cancers. Both chlorella and spirulina seem to counteract these effects and rebuild the immune system. Astragalus enhances the immune system during radiation and makes T-cells and natural killer cells work better. Medicinal mushrooms offer considerable support both to the immune system and as part of an overall anti-cancer strategy, and are widely used in Japan and China for immune support for those undergoing chemo and radiation.

Certain supplements also have the ability to sensitize cancer cells to the effects of the treatment thus helping the therapy to work better. Green tea, vitamin C, omega 3’s and curcumin, for example, can help boost the effects of radiation and chemotherapy.[v]

Now, about those stem cells…

Cancer cells that are rapidly dividing are most prone to the toxic effects of drugs. Unfortunately, cancers propagate through the growth of (non-proliferating) cancer stem cells, which are the tumor’s more defended cells that weather the assault of chemotherapy and radiation and not only live to fight another day, but lead to metastasis.  While there are no known cancer drugs that target stem cells, Metformin, a diabetes drug, as well as many substances in their natural form can target these cells. [vi]  Adding some high-powered foods and supplements that support treatment and target stem cells should be part of all conventional treatment plans. (For recommendations, please read Cancer Stem Cells—Could They be the Key to Metastasis?)

I frequently find myself answering the question, “what should I take before, during and post treatment? “ Below is a partial list of well-researched natural compounds that offer support when taken before, during and/or post treatment.  However, while nutrients and supplements can help prevent or repair some of the damage of chemo and radiation, choosing which supplements is something you definitely need to pursue under the guidance of a well-informed physician or other health care professional. Supplements, like drugs, may have adverse effects when taken together, so again, working with an integrative professional who knows which are appropriate, which work best together, and which work with your current medications is very important.  For example, while curcumin can enhance the efficacy of radiotherapy and most chemotherapies, it does interfere with some chemos. There is also some research suggesting that vitamin E in high doses could possibly interfere with radiation’s effectiveness.  Biotin may interfere with the absorption of some chemo drugs. That said, here are some suggestions to consider.  For more information and brand recommendations, please click here.

Natures Medicine Cabinet
  • Ashwagandha (stop 2 weeks prior to surgery)
  • Astragalus
  • Berries, especially blueberries (and supplement pterostilbene; pterostilbene should not be taken with Salvestrols)
  • Carotenes (food, not supplemental)
  • Cats Claw (do not take for two weeks prior to or post-surgery)
  • Chlorella
  • Curcumin (boosts the efficacy of most chemo-therapies but does inhibit some)
  • Delphinidin (maquai berries)
  • Flaxseed
  • Green Vegetables
  • Kelp or other Iodine rich foods
  • Medicinal Mushrooms
  • Milk Thistle
  • Mistletoe (Iscador)
  • Herbs such as mint, basil, rosemary and thyme
  • Omega 3’s
  • Probiotics (chemo and radiation are devastating to the inner bacterial environment)
  • Quercitin
  • Red cabbage and other crucifers
  • Resveratrol (do not take with Salvestrols)
  • Schisandra (do not take with Tamoxifen)
  • Selenium
  • Vitamins C, D, A and E
  • Whey protein 

This information is for educational purposes only, and does not represent medical advice. This information is not intended to treat, cure, prevent or diagnose any diseases or conditions. I encourage you to discuss this information with your integrative oncologist or naturopathic doctor. Supplements are intended to supplement a healthy diet–they are not a replacement, and may contain additional ingredients. It is always advisable to discuss the use of supplements as well as nutritional support with a naturopathic, integrative or functional medical doctor before use, as often supplements may interact positively or negatively with other drugs.

Resources and more information:

http://elynjacobs.com/shop/ (Information and brand recommendations)

http://lifeovercancerblog.typepad.com/life-over-cancer-blog/2013/10/resveratrol-and-radiation-.html

http://lifeovercancerblog.typepad.com/life-over-cancer-blog/2011/07/using-supplements-during-radiation-treatments-is-there-a-problem.html

http://www.integrativeoncology-essentials.com/2013/03/hey-doc-can-i-take-antioxidants-during-chemo-and-radiation/

High Doses of Antioxidants Including Vitamin C Do Not Decrease the Efficacy of Chemotherapy 

Antioxidants May Aid Chemotherapy Patients

Do Nutrients Interfere with Chemo or Radiation Therapy? 

Elyn

~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~
Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, professional cancer strategist, speaker, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Elyn empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs. She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and well-being. Elyn has been featured on CNN Money, Talk About Health, and Breast Cancer Answers and has written for the Pink Paper, Breast Cancer Wellness, Integrative Oncology Essentials, Surviving Beautifully, Body Local and more, and writes the Options for Life column for the Natural Healing-Natural Wellness Magazine. Elyn hosts the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. She is on the Medical Advisory Board for Beat Cancer.Org and is on the Advisory Board to the Radical Remission Project. Elyn lives in New York with her husband and two young boys. http://elynjacobs.com/about/

Tune in to the Survive and Live Well Show

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 [i] http://elynjacobs.com/2015/01/09/cancer-stem-cells-could-they-be-the-key-to-metastasis/

[ii] http://theoncologist.alphamedpress.org/content/12/6/738.long

[iii] http://www.rain-tree.com/catclaw.htm#.VMZXFCvF98E

[iv] http://elynjacobs.com/2014/06/23/demystifying-flaxseed-and-estrogen/

[v] http://lifeovercancerblog.typepad.com/life-over-cancer-blog/2011/07/using-supplements-during-radiation-treatments-is-there-a-problem.html

[vi] http://elynjacobs.com/2015/01/09/cancer-stem-cells-could-they-be-the-key-to-metastasis/

Cancer Stem Cells—Could They be the Key to Metastasis?

In Uncategorized on January 9, 2015 at 8:36 am

Cancer Stem Cells–a missing link in the war against cancer. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are at the center of a theory that seeks to explain why cancer can sometimes return, despite apparently effective treatment.  Cancer stem cells not only survive most conventional treatments, but are responsible for recurrent and progressive disease.

Research has shown that cancer cells are not all the same. The stem cell theory proposes that among all cancerous cells, a few act as stem cells that reproduce themselves and sustain the cancer, much like normal stem cells normally renew and sustain our organs and tissues. Cancer stems cells have been found in many types of tumors, including leukemia, myeloma, breast, prostate, colon, brain, lung and other cancers.  Cancer cells that are not stem cells can initiate cancer, but they cannot metastasize. CSCs have the ability to regenerate the primary tumor, and to move to other sites in the body causing metastasis. Unlike early stage primary tumors, metastasis is the primary cause of death in most cancer patients.  

The majority of cancer drugs, while killing the bulk of tumor cells, ultimately fail to work long-term.  Cancer stem cells don’t actively renew themselves through cell division like other cancer cells do, so existing treatments that target cancerous cells (like radiotherapy and chemotherapy) aren’t effective against these cells. What normally occurs is that the treatment selectively kills the less harmful populations of cells, the non-stem cells, increasing the ratio of CSCs to benign and/or less malignant cells which have or develop resistance to the agent, enabling them to come back even stronger with time. According to Dr Tony Jimenez, in each 1 cubic cm of a tumor there are one billion cancer cells, but 99% of those cells are non-stem cells; it is the 1% of the cells that are CSCs that are resistant to treatment, and which are more active and dangerous.  So just because you get an 80% reduction in tumor bulk, you are not targeting the most dangerous of the cells, the cells that are immortal and are strengthened by chemo and radiation.  The reality is that the chemotherapy, even though it can reduce tumor volume, can actually make cancer more malignant.[i] 

 

As written by Sayer Ji, Founder of www.GreenMedInfo, a study titled,” Vitamin D compounds reduce mammosphere formation and decrease expression of putative stem cell markers in breast cancer,” brings to the forefront the role of breast cancer stem cells (BSCs) in breast tumor formation and their progression towards malignancy and treatment resistance. For many decades it was assumed that cancer results from DNA-damaged cells succumbing to fundamentally chaotic processes ‘going rogue’ and reproducing clonally (making identical copies of one another), without an acknowledgment of the different types of cells that comprise tumors. The most salient difference is between the cancer stem cells (sometimes referred to as ‘mother’ cells) which are capable of theoretically infinite self-renewal and produce all the differentiated ‘daughter’ cells in a tumor colony, which themselves are not capable of living indefinitely. It is actually the existence of the much smaller number of cancer stem cells which causes cancer recurrence, as they are not only resistant to conventional chemotherapy and radiation, but their numbers can actually be increased (enriched) by these two ‘therapies.’ Therefore, any cancer therapy that ignores the cancer stem cell subpopulation in favor of killing the non-tumorigenic daughter cells in order to ‘debulk’ the tumor (i.e. shrink it), will not result in destroying the root of the cancer. To the contrary, it can generate the illusion of ‘remission’ while in fact making the remaining tumor colony far more malignant, setting up the conditions for aggressive recurrence years later.” [ii]

And by the Stanford School of Medicine, Ludwig Center….

The idea that cancer is primarily driven by a smaller population of stem cells has important implications.  For instance, many new anti-cancer therapies are evaluated based on their ability to shrink tumors, but if the therapies are not killing the cancer stem cells, the tumor will soon grow back (often with a vexing resistance to the previously used therapy). Another important implication is that it is the cancer stem cells that give rise to metastases and can also act as a reservoir of cancer cells that may cause a relapse after surgery, radiation or chemotherapy has eliminated all observable signs of a cancer.  [iii]

Targeting Cancer Stem Cells

raspberrySo to prevent relapse and metastases, it’s essential that we address the stem cells.   According to Dr Tony Jimenez, Director of Hope4Cancer, while our powerful immune system (if fully functioning) is often able to seek and eliminate cancer cells, CSCs have a protein surrounding them that hides these cells from our immune system.  However, natural compounds such as the ellagic acid in red and black raspberries help de-cloak the cancer stem cells of the protein they that hides them from our immune system[iv] (you want the ellagitannins from berries, not the supplement ellagic acid). These berries have many anti-mutagenic and anti-carcinogenic properties. Raspberry phytonutrients help lower oxidative stress, reduce inflammation and encourage apoptosis. Black raspberries are  noted for their extremely high ORAC value and provide a good source of Vitamin A, and provide an excellent source of the flavonoid rutin – a phenolic compound which metabolizes into quercetin. Both red and black raspberries inhibit the growth of oral, breast, colon, and prostate tumor cell lines. While eating a cup of freshly  picked raspberries or black raspberries might not be feasible, there are pure-food supplements like Freeze Dried Black Raspberry Powder and Raspex Raspberry Seed Powder / One Pound Jar) that are easy to find and delicious as well.

black rasp

Other natural substances that are highly effective against CSCs are Curcumin (turmeric)[v], sulforaphane[vi] (broccoli sprouts are especially good), quercetin (apples, onions, red grapes and red wine), green tea, resveratrol, genistein (fermented soy) and black pepper.  Eat these foods daily and in substantial amounts to get the most benefit; take them together for the power of synergy. You can also take the drug Metformin, which is an inexpensive off-label drug that has many anticancer properties, including targeting cancer stem cells (see multiple references below). And don’t forget to get some sun! As mentioned in the Vitamin D study above, vitamin D may target cancer stem cells as well. Of note is that these substances which target stem cells do so without harming healthy cells and which have other anti-cancer properties. Conventional treatments poison both the unhealthy and healthy cells, often resulting in the patient dying from the treatment, not actually the disease.

Substances Known to Target Cancer Stem Cells:

  • Curcumin
  • Broccoli
  • Red and black raspberries and to a lesser extent, strawberries
  • Apples, onions and red wine
  • Green tea
  • Resveratrol
  • Soy
  • Black pepper
  • Metformin
  • Sunshine (vitamin D3)

Are targeting cancer stem cells the cure for cancer? No, of course not. But they are an important piece of the puzzle. You still want to implement a protocol that meets your needs and change the overall cancer environment:

  • Build the immune system via stress reduction,moderate exercise and yes, daily hugs
  • Detox your liver and your life (toss out toxic cleaning and personal care products)
  • Maximize nutrition with whole foods and targeted supplements
  • Get daily sunlight and consider Vitamin D3 supplementation along with K2 and A 
  • Eliminate processed, refined foods which contain refined sugars and carbohydrates and processed Omega 6’s; Eliminate hydrogenated fats
  • Drink water free of chlorine, fluoride and other chemicals
  • Eat whole foods that are not genetically modified and use organic foods as much as possible
  • Avoid goods containing artificial sweeteners, preservatives, pesticides and other chemicals
  • Reduce stress and identify and heal the ‘emotional terrain’ which may be contributing to your dis-ease

[i] The Quest For The Cures…Continues Episode 2: Your First Line of Defense (@27 minutes)

[ii] http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/sunlight-holds-key-killing-breast-cancer-3

[iii] http://ludwigcenter.stanford.edu/overview/theory.html

[iv] The Quest For The Cures…Continues Episode 2: Your First Line of Defense

[v] http://www.anticancerbook.com/post/Turmeric-and-black-pepper-fight-cancer-stem-cells.html ; Kakarala, M., et al., Targeting breast stem cells with the cancer preventive compounds curcumin and piperine. Breast Cancer Research & Treatment, 2009

[vi] http://nutritionfacts.org/video/broccoli-versus-breast-cancer-stem-cells/http://nutritionfacts.org/video/sulforaphane-from-broccoli-to-breast/

[vii] http://jonbarron.org/article/truth-about-ellagic-acid-and-red-raspberries#.VKHrV14AGA

Resources and Further Information:

http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/are-cancer-stem-cells-key-discovering-cure

http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/does-chemo-radiation-actually-make-cancer-more-malignant

http://planet.infowars.com/uncategorized/conventional-cancer-treatments-dismal-record

http://www.greenmedinfo.com/disease/breast-cancer-stem-cells

http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/research-plants-cure-cancer-not-chemicals

http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/research-radiotherapy-causes-cancer-blueberry-kills-it?page=2

http://tv.greenmedinfo.com/broccoli-kills-the-stem-cells-feeding-cancer-tumors/

http://berryhealth.fst.oregonstate.edu/health_healing/fact_sheets/black_raspberry_facts.htm

http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/turmeric-extract-strikes-root-cause-cancer-malignancy

http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/are-cancer-stem-cells-key-discovering-cure

http://www.integrativeoncology-essentials.com/2011/08/amazing-anti-cancer-compound-derived-from-the-french-lilac-galega-officianalis-metformin/

http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2012/feb2012_Can-Diabetes-Drug-Prevent-Cancer-Death_01.htm

http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2012/nov2012_metformin-makes-headline-news_01.htm

http://www.blockmd.com/blog/common-diabetes-drug-metformin-appears-to-reduce-cancer-risk

Special thanks to Nadine Napolitano, Director of Jesicha’s Hope for her contributions to this post. For support and resources for natural protocols for cancer, please visit:  http://www.jesichashope.org/

Elyn

~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~
Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, professional cancer strategist, speaker, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Elyn empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs. She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and well-being. Elyn has been featured on CNN Money, Talk About Health, and Breast Cancer Answers and has written for the Pink Paper, Breast Cancer Wellness, Integrative Oncology Essentials, Surviving Beautifully, Body Local and more, and writes the Options for Life column for the Natural Healing-Natural Wellness Magazine. Elyn hosts the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. She is on the Medical Advisory Board for BeatCancer.Org and is on the Advisory Board to the Radical Remission Project. Elyn lives in New York with her husband and two young boys. http://elynjacobs.com/about/

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True Role of Integrative Medicine in Cancer Treatment: Free Live Forum

In Uncategorized on January 3, 2015 at 12:12 pm

A special event, sponsored by the Functional Forum,  is occurring this Monday evening (Jan 5 2014) at 8 PM Eastern Standard Time and it will be a streaming event that you can see online if you register for it. (This post has been updated–if you missed the Forum, see the link below).

When someone is diagnosed with cancer, most of the options people are giving are purely allopathic. Any solutions that are Functional, Preventative, or Holistic often get put on the back burner if they are even considered at all.

This Functional Forum will discuss the TRUE role of integrative medicine in cancer treatment, and how it is an essential part of the conversation if we are going to really make a dent in the cancer epidemic. You will hear Dr Michael Schachter, Dr Nicholas Gonzalez, Sayer Ji, Founder of http://www.GreenMedInfo.com, and Dr Joel Evans discuss the failure of conventional oncology and how you can beat the odds.                                                                       

Dr. Schachter will discuss his views on the prevention and treatment of cancer at the Schachter Center. He starts by questioning some of the strategies of conventional oncology, including radiation for breast cancer. He then attempts to answer the questions as to what causes cancer and why we have such an epidemic of it at the present time.

He cites the research of Otto Warburg as to the nature of cancer and the work of Brian Peskin as it relates to the epidemic. This discussion leads to recommendations made to patients at the Center.

Next he discusses how the enzyme CYP1B1 appears in cancer cells (and not normal cells) and how the natural substances called salvestrols may be used to help prevent cancer and manage cancer patients. These salvestrols react with the CYP1B1 enzyme to form metabolites that stimulate programmed cell death in cancer cells.

Other strategies used at the Schachter Center, such as the recommendations of fat soluble vitamins D, A and K2  and glycobiology will be discussed during the panel if time permits.

Free Live Webstream: Jan 5th @ 8pm EST; Click Here To Register; Can’t watch live? Register and we will send you the replay!

Updated 1/10/2015: If you missed this Webinar, here is the replay

James Maskell

CEO and Founder: Revive Primary Care

Host: Functional Forum and #EvoMed Summit

Hope to see you all there!

Elyn

~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~
Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, professional cancer strategist, speaker, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Elyn empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs. She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and well-being. Elyn has been featured on CNN Money, Talk About Health, and Breast Cancer Answers and has written for the Pink Paper, Breast Cancer Wellness, Integrative Oncology Essentials, Surviving Beautifully, Body Local and more, and writes the Options for Life column for the Natural Healing-Natural Wellness Magazine. Elyn hosts the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. She is on the Medical Advisory Board for BeatCancer.Org and is on the Advisory Board to the Radical Remission Project. Elyn lives in New York with her husband and two young boys. http://elynjacobs.com/about/

Tune in to the Survive and Live Well Show

Replay the Survive and Live Well Radio Show Archives

Read Elyn’s Blog

Follow Elyn on Facebook

Follow Survive and Live Well on Twitter

Follow Elyn on Linkedin

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